Here's the report on the best time we made Vietnamese grilled pork with Nate from Nate Stiles Cooking.
Mr. Tabletop Cook and Nate go way back. They have always had a lot in common, so it was inevitable that our time together would be spent cooking and drinking good wine.
This is a deceptively big recipe, so I won't waste any more time on the introductions. I think a lone cook could get everything ready for the grill inside of 90 minutes.
In a perfect world, you can get the meat marinating, make the dipping sauce, and make the pickle the day before. That way when you're ready to eat, you just have to prepare the noodles and assemble the bowls, then cook the meat on the tabletop grill.
Our marinade was based the Hungry Huy's recipe for bún thịt nướng (=grilled pork with rice noodles). Bryan Huy Vu has a lot of solid information about how this meal is traditionally prepared in the different regions of Vietnam, so please check it out! We also took some suggestions from the recipe for BBQ pork with rice noodles from Three Tastes.
I'd like to interject here and say that you could serve this Vietnamese grilled pork with crusty French baguettes instead of rice noodles and have a banh mi bash. Check out our recipe for bulgogi banh mi if you want some pointers on throwing that kind of party.
Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Any well-stocked Asian-cuisine-curious kitchen will already have many of these items.
This is a grilled pork recipe, but the marinade would work equally well for chicken or beef. Sweet, soft pork neck would have been phenomenal. Boneless chicken thighs would have been a cheap and tasty alternative, too.
The dipping sauce, or nuoc cham, gets me excited. Salty, sweet, sour, and a little spicy, it arouses all your taste buds and tempts them with every bite. I also have a crush on the carrot-and-radish pickle, which we use when we make banh mi, too. You'll find recipes for both below.
The following marinade is enough for one pound of thinly-sliced pork, chicken or beef for four people. Pork neck or boneless chicken thighs would be ideal. Use tofu or portobello mushrooms if you're awesome.
Note: You can flash-freeze the meat by placing it in the fridge for an hour or so and then using your sharpest knife to carefully cut it into credit-card thick slices. Or you can you use favorite cut for kebabs and skewer it before you grill it. Why not? This is a recipe, not the Bible.
Marinade for the meat:
Needs tips on cleaning and cutting lemongrass? Check out this cool video!
Ingredients for the noodle bowl
Nuoc cham dipping sauce
You can prepare the pickle up to five days before, but if you're doing it the day of the meal, finish it one hour before serving so vegetables are at least somewhat pickled by serving time.
Marinating the meat
You can start marinating the meat the night before your meal for maximum flavor and for easy grilling the next day. At any rate, give the meat at least an hour to soak.
The nuoc cham dipping sauce
The noodle bowls
We paired this Vietnamese grilled pork with a fruity, black-peppery 2010 Cabernet Franc from Cedar Creek Winery in Virginia. (We had a 2009, too, but the 2010 was better!) We all agreed it was an excellent match with the fresh vegetables, the pork, and the strong flavors of the pickle and the dipping sauce. If you’re looking for a good wine to pair with this meal, try a crispy white like a Riesling or a Grüner Veltliner, or a fruity, accommodating red like our Cab Franc or a Malbec.
After you've made this Vietnamese grilled pork, you might like to try some of our other tabletop-cooking ideas:
Some of my favorite online stores might have just what you need for your next tabletop meal!
Asian Food Grocer has a great selection of essential ingredients and many hard-to-find items.
Cilantro Cook Shop has a great selection of quality raclette and fondue sets.
For The Gourmet has an amazing selection of cheeses and chocolates.
Sephra specializes in chocolate, caramel and fruit fondues... and fountains.