This refreshing main course dinner, Vietnamese Pork in Tomato Sauce with Nuoc Cham seems spring-like to me. Warm rice on a bed of lettuce and fresh herbs is topped with meat sauce. The nuoc cham is sprinkled on at the table and the fresh flavours of Vietnamese cuisine are in every bite.
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This recipe is adapted from a beautiful coffee table cookbook titled The Foods of Vietnam by Nicole Routhier. She called this a Vietnamese interpretation of the universal spaghetti and meat sauce. I’d call it a healthy, fresh tasting interpretation of rice and meat sauce…perfect for a gluten free diet since there is no spaghetti.
If you enjoy Asian cooking then fish sauce is essential. Fresh herbs and fish sauce play a central role in Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. Fish sauce is the secret ingredient and is used to make the dipping sauce served with salad rolls called nuoc cham. It takes five minutes to make and will keep in your fridge for weeks, even months. It is the same sauce that is sprinkled on this dish at the table.
If you are new to cooking Vietnamese or Thai foods then you may want to check out these two blog posts; The Gluten Free Asian Pantry and fish sauce. If you need a vegan or allergy friendly option check out my Vegan Fish Sauce substitute.
Do you like the cook once, eat twice philosophy? This recipe already makes two meals for two people but sometimes I make a double recipe of the meat sauce and freeze half. As long as I have a jar of nuoc cham in the fridge then this becomes a quick and easy dinner. If you need a reminder to use up all those jars in your fridge then add a label to the sauce that reads “for Viet Pork & Tom Sauce”. If you like the visual reminders add “for Salad Rolls” too.
I can’t say it enough, you really should have a wok. A standard flat bottom wok isn’t that expensive, will last for years (possibly decades) and it cooks Asian food best. Sure you can cook this is any frying pan or Dutch oven, the same way you would cook meat sauce for spaghetti. But you need to cook in a wok to see the difference. It doesn’t compare.
Let me know in the comments below if you tried this dish.
|2 cloves of garlic, crushed|
|1/8 tsp red pepper flakes|
|2 Tbsp sugar|
|2 Tbsp lime juice|
|¼ cup rice vinegar|
|¼ cup fish sauce|
|¼ cup warm water|
|1 small head of lettuce, cut into fairly small pieces or shredded|
|4 green onions, thinly sliced|
|½ cup chopped mint leaves|
|1 cup chopped cilantro|
|2 Tbsp vegetable oil|
|1 pound ground pork|
|1 Tbsp sugar|
|3 Tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce (divided)|
|6 garlic cloves, chopped|
|1 large onion, slivered|
|28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice|
|½ cup chicken broth or water|
|2 Tbsp tomato paste|
|freshly ground pepper|
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