If you like, you can double or triple the Nuoc Cham recipe - it keeps well in the fridge for weeks at a time.
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili paste
2 Tbsp lime juice (ideally fresh)
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
Make the Nuoc Cham first (unless you have some from a previous batch in the fridge already) so the flavors can meld while you prepare the bowls. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar and let sit.
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/2 lb bacon, chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 lb Asian rice vermicelli
1 large cucumber, shredded
A few carrots, shredded
2-3 cups shredded lettuce
1-2 cups chopped fresh mint, cilantro, and/or Thai basil
Start by preparing the shiitake-bacon topping. Heat the olive oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute for 3-5 minutes, until mostly tender. Add the bacon and stir-fry until cooked but not crispy. Add the soy sauce and cook for another minute or so. Pour off excess bacon fat (or remove with a baster) and set aside.
Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 6 minutes, until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.
To assemble the bowls, place a generous quantity of noodles in the bottom of each bowl. Top with tidy mounds off cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and herbs, then add a spoonful of the shiitake-bacon mixture. Top with Nuoc Cham at the table.
Serves about 4.