Friday, December 4, 2009

Guest post: Vietnamese grilled pork with rice vermicelli

My kids call this scrumptious all-in-one meal "Vietnamese pork bowl." It's a crowd pleaser: gluten and dairy free, vegetable gateway for picky eaters, straightforward preparation, and its three-hour process is done in spurts with lots of interstitial free time to pull apart brawling children—and oh my goodness is it delicious. Even my picky son with autism can be coaxed into nibbling on one of the carrot sticks. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Serves 4 - 6

8 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
5 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup sugar
ground black pepper to taste

Sauce (nuoc cham)
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of 1 large lime
5 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup water
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

2 pounds pork shoulder (pork loin works but compromises awesomeness)
8 oz rice vermicelli/sen mee/maifun
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
5 tbsp cilantro, Thai basil, mint (any combination), chopped

  1. Place pork in the freezer for sixty minutes to firm it for slicing. (Frozen pork can be slightly defrosted in microwave and sliced immediately).
  2. While the pork is freezing, mix the marinade ingredients and set aside.
  3. Remove pork from freezer, cut into 1/4" slices, then place in a gallon ziploc bag.
  4. Pour marinade into pork bag, shake to cover all surfaces, squeeze out excess air, and seal. Marinate in fridge for one hour (you can leave it overnight, but one hour is sufficient).
  5. Mix the sauce ingredients together and put in fridge until needed.
  6. Julienne carrot and cucumber, and chop herbs.
  7. Optional: Place leftover mint, cucumber, or lime in a pitcher of ice water to impress any guests or soothe yourself with a spa-like visual.
  8. Optional: Reserve a couple of carrot sticks and tell your child with the self-limited diet that they will get a bite of cookie or other preferred food for each bite of said carrot sticks.
  9. When the pork has 30 marinating minutes left, boil a large pot of water. Add the vermicelli/sen mee/maifun noodles and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until tender. Drain the noodles, rinse, and set aside.
  10. Fetch the pork. Grill it until it is cooked through but not overcooked, 5 - 10 min. (This is an excellent time to deep-six any fantasies about Viking ranges with built-in grill tops, as they require two hours of cleanup. I recommend a nice grilling pan, Weber, cast-iron skillet, or George Foreman-style plug-in grill.)
  11. Divide up and pile noodles in individual bowls; top with vegetables, then pork, then herbs. Ladle sauce/nuoc cham over each bowl. Those who can take it should top with chili paste or Sriracha.
  12. Enjoy everyone's exclamations of pleasure and delight.

    Adapted from Serious Eats
    Guest blogger Shannon Des Roches Rosa serves a hot home-cooked dinner six days out of seven, if you include take-and-bake Costco pizza on Wednesdays.


    1. Shannon, thanks for writing our first guest post at (Never) Too Many Cooks. Your recipe looks amazing!

    2. What do you think would be the best pork substitute in this recipe, Shannon? (I'd like to pretend that I don't cook pork because, you know, Jewish and all...but truth be told, bacon is a house favorite. We just don't like pork. ;-))

    3. @Kristen, it was fun! Thanks for the invitation.

      @TC, I haven't tried this recipe with beef, but I bet flank or skirt steak would work well.

    4. Do the children fight over who gets to be the Pork Fetcher?

      This looks delightful. I expect a bowl to be waiting for me upon my next visit.