I adore these small clay ovens (pictured below) from Vietnam. In Vietnam, restaurants usually have these on the table and we would grill our own foods. There's just something about grilling on these mini grills that makes food tastes so much better. I had to bring one home to the states. After triumphantly carrying this 10-pound fragile clay oven half-way trip around the world, I was told that our local China Town carries these clay pots aplenty.
Five Spice Powder is a finely ground mixture of five spices: star anise, cloves, fennel, peppercorn and cinnamon. It's a very common ingredient in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. These five spices make the beautiful aroma of the widely popular Vietnamese dish, Pho.
Five Spice Powder can also be used to marinate pork. I have never used any of the spices in my pork marinade. It turns out Five Spice powder pairs beautifully with pork. For the marinade, I also roasted a couple of whole star anise pods and peppercorns. I then ground them with a mortar and pestle. This added another layer of flavor that made the pork even tastier.
I recently made this recipe a few times in a span of one week. Each and every time, my husband complimented on the flavors. Now, for some perspective, I make pork chops with another marinade all the time. All the time. I don't believe I ever received compliments on that marinade.
Five Spice Pork Marinade Recipe:
Marinate about 6 pork chops or pork steaks
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon pork seasoning powder
1 teaspoon Five Spice powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 star anise pods
2 stalks of lemongrass (mince only the tender bottom white stems)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
Combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, pork seasoning powder, Five Spice power, and sesame oil in a bowl. Set aside.
Dry roast the peppercorns and star anise pods until fragrant (1-2 minutes)
With a mortar and pestle, finely grind the peppercorns and star anise pods.
Add garlic and shallots into the mortar and grind everything together into a paste.
Add ground mixture to the wet ingredients.
Marinate pork for at least 30 minutes. Overnight in refrigerator is best.