One of our all-time-favorite meals is Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork with Rice Noodles). This is a simple cold noodle salad topped with wondrous, lemongrass-loaded, grilled pork. This meal is best prepared in large quantities and a day in advance. I’m also including my recipe for eggrolls which make a fantastic addition to this salad.
Note: For this recipe the pork should be sliced very thin, but not so thin that it falls apart when handled. Unless you want to spend an hour doing this by hand, ask the folks at the meat counter at your local grocery to slice this for you.
Grilled Pork: Mix together and refrigerate overnight. For best results cook pork on a cast iron griddle until it loses its pink color (this retains the juices and keeps the meat moist), then put the meat on the grill (gas or charcoal) and allow the meat to get a slight char, finish by tossing the meat in the juices on the cast iron griddle. (Make sure to keep the bits of cooked lemongrass and sesame seeds that stick to the griddle, they are packed with flavor and taste great with the rice noodles.)
3-4 pounds pork butt or pork shoulder sliced very thin
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 shallots, minced
1/2 cup chopped lemongrass (can buy this in the frozen food section of most Asian groceries)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fishsauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Sauce: Combine all ingredient in a large saucepan and heat to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and store in a clean glass jar. Can be used for several months. Immediately before serving mix several tablespoons of the prepared sauce with a teaspoon of chili garlic sauce in a small bowl. (Great on steamed white rice with fried green onions.)
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup fish sauce
3/4 cup sugar
Noodle Salad: Prepare noodles at least an hour in advance so they have time to dry and cool. Place a handful or two of prepared noodles in a bowl. Top with a couple tablespoons of the sauce, and a generous amount of cucumbers, carrots, green onions (fried or fresh), plenty of fresh mint, a few slices of grilled pork, and an eggroll.
1-2 cucumbers cut into 2 inch long matchsticks
4-6 carrots, grated
2-3 green onions, finely chopped (can use fresh or fry in a skillet with 1-2 tablespoons oil for 3-5 minutes)
Eggrolls: Mix the pork, vegetables, and spices in a large bowl making sure that all ingredients are evenly combined. Place a wrapper with one corner pointed towards you and place a generous spoonful of the filling in the middle. Fold the point facing you up over the filling and press gently into the desired cylindrical shape. Now fold the corners on your right and left over, brush a little egg yolk on the corner pointing away from you, and roll the filling away from you, making sure the roll remains tight. Place eggrolls on a cookie sheet with the corner brushed with egg yolk facing up, and away from the other eggrolls, so that they don’t stick together. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to fry. To fry, fill a saucepan with oil (at least 3 inches deep), and place on medium-high heat. Oil is ready when a small piece of wrapper immediately starts bubbling and rises to the surface when added to the oil. Carefully add 3 -5 eggrolls to the oil and allow to fry on one side for 3-4 minutes. Use metal tongs to flip the eggrolls over and fry an additional 3 minutes, or until they are golden brown. If you have left-overs pop them into a toaster oven for a few minutes before eating to crisp them up.
1 pound ground pork
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup thinly sliced shitake mushrooms (I use the pre-sliced dried mushrooms and simply hydrate them in warm water for a few minutes.)
2 green onions finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons five spice powder
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (for brushing on wrappers)
1 package spring roll wrappers
Have leftover grilled pork, but tired of noodle salad? Grab a baguette, cilantro, some cucumber and jalapeno slices, a little grated carrot, and a can of pate and make a delicious banh mi!