Fresh and Hearty Pork and Veggie Vermicelli Bowls

22 Jan

Inauguration Day and MLK Day = no work and policy nerd candyland. Although not braving the crowds and cold, I was up early  (not “early” as defined by the throngs who flicked to the Mall, but “early” as in day off early) and tuned in to Morning Joe at the Dubliner. Getting my politics on in the living room, I made coffee, cinnamon buns and eggs before settling in to camp for the Inaugural festivities. Did I mention the Bloody Mary? I didn’t have any OJ and didn’t feel like drinking straight Champagne on a Monday morning.

Thuan finally came down after Obama was sworn in, Kelly Clarkson mangled an American classic, and Biden ogled Beyonce, so we got the day started with dim sum near home. After a heavy dose of shrimp and MSG, dinner needed to be fresh and healthy. Bring on the Grilled Pork and Vermicelli (Bun Thit Nuong). Speaking of the inauguration today, though, did you see the Inaugural Luncheon menu? I’d love to try a few of these dishes. That dessert sounds ah-mazing. Who wouldn’t love apple pie, maple caramel sauce AND cheese?

Now we haven’t made the 37th trip to Home Depot for grilling goods, so it wasn’t grilled pork but was damn good all the same. Thanks to Super H’s pre-sliced pork butt, this is a super simple meal that packs tons of flavor and healthy veggies.

Working off the Ravenous Couple’s pork marinade:

Grilled Pork and Vermicelli (Bun Thit Nuong)

  • 1 lb thinly sliced pork butt
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs Maggi seasoning sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 3 tbs sesame oil
Pork marinade ingredients for Bun Thit Nuong

Pork marinade for Bun Thit Nuong

I love using fresh lemongrass in almost everything. It’s easy to mince when you chop it like you should an onion. After you clean rinse off the outer layers and peel off any damaged pieces, chop off the end and then slice lengthwise along the thick, meaty part several times.

Cut length-wise down the meatiest part of the lemongrass stalk.

First, cut length-wise down the meatiest part of the lemongrass stalk.

Then cut across for easy mincing.

Then chop across lemongrass stalk cross-wise.

Then chop across lemongrass stalk cross-wise. Now isn’t that easy?

Bowl Toppings:

  • Pickled Daikon Radish and Carrots (or plain carrots shredded)
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Cilantro, basil
  • Fried shallots (Store-bought will save your life. I’ve learned to not be a hero and try to make everything from scratch)
  • Lettuce, rough chopped
  • Nuoc Mam Cham (we make ours with fish sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger , red chili paste and water)

Mix the marinade and toss pork to cover thoroughly. Marinate for up to two hours then grill (preferably) or cook in a skillet over medium heat. You won’t need additional oil due to the sesame oil in the marinade. You can add caramel sauce if you’d like for a richer color, but it’s not necessary. The meat is MUCH better when grilled, but what can you do.

After you mix the meat marinade boil the vermicelli noodles until tender, rinse with cold water and set aside to drain. You don’t want the noodles to be too slippery when you assemble the bowl, so don’t worry when they dry out.

Fresh vegetables for Bun Thit Nuong

Fresh vegetables for Bun Thit Nuong

Slice and chop all the veggies you want and assemble your bowl, topping with nuoc mam cham. If you don’t have one, these herb keepers (back of the photo) keep fresh herbs fresh for weeks (literally). Cooking for two often means we have too many leftovers and fresh vegetables go bad, but these have really helped. I prefer the Prepara Herb Savor over the bigger one, even though you can only fit a single bunch of herbs in the container. Much easier to use.

Thuan lasted a few minutes before losing the battle and going back for seconds. Success.

Grilled Pork and Vermicelli Bowls with Fresh Veggies (Bun Thit Nuong)

Grilled Pork and Vermicelli Bowls with Fresh Veggies (Bun Thit Nuong)

Now, in honor of today’s democratic pomp and circumstance celebrating politics in America, we watch The Campaign.

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