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Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Grilled Pork

Ben Fink

Servings: 4

A caramelized marinade gives the grilled pork strips a smoky-sweet flavor, contrasting with the cool soft noodles and crunchy vegetables.


For the noodles:

  • 8 oz. dried rice vermicelli

For the pork:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large shallots, sliced, or 5 scallions (white parts only), chopped
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 lb. pork loin or sirloin, sliced into large pieces about 1/4-inch thick

For the garnishes:

  • 2 cups washed and shredded romaine, red, or green leaf lettuce
  • 2 cups fresh, crisp bean sprouts
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and julienned cucumber
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small whole mint leaves
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small basil or Thai basil leaves
  • 2 Tbs. chopped roasted peanuts
  • 12 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1 recipe Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)


Cook the noodles:

  • Bring a medium potful of water to a rolling boil. Add the rice vermicelli and, stirring often, cook them until the strands are soft and white, but still resilient, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t be tempted to undercook them, as they must be fully cooked to absorb the flavors of the dish. Rinse them in a colander under cold water just until they’re cool and the water runs clear. Let the noodles drain in the colander for 30 minutes, and then set them aside for up to 2 hours, unrefrigerated.

Marinate and cook the pork:

  • Combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir a few times and allow to simmer until the sauce turns deep brown, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, have some extra hot water ready on a back burner. Once the sauce reaches the desired color, carefully add 4 to 5 Tbs. hot water to slow the cooking and thin the sauce. (Be sure to hold the pan away from you so that none of the hot caramel splatters on you when you add the water.) If necessary, add more hot water. The sauce should only be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
  • Pound the shallots in a mortar and pestle or mince by hand. Transfer the shallots to a mixing bowl and combine with the fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, vegetable oil, and cooled caramel marinade. Stir well to blend. Add the pork slices and let marinate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a broiler or light a charcoal or gas grill. When the broiler or fire is very hot, cook the pork until just done, about 2 minutes on each side. Let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes, and cut into thin strips.

Assemble the salads:

  • Divide the lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, mint, and basil among four large soup or pasta bowls. Fluff the noodles with your fingers and divide them among the prepared salad bowls. Put the grilled pork on the noodles and garnish each bowl with the peanuts and cilantro. Pass the nuoc cham at the table; each diner should drizzle about 3 Tbs. over the salad and then toss the salad in the bowl a few times with two forks or chopsticks before eating.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • Krispie | 03/10/2018

    This was a good weeknight meal - tasty but not outstanding like some other fine cooking recipes. I would make again but not put it in my regular rotation.

  • sarahloveswords | 07/15/2014

    What a wonderful and delicious surprise. When I lived in Tampa, I worked for an amazing Vietnamese chef and have never found a restaurant that could come close to her fresh and simple style. Now I don't need to go out to enjoy authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The sauce was perfect on a green leaf salad with herbs picked fresh from my garden. I did not have any pork on hand, so instead served the noodle and herb salad with a simply seasoned grilled salmon. It was good advice to allow the noodles to cook for 4-5 minutes; they held onto the sauce beautifully. I have never allowed my noodles to cook, or drain, that long but am happy that I did. They were perfect and had a wonderful chew without being too firm. The dish was so delicious and our basil and mint are so plentiful right now that I went to the store, purchased some pork and am going to prepare the noodle salad again tonight with the pork. Thank you for a weekday meal that serves up big flavor and style!

  • golflover | 07/08/2011

    I saw this recipe a couple of weeks after we discovered a similar dish at a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant in Stevens Point WI. She loved it, and so I prepared this for her. IT WAS WONDERFUL! The pork was so flavorful, the sauce so sweet and tangy, the veggies crunch with lots of different flavors, and the noodles provided comfort. She said it was almost exactly the same as the restaurant version. One of the best entree salads I have ever eaten.

  • cookykamp | 05/10/2010

    This was awesome. I used country-style pork ribs and marinated them about 6 hours, then grilled. Did not slice and put on buns, just ate as ribs. Moist, succulenet and tasty! Served with an oriental rice and a salad using the Asian Vinaigrette found on this site. Great meal!

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