Grilled Pork and Vermicelli Noodles — 5 Stars

I’ve done a lot of cooking this summer, and not so much writing about my cooking.  Actually, I haven’t done much writing at all.  Or reading.  [sigh]  It’s been worse than being on summer break during elementary school.  At least then I had parents to force me to do work.  Now, I only answer to myself, and that wonderful television that shows Wimbledon and the Olympics and political commentary and more.  Wait…what was I writing about?

Oh, right.  My summer cooking.  It was difficult for me to select which recipe to share first, so I random drew one from a bowl.  And this delicious recipe is it.

I had a friend visiting who remarked before arriving that it would be nice if we could have Thai food.  I immediately thought of a nice curry dish, but changed my mind when I went to Thai restaurant three days before my friend’s visit.  Culling through my “Asian” recipes, I found a recipe for Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Vermicelli Noodles, and decided knew that’s what I wanted to make.  (Yes, I do know my geography — and cuisine — and recognize that Thailand is not at all Vietnam, but I do love vermicelli bowls.) The pork was extremely flavorful and the nuoc cham was quite nice.

This recipe was easy to put together (just remember to allow time for the meat to marinate, and have about half a bottle of fish sauce on hand).  With the exception of subbing plain old iceberg lettuce for the butter lettuce, omitting the mint, and adding a few shakes of red pepper to the marinade, I followed this recipe exactly.  I used boneless pork ribs for the meat; this turned out to be a wonderful choice.  I also cooked the pork on a regular skillet instead of using a grill.  The next time I make this, I’ll add more chili paste to the sauce — an additional 1-2 tsp — and serve the meal with a simple salad.  If you’re making this for someone who has a gluten intolerance, make sure to read the label on the fish sauce — not all fish sauces are GF.

This recipe serves 4-5. Enjoy!

Ingredients
For the pork
2 lbs. of pork shoulder, thinly sliced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbsn. sugar
5 tbsn. fish sauce
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

For the sauce (also known as Nuoc Cham)
1/4 cup sugar
the juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, julienned
2+ tsp. chili paste

For the garnish
One small head of lettuce
One bag of rice vermicelli noodles

Directions
1. Mix the thinly sliced pork with the rest of the ingredients.
2. Let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, but preferrably overnight.
3. While the meat is marinating, make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients. You can keep this in the fridge (apparently, this sauce will keep for several days).
4. Before cooking the meat, allow it to come to room temperature. When ready, cook the pork over medium-high heat until it’s charred, about 5 – 10 minutes.
5. While the meat is cooking, bring water to a boil. When the pork is done, set aside and add the rice noodles to the water. It only takes 2-5 minutes to cook the noodles.
6. Plate by putting ample noodles in a bowl, topping with pork, and tearing a few pieces of lettuce over the bowl. Allow your guests to pour as much or as little of the sauce as they desire.

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