Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grilled Pork with Vermicelli Noodles

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
olive oil

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!


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous! This is on of my all-time faves too. I just bought a little Weber grill and am planning on testing it out with thit nuong ;-)

  2. YUUMMMMM. Grew up eating this, and it is seriously a fail-safe recipe that is easily thrown together.

  3. I love this dish!! What brand of fish sauce do you use?

  4. Oh you rock. I've wanted to learn how to make this for literally over a decade.

  5. That actually seems not to hard to make! I make the same things with pork all the time and this would make a great change of pace.

    I've never used fish sauce in anything, so that kind of intrigues me!

  6. You should definitely try it! It's strong and it might take some getting used to, but we Vietnamese people eat it with almost everything!

    P.S. The brand I use varies, but this time I used the Squid brand, but sometimes I use the Three Crabs brand also :)

  7. Thanks for posting this recipe! This is my favorite Vietnamese dish and now I can make it at home.


  9. That looks incredible! I love blogs because I don't have to search and search for authentic cuisine-I just go to those who post from their moms' and grandmas' kitchens.

  10. Thanks for the recipe. Do you marinate the pork with the fish sauce straight out of the bottle? Then use the "doctored" fish sauce as an accompaniment for the finished dish?

  11. Marinate using the fish sauce straight out of the bottle, then the mix as a sauce.

  12. Michelle, I have a question about the noodles that are used. I noticed at a local asian store that there is both rice vermicelli and also "bean thread" and they are two different products. Do you have a preference of one noodle over the other? Thanks again for the recipe. I plan on making it soon.

  13. They should be the same thing so both should work perfectly, I hope you like it!

  14. Rice vermicelli is made from rice, and bean thread noodles are made from mung beans. The bean thread noodles only need to soak in hot water for 15 mins, and turn out less slippery than cooked rice noodles. Also, they soak up juices in a really yummy way. At least- in my experience ;-)
    This recipe is a definite Must Try!

  15. This was really delish, thanks for the recipe! I made a version of it and wrote about it here: http://noodlefever.blogspot.com/2009/11/healthy-eating-vietnamese-pork-salad.html


  16. With all the sugar in the marinade, how do you prevent the outside of the pork from burning?

  17. Thanks for the recipe - it was delicious! Here's my attempt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78842015@N00/5565688693/

  18. What I want to know is where I can buy the vermicelli noodles. I've tried the rice vermicelli noodles and they are so thin and awful looking, almost transparent. I've tried the vermicelli pasta noodles. Not the same. Where can I buy these awesome white, thin vermicelli noodles?

  19. @ Anonymous: the sugar is there to help caramelization, so charring is invited if not enjoyed :) usually also, the pork is thin enough to cook quickly without getting too charred.

    @ zachberry: gorgeous!! i'm glad you liked the recipe.

    @ Anonymous: the best place to buy vermicelli is at Vietnamese supermarkets, but other Asian supermarkets have it as well. since these can't be found everywhere, they also sometimes have them in the 'international' aisle of the supermarket.