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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Hue-style pork lemongrass skewer

By Hoang Kim

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Pork lemongrass skewer (nem lui) is a popular dish across Vietnam, with each region having its unique preparation and serving style. The Hue-style pork lemongrass skewer stands out with its special recipe and distinctive dipping sauce, making it a culinary highlight of the region.

The ingredients for making nem lui are simple yet essential. They include minced pork, thinly sliced pork skin, and diced pork fat, all marinated with spices to individual taste. The mixture is then kneaded until sticky, molded into shapes larger than an adult finger, and rolled around lightly crushed lemongrass skewers. These skewers are grilled over charcoal until evenly cooked, allowing the essential oils from the lemongrass to infuse the meat with a delightful aroma.

What truly sets the Hue-style pork lemongrass skewer apart is the unique dipping sauce. This sauce is made from minced pork, pork liver, garlic, ground peanuts, fermented soybeans, and various spices. To eliminate the liver’s odor, it is thoroughly cleaned, cut into small pieces, and soaked in milk. The mixture is then cooked on the stove, stirred continuously until it becomes thick and smooth. Finally, the cook sprinkles crushed roasted peanuts and white sesame seeds on top of the dipping sauce, adding a final touch of flavor and texture.

Hue-style pork lemongrass skewer is typically served with rice paper, fresh vegetables, pickled carrot and papaya, thinly sliced green mango, and cucumber. This combination of fresh and pickled accompaniments enhances the overall flavor and texture of the dish.

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