I’ve mentioned in other post how much I love my subscription to Bon Appetit. When it arrives in the mailbox, I sit down and go through it page by page, dog-earing the pages with recipes I want to make. The August issue has been particularly good. When I saw this recipe for Vietnamese pork chops, I knew I had to try it. I’ve been on a hardcore watermelon kick lately so the fact that the recipe included watermelon made it a slam dunk.
I’ve had bad experiences with pork chops in the past. In my mind they’ve always been synonymous with ultra-dry, chewy stuff. Yuck! I am however, obsessed with Vietnamese cuisine so I thought this might be a good opportunity to give it a go and see if I could conquer my fear of making pork chops into packed dust.
As it turns out, August has finally delivered the cold, foggy San Francisco summer we warn prospective visitors about. After the pork chops had marinated, I just couldn’t bring myself to descend into the misty, windy backyard and stand in front of the grill while they cooked. The cast iron skillet came to the rescue and the results were absolutely amazing.
The best part of eating amazing food is sharing it with amazing people. We shared this meal with one of our favorite people in the universe who does her research and arrived with an amazing dry Riesling that worked magic with the food.
This one takes a little preparation because you have to pickle the watermelon rind the night before, which for us wasn’t a problem because we’re up to our ears in watermelon rind at the moment. It sound really weird, but believe me, it’s worth it. Make this recipe and invite your favorite people to dinner. You won’t be sorry.
VIETNAMESE PORK CHOPS WITH PICKLED WATERMELON
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced into rings
- ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoons Sriracha
- 4 1″-thick bone-in pork chops (about 2 ½ lb. total)
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 4 small shallots, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups trimmed purslane or arugula
- ½ pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into pieces, thinly sliced
- ½ cup Pickled Watermelon Rind, thinly sliced
Whisk shallots, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and Sriracha in a shallow baking dish. Add pork chops and turn to coat. Cover and chill, turning occasionally, at least 1 hour.
Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Remove pork chops from marinade, scraping off excess, and grill until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. (I heated 1Tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet and seared the pork chops on one side for 3 minutes, filled them and then transferred them to a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes until the temperature was 145 degrees.)
DO AHEAD: Pork chops can be marinated 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt.
Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add purslane, watermelon, and Pickled Watermelon Rind; season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat.
Serve pork chops with watermelon salad topped with fried shallots.
PICKLED WATERMELON RIND
- 4 pounds watermelon
- 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced, seeds removed if desired
- 1 1″ piece peeled ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 star anise pods
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
Using a vegetable peeler, remove tough green rind from watermelon; discard.
Slice watermelon 1″ thick. Cut away all but ¼” flesh from each slice; reserve flesh for another use. Cut rind into 1″ pieces. (You should have about 4 cups.)
Bring chile, ginger, star anise, salt, peppercorns, sugar, vinegar, and ½ cup water to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Add watermelon rind and return to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, setting a small lid or plate directly on top of rind to keep submerged in brine, if needed.
Transfer rind and liquid to an airtight container; cover and chill at least 12 hours
WATERMELON GAZPACHO WITH FETA CREMA
- 1 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
- 1 large beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
- 1 English hothouse cucumber, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
CREMA AND ASSEMBLY
- ¼ cup almonds
- 2 ounces feta, preferably French sheep’s milk, crumbled (about ½ cup)
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- ¾ pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
- ½ English hothouse cucumber, peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- Olive oil (for serving)
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Purée watermelon, tomato, cucumber, jalapeño, oil, and vinegar in a blender until smooth.GAZPACHO
Transfer gazpacho to a large bowl; season with kosher salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
DO AHEAD: Gazpacho can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
CREMA AND ASSEMBLY
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 8–10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can do this step in a dry small skillet over medium heat.) Let almonds cool, then coarsely chop.
Mash feta into sour cream in a small bowl until mostly smooth, then whisk in milk.
Divide watermelon and cucumber among bowls and pour gazpacho over. Top with crema and almonds, drizzle with oil, and season with sea salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: Crema can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.