Monday, April 2, 2012

Grilled Pork and Tofu Bun Thit Nuong

My roommates and I decided to start the week out right with a wholesome family dinner. We were craving some bun thit nuong, but our favorite (and frequently mentioned) Vietnamese restaurant was closed, forcing us to make it ourselves. Luckily, we were only a great deal of chopping and some minor grilling and frying away from one of the freshest and most satisfying meals we could possibly imagine.

Grilled Pork and Tofu Bun Thit Nuong
Servings: Plenty
Time: 40 minutes

This dish is pretty much a test of your chopping skillz.
Cucumber, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
Jalapeno, thinly sliced and partially seeded
Carrots, julienned 
Scallions, thinly sliced
Firm tofu, drained and cut
Lime, cut into wedges
Fish Sauce
Sriracha sauce
Vermicelli, prepared according to the package
Weird, store bought tray of egg rolls

The "meat" options. Just skip the pork, fish sauce and egg rolls for a vegan dish.
The odd tray with some egg rolls
  1. Prepare for maximum sous cheffery by cutting the cucumber, jalapeno, carrots, scallions, cilantro, mint, and lime.
  2. Cook the vermicelli rice noodles as described by the box.
  3. Bake the odd tray of egg rolls you bought then didn't use for a party as directed. 
  4. Grill some pork. If you're lazy like we were, buy pre-marinated Asian Pork. If not, you can marinade it in some sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, honey, pepper, onion and garlic. If you have a grillmaster roommate, I recommend you let him deal with the raw meat while you prep the tofu.
  5. Heat up some oil in a large frying pan (just enough to cover the bottom) and add your drained and cut tofu (try to cut the height into thirds and then the rest into eighths). Fry for about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden browned. Lightly salt before flipping. Then let the excess oil drain in a plate covered with paper towels.
  6. Make the bowl of awesomeness that is bun by topping your vermicelli with the veggies, pork, tofu and egg rolls.
  7. Dash on some fish sauce and sriracha to taste and enjoy.
My plating would have been perfect if not for the stray sriracha.
Most people judge the greatness of a Vietnamese restaurant by their banh mi (sandwiches), but, for me, the true test of a quality eatery is its ability to make some outstanding bun. Dating back to my excursions with Alex to the trendy hipster central Pho Cafe of Silverlake, I have been hopelessly in love with the rice noodle dish with all the right fixings. This family prepped meal showed me that I'm never more than about 40 minutes away from the utter delight of bun.

Dennis joins the cats in bread meme trend with some egg roll wrappers. I actually picked the least ridiculous picture of Dennis for this.
Every bit of this myriad of ingredients serves to make a complete dish. The cucumber and carrots add the necessary crunch to beautifully meld with the soft noodles, while the pork and tofu lend saltiness and heartiness and the mint, cilantro and lime round things out to give a veggie filled dinner beaming with freshness that can't be beat. The jalapeno and sriracha add some well appreciated kick to make sure all your taste buds are covered. Fortunately, we made enough to last a few more meals because this is definitely one dish I am not ready to be done with. More importantly, though, we were able to get rid of the impulse buy tray of egg rolls that had been haunting our fridge before it expired.

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