It was scorching hot the past few days and we were taking advantage of being able to cook on the barbecue. It can, however, be too hot to eat hot food. Here's a compromise: aromatic, zesty, spiced grilled pork patties on cold rice noodle salad.
This is my take on the Vietnamese bun cha, the next most popular dish in Hanoi after pho. I used lean minced pork for the patties but added peanut butter to the mixture to give it an added richness and nutty taste. The seasonings include brown sugar which makes the patties develop a caramelized glaze when grilled.
Grilled food are warming to the body so a counterbalance of cooling ingredients to neutralize the effect are ideal on a warm day. Carrots, cucumbers and radishes as well as coriander and mint strewn on the salad provide just that as well as give a fresh vibrant taste to it. A sprinkling of crushed peanuts and a fat free chilli and garlic dressing completes the dish. A balance of yin and yang on one plate that's perfect for summer.
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients for the pork patties:
300 gms. minced pork
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. chopped spring onions
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tbsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. chopped red chillies
1/4 tsp. pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Shape into 24 small patties. Grill on the barbecue or grill pan for about 5 minutes each side until browned and cooked through.
Ingredients for the noodle salad:
250 gms. rice noodles, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes
1 carrot, finely shredded
8 red radishes, shredded
1/2 of the cucumber, deseeded and shredded
1/4 cup of peanuts, roughly chopped
lettuce, mint leaves and coriander leaves
Sprinkle the shredded carrots with 1 tsp. each of salt and sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes, then drain off the juices.
Drain the rice noodles and divide into four portions.
Top with carrots, radish, cucumber, a few lettuce leaves, some coriander and mint leaves. Add 6 pork patties per portion and sprinkle with peanuts. Serve with the dressing on the side.
Ingredients for the dressing:
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
juice of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red finger chilli, chopped
1/4 c. of sugar
1/4 c. fish sauce
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