Serves 4 (serving size: 4 wraps and 3 tablespoons sauce)
Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Mary Clayton Carl
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 shallot, halved
1 (4-inch) piece fresh lemongrass, halved
1 (1-inch) piece peeled ginger, halved
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup grated carrot
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Thai or serrano chile, thinly sliced and divided
2 ounces rice vermicelli
16 Bibb lettuce leaves (about 2 heads)
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 cup sliced English cucumber
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/3 cup finely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
16 basil leaves
16 mint leaves
2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
How to Make It
Combine first 6 ingredients in a mini food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. With processor on, add soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and oil; process until blended. Combine mixture and pork in a zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.
Combine carrot and sugar in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Add juice, vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, minced garlic, and 1 sliced chile; stir until sugar dissolves.
Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well.
Preheat grill to high heat.
Remove pork from marinade; discard marinade. Thread pork evenly onto 6 (12-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred.
Top each lettuce leaf evenly with pork, noodles, and remaining ingredients. Serve with dipping sauce.
Made recipe as written - Flavor of meat was great. We found that this recipe was quite cumbersome to make, and the combination of many intense flavors was just too much. Also, processed the marinade ingredients too much, and had to pick off splinters of lemongrass off the meat before skewering - also felt the marinade needed more liquid.
Like another reviewer I mixed all the salad ingredients together instead of wrapping into the lettuce cups. Red leaf lettuce stands up to the dressing better, so I subbed that too. I also used Sriracha instead of chilis because I have a better sense of what kind of heat I'll get out of that, plus no gloves! It took me two hours start to finish, so not fast, but my husband raved about it!
So, so, so very good and really simple. I realize there are multiple bits to put together, but they are each quick and easy. For example, I sliced and got the meat marinating in the morning, so I could go on with my day. Then I took a previous reviewers advice, combined the cucumbers with the carrots (mandolines are your best kitchen friend, get one and use it) and let it "pickle" until I was ready to do the rest. I browned the vermicelli, then added chx broth, chopped the accoutrements, and my husband threaded and cooked the pork.
The flavor was great! But making this using lettuce wraps was nearly impossible. We turned it into salads after our first lettuce wrap attempt. (We use lettuce wraps for many other purposes, just too many ingredients to fit and too "wet" for this application.) We also think there may have been an error in the ingredient list...the ingredient list has 1 thai/serrano chile, divided, then listed two at the very end. We found the heat associated with 1/2 of the serrano (minced) sufficient for the sauce and then had the other half to use as a topping if desired, but no one did -- the dressing provided sufficient heat. We will still make this again with our simple limitations on peppers and just do salads!
I did not do the lettuce wrap ingredients (hubby's not a fan of that preparation) but I would make it again and make it a complete recipe for me. I also could not find lemongrass so I subbed zest.
I strongly suggest making this often and I know I will be making this dipping sauce again.
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