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Lemongrass-Barbecued Pork with Rice-Vermicelli Salad
© Earl Carter

Lemongrass-Barbecued Pork with Rice-Vermicelli Salad

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS including marinating
  • SERVINGS: 6
  • HEALTHY
  • MAKE-AHEAD

Mai My Lin, one of the chefs Marcia Kiesel met at the Nha Trang night market, prepares an aromatic and pungent marinade for grilled pork with two quintessential Vietnamese ingredients—lemongrass and fish sauce. The real surprise here is Mai's zesty Carrot and Daikon Pickles, which are amazing with the smoky grilled meat.

Barbecued Pork

  1. 4 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  2. 3 large stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only, sliced crosswise
  3. 2 large shallots, thickly sliced
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  6. 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  7. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  8. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  9. 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Rice-Vermicelli Salad

  1. 1/2 pound rice vermicelli
  2. 4 medium garlic cloves, quartered
  3. 3 Thai chiles or 1 large jalapeño, thickly sliced
  4. 3 tablespoons sugar
  5. 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  6. 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  7. 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  8. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  9. 1/3 cup water
  10. 2 large cucumbers—peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
  11. Carrot and Daikon Pickles, for serving
  1. In a food processor, finely chop the garlic, lemongrass and shallots. Add the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil and soy sauce and process to a paste. In a large shallow dish, coat the pork with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. In a large bowl, cover the rice vermicelli with cold water and let soak until pliable, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a mortar, using a pestle, pound the garlic cloves to a paste with the chiles and sugar. Stir in the fish sauce, cilantro, mint, lime juice and water.
  4. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Drain the rice vermicelli and add it to the boiling water. Cook, stirring, until barely tender, about 1 minute. Drain the vermicelli. Rinse the vermicelli in cold water and drain thoroughly. Transfer the vermicelli to a large bowl, add the cilantro-and-mint dressing and toss well. Scatter the sliced cucumbers over the rice-vermicelli salad.
  5. Light a grill. Lift the pork slices from the marinade, leaving on some of the flavorings. Grill the pork over a hot fire until nicely charred, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to plates and serve with the rice-vermicelli salad. Pass the Carrot and Daikon Pickles at the table.
Make Ahead The marinated pork and the dressing for the rice-vermicelli salad can be refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

This dish is sweet, tangy, fragrant and spicy all at once—a tough combination for most grape varieties, but ideal for an aromatic, off-dry (i.e., slightly sweet) Riesling. Though New Zealand is primarily known for Sauvignon Blanc, it's also an up-and-coming Riesling producer.