Vietnamese Pork Chops
and rice noodle salad
Like many of our favorite Vietnamese meals, this one is fresh and light with a balance of sour and sweet flavors. If the weather is warm where you are, feel free to fire up the grill and cook the pork that way. Served with a refreshing rice noodle salad on the side, this would be a great dinner to enjoy outdoors if the weather cooperates.
Vietnamese Pork Chops:
- Garlic - 1 clove , chopped
- Vinegar, rice - 1 tsp
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Soy sauce, low-sodium - 2 Tbsp
- Pork chops, boneless - 1 lb
Nuoc Nam Dipping Sauce:
- Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Sugar - 2 Tbsp
- Fish sauce - 2 Tbsp (Red Boat brand has the fewest additives)
- Lime juice - 2 Tbsp
- Hot sauce (opt) - to taste
Rice Noodle Salad with Peanuts:
- Bell peppers, red - 1/2 , thinly sliced
- Carrots - 6 oz , shredded (look for pre-shredded)
- Noodles, rice vermicelli - 4 oz (look for these in the international aisle; if you can't find them, substitute with another thin noodle)
- Green lettuce - 1 head , chopped (sub any crisp variety of lettuce)
- Basil, fresh - 1/4 cup , chiffonade
- Peanuts, roasted and unsalted - 1/4 cup
- Bell peppers / Carrots (if not pre-shredded) / Garlic (for pork and dressing) - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Marinate pork - Combine garlic (the portion for the pork), soy sauce and vinegar. Add pork and turn to coat in marinade. Marinate at least 20 minutes and up to 2 days. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
- Make nuoc nam dressing - Combine water and sugar and boil (or heat in a microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, until water is bubbling). Mix with remaining dressing ingredients and season to taste with hot sauce. Adjust taste as needed - use fish sauce for more savory, more lime juice for tartness, more sugar for sweetness. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Cook rice noodles - Double if making Thursday's summer rolls. Cook according to package instructions and store in cold water until ready to use. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
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- Optional step: You can leave the bell pepper and carrots raw for the salad if you like extra crunch, or if you would prefer them to be more tender, heat some oil in a skillet. Saute bell peppers and carrots until cooked to your liking. Set aside and return pan to heat.
- Heat a skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to heated oil (discard marinade) and sear on each side for ~3 minutes. For thin pork chops, this should be enough heat to cook them through. If you're using thicker pork chops, lower heat and cover with a piece of foil until pork reaches 145F / 63C degrees. When done, let pork rest for ~5 minutes.
- While pork rests, chop lettuce and chiffonade basil. In a large mixing bowl, combine noodles (remember to reserve half if doubled for Thursday), lettuce, basil, bell peppers, carrots and peanuts. Add nouc nam dressing until salad is dressed to your liking, tossing to coat all ingredients in dressing.
- Slice pork and serve with rice noodle salad on the side. (Note: nuoc nam is a light, oil-free dressing so it will gather at the bottom of the bowl. Gently toss the salad right before serving to make sure everything is combined.) If you have extra nuoc nam, you can dip pork slices in the dressing. Enjoy!