Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pork Vermicelli!

If there is one thing Mark and I miss about Colllege Station...ok.
Scratch that.

Mark and I miss LOTS of things about College Station. Friends. Family. Church. BCS. Climbing wall. And etcetera...

but, the one thing I was referring to that we miss tons are these 2 food joints off Texas. Pho Johns and Rosie Phos. Oh how we miss the pho. More than that, we miss the vermicelli. Last night I decided I'd try and whip up one myself from a recipe I found in this Gourmet Today cookbook.

Side note - this cookbook is amazing. We bought it for 50% off at one of the many Borders close out sales...and we've cooked every meal from it since. On Monday night we had some friends over and I made a delectable arugula salad with pancetta wrapped peaches, the most commented on corn and tomato gratin, and steph king even helped out by making the delish catalan tomato grilled bread...with a beer can chicken as the main dish. Every single bite was amazing and I am officially in love with this cookbook. 

Back to vermicelli. So. We found a pork vermicelli recipe in here and with all the amazingness we had on Monday evening, we had high hopes for supper last night. Mark even texted me during the day saying "I AM SO EXCITED TO COME HOME AND EAT!" That's not a normal occurrence. He was stoked about his vermicelli.

If you're just as stoked as we were here is what you need to do...

Get this stuff.

and this stuff.

To be even more precise for you here is a list:

1/4 pound thin rice vermicelli noddoles
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro and mint, torn
8 (1/4 inch) boneless pork loin chops
1 finely chopped shallot (1/3 cup)
2 limes (juiced)

Once you have what you need you will first want to make the noodles.

Vermicelli noodles are rice noodles that can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. If you don't have International sections, you should look near the rice and it should be there. The store should have a selection of various rice noodles - you'll choose the vermicelli style...aka the really thin ones.

To make them you first need to boil a pot of water and fill a different pot or bowl with hot water from your sink.

Place the noodles in the bowl of water from your sink and let it all soak for around 10 minutes.
Then, drain the vermicelli noodles in a sieve. If you don't have a sieve (such as myself) you can use a strainer.
Just make sure you watch the noodles because they could easily slip through.

Now place the drained noodles in the boiling water for 1 minute. 

If you are impatient like me and place the noodles in when the water is really just simmering, make it 2 minutes.

{it's boiling...kind of}

Once that has gone for 1 (or 2) minutes place it back in the sieve/strainer.


This time run cold cold water on it to get it to stop cooking.

Once all of the noodles are cooled, turn the water off and let the vermicelli strain away. You want these noodles dried off. It helps to use towels to make it even more dry. 
I used paper towels and patted it down pretty nicely. 

You can even have the noodles sit there while you get the rest of the dish ready.

Next, you can make the sauce that will go with the salad. This is a noodle salad. I don't think I told you that.

Whisk together 1/4 unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon Asian Fish Sauce (watch out, this stuff smells real fishy), 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk away until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Then set that aside.

According to the list way up top, you should already have one shredded carrot, a handful of cilantro and mint leaves (tear these up if they are big), thinly sliced scallions that equal out to be about 1/4 cup, and 1/2 cup chopped unsalted and roasted peanuts. Leave all of those items aside.

I keep everything in little bowls. If you don't have the counterspace...which will be me in 1 month from today because of small kitchens in can go ahead and combine the noodles, sauce, and all that's mentioned above. I don't like to do that because I like how it looks in the end without it. No difference though. 

Now that the whole salad/noodle part is done you'll want to make the pork.

Here's what you do. 

Get your boneless 1/4 inch thick pork and pound them into being thinner. About half the size. You can do this by placing them in between plastic wrap and pounding them away with a mallet.

{use the non spiky side on such thin meat}

Once pounded down cut each pork loin in 1/2 lengthwise.
Then place all the pieces in a bowl.

Then, go to your stove stop and place a little saucepan on medium heat. 

While that heats up take a shallot and chop it up.

You only need one good sized whole shallot. Keep the other one to use for something else later.

Go back to your (hopefully) medium heat sauce pan and put in 1/3 cup sugar.

{that's sugar...cant you tell?}

However enticing it may be, do not stir.

Now. once the sugar has begun to melt, you can give it a little stir. 

Use a wooden spoon. Metal on metal is no bueno. And plastic stirring in such heat equals melted plastic.

Keep stirring OCCASIONALLY (does anyone else have a habit of wanting to stir a lot?) until the sugar dissolves and becomes a golden caramel color. 

Resist the urge to put that over a bowl of ice cream. 

Instead. Pour in the chopped shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and the juice from 2 limes.

I know the picture is poor, but in case you can't tell, this thing is lighting up and boiling like crazy.

Not lighting up really. That was an exagerration.

It was a bit crazy for a bit though. I had moments of wanting to take it off the burner. 

Once again, resist, and instead stir like mad for 2 around 2 minutes. The caramel will dissolve away and the shallots will be softened and your kitchen will smell good. 

Take that sauce and pour it over the pork (which should still be in the bowl). 

Make sure each piece gets the mixture soaked in it.

Then place a grill pan (or a good saute pan if you don't have one) on medium-high heat. 

Once hot, lightly oil the pan, and place the pork on it.

After just one minute flip the pork over

The pork will have this caramel colored glaze on it.

After one more minute, take off your done pork and put it on a plate to the side while you finish up the other pieces. 

Once down you are now ready to assemble your dish. 

First, place the noodles in a bowl or a plate. Follow that with the carrots and the green onions.
It should look like this...

Then add the chopped peanuts, the pork, and the fresh herbs. 

Pour the fish sauce over it (what you whisked together earlier) and boom. 

A Meal. 

Post bite thoughts:

Mark and I loved this meal, but it definitely was not up to par with what we missed so dearly from CStat. I've decided next time I need to make more fish sauce, add some jalapeno peppers in it for a kick of spicy, and add some chopped lettuce as well for more vegis. 

But, this was still really good and will definitely be made again (with those few additions). 

Rumor has it that in California the Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food restaurants are incredible

Along with the Gourmet Cookbook we bought at Borders, we also bought some California and San Francisco reading guides. The Chinatown and Japantown sections were read instantly.

Mark says that is what he is most excited about. 

I semi-agree :)

1 comment:

  1. I love your menu/cooking list board!! And this post just made me miss the pho from Pho John's and the bubble tea from Rosie's. And the west coast has TONS of tasty asian restaurants!!


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