Right now I’m on a fresh, spring food kick because the weather is warming up. All I can think about is bright green herbs and crunchy veggies. For this reason, I wanted to make a cold veggie-loaded Vietnamese noodle salad with a light, but tangy nuoc cham sauce.
I am a big fan of noodle salads, no matter what protein I decide to add to it, but this caramelized pork version is definitely at the top of my list when it comes to a noodle salad protein.
The pork marinade tenderizes and infuses so many delicious flavors into the meat. The key is to very thinly slice the pork before marinating so that the pieces can really soak up all of the good stuff. That way, when you cook the pork it gets caramelized on all sides. If you find yourself salivating as you’re cooking this pork, just wait until you taste it. You’ll crave this often, so you might want to add it to your meal rotation.
1 lb. pork tenderloin or chops
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce (your preference)
3 Tbsp. honey or agave
1 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
Salt and pepper
Nuoc Cham Sauce:
⅔ c. water
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp lime juice
½ tsp. Sambal Oelek chile paste
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Thai bird or serrano chiles, seeded and minced (optional)
Salt to taste
12 oz. vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
6 c. mixed greens
2 carrots, julienned or thinly sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
Lime, for serving
Serrano peppers, if you’re a fan of spiciness
The night before making the noodle salad, place the pork into the freezer for about 30-45 minutes. This will make it easy to slice into really thin pieces. Slice the pork into really thin pieces and place into a glass container. Add all of the marinade ingredients and mixed thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator overnight.
To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Set aside in a bowl and let it cool for 15 minutes prior to serving.
To cook the pork, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add in the pork and marinade and cook until the pork is browned, caramelized and most of the liquid is mostly cooked off.
To assemble the noodle salads, divide the noodles, vegetables and pork into 4 bowls. Serve with the sauce on the side.