I’m sure most of you know or heard of Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade, a cooking show on the Food Network. I may not necessarily be jumping up to try all of the recipes featured on her show but I certainly agree with her motto, “Keep it simple. Keep it smart. Keep it semi-homemade.” With a busy schedule and a penchant for eating but not necessarily cooking, keeping things quick, easy and semi-homemade has been my way of cutting down on time in the kitchen. I just don’t think it’s worth my time to slave over a recipe to make everything from scratch and having the outcome be “meh” a lot of the times.
I love Vietnamese food but the closest Vietnamese restaurant to our house is too far for us to be visiting often. So I decided to try making one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes at home. The literal translation of Bun Thit Nuong is Rice Noodles with Grilled Meat and it’s basically a rice noodle salad with grilled pork, lots of veggies and a fish sauce dressing (nuoc cham). Although I typically make the grilled pork from scratch, this time around, I decided to use Trader Joe’s pre-marinated Bool Kogi, which is a Korean marinated beef that has a very similar sweetness in the marinade to the Vietnamese version. For the spring rolls, I just picked up a frozen package of mini vegetable spring rolls at my local grocery store. Everything else I made “from scratch.”
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Bowl Recipe
1 14 oz package of vermicelli noodles (I sometimes use the thicker rice noodles, typically used for Pho.)
1.5 lbs grilled meat (recipe to follow)
For the garnishes:
2 cups washed and shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups bean sprouts, cleaned
1 cucumber seeded and julienned
1/2 cup small whole mint leaves
1/2 cup small Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
Pickled carrots and daikons (optional, use this recipe)
a dozen mini spring rolls or 6 spring rolls cut in half
Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce, recipe to follow)
Prepare meat, noodles and spring rolls as directed. Prepare garnishes and set aside.
To assemble the bowl, divide up the noodles into 4-6 bowls and top with garnishes. I typically top with romaine lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikons, and spring rolls. All the other garnishes I place on a plate for self-serving. Top with grilled pork or beef. Serve with a side of dipping sauce, to be added according to taste.
Vietnamese Grilled Pork Recipe
1.5 lbs pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce (if possible, use thick soy sauce found in some Asian grocery stores)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoon lemongrass, minced or use 1 Tb lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon Sriracha Thai chili sauce (optional)
1) Place pork into a large Ziploc bag. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Pour marinade over pork pieces and seal the bag. Toss pork around in bag to completely coat. Place in refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, remove meat from marinade and pat with clean paper towels to remove excess moisture.
2) Either grill or pan sauté the pork. To grill, preheat a grill on medium to high heat. Thread the pork onto the skewers and grill for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until brown and cooked through. To sauté, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add meat about a cup at a time (cooking too much at a time will produce excess moisture and result in boiling effect) and sauté quickly over high heat. Remove to platter and continue with remaining meat.
Nuoc Cham Recipe (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 of a lime, juiced
3-4 cloves of garlic , minced
2-3 Thai chili pepper, minced or use 1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek chili sauce
1) In a small sealable jar, combine water and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice and mix. Adjust flavors to taste.
2) Add garlic and chili pepper. The sauce can be stored at room temperature, if served the same day. Otherwise, store it in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2.5 cups.
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