how to make Vietnamese grilled pork noodle bowls

Hey everyone, welcome back to Kelly’s Kitchen. I am happy you’re here today! Our vacation through cooking continues as we visit the flavors of Vietnam with Vietnamese grilled pork noodle bowls. I have not been to Vietnam (yet) but I have loved the spicy, sweet, salty, sour flavors of Vietnamese cuisine for as long as I can remember. You may recall that Beth and Mr. Style lived in Vietnam many years ago and so Alex and his brothers love Vietnamese cuisine. Because of this, I had my work cut out for me…to make a dish that would pass muster with their experienced palates.  

I made it easy for myself. I love Vietnamese Phở but every time we go to a Vietnamese restaurant I always end up ordering my favorite dish: bún thịt nướng – Vietnamese grilled pork with rice vermicelli noodles. This is a cold noodle salad loaded with fresh herbs and veggies and hot-off-the-grill pork slices served on top. All of the flavors and textures that make Vietnamese food so good and so satisfying are there: sweet, salty, sour, spicy flavors with crunchy peanuts and vegetables; soft, cold vermicelli noodles; and the bite of grilled meat. This cold noodle salad is easily customized to suit your taste – it’s healthy and refreshing on a hot day. 

 

 

While simple to make, this recipe does require a 24 hour marinade for your pork shoulder. And since this is a cold noodle salad, you can essentially prep everything the day before and then put it all together after you grill the pork. 

The typical ingredients for bún thịt nướng are: raw leafy greens, rice vermicelli noodles, sliced cucumbers, pickled carrots, leafy herbs (cilantro, basil, mint), sliced scallions, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts and nước chấm sauce. 

So, let’s make Vietnamese Grilled Pork Noodle Bowls!

Day 1

Marinade

Step 1: Mix all ingredients together in a large measuring cup and set aside.

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Vietnames Grilled Pork Marinade

Course Marinade, Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp Shallots minced
  • 1.5 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Fish Sauce I like the Red Boat brand
  • 1/2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 3 tbsp Neutral Cooking Oil like Canola, or Grapeseed

Recipe Notes

These ratios should be enough to cover your meat in the Ziplock, but if you need more liquid, add more soy sauce and fish sauce until your meat is totally submerged. 

Step 2: I am using a 1.5 pound pork shoulder. Slice your pork shoulder against the grain in ⅛ to ¼ inch thick slices. Place all the sliced meat into a large Ziplock and pour in the marinade. Gently squeeze the air out as best you can and seal up the bag. Lay the bag flat in the fridge overnight.  

Whisk | 4 Cup Measure | Red Boat Fish Sauce 

Quick Pickled Carrots

Y Peeler | 1 Quart Cambro Container | Salt Cellar | Mirin

These are great to have on hand for sandwiches and salads, so make extra!

Step 1: Wash and peel at least 4 medium to large carrots. Alternatively you can use pre-shredded carrots. 

Step 2: Using your peeler, create carrot ribbons, pulling the peeler the entire length of each carrot. Work your way around the carrot.

Step 3: Fill a jar or a glass bowl with the carrot ribbons and pour in a cup of rice vinegar, ¼ to ½ cup Mirin, sprinkle a generous pinch of salt. Seal the jar and shake to combine or stir well. Be sure the carrots are covered by the liquid, if they aren’t, add equal amounts of vinegar and Mirin until your carrots are submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

Start by prepping your dressing, the nước chấm sauce. Nước chấm is a fish sauce that can be used as a dipping sauce or poured over the noodles and greens as a dressing. It’s also used as a dipping sauce for egg rolls and spring rolls. 

Dressing – Nước Chấm 

8 oz Measure | Cutting Board | Citrus Juicer | OXO Mini Measure 

Step 1: Mix all ingredients together in a measuring cup. Be sure to taste this sauce and add more of any ingredient to suit your taste. For instance, maybe you’d like it to be more citrusy, so add more lime juice. Perhaps you’d like it more sweet, add more sugar. I didn’t find any Thai chiles at the store, so I added a sliced red Fresno Chile, but you can use a Serrano chile, or jalapeño. To dissolve the sugar more easily, use lukewarm water.

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Nước Chấm Sauce

Fish Sauce for dipping or dressing

Course Condiment, Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp Lukewarm Water
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1.5-2 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 tbsp Fish Sauce
  • Garlic Minced – Optional
  • Thai chiles (or other hot pepper) Sliced – Optional

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a glass measuring cup or bowl.

 

Scallion Oil – Mở Hành

I was planning on using scallions as a garnish for this recipe, then after doing some reading, I discovered that scallion oil is a common condiment for grilled meat in Vietnamese cuisine, so I decided to give it a try, but you can simply use raw, thinly sliced scallions instead of making this onion oil. But it’s so simple and it’ll keep in the fridge to use for other dishes! I made a lot extra – I used an entire bunch of scallions and about ¾ cup of grapeseed oil. 

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Mở Hành

Scallion Oil used as a condiment

Course Condiment, Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 + Scallion Stalks
  • 1/4-3/4 cup Neutral oil, like Grapeseed

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice scallions and heat oil in a skillet. Add onions to hot oil and sautè until soft.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Toss in the thinly sliced scallions and cook until soft, just about 30 seconds. 

Prepping the Veggies

I happen to have Napa cabbage and green leaf lettuce, but feel free to use whatever raw leafy greens you like!

The herbs I have are cilantro, basil and mint. If you can find Thai basil, go for that! But I am growing regular old basil, so that’s what I am using. Tear your herb leaves off their stems, wash them and lay them out to dry.

I have cucumbers too! Slice those up. Instead of bean sprouts, I have pea shoots. 

Chop your unsalted, roasted peanuts. 

Vermicelli Noodles

You can do this over rice if you can’t find the vermicelli rice noodles. The noodles are often labeled as “Rice Sticks” if you can find them – great! They’re quick and easy: just heat up a pot of water to near boiling. Turn off the heat, add your noodles and cover. Let sit, covered for 10 minutes. Strain the noodles and run cold water over them until they’re cool, and set them aside. 

Now it’s time to grill!

The pork slices will cook fast, so I like to have everything else ready to go before I put the meat on the grill. You will want to use a grill pan or grill grates so the slices don’t fall through. If you don’t have either of those, a wire cooling rack placed on the grill will work just fine. Spray the grill grates with a cooking oil spray because the pork will want to stick. If you’re using a wire cooling rack, spray it before you lay it on your grill. 

So let’s assemble our Vietnamese Grilled Pork Noodle Bowls! 

Start with your greens

Mercer Large Bowl 

Then add a big handful of rice noodles.

Place your cucumber along one side.

Add your carrots to another side.

Place your leafy herbs and sprouts to create a little nest of noodles.

Lay slices of grilled pork in the center, on top of your noodles.

Spoon some scallion oil (mở hành) on top of the pork and sprinkle chopped peanuts on top. 

Then, pour on some of your nước chấm dressing.

This dish has so much to love! I am a big fan of the “perfect bite” and this type of dish gives you endless opportunities to create new texture and flavor combinations with every bite. This is why this recipe and so many other Vietnamese dishes are incredibly satisfying; it’s a world of variety in a single bowl.

I hope you give Vietnamese Grilled Pork Noodle Bowls a try. Compared to other recipes so far in this column, like Ceviche, Lemon Pound Cake or German Potato Salad, bún thịt nướng seems complicated with many steps, but overall it’s fairly simple – and again, it’s all about the prep. With components you can do ahead, and the freedom to make substitutions, this one is worth the effort. Remember you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too! Take care, everyone. Be well, xo Kelly

Here are some substitution ideas:

Get creative with whichever fresh leafy greens you like.

Feel free to try rice instead of rice vermicelli.

You can substitute fresh julienned or shredded carrots instead of quick pickled carrots.

Top with fresh scallions instead of making onion oil.

Omit sprouts if you like.

Use whichever fresh leafy herbs you like or have.

Equipment, Utensils and Hard to Find Foods Used to make Vietnamese Grilled Pork Noodle Bowls

 

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18 Comments

  1. cathy ogi wrote:

    We eat this type of noodle in Japan, too. Amazed about your knowledge of foods. I guess that’s why you are writing about it here! Astounding!

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Hello Cathy! I love all noodles, but rice noodles (and cold soba!) are so refreshing on a hot day. I am so happy you tuned in today, it’s really nice to hear from you! Thank you so much for your support, take care and have a great weekend! xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  2. Julie Greene wrote:

    Hi Kelly,

    This noodle pork salad sounds delicious. When our children were young, we had a Vietnamese restaurant near us which we visited at least once a week. My favorite dish was spicy grilled pork so it see,s like I will love your salad.

    Thanks for another tasty dish to try!
    Julie

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Hi Julie, I think you will LOVE this recipe! Add some chiles to spice up the marinade and I bet the flavors will bring back the memories of your neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant. Thanks so much for reading today! Have a great weekend! xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  3. I am so impressed with your culinary skills.

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Awww, Linda, you’re too kind. I really appreciate your support and I am so happy you enjoy the column. Take care and have a lovely summer weekend! xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  4. Cheryl wrote:

    I’ve just started following your Saturday posts and your recipes. Each looks delicious and I plan to try them all. But this noodle bowl is wonderful! So crisp and refreshing. Perfect dinner for a hot summer night . Thank you!

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Hi Cheryl, Thanks for stopping by on Saturdays to spend time with Kelly’s Kitchen. I am so happy you’ve started to follow and I look forward to sharing more ideas with you! This dish is wonderfully refreshing and so satisfying while still being healthy and full of vitamins and protein. Give it a try, I am sure you’ll love it! Have a great weekend, see you next week 🙂 xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  5. Marian wrote:

    Hello, Kelly (and Beth). I have been an avid reader of Beth’s Blog for 4 years. I enjoy the recipe and life-style posts the most. I absolutely find Kelly’s cooking /recipe posts so inspiring and knowledgeable – thanks to you both!!!

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Hello Marian, Thanks so much! It makes me very happy to know you find inspiration and useful information in my recipes. I very much enjoy sharing ideas with Beth’s readers and I am grateful for all of your support. Have a lovely weekend! xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  6. Andrea wrote:

    Oh Kelly! That really looks like something that not only I would love, but also something I could accomplish.

    You make cooking simple, fun and yet sophisticated looking. Perfect.

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Hi Andrea! Thank you so much! This dish is easy to accomplish. You could even bake the pork instead of grilling, if that’s easier for you. Bake the pork in a 375 degree oven until is nearly done then broil it until it develops some caramelization. Bún thịt nướng is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds! Take care and enjoy your weekend, xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  7. Suzanne Smith wrote:

    5 stars
    This looks so good and easy–I wind up chopping and prepping stuff all the time, so being able to do most of this in advance doesn’t bother me a bit. I’ll have to try it. The scallion oil sounds interesting! I’ve never done that before and I bet it adds some yummy flavor. Did it pass inspection with the Djalalas?! 😉 It looks marvelous.

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Hi Suzanne! Nice to hear from you today. This recipe is perfect for you! Making it a day ahead makes it so much easier. Turns out the scallion oil is great on sandwiches, salads and eggs too, I am so glad I came across the recipe for it. I think it’d be good on Beth’s hummus too! It did pass inspection with the rest of the family! We will definitely be making it again in the very near future. Have a beautiful weekend! xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  8. Est wrote:

    Kelly, this looks awesome! Looking forward to try this! Thanks for another delish recipe!

    Posted 6.20.20
    • Thanks so much Est! I think you will like this recipe, its a big hit here, for sure! Thank you for tuning in today, take care and have a great weekend! xo Kelly

      Posted 6.20.20
  9. Heather wrote:

    I made this tonight and it was delicious but I need to look for the Fish Sauce you recommended as I suspect it would add even more flavor. I was thrilled to use my Thai basil as I have so much growing right now.I will be making this again. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Posted 6.29.20
    • Hi Heather, I am so happy you made this recipe! How nice to have the Thai basil too! Glad this is a “make-again” for you. 🙂 Take care, have a great week! xo Kelly

      Posted 6.29.20

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