Vietnamese Ground Pork In Tomato Sauce

It may be made with humble ingredients, but the contrasting temperatures, textures and flavors of this dish make it special enough to serve for company.

The recipe is a simple combination of ground pork that's been cooked in a light tomato sauce and served over a bed of white rice along with fresh lettuce, herbs, cucumber and tomato.

The finishing touch is a drizzle of Nuoc Cham, a classic Vietnamese dipping sauce that pulls the unique flavors together in perfect balance.

Vietnamese Ground Pork in Tomato Sauce with Nuoc Cham

This recipe is gluten free.

Vietnamese Ground Pork In Tomato Sauce

Vietnamese Ground Pork In Tomato Sauce

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This simple Vietnamese ground pork dish is a uniquely delicious combination of sweet and salty flavors and varying temperatures and textures.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (about 12 ounces) of tender, leaf lettuce torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh spearmint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3 cups cooked white rice (1 cup dry)

For the pork:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 scallions, sliced

For the Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce):

  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sriracha (or more to taste)

Instructions

  1. Begin by making the Nuoc Cham. Combine the hot water and sugar in a small bowl, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Stir in the garlic, fish sauce, lime juice and sriracha. Taste and adjust the ingredient quantities if desired, then transfer to a small pitcher or cruet. Set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Tear the larger basil and mint leaves into small pieces and combine with the cilantro leaves and lettuce in a large bowl. Toss and set aside.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the ground pork and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the large chunks with a spatula.
  6. Add the garlic, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Continue cooking until the meat begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce along with the diced tomatoes and combine well. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. Add the scallions, season with freshly ground black pepper, combine well and remove from the heat.
  9. To serve, divide the salad mixture between four dinner plates. Top each with a portion of cooked rice and garnish around the edges with cucumber and tomato.
  10. Spoon a serving of pork over the rice, then drizzle with the Nuoc Cham. Pass the remaining Nuoc Cham at the table.

Adapted from “The Foods Of Vietnam” by Nicole Routhier (out of print)