I love the fresh flavors of this dish. Lots of bright ginger, lime, cilantro; fresh and cooling cucumber, carrot and bean sprout garnish; and a tingling of chile sauce for spice and fish sauce for a little kick of saltiness. And then there's pork, and who doesn't love pork? Ok, maybe lots of people, but not me. If you use a lean cut, like tenderloin or loin chops, they're more or less guilt free!
As if you needed an extra bonus, they're fun to eat too, as long as you don't mind a little mess -- heaven knows I'm a sucker for anything that lets you pick and choose and wrap up little bundles of deliciousness. Add as little or as much cilantro as you like, I always like a lot. This is great during the summer when it's hot, mint is readily available, and you want something light and refreshing to eat. Or, like this time, when it's cold and raining, and you're wishing for warmer weather.
Vietnamese Pork Satays
Pork and Marinade:
1 lb pork tenderloin or boneless chops, cut into ½” cubes
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 TB fish sauce
1 TB fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
6 lime leaves, sliced very thin
8” fresh lemongrass, sliced very thin
2” fresh ginger, finely sliced
TB sambal olek
1 tsp sugar
2 TB fresh lime juice
2 TB fish sauce
1 red or green chile, sliced (or 1 tsp sambal olek)
1 head butter lettuce, leaves removed
8 oz cooked beanthread noodles
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 cup bean sprouts
½ cup cucumber, julienned
1/2 cup fresh herbs - cilantro, mint, and/or basil
Combine all marinade ingredients in a glass bowl. Add pork, stir to coat, and marinate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, soak bamboo skewers in water.
Put bean thread noodles in a large bowl, and cover with hot (but not boiling) water. Let soak for 15-20 minutes - test for doneness after 15 minutes. When done, drain well and set aside.
Combine dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
After 20 minutes, thread pork onto skewers, about 6-7 pieces per skewer. Lightly oil and heat a grillpan or heavy skillet (do not use nonstick) over high heat (or a real grill if you like!), and cook quickly, just a few minutes per side, until browned on the outside.
Arrange all ingredients on a large platter. To eat, put some pork, noodles, vegetables and herbs inside a lettuce leaf. Roll up, dip in the nuoc cham, and eat.
Adapted from Street Food by Clair Ferguson.