Vietnamese Ground Pork Rice Platter With Tomato Sauce
Though quite simple in nature, the contrasting temperatures, textures and flavors of this dish make it special enough to serve for company. Served along with steamed rice and drizzled with Nuoc Cham, a sweet-salty combination of lime juice, fish sauce and sugar (recipe included), the recipe has all the elements needed for a unique, satisfying meal.
- 8 cups of soft leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
- 6 scallions, finely minced
- 1/2 cup torn mint leaves, preferably spearmint
- 1-1/4 cups whole cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
- 1 hot house cucumber, peeled and sliced
- For the pork:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 lbs ground pork
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1 large can diced tomatoes (28 ounces), drained
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 6 cups cooked white or brown jasmine rice (see recipe notes)
- For the dressing (Nuoc Cham) :
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce (or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons shredded carrots (optional)
Toss the lettuce, scallions, mint, cilantro and basil together in a large bowl. Set aside the cucumber slices separately. Cover and refrigerate.
Heat the vegetable oil over moderately-high heat in a wok or large skillet. Add the ground pork and cook, breaking up the large chunks with a spatula. Add the sugar and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Continue cooking until the meat browns slightly. Remove the pork to a bowl and set aside.
Put a bit more oil in the pan if needed, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to release its aroma - about one minute more.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons fish sauce and the diced tomatoes. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
While the tomato mixture simmers, combine your dressing ingredients and place in a serving bowl or cruet.
Add the pork, along with any accumulated juices back into the pan with the tomato mixture.
Cook for about 2 minutes, until the pork is heated through. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add your fresh tomato wedges, toss gently and remove from the heat.
Place the meat mixture in a serving dish. Divide the salad mixture between six dinner plates. Top each salad serving with a cup of cooked rice and garnish around the edges with the cucumber slices. Each diner should top the rice with the a portion of the pork and drizzle the Nuoc Cham over the top.
Makes 6 servings
Adapted from "The Foods Of Vietnam" by Nicole Routhier