Friday, July 12, 2013

Vietnamese Vermicelli Bowls with Shiitakes and Bacon

Back in our California days, my husband and I ate a lot of Vietnamese food, especially these wonderful cool vermicelli bowls in hot weather.  If you get the noodles, veggies, and sauce right, you can put pretty much anything on top.  Here I've used flavorful shiitake mushrooms and bacon because I had them on hand, but you could just as soon use grilled chicken or steak (some nice marinated flank steak would be excellent), leftover roast pork, marinated tofu grilled or broiled...etc.

If you like, you can double or triple the Nuoc Cham recipe - it keeps well in the fridge for weeks at a time.

Nuoc Cham
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.

Vermicelli Bowls
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.

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