Fresh and super flavorful, these Vietnamese-inspired pork and rice bowls are flavored with fresh lemongrass and a savory sauce. This is a fast, weeknight-friendly meal that can be customized with your favorite fresh herbs and vegetables.
Wanderlust has set in hard over here. I’m trying to focus on work, but my mind starts wandering back over past travel. Day dreaming about sitting on a beach, or hiking through the mountains, or balancing on a plastic stool on a street in Hanoi. That last one, Frank and I did many years ago, before the kids and back when it didn’t seem quite so novel to wander around a new city with no plan.
Many of my favorite dishes in Vietnam were super fast and super flavorful. This Lemongrass Ground Pork is both of those things and feels like a perfect dish to customize as the weather warms up. It can be as spicy as you want and makes great meal prep. Just serve it over rice and add your favorite vegetables.
Here’s all you need to make it!
- Garlic and Lemongrass – This recipe is simple, but the aromatics really shine. Look for fresh lemongrass in many grocery stores in clamshells with fresh herbs. Use only the lower part of the stalk (it should be faintly purple in the center) and remove the tough outer stalks before using. If you can’t find fresh lemongrass, many places sell concentrated lemongrass paste in tubes which works well.
- Hoisin Sauce – This slightly sweet, savory, thick sauce is a staple in my kitchen. It bring tons of flavor to Asian-inspired stir-fry recipes. It can be found in almost any grocery store in the international / Asian aisle, but you can also make it yourself.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce – I test all of my recipes with low-sodium soy sauce. In this recipe, regular soy sauce will work just fine, though keep in mind that the finished dish will be slightly more salty.
- Fish Sauce – Fish sauce adds so much rich, savory flavor to this dish. Many people get turned off by the pungent aroma, but once you get past that, you won’t believe how much flavor it brings to recipes. The finished dish won’t taste noticeably fishy but will have great savory depth. I prefer Red Boat brand which has no additives and a flavor that I find to be really clean.
- Brown Sugar – Even though you just need a little, don’t skip this. A bit of sugar balances the savory flavor but also really helps the pork to caramelize as it cooks.
- Sriracha – Use a little hot sauce to add heat throughout the dish in addition to (or instead of) the bites of spice you’ll get from the chili peppers added at the end.
- Ground Pork – This dish would also be great with any other type of ground meat or vegetarian-friendly meat substitute crumbles.
- Bird’s Eye Chilis – These Thai-style chilis are very small and VERY hot. I buy them at the international grocery store a few times a year and freeze them because a little goes a long way. Skip these if you don’t want the dish to be spicy, just use hot sauce, or use another variety of chili.
How to Serve Vietnamese-Inspired Pork
One of the most enjoyable features of many Vietnamese stir-fry dishes like this Lemongrass Pork is that they are served with so many fresh herbs and ingredients to contrast the warm (and possibly spicy) main dish. I love assembling these pork and rice bowls with a bed of fresh lettuce and then adding thinly sliced cucumbers and cilantro and / or mint. You could even load up the bowls with more vegetables and add chopped spring rolls like these Vietnamese Noodle Bowls.
Make Rice in the Instant Pot for Pork and Rice Bowls
Friends, I have totally switched over to making my rice in the Instant Pot. As simple as it is to cook rice on the stovetop, I love that the Instant Pot is fail-proof. Just set it and go. The key to prevent sticking is to rub the inside of the IP with some oil before cooking. Here is the method I use.
- Serve over noodles – Skip the rice and serve this over rice noodles.
- Make it gluten-free – Use Tamari instead of soy sauce and snag a gluten-free Hoisin sauce to easily make this dish gluten-free. Kikkoman makes a good one.
- Add vegetables – Dice bell peppers or green beans and cook them right alongside the pork. Or serve roasted broccoli on the side.
More Asian-Inspired Stir-Fry Recipes
- Honey Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry
- Beef and Broccoli Ramen Stir-Fry
- Sesame Garlic Ramen Stir-Fry
- 20-Minute Chicken Ramen Stir-Fry
- Sesame Vegetable Noodles
- Sticky Cashew Chicken
- Honey Garlic Chicken Fried Rice
- Kung Pao Cauliflower
- 30 Minute Shrimp Teriyaki Noodle Bowls
Lemongrass Ground Pork and Rice Bowls
- Mixing Bowl
- Skillet or Wok
Lemongrass Ground Pork:
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemongrass, grated (see note)
- 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 tsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Sriracha (optional, sub any hot sauce)
- 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
- 1 1/2 lbs Ground Pork
- 1-3 Thai Bird’s Eye Chilis, very thinly sliced (optional, see note)
- Cooked Rice
- 1 head Green Leaf Lettuce, roughly torn
- 2 small Cucumbers, very thinly sliced
- Fresh Cilantro and Fresh Mint, for serving
- Lime Wedges, for serving
- Whisk together garlic, lemongrass, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and Sriracha. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add pork and saute, breaking it apart until pork is just starting to turn opaque, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Pour sauce over pork and continue cooking until sauce cooks down and starts to caramelize, 6 to 8 minutes more. If using chilis, stir them in the last minute of cooking.
- Assemble bowls with a bed of lettuce topped with rice. Add cucumbers on one side and top with pork.
- Garnish bowls with fresh cilantro and / or fresh mint and lime wedges (be sure to squeeze a few lime wedges over top of the pork before serving).
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