Vietnamese Noodle Salad With Grilled Pork

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READY IN: 1hr 55mins
Recipe by gailanng

There's only about 25-30 minutes of actually "cook" time in the various steps. The prep time seems significant, but it overlaps and goes quick. By Mai Pham from Fine Cooking..

Ingredients Nutrition

  • For the Noodles

  • 8 ounces dried rice vermicelli
  • For the Pork

  • 14 cup sugar
  • 2 large shallots, sliced (or 5 scallions white parts only, chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 12 lbs pork loin or 1 12 lbs pork sirloin roast, sliced into large pieces about 1/4-inch thick
  • For the Garnishes

  • 2 cups washed and shredded romaine lettuce (red, or green leaf lettuce)
  • 2 cups fresh crisp bean sprouts
  • 1 12 cups cucumbers, peeled seeded and julienned
  • 13-12 cup roughly chopped mint leaf
  • 13-12 cup roughly chopped basil or 13-12 cup Thai basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
  • 12 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 -3 thai bird chiles, cored seeded and minced, to taste (or 1 small jalapeno or serrano chile)
  • 12 teaspoon ground chili paste (to taste)
  • 23 cup hot water
  • 14 cup granulated sugar
  • 14 cup fish sauce
  • 1 12-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons shredded carrots (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles: Bring a medium potful of water to a rolling boil. Add the rice vermicelli and, stirring often, cook them until the strands are soft and white, but still resilient, 3 to 5 minutes. Don't be tempted to undercook them, as they must be fully cooked to absorb the flavors of the dish. Rinse them in a colander under cold water just until they're cool and the water runs clear. Let the noodles drain in the colander for 30 minutes, and then set them aside for up to 2 hours, unrefrigerated.
  2. Marinate and cook the pork: Combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir a few times and allow to simmer until the sauce turns deep brown, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, have some extra hot water ready on a back burner. Once the sauce reaches the desired color, carefully add 4 to 5 Tbs. hot water to slow the cooking and thin the sauce. (Be sure to hold the pan away from you so that none of the hot caramel splatters on you when you add the water.) If necessary, add more hot water. The sauce should only be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
  3. Pound the shallots in a mortar and pestle or mince by hand. Transfer the shallots to a mixing bowl and combine with the fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, vegetable oil, and cooled caramel marinade. Stir well to blend. Add the pork slices and let marinate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a broiler or light a charcoal or gas grill. When the broiler or fire is very hot, cook the pork until just done, about 2 minutes on each side. Let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes, and cut into thin strips.
  4. Assemble the salads: Divide the lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, mint, and basil among four large soup or pasta bowls. Fluff the noodles with your fingers and divide them among the prepared salad bowls. Put the grilled pork on the noodles and garnish each bowl with the peanuts and cilantro. Pass the nuoc cham at the table; each diner should drizzle about 3 tablespoons over the salad and then toss the salad in the bowl a few times with two forks or chopsticks before eating.
  5. Nuoc Cham: In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and fresh chiles to a paste. (Or mince them together with a knife.) In a small bowl, combine this garlic and chile mixture with the chile paste, hot water and sugar. Stir well. Add the fish sauce and lime juice (start off with 1 1/2 tablespoons) and combine. Float the carrots on top. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before using.

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