Before leaving for our annual trek north to the Adirondack mountains, the weather in Richmond was as it usually is in the summer: Hazy, hot, and humid. Not just a little hot, but unreasonably hot- 97 degrees with humidity chasing temperatures over the 100 degree mark. When it’s that warm outside, it is hard for me to think about eating…that is unless you are going to make a Vietnamese cold noodle salad, which is exactly what I did.
About a year ago, I discovered a blog called Ravenous Couple, that features the cuisine of Vietnam. If you haven’t paid them a visit , make sure you do. They also host a recipe round up called taste of Vietnam–good stuff.
I fell in love with their recipe for Bun Thit Nuong which showcases the flavor of lemongrass marinated pork with noodles and fresh herbs, and a dressing that has a really nice balance of spicy and sweet. I use pork tenderloin for this dish , which maintains its tender qualities during the quick time it spends on the grill. You can serve this dish in individual bowls with all the accoutrements, or arrange the components on a large platter (as I did) and let everyone help themselves.
No matter how you serve it, it is delicious, and a fantastic way to beat the summer heat.
1/4 cup minced Lemongrass
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons ground pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced. (use more according to taste)
2-3 shallots, minced.
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons thick soy sauce (not regular soy sauce–has molasses, making it thicker and adding great color. If not available, can use caramel sauce. Both can be found at Asian groceries)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/4 inch-thick pieces (partially freeze before slicing)
Combine marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add pork, mix well and marinate for at least 1-2 hrs.
Skewer pork slices onto metal skewers, or place in grill basket. Grill over medium high heat 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through and charred in some places.
2 (14 oz). packages of vermicelli, cooked according to package instructions, rinsed, drained
1 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 English cucumber, cored, cut into julienne
1 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 cup of water
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
2 Thai red chiles or Jalapenos, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Rooster brand chile garlic sauce
Combine water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring to bowl over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add vinegar, lime juice, and chilies, and fish sauce to saucepan, stirring to combine. Season with chile garlic sauce if desired.
Place prepared noodles on platter (or in individual serving bowls). Place all remaining salad ingredients and pork on top of noodles, dividing ingredients in sections. Drizzle dressing over the top of salad.
Makes 15-18 tasting sized appetizers
6 entree servings