Lemongrass Pork on Cool Rice Vermicelli with Herbs

Bún Thịt Nướng

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    4 to 6

    bowls as a one-dish meal

Appears in

These are a dining-out habit of mine. Although I love to cook Vietnamese food, I also go out to restaurants for it. These noodles are a frequent first choice. Vivid tastes, colors, and textures each add their own notes in the orchestra of flavors that unravels with each bite. The palate-tickling sensation of the angel-hair fine rice noodles becomes even more stimulating once the sweet-tart-savory dressing loosens their tangled filaments. They revel in a contrast of crunchy cool vegetables, chewy slivers of warm pork, and toothsome herbs.

Most places offer a few variations on this noodle bowl, topping the vermicelli and vegetables with grilled shrimp, fried spring rolls, or charred beef slices. Arm yourself with chopsticks and explore the terrain of Vietnamese cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. Oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. Fish sauce (nước mắm)
  • 1 tbsp. Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. Light brown palm sugar
  • ½ tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass, trimmed and minced
  • 1 small Shallot, minced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • ¾ lb. Pork shoulder, butt, or leg, sliced about inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • 1 lb. (454 g.) Dried rice vermicelli
  • ¼ head Green or red leaf lettuce, shredded, about ½ inch (1.3 cm.) thick
  • 1 small Cucumber, Kirby variety preferred, bite size julienne strips, about inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • ½ cup Carrots, shredded or fine julienne strips, about inch (0.1 cm.) thick
  • ½ cup Perilla herb (pg. 38), sliced thinly, about -inch (0.3 cm.) slices
  • ½ cup Roughly chopped cilantro, (leaves and stems)
  • ¾ cup Peanuts, roasted in dry pan
  • 1 recipe Lime dipping sauce (nước chấm)

Method

  1. Marinate the Pork: In a medium bowl whisk together the oyster sauce, fish sauce, oil, palm sugar, pepper, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic. Add pork; massage to coat well. Marinate at least 30 minutes, overnight is even better.
  2. Cook the Noodles: Meanwhile, soak rice vermicelli in room temperature water 15 minutes; drain. Cook noodles in 1 gallon (4 L.) of boiling water until tender yet resilient, anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute depending on thickness of noodles. Immediately rinse with cool water; drain well. Form the noodles into 4 to 6 bundles.
  3. Set up the bowls: Divide lettuce among serving bowls; top with noodles. Cover, leave at room temperature until needed. The noodles will become a bit sticky but there’s no need to do anything—they will loosen immediately when the sauce is added.
  4. Cook the pork: Drain any excess marinade from pork. Grill pork slices until browned well and cooked through; reserve. (You may opt to sauté the pork instead).
  5. Assemble the Noodle Bowls: Arrange cucumbers, carrots, mint and cilantro in bowl with noodles. Cut pork into bite size pieces and arrange atop noodles; sprinkle with roasted peanuts.
  6. Serve with nướdc chấm. Divide sauce into 4 to 6 small bowls (4 to 6 tbsp.). Each guest pours his sauce over his own dish and mixes before eating.
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