Kim told me that the kids at the barbecue wanted “American” food, not Vietnamese food. Immediately I felt a bit irked. Our family came to America when I was about 4 years old. We were part of the wave of “boat people” (the b & w photo on the left banner is my family at a refugee camp in Thailand circa 1980-guess which one is me?) and I feel as American as anyone. I love a good classic “American” burger or hot dogs just like anyone else–but besides, if America is such a melting pot of cultures, why not make the flavors of Vietnamese food part of that Americana? Who knows, in 50 yrs something like nem nuong might rival hotdogs…
So remembering a post of nem nuong sliders by White on Rice Couple, I stubbornly I suggested we make Vietnamese style nem nuong (grilled pork patties) sliders instead…and (pray to God) they’ll love it just the same.
Looking around the fridge, I found a jar of kimchi. There wasn’t any ketchup at her mom’s house, but there were two bottles of Srircha. So why not use Sriracha,as a ketchup sauce?? Great not-too-spicy and garlic flavors match perfectly with the sweet and garlic flavors of nem nuong. You can pan fry or grill the patties, about 2-3 min per side. For the buns, we just used some sweet rolls, slightly buttered and grilled.
For a bit of crunch, I topped it with some fried shallots that I had left from the lotus root salad. So how did the kids like this Vietnamese-Korean-Thai version of American sliders? Big two thumbs up from everyone!!!!!!!!!!!
Now on to the nem nuong recipe…this is a very versatile dish that can be used in several different classic Vietnamese dishes such as nem nuong cuon (spring rolls), in bun such as bun cha Hanoi or bun nem nuong, in banh mi, and as you can see, only limited by your imagination.
This is a recipe from my mom. With only pork, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic as the main ingredients it’s a snap to make and I always keep some on hand in the freezer. Recipe serves about 6.
Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty)
- 2 lbs. ground pork (you may mix ground turkey or chicken to reduce fat)
- 1-2 head of garlic (cloves, peeled; we love the intense garlic flavor but use according to taste)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tbs salt
- 1/2 tbs pepper
- 4 tsp or 1 small package of Alsa baking powder (or any single acting baking powder)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp caramel syrup or 1-2 drops red food coloring (optional and found in most asian groceries or make your own)
Using food processor, chop garlic until fine puree. Combine pork, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar in mixing bowl and mix well. In separate bowl, combine baking powder and water and stir. Mixture will fluff and foam. Add to the mixing bowl along with caramel syrup or red food coloring.
Fold the baking powder into mixture and allow meat to chill for about 30 min-1hr. The baking powder adds more firmer texture which I like. Now you’re ready to form the patties. I personally like to keep meat mixture in the fridge for a few hours to let it set and easier to handle when forming patties. Go wild and make them into balls and skewer them, mini hamburger style patties, favorite animal shapes or the way I like them, into mini sausages. I find that it’s easier to roll in rice paper this way. Keep a bowl of water handy and your hands wet for easy handling. Grill until golden brown and slightly charred. If not using immediately, this stores well in the freezer for 1-2 months.