Pork Chops with Crispy Garlic and Lemongrass

Your experience as an expat living in North America may be different, but for me the loneliness that already gnaws on your heart from time to time throughout the year becomes so intense it tears you up around the holidays. Funny how even with all the friendly faces around, something about this time of year never fails to trigger the kind of deep longing for home that you never get used to or outgrow — the kind that makes you nearly double over and sob.

One Christmas Eve, I made pork chops with crispy garlic and lemongrass, missing Mom who used to make these all the time.

how to prepare lemongrass
While it usually takes me a few times to successfully replicate many things in Mom’s repertoire before getting them just right, I nailed this dish the first time mainly because it’s so easy to make.

The very delicious and versatile crispy lemongrass and garlic slices certainly make the pork chops special. Most people are already familiar with crispy garlic and how mild, sweet, crunchy, and delicious it is. Crispy lemongrass, on the other hand, could get some more love for its herbal fragrance that is not at all overpowering. You can make a large batch of crispy lemongrass and garlic and keep that in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later. These golden “sprinkles” add crunch and flavor to plain starchy items, such as steamed rice, boiled new potatoes, plain noodles or pasta, etc.

The pork chops are to be served with steamed jasmine rice. I also recommend coconut rice with these as it goes so well with the crispy lemongrass and garlic. Oh, and don’t forget that which makes everything better: nampla prik.

baked pork chops crispy garlic lemongrass
Mom’s Pork Chops with Crispy Garlic and Lemongrass
(Serves 4, or 2 very hungry people)
Printable Version

4 bone-in, not so lean, pork chops (no thicker than 3/4 inch)
3 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons baking soda (I’ve found that this helps tenderize the pork chops and keeps the loin parts from being dry and tough. It’s still imperative, though, that you not overcook the pork.)
2 stalks lemongrass, sliced crosswise very thinly (use only 5 inches from the base and keep the rest to infuse Tom Kha Gai or Tom Yam with)
5-6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced crosswise as thinly as you can
About 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • Marinate the pork chops with fish sauce, honey, ground pepper, and baking soda. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, up to 4-5 hours.
  • Meanwhile, put the sliced garlic and lemongrass into a small (8-inch) frying pan along with the vegetable oil. Heat up the oil, the garlic, and the lemongrass together over medium heat until the mixture starts to sizzle. Monitor the heat closely and stir things around almost constantly (the mixture tends to brown more quickly around the edges). You want the garlic and lemongrass to turn golden slowly until they become very crispy. Too high temperature will burn them before they get to that point.
  • Once the garlic and lemongrass are crispy, transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • In another pan, preferably nonstick, sear the outsides of the pork chops over medium-high heat just until you get a good color on both sides of them. There’s no need to cook them all the way through.
  • Finish off your seared pork chops in the oven, being careful not to overcook them.
  • Sprinkle the prepared crispy garlic and lemongrass over the pork chops and serve them immediately with steamed rice.
  • 11 Responses to Pork Chops with Crispy Garlic and Lemongrass

    1. The Duo Dishes December 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

      As always, food and memories are so intertwine. Burning garlic is easy. Achieving the browned, crispy slivers is a better way to go.

    2. Gregoire December 9, 2010 at 3:19 am #

      I love it! The most simple things are just the best… I am now drooling with sadness as I won’t have these pork chop’s for lunch today! 🙂

    3. OysterCulture December 14, 2010 at 4:30 am #

      This dish just sounds perfect especially with the accompaniment of the coconut rice.

      I’ve never been an expat for long, but before I was married I only stayed in on place for a bit over a year and moved around the US and never felt at home for years, so I may have just an inkling of what you feel, I always found myself reaching for the pans and making those special recipes that reminded me of home even though I was cooking for one and the recipes served 6, it somehow felt right then.

    4. Jennifer December 20, 2010 at 12:25 am #

      Sounds yummy! It’s also cool that you were able to mimic Mom’s recipe the first time. I know how hard that can be.

    5. nooami January 10, 2011 at 3:50 am #

      Lovely recipe and so simple. Another one of my family’s favorite meal from your site. I must have done something wrong, however, with the fried lemongrass. The lemongrass imparted perfect flavor and aroma but chewing on the pieces were not pleasant. Did I fry them too long? They don’t taste burnt just a bit woody. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    6. Leela January 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      nooami – (hello there!) Assuming you use only the tender part of the lemongrass and slice it very thinly with a super-sharp knife (so that there’s no stringy fiber hanging around), I’m thinking you may be one of those who naturally don’t like the texture of fried lemongrass which is perfectly fine. You can use less of it and compensate for that with more garlic, or you can chop up the lemongrass slices a bit more finely and fry them separately (as they will burn by the time the garlic is done).

    7. Tiana March 17, 2013 at 12:00 am #

      Literally drooling at this picture. I am crazy about crispy garlic- love the idea of doing lemongrass too. Been devouring your blog. Amazingly usefully in my quest to cook Thai in a serious way. Keep up the amazing work!

    8. Sunil March 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

      An amazing dish. Made it for my family and everybody loved it. I’ll be making this for friends.

    9. NS April 16, 2015 at 5:26 am #

      This is similar to the fried spareribs with garlic and pepper that my dad used to make, minus the honey and lemongrass. Would the nampla prik go with that too?


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