One reason I like keeping a blog is merely for that fact that my brain retains memory like an elephant. A bad quality indeed for a future medical student! But it's also bad when I have to recall recipes, such as which ones that I like, what I should change next time, and so on. And you can imagine it's even worse when my mother recites her from-memory-authentic-Vietnamese-recipes to me. Since I always, always have my beloved Macbook with me (it's like my conjoined twin), blogging has made it easier for me to record, store, and organize things I've made, enjoy looking at, or plan to make in the future. It makes me happy that when access to my mom at all times ceases, I will have her heart and her recipes buried deep within the archives of the internet.
This grilled pork dish is one of my favorites. Whenever we have large family gatherings (and they are very, very large), we often cook this dish. It's simple, easy, healthy, and delicious. The charred grilled pork is balanced nicely with the refreshing and crisp lettuce and mint while the sauce (Nuoc Cham) is slightly sweet, spicy, salty, and pungent (and trust me, in a good way).
Grilled Pork with Vermicelli Noodles and Nuoc Cham
Yields: Enough for 4
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, thinly sliced or julienned (depending on your preference)
1 -2 tsp. chili paste, I used Sambal Oelek (pictured below)
1 package of rice vermicelli, also titled "Bean Thread"
1 head of butter lettuce
1 bunch of mint
Mix the thinly sliced pork with the rest of the ingredients. Let it marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. If you let it marinate for longer than 1 hour, set the meat in the refrigerator. Before cooking the meat, allow it to come to room temperature. When ready, heat up your grill to medium-high and place the meat on it. Cook until the pork is cooked through and charred well on both sides, about 5 - 10 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the vermicelli noodles and cook until tender, about 2-4 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, set aside.
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients and mix well. Keep in mind that this sauce can vary from family to family so use my recipe as a starter, and adjust to your liking by adding more of less of each ingredient. Add the carrots and allow them to soak within the mixture. If there is extra you can jar it and keep it in the refrigerator for several days, it is great with eggrolls! (Don't be afraid by the strong smell, it's VERY delicious!)
To assemble, find a plate or bowl and place the noodles in the bottom. Top with the grilled pork and tear a bunch of lettuce and mint on top. Drizzle with the sauce and enjoy!