dimanche 14 février 2010

Vietnamese noodles: Bún thịt nướng

To mark the occasion of Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, today, I’m posting my mother’s recipe for bún thịt nướng, a refreshing dish of rice noodles and grilled meat. It’s one of my favorites. Usually grilled pork or beef is used, but you can substitute grilled shrimp, egg rolls, or even tofu.

Bún thịt nướng is not traditionally eaten at New Year’s, by the way. It’s a light, summer-y dish, perfect for an evening of grilling outside on the patio. But it’s one of the only Vietnamese dishes I know how to make, so it’ll have to do for today.

Bún thịt nướng
Serves 4-6

1 bag (14-16 oz.) dried rice noodles (bún)
grilled topping: pork, beef, shrimp, eggrolls, or tofu
plate of leafy lettuce (not the iceberg white)
1 cup bean sprouts
A bunch of fresh mint leaves
A bunch of cilantro
1-2 cucumbers, sliced thinly
Green onion or dried fried onions
1 cup crushed peanuts

Rice vinegar
2 Tbsp nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce)
Minced garlic
Chili pepper
1 lime
1 carrot, sliced very thin

1. The day before serving, marinate sliced meat or shrimp with salt, pepper, dried onions, garlic, nước mắm, and sugar. If you use beef, marinate with minced lemon grass. Grill right before serving.
2. Soak the noodles for a few hours in cold water. Cook in boiling water with a dash of salt and a teaspoon of cooking oil for a couple minutes, until tender. Drain with cold water.
3. To make the sauce, mix the sugar, water, vinegar, nước mắm, garlic, and chili pepper. Vary the amounts to taste. The nước mắm is very strong so only use 2 Tbsp. Squeeze in the juice of one lime and add the sliced carrots.
4. To serve, put the cucumber, cilantro, mint, lettuce, and bean sprouts in the bottom of a large soup bowl. Add noodles, and top with grilled meat, onions, and crushed peanuts. Pour on a couple spoons of the sauce and eat immediately.

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