Another weekend goes by…and again before she leaves, Kim asks what I would like to eat for later in the week? How lucky am I?
We had a ton of fresh herbs and vermicelli left over from eating bun nem nuong, so we decided to mix it up a bit…slightly at least, by make bun thit nuong (vermicelli with grilled pork). Besides pho and bun bo hue, this has got to be one of the most common and favorite dishes at Vietnamese restaurants. Most restaurants might have at least 10 variations…with egg roll, shrimp, shrimp and egg roll, etc. It’s not hard to figure out why this is– so versatile and easy to prepare, the savory lemongrass marinaded grilled pork with refreshing herbs and vermicelli is always a sure thing.
We’ve eaten this so many times at family gatherings, barbecues, and restaurants but never really made it ourselves. So we gave a call to Kim’s aunt and decided to make this for Sunday dinner. Recipe serves 4.
Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Lemongrass-Thit Nuong
- 1.5 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced just under 1/4 inch or so (not too thin as you do not want it to dry out when grilled. Ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, do not use lean pork as it will become dry.)
- 1/4 cup minced Lemongrass (xa bam). Many Asian markets will sell minced lemongrass in the freezer section.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs ground pepper
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (use more according to taste)
- 2-3 shallots, minced.
- 3 tbs sesame oil
- 1 tbs 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 tbs roasted sesame
- flexible grilling basket or indoor grill
Cut any large pieces of sliced pork into roughly 2-3 inch strips. Again, not too small as you do not want it to dry out and also so that it doesn’t fall through the grilling basket. For best results grill outdoors using a flexible grilling basket. Grilling on an indoor grill however, is perfectly acceptable.
For the marinade, combine in large mixing bowl the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, dark soy sauce, sesame oil. Add pork and mix well and marinade for at least 1-2 hrs.
Spread out the meat loosely mesh and grill until nicely golden brown and slightly charred. To prevent from over drying since the meat is so thinly slice, keep lid on the grill. Remove from mesh basket into platter or bowl and toss with roasted sesame. Of course your can use an indoor grill or even saute in a pan if these options aren’t available.
Bun Thit Nuong (Vermicelli with Vietnamese Grilled Pork)
- 1 14 oz. package of vermicelli
- Thit nuong (above)
- Fresh herbs: Mint (rau thom), Perilla (tia to), beansprouts (gia)
- Cucumber, diced matchstick size
- Lettuce, thinly chopped
- Pickled carrots and daikons
- Roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
- Scallion oil ( 2 tbs chop scallions and to that, add about 2 tbs of hot olive oil and pinch of sugar and salt)
- Dipping fish sauce (nuoc mam cham)
Place vermicelli in boiling water for about 6-8 min, stirring regularly so it won’t stick to the bottom of the pot. To check for doneness, take a strand and taste. Should be still slightly firm but easily breaks apart. Drain and flush with cold water to stop cooking process.
In large bowl, combine vermicelli with grilled pork (thit nuong) lots fresh herbs, cucumbers, beansprouts, pickled carrots and daikon, crushed roasted peanuts, scallion oil and dress with nuoc mam cham (dipping fish sauce).
This grilled pork is also fantastic in banh mi as well as Bun Cha Hanoi.