Vietnamese grilled pork

Nate Stiles Cooking and The Tabletop Cook make an epic meal of Vietnamese grilled pork

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.

vietnamese grilled pork in a rice noodle bowlThe rice noodle (vermicelli) bowl topped with Vietnamese grilled pork cooked right at the table.

Prepare ahead to save time

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. 

vietnamese grilled pork recipe nuoc cham dipping sauce tabletop cookingThe nuoc cham is right there.

Some things you might need to make this Vietnamese grilled pork recipe on the tabletop grill:

Visit The Tabletop Tool Shop or The Tabletop Food Shop for everything and anything you might need for an excellent tabletop cooking experience.


Vietnamese grilled pork recipe

Ingredients

  • 16 oz meat or protein of choice

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:

  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and tender parts minced
  • 3 tbsp oil (we used a peanut-canola blend)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp thick soy sauce
  • Optional: Salt and/or black pepper to taste
  • Optional: Substitute half a small onion for the shallots

Needs tips on cleaning and cutting lemongrass? Check out this cool video

  • 4 servings of rice noodles, prepared according to the directions on the package (check your package for serving guidelines, but one 14-oz package should be sufficient)

Carrot-and-Daikon Pickle 

  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1/4 of a large daikon radish (Japanese radish), peeled and julienned
  • 3 tbsp white distilled vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water

Ingredients for the noodle bowl

  • 1 bunch of fresh mint, cleaned and dried only
  • 1 bunch Thai sweet basil, cleaned and dried only
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 Japanese (small) cucumbers (or one regular big cucumber would be fine), washed but not peeled, and chopped or cut into sticks
  • Raw mung bean sprouts
  • 1 head leafy lettuce, washed, dried, and torn
  • Optional: 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped 
This noodle bowl covered with fresh vegetables and herbs looks good enough to eat on its own.

Nuoc cham dipping sauce

  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: 2-3 Thai bird chilis, chopped fine
  • Optional: 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Directions

The pickle

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. 

  1. Put the julienned carrots and daikon radish in a clean, empty jar with plenty of extra space (an empty, clean 16-oz jar for peanut butter or jelly would be perfectly fine).
  2. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar and water. Have a taste of your brine and decide if you want to add more vinegar, salt, or sugar. 
  3. Pour it over the vegetables, filling the jar.
  4. Close the lid and let it sit in a cool, dark place until you're ready to assemble the noodle bowls. 

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. 

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. 
  2. Put the thinly-sliced meat in a glass casserole dish and pour the marinade over the top. Make sure each piece of meat gets sauced. 
  3. Cover the dish with a lid or plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour before it's time to grill. 

The nuoc cham dipping sauce

  1. Mix all ingredients and taste. The lime juice adds the sour flavor, the fish sauce is salty, the sugar is sweet, and the chilis are spicy (and will get spicier the longer the sauce rests): Adjust the proportions of the ingredients, or add more water, according to your tastes. This nuoc cham can be served on the side as a dipping sauce or poured over the noodles. 

The noodle bowls

  1. Clean and cut the fresh herbs and other fixings. Prepare the rice noodles according to the instructions on the package. (Do not boil them! Soak them! This will seem strange to you if you've only ever cooked pasta, but if you boil rice noodles, you'll only make a soggy, sticky, inedible mess. Trust me and follow those instructions!) 

Serving

  1. Preheat your tabletop grill in the middle of the table. If there's a cord, make sure it's away from most of the foot traffic and that your guests are aware of where it is. 
  2. Arrange the clean, raw, prepared vegetables and pickled vegetables in serving bowls or plates on the table around the tabletop grill at the center. 
  3. Give each guest a good-sized bowl with a portion of cooked rice noodles inside. Have your guests help themselves to the fresh vegetables on the tables and pile them on the bowls. Rip the basil and mint leaves right off their stems.
  4. If you like, you can start eating the noodles now with the vegetables and nuoc cham. 
  5. If the meat is not on skewers, use tongs or a designated set of chopsticks to put the meat on the grill and start cooking it up. 
  6. Add the meat to your bowls as it's cooked and continue cooking and eating until you run out of food or wine.
  7. Don't let this wonderful night end! Open another bottle of wine and melt up one of our delicious and easy dessert fondues
vietnamese grilled pork on the tabletop grill tabletop cookingOur little grill really does a great job. Look at those sexy grill marks all over that pork!

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. 

2009 cabernet franc from cedar creek winery in virginia the tabletop cook

After you've made this Vietnamese grilled pork, you might like to try some of our other tabletop-cooking ideas:


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