Lemongrass Pork & Grilled Shrimp Vermicelli from Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking
Taken July 2, 2013.

Click on pictures to expand.

For her 23rd birthday, Kelsey got a copy of Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home CookingWhen she asked me which recipe I might want to try, I almost didn’t have to open the book. “Not gonna lie, that vermicelli on the cover looks gooood,” I responded. 

And that’s how we sucked ourselves into two nights of prepping and cooking. On the first night, Kelsey prepared the pickled carrots, and then we made lemongrass-garlic rub for the pork loin. It was our first time buying and using lemongrass (lesson learned: you need to buy more lemongrass than you think when you’re using just the soft inside core and discarding the woody part). It was my first time cooking real pork (vs. sausage) and using butcher’s twine. 

My favorite part was cutting the loin until it opened “like a magazine.” We spread the rub, rolled the meat into a cyclinder, and tied the ends. After sitting in the fridge for a day, the pork was ready for roasting. On the second night, Kelsey made flavored fish sauce, which was a good lesson in tasting and troubleshooting (recipes aren’t perfect—trust your tongue). While she cut up lettuce and boiled rice noodle, I made Phan’s recipe for simple grilled shrimp, as well as my signature milk tea.

The compiled vermicelli bowl was a beauty! Taste-wise, something was lacking in our lemongrass pork—it didn’t taste quite “Asian” enough. It might have been that we didn’t use enough lemongrass or that we forgot to get coriander seeds. Whatever the case may have been, coating everything in fish sauce solved our problem. Isn’t that just a fact of life?