YIELD: 4 to 6 servings1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tsps. fish sauce (nuoc mam)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. light-brown palm sugar
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ lb. pork shoulder, butt or leg, sliced about ⅛" thick
1 lb. dried rice vermicelli
Water, as needed
¼ head green- or red-leaf lettuce, shredded about ½" thick
1 small cucumber, julienned about ⅛" thick
½ cup shredded or finely julienned carrot
½ cup perilla (beefsteak plant) herb, sliced about ⅛" thick
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro (leaves and stems) ¾ cup peanuts, roasted in dry pan
Lime dipping sauce (nuoc cham), as needed
1. In a medium bowl whisk together the oyster sauce, fish sauce, oil, palm sugar, pepper, lemongrass, shallot and garlic. Add the pork, massaging it to coat well. Marinate at least 30 minutes (preferably overnight).
2. Soak rice vermicelli in room-temperature water for 15 minutes; drain. Cook noodles in 1 gal. boiling water until tender yet resilient, from 20 seconds to 1 minute depending on the thickness of the noodles. Immediately rinse with cool water and drain well. Form the noodles into 4 to 6 bundles.
3. Divide lettuce among serving bowls; top with noodles. Cover and leave at room temperature until needed. (The noodles will become a bit sticky, but will loosen immediately when the sauce is added.)
4. Drain any excess marinade from the pork. Grill or sauté the pork until cooked through. Reserve.
5. Arrange cucumber, carrot, perilla and cilantro in the bowls with noodles. Cut pork into bite-size pieces and arrange atop noodles and vegetables. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts.
6. Serve with individual bowls of nuoc cham for each guest to mix in as desired.
Recipe and photo: Chef Robert Danhi, CCE, CHE, CEC, CCP, Southeast Asian Flavors, southeastasianflavors.com