There's a strong focus on Vietnamese products and I found this lump of pork in the fridge. Pork roll in banana leaves wasn't cheap coming in at £6, but I bought it anyway. I suspect the slightly clueless man serving me was unsure of pricing. Unwrapping it from its banana leaves revealed what I suspected; a rubbery luncheon meat. It may be off-putting for some, but I'm a huge fan of Spam so it didn't faze me at all.
Perfect for whacking on top of a noodle salad. I believe this is usually eaten cold, or dropped into noodle soups. I decided to fry them in a hot pan so that they crisped up on each side to give it a nice crust. Having tried a slice cold the banana leaves imparted more flavour than I thought it would; slightly vegetal, almost reminiscent of green tea. This salad worked really well; crispy hot salty pork freshened up with the herbs and nuoc cham sauce, with a hefty whack of lime and face-burning chilli. The noodles were properly chewty, flinging bits of dressing all over the place.
Vietnamese Pork & Noodle Salad
400gr dried vermicelli rice noodles
1/2 a cucumber
1 head of Little Gem lettuce
2 stalks of spring onion
1/2 a cucumber
1 Vietnamese pork roll, cut into 8 slices
A handful of coriander
Half a handful of mint
1 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
For the nuoc cham dressing:
2 birds eye chillis
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 small clove of garlic
Cut the carrot into matchsticks. In a bowl combine the rice vinegar and sesame oil. Halve the cucumber down the middle and scrape out the seeds and pulp, slicing into matchsticks. Add the carrot and cucumber to the bowl and toss to coat.
Cook the rice noodles until soft and then drain, rinsing them under cold water for at least a minute.
In a small bowl, juice the limes and add the fish sauce and sugar. Slice the chillis and mince the garlic, adding them to the lime.
Shred the lettuce and the spring onion, setting to one side. Chop the coriander and the mint roughly. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the slices of pork on both sides until crispy.
To assemble, add the noodles to a bowl and top with some carrots and cucumber, the lettuce, spring onion and herbs, finally arranging the slices of pork on top. Dress the dish with the nuoc cham.