Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr
6 servings (serving size: 1 2/3 cups salad, about 2 ounces pork, and 4 teaspoons peanuts)

Many Asian dishes balance contrasting tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Granulated sugar in the dressing harmonizes with the savory fish sauce, acidic vinegar and lime juice, and slightly bitter fresh herbs. Brown sugar patted onto the pork caramelizes on the grill, creating crunchy blackened bits.

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare dressing, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or just until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool.

Step 2

To prepare salad, place vermicelli in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain.

Step 3

Prepare grill.

Step 4

Cut tenderloin in half lengthwise. Cut each piece in half crosswise. Place each pork piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Combine 2 teaspoons fish sauce and 1 teaspoon Sriracha; drizzle over pork. Sprinkle evenly with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pat brown sugar onto pork.

Step 5

Place pork on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 12 minutes or until slightly pink in center, turning pieces occasionally to prevent burning. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Cut across grain into very thin slices.

Step 6

Combine vermicelli, lettuce, and next 6 ingredients (through mint) in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad; toss well. Top with pork and nuts. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Step 7

Beer note: Try a Belgian white beer, a light-bodied wheat beer that both refreshes and invigorates. The widely available Hoegaarden White ($8 for a six-pack) has a sweet-tart balance and includes subtle additions of orange peel and coriander--ingredients that bring their own exotic spice to this dish's mélange of Asian flavors. --Jeffery Lindenmuth

Ratings & Reviews

xspinteach45's Review

September 03, 2013

KathyinManvel's Review

June 09, 2013
Excellent. Wonderful, fresh flavors. The caramelized pork is a fabulous complement to the acidic salad. I agree with another reviewer, don't wait long to grill after the sugar has been added. This can lead to the meat being a bit dry. I used a bit less hot chili sauce because I planned to include my kids. Next time I will break the noodles in half since they were VERY long and might keep them in the hot water for just a bit longer, they were a bit too al dente. This is a bit labor intensive but worth the effort. I will definitely plan to make this again. Highly recommended.

TamsinH's Review

July 07, 2012

TheAspiringChef's Review

Little Debbie
June 12, 2012
Made this last night and it was good, not phenomenal. That said, Vietnamese bun is one of my favorite dishes so my standards are high :) My guest, on the other hand, had never had bun and thought it was great - go figure! A fairly simple dish to prepare so I may try this again with a few tweaks and see how it goes.

Tumbles's Review

August 10, 2010
Excellent! I added a little Five Spice powder to the meat -- it taste more authentic, like something I order at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I used my food processor's small shredding disk on the carrots. Easier for prep plus much prettier and pleasant to eat. Used romaine for the lettuce and only cilantro instead of mint and basil too. Made the sauce as directed but added a pinch of salt. Great recipe -- will make again and again

abachhuber's Review

July 15, 2010
I loved this recipe. And I am a bun fanatatic. My only suggestion would be to double it, as the portions are a bit small. Especially double the meat if you're a big meat-eater. One tip: don't let the pork sit too long before grilling after adding the brown sugar. I made that mistake, and all the juices leaked out & it was a bit of a soggy mess, rather than getting properly caramelized. I served this with a simple asian coleslaw and melon.

carolfitz's Review

July 05, 2010
Made to recipe, except seasoned pork 6hrs prior to grilling and prepped the herbs chiffonade rather than chopped. Divided noodles, salad, meat & served in bowls with individual side of dressing, as in a VN restaurant. Fresh, flavorful, perfect on a hot summer evening. If we make again, would use half the mint, but that's just to our taste.

saracat's Review

July 02, 2010
This was incredibly good; as good or better than a restaurant. It had a nice heat to it, and the pork was very good. I will definitely make this one again, though I didn't think there were enough veggies for six servings; my family of three ate all of salad. I did not mix the veggies with the noodles and sauce because I didn't want it to get soggy.

Little Debbie's Review

June 11, 2009
The salad components outstanding, but I have modified the marinade to include fresh garlic, a tiny bit of soy and ginger.

PenelopeRB's Review

March 17, 2009
Very very good. I didn't reduce the water and I found it just fine - similar to the sauce typically accompanying Bun in Vietnamese restaurants. I have made this with chicken (cut into chicken tender sized pieces prior to saucing and cooking) as well as pork.