Whenever I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I always have the same dilemma. Should I order pho, a rice plate, or a vermicelli salad? Equally delicious in their own way, I have fallen in love with all three dishes. With spring bringing warmer days, I decided to make my own Vietnamese caramelized pork and vermicelli salad at home, because, well, why not?
- 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 2-3 inch strips
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch knob ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 3 tbsp lemongrass, minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 3 inch lengths, julienned (about 1 cup)
- 1 3 inch daikon, julienned (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 8 ounces thin rice vermicelli noodles
- 2 cups romaine, chopped
- Fried egg rolls (optional)
- 4 ounces shrimp, cooked
- 3 sprigs Thai basil, leaves picked and cut chiffonade
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts
- Whisk together all ingredients for pork marinade from garlic - black pepper. Add pork and turn to coat. Marinate for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, pickle the carrots and daikon. Combine rice vinegar - salt in a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour over the carrots and daikon. Let cool.
- Prepare the dressing (nuoc cham). Stir together fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and warm until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- Cook noodles according to directions on package. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
- Heat grill to high. Remove pork from marinade and cook on grill until grill marks appear. Flip and cook on the other side. Remove and keep warm.
- Assemble the bowls. Line each bowl with chopped romaine. Top with vermicelli noodles followed by pickled carrots and daikon, pork, egg roll, shrimp, herbs and crumbled peanuts. Drizzle nuoc cham, serving extra on the side.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Vietnamese vermicelli salads, also know as Bun Bo Xao) all have the same base ingredients but vary with toppings. Every salad comes with chopped greens, fresh herbs, thin rice vermicelli noodles and nuoc cham dressing on the side; which protein you prefer is all up to you. Grilled pork, beef, shrimp are all common choices along side fried egg rolls, pickled carrots and daikon and crumbled peanuts.
Although this recipe is intended for pork, you can substitute it for beef or chicken. I’ve prepared the pork on the stove top, in the oven and on the grill and have discovered that the grill is the optimal cooking method. The high temperatures achieved by the grill allow the meat to caramelize in a way that other methods do not.
I decided to go extra fancy today and added the egg roll and some shrimp but pairing the salad with just noodles, greens, herbs, pickled carrots and daikon with the meat is just as delicious. Don’t forget the finishing touch – the crumbled peanuts!
Just like all other Vietnamese dishes, this Vietnamese caramelized pork and vermicelli salad is a layer of flavors. Fresh ingredients paired with a savory pork, finished with a balanced sauce brings together a lovely noodle salad. The best part? This dish is actually healthy!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.