Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Rice Vermicelli (Bún Thịt Nướng)
One of the dishes that I find is a great representation of Vietnamese cuisine is the Vietnamese grilled pork with rice vermicelli or (Bún Thịt Nướng). This dish is on the menu of every Vietnamese restaurant with many variations. It show cases the abundance of fresh ingredients and has the perfect balance of flavors and textures. The warm and savory robust pork paired with cold noodles, packed with herbs, crisp cool cucumber, pickled veggies dressed in the dipping fish sauce (nước chấm) makes for the perfect summer meal.
My foster father often took my sister and I to a Vietnamese restaurant so that we could still enjoy the foods we grew up eating. This was one of the dishes he would always order because it was his all time favorite at the time. He would order it by “bún” which literally translates to noodles which is a broad term since you’d have to specify what you want with your noodles. Thinking about how intrigued my foster father was to explore into our culture makes my heart feel warm because my foster mom was well… let’s say less adventurous when it comes to ethnic dishes. My foster father has now branched out to more Vietnamese dishes.
The protein is traditionally grilled inside a wire mesh basket over a charcoal fire but I just cook it over the stove top since that is what I have access to. Another option would be to cook the pork inside an oven and broil it the last few minutes to get some charred bits. Preferably a fattier cut is used as to not dry the pork out. If you want it more of the authentic way, I would suggest to cook the pork over a charcoal grill to get that smokey charred flavor. Alternatively, you could also soak some bamboo skewers and then grill the pork that way if you don’t own a wire mesh basket.
I rarely order this dish out but it is one of my favorites to make from home because it’s such a light, refreshing, and satisfying meal. It never leaves me feeling heavy. While it can be a bit labor intensive as it contains many steps and components but it isn’t difficult to make. There is a list of ingredients but they all can be prepared in advanced. Although, I recommend making the rice vermicelli on the day you plan to eat this. You could also add in daikon with the pickled carrots but I rarely have it on hand. The dish also is great for leftovers. I usually use the left over ingredients and turn them into spring rolls, eat it as a salad, or pair it with rice.
- 1.5 lb pork loin or shoulder (cut in ¼ in slices)
- 1/4 cup lemongrass (finely chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 tbsp onions or shallots (minced)
- 1 Thai chili (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or seasoning sauce
- 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp 5 spice
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 14 oz package Guilin rice vermicelli
- 8-10 cups water
- 1 large or 2 small carrots (julienne)
- 4 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6-8 scallions (sliced)
- oil as needed
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (chopped)
- 1 cucumber (sliced into matchsticks)
- 1 small head of lettuce (thinly chopped)
- Handful of Vietnamese coriander, Thai basil, cilantro, and mint
- Fill up a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Submerge noodles in and stir to separate them. Lower the heat to prevent it from over boiling. Cook the vermicelli for 3-5 minutes. (They should be partially cooked at this point.) This method is to release most of the vermicelli’s excess starch and to prevent them from having a mushy starchy texture.
- Drain the noodles into a strainer and wash the pot. Fill the pot up with water again and bring back to a boil. Wash and stir the noodles with cold water to loosen them and to thoroughly wash off of the excess starch until the water runs clear. Once the pot comes to a boil, add the noodles back in. At this point they will cook fast so test every minute or so to prevent them from over cooking. Drain and rinse again. (Make sure the noodles are drained well before serving.) They should be soft but still springy.
- In a bowl, add in the marinating ingredients, stir to combine mixture, toss in the sliced pork and mix to thoroughly coat. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight for better results.
- On medium high heat, cook pork for 2-3 minutes on each side in batches until charred and cooked through; remove and set aside.
- In the same pan, add oil if needed, add in scallions and cook for 30 seconds; remove and top on cooked pork.
- Dry roast peanuts in a pan on medium heat until roasted; coarsely chopped and set aside.
- Assemble a bowl with vermicelli, lettuce, cucumbers, Vietnamese coriander, Thai basil, cilantro, and mint. Top with cooked pork and sprinkle on some peanuts.
- Serve with the dipping fish sauce. Add a bit at a time and add more if needed.
- Rice vermicelli needs a sufficient amount of water to cook in as they release a lot of starch.
- They tend to stick together as they start to cool, add in a tiny bit of neutral oil to help them from clumping.
- Keep a damp paper towel over the vermicelli will reduce them from sticking and hardening as they sit.
- One 14 oz package of rice vermicelli normally is enough for 4 servings.