Ultimate Nem Nuong Recipe: How to Grill Vietnamese Pork Sausage

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine biting into a juicy, flavorful skewer of nem nuong, the famous Vietnamese grilled pork sausage that’s both a street food staple and a festive treat. Originating from the bustling kitchens of Nha Trang, nem nuong is a delightful showcase of Vietnamese culinary prowess, marrying herbs, spices, and textures in a harmony that dances on the palate.


To capture the authentic flavor of nem nuong, gather these essential ingredients, all fresh and quality-assured to help recreate the vibrant tastes of Nha Trang.

For the Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork)

  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional for color enhancement)

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 red chili peppers, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed (for garnish)
  • Fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and perilla leaves
  • Pickled vegetables (carrots and daikon radish)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • Soft rice paper or lettuce leaves
  • Cooked vermicelli noodles (optional)
  • Crushed roasted peanuts for garnish

Each component plays a pivotal role in crafting the rich, complex flavors that define nem nuong, ensuring every bite is as delightful as the dishes served in Vietnam.

Required Tools and Equipment

To ensure your nem nuong turns out just as succulent and flavorsome as you’d expect, having the right tools and equipment is essential. Below, you’ll find a list of necessary items to help you prepare and cook this Vietnamese grilled pork sausage efficiently.

Mixing and Preparation Tools

  • Large Mixing Bowl: You’ll need a big bowl to thoroughly mix your pork with all the spices and herbs.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: Precision matters in cooking, so make sure to measure your ingredients accurately to recreate the authentic taste of nem nuong.
  • Food Processor: Ideal for finely chopping garlic, lemongrass, and shallots, which form the base of your marinade.
  • Gloves (Optional): These can be handy to keep your hands clean and avoid sticking when mixing and shaping the pork mixture.

Cooking Equipment

  • Grill or Skillet: A charcoal grill will give you the most authentic flavor, but a skillet or a grill pan on the stove works great too.
  • Grill Tools or Tongs: Essential for flipping and handling your nem nuong without breaking them.
  • Thermometer (Optional): To ensure your nem nuong is cooked perfectly inside without having to cut into the sausage and risk drying it out.
  • Platter for Serving: Choose a large platter to serve your nem nuong, allowing space for the sausages, fresh herbs, pickled vegetables, and dipping sauces.
  • Dipping Bowls: Small individual bowls for the dipping sauce that complements the grilled pork.
  • Chopsticks or Forks: Depending on your preference and desire to keep the dining experience authentic.

Preparation Steps

Now that you have gathered all your ingredients and tools, let’s dive into the preparation steps that will lead to the creation of a delightful nem nuong meal.

Marinating the Pork

  1. Start by chopping 2 pounds of pork shoulder into small pieces. If you prefer a finer texture, you can also ground the pork using a food processor.
  2. Place the pork in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt. This combination will infuse the pork with traditional Vietnamese flavors.
  3. To enhance the texture and bind the ingredients, incorporate 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of baking soda into the pork mixture.
  4. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the pork. Use your hands for better integration and to ensure that the meat absorbs all the flavors.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Allow the pork to marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you want to develop more profound flavors.

Preparing the Dipping Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. This will create the base of your sauce.
  2. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Once boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature.
  4. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 finely chopped Thai chili for a kick of heat. Adjust the amount of chili based on your preference for spiciness.
  5. Finish the sauce by squeezing in the juice from one lime. This adds a bright, citrusy note that complements the flavors of the nem nuong perfectly. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  1. Wash and finely slice a variety of fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, and basil. These will add freshness and a burst of color to your dish.
  2. Prepare quick pickled vegetables by slicing cucumbers and carrots into thin strips. Toss them with a little salt and sugar, and then cover with distilled white vinegar. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to pickle slightly.
  3. If desired, toast some peanuts in a dry skillet until golden brown. Crush them lightly to sprinkle on top of the finished dish for an added crunch.
  4. Cut several rice paper wrappers into halves or quarters depending on the size you prefer for serving. This will be used to wrap the grilled pork and herbs before dipping.

By following these steps, you ensure that each component of your nem nuong dish plays its part in creating a harmonious and satisfying meal.

Cooking Instructions

After preparing your nem nuong mixture and accompaniments, you’re ready to start cooking and assembling your dish. Follow these steps closely to ensure your nem nuong is flavorful and perfectly cooked.

Grilling the Nem Nuong

  1. Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat, aiming for around 350°F (177°C). If using a charcoal grill, wait until the coals are consistently gray.
  2. While the grill is heating, form the marinated pork mixture into sausages or patties. You can shape them on skewers for easy handling and an authentic presentation.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate to prevent sticking. Place the nem nuong on the grill, ensuring they are not too crowded to allow for even cooking.
  4. Grill the nem nuong for about 10 minutes, turning them every 2 to 3 minutes to get an even char and to ensure they cook through. The meat should reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and exhibit a slightly crisped, golden exterior.
  5. Remove the nem nuong from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.
  1. Soak the rice paper wrappers in warm water for about 10-20 seconds until they are flexible but not overly soft.
  2. Lay the softened wrapper on a clean, slightly wet surface to prevent sticking. Arrange a small amount of the fresh herbs and pickled vegetables in the center of the wrapper, followed by a grilled nem nuong.
  3. Sprinkle some toasted peanuts over the fillings for a crunchy texture.
  4. Carefully fold the sides of the rice paper wrapper inward, then roll it tightly to encase all the fillings securely.
  5. Serve the nem nuong rolls immediately with the prepared dipping sauce to enjoy the full freshness and vibrant flavors of your creation.

By following these steps, your nem nuong will not only taste great but will also present beautifully, making your dining experience both enjoyable and memorable.

Serving Suggestions

After you’ve grilled your nem nuong to perfection and bundled them with herbs and vegetables, it’s time to think about the best ways to serve them. Presentation and accompaniments can elevate this dish from simply delicious to truly spectacular.

Plating the Nem Nuong

Begin by laying a fresh, green lettuce leaf on each plate. This not only adds a splash of color but also serves as a crisp bed for the nem nuong. Arrange the grilled nem nuong atop the lettuce, and if you’re using rice paper wrappers, encase each sausage in one, rolling tightly to secure the fillings. Arrange these neatly on the plate in a row. Drizzle some of the homemade dipping sauce over the nem nuong or serve it in a small bowl on the side, allowing each person to dip according to their preference. Garnish with a sprinkle of toasted peanuts and a few additional herbs for an extra touch of freshness and flavor.


To complement the savory sweetness of the nem nuong, offer a variety of side dishes that enhance and contrast the flavors. Consider serving:

  • Fresh Herbs and Vegetables: A platter of additional fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, and basil, along with sliced cucumbers and carrots, invites guests to customize their plate.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Provide a small dish of pickled carrots and daikon radish to add a tangy, crisp element that balances the grilled pork’s richness.
  • Vermicelli Noodles: Lightly seasoned rice vermicelli noodles can act as a base for those who prefer a more filling meal. They pair nicely with the textures and flavors of the nem nuong.
  • Extra Dipping Sauces: Aside from the main dipping sauce, consider offering a hot chili sauce and a hoisin sauce for those who enjoy layering flavors and heat.

With these suggestions, you can ensure that every bite of nem nuong is enjoyed to its fullest, making your meal memorable and visually appealing.


Now that you’ve got the secrets to crafting authentic nem nuong right at your fingertips why not give it a try for your next dinner party or family gathering? With the rich flavors and vibrant accompaniments you’re set to impress. Remember the joy is in the journey—from marinating the pork to assembling those perfect bites. Here’s to creating delicious memories one roll at a time!

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