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Vietnamese
Photograph: Sam Evans

Chef's Recipe: Vietnamese grilled pork over vermicelli and vegetables

Chef John Nguyen shows us how to make Vietnamese grilled pork chop with vermicelli noodles and mixed vegetables

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Written by
Sam Evans
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Summer is in full swing here in Hong Kong, and though that means the occasional rain shower, temperatures are high, and there's enough humidity to make us break a sweat within minutes of stepping outside of our air-conditioned apartments. To combat the heat, there's nothing better to eat in the summer than a nice, refreshing salad, full of greens and with a fragrant dressing to cool us down and leave us energised. So, we asked John Nguyen, the head chef at Wan Chai's exciting new Vietnamese restaurant Xuân, to show us how to make a summertime Vietnamese salad to keep us cool all season long.

Bun heo nuong nam heo nuong – grilled pork chop with vermicelli noodles and mixed vegetables – is a delicious dish that is regularly eaten from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City to fight the summer heat. Chef Nguyen will be showing us how to prepare a simplified version of this classic summer bite in a way that is easy to follow and using easy-to-find ingredients.

Photograph: Sam Evans

"I ate bun heo nuong nam heo nuong for the first time in Hanoi, and it's basically a dish made of vermicelli noodles with vegetables and any type of protein," Chef Nguyen tells us. "The version I tried in Hanoi was made with beef, and it contained so many peanuts and fried shallots that I instantly fell in love with it and decided to bring it back with me to Xuân to make for the people of Hong Kong. For my take on the dish, I use pork chop instead of beef, and I add more colourful vegetables than will typically be found on the streets of Vietnam, but the overall taste of the dish is very similar."

"For the dressing, we use our house-made nuoc cham dressing, the base for which is a unique Vietnamese fish sauce with no additives or chemicals that we source directly from Vietnam. To this, we add lime juice, minced garlic, chilli, and sugar to balance out the flavours and make it extra delicious! For the dish itself, we mix a lot of different herbs such as rau ram – Vietnamese coriander, Thai basil, mint, and coriander, so that every single bite gives a different flavour."

"It is a very simple dish that is easy to make at home with ingredients that most households will already have, or can easily get hold of. I personally love it because it is the ultimate comfort food that reminds me of home."

Ingredients
Photograph: Sam Evans

Ingredients

The marinade

1 Pork chop (around 200g)
1 lemongrass stalk (minced)
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
3g salt
5g black pepper

The nuoc cham dressing

1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon white sugar
3 tablespoons water
10g minced garlic
1 Thai chilli

The salad

50g mixed vegetables
50g lettuce
20g cucumber
20g roasted peanut
20g fried shallot
20g pickled green papaya and carrot
5g Thai basil leaves
5g mint leaves
2g coriander

Directions
Photograph: Sam Evans

Directions

1. Marinate and cook the pork chop

Make your marinade by mixing the lemongrass, salt, pepper, and oil, and then marinate the pork chop for around an hour, before letting it rest outside for a further hour. After that, place the pork chop on the grill and cook each side for five minutes each, or to personal preference.

2. Make the nuoc cham dressing

Add lime juice, sugar, water, garlic, and – for those not averse to a little heat – a Thai chilli to a base of fish sauce. whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Cut and mix the vegetables

Use a mandoline slicer to slice the green papaya and carrot into small pieces. Slice the cucumber slightly bigger with a knife. Then chop the Romaine lettuce. Mix all the vegetables into a bowl, followed by the vermicelli noodles. Add the pork chop to the layer and then add the roast peanuts and fried shallot.


4. Final touches

Garnish the dish with Thai basil leaves, mint leaves, and coriander for that extra freshness, and then pour on the nuoc cham dressing to taste.

While this is a delicious and simplified take on the bun heo nuong nam heo nuong that is easy to make at home, you can try chef John Nguyen's signature version of the dish at Xuân, along with many other mouthwatering Vietnamese dishes. Good news for those who would rather enjoy their food in the comfort of home is that delivery and takeaway services are currently available. For delivery, head online, or to make a takeaway order, call 2891 1177.

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