Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vietnamese Pork Salad Bowl

This was, in a word, amazing — a recipe I would definitely come back to time and again. Light, refreshing, but feed your face tasty. The base salad takes less than ten minutes to throw together, and would certainly be nice with any protein you have lying around the house: a rotisserie chicken, smoked tofu, even lunch meat in a pinch. If you have a little extra time though, I highly recommend both the grilled pork and the shrimp rolls. The shrimp rolls probably don't qualify as healthy, but the rest of the salad certainly does!

I worked roughly from this recipe from Une-Deux Senses for the salad and pork, and a recipe from the supercalipornalicious book, The Food of Thailand for the shrimp. As usual, I adapted things to be less sweet and more spicy. The recipe below serves two amply.

Salad (Adapted from Une-Deux Senses)
1 head butter lettuce, washed and broken into bite-sized pieces
1 english or 2 persian cucumbers, seeded and cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Handful cilantro leaves
Handful fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup fish sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
2 teaspoons sambal oelek (chili paste)
1 serrano pepper, finely sliced (including seeds)
½ carrot, julienned (optional)

RICE NOODLES (Prepare these just before assembling the entire salad.)
One block of rice noodles is sufficient for two people. Prepare according to package instructions. I boil my vermicelli for about 1½ to 2 minutes, then drain and rinse it in cold water.

Pork (Adapted from Une-Deux Senses)
½ pound thinly sliced pork butt (available at Korean or Japanese markets, or you can freeze a piece of pork butt for about 45 minutes and slice it yourself)
4 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Ground black pepper

1. Combine marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add pork slices, making sure each slice is well-coated and marinate for about an hour.

2. Grill pork for 3 to 4 minutes in a heavy-bottomed pan until cooked through. Cover with a lid, so the pork stays warm.

Shrimp Rolls (Adapted from The Food of Thailand)
6 large raw shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, minced or crushed
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
1 serrano, finely sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 frozen spring roll sheets, defrosted and cut in half on the diagonal
Canola oil, for deep frying (Note: I felt it was wasteful to submerge the prawns entirely in oil, so I used half the oil required to deep fry and flipped the prawns halfway through).

1. In a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, serrano and shrimp. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for about one hour.

2. Mix flour and ½ cup of water in a small pot and cook over medium heat until a thick paste is formed. Remove from heat.

3. Take triangle-shaped half-sheet of spring roll wrapper and place the shrimp in the center (see picture).

4. Wrap shrimp in the sheet and tuck the end of the triangle over, sealing the edges with the flour paste. Repeat with the rest of the shrimp and wrappers.

5. Heat oil (about ¼ inch deep, in a heavy-bottomed pan) over medium high heat. After about two minutes, drop a small piece of spring roll sheet into it. If it sizzles and turns golden brown, the oil is ready. Place three spring-roll-wrapped shrimp in the pan and let them sit for just under 2 minutes (until golden brown). Flip and cook for about a minute and a half on the other side. Repeat with the other three shrimp.

6. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. These would also be great with nuoc cham or a chili dipping sauce as finger food at a party.

1. Form a bed of vegetables (butter lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, mint & cilantro) in the bottom of a large bowl.

2. Add a ball of cooked rice noodles on top.

3. Drizzle nuoc cham over the noodles/salad.

4. Mound grilled pork over the noodles. Place three shrimp rolls around the edge of the bowl. Drizzle a bit more nuoc cham over the top. Then, as Nigella says: Apply face to bowl.


  1. Ohhhh YUM. I wish I could eat this right now... and Yes I do know its 7:00 am hahhah. Glad you enjoyed the recipe :)

  2. Noodles are my favorite thing to eat first thing in the morning too! ;)

  3. Girl. Your blog makes me salivate.


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