Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli – the homemade version

I recently introduced my boyfriend to Vietnamese food. My favorite Vietnamese dish has got to be the Rice Vermicelli. It’s a classic, simple dish; and I decided to try and make it at home. The hardest part is the sauce, which pretty much makes the meal. Last weekend, when I first tried convincing my boyfriend that we should make this for dinner, I hunted down a recipe on the internet for the fish sauce. We ended up going out for Vietnamese instead, and postponed making the meal until last night. Of course I had saved the fish sauce recipe on my laptop, and only had my iPhone on me when we decided to make Rice Vermicelli for dinner. I was sure I could find the recipe again, so while my boyfriend hunted for a new wireless router, I hunted for the fish sauce recipe. We went to the grocery store and got everything the recipe called for, and decided on pork for our meat. Then we finally get back home and start cooking dinner at about 8pm. While my boyfriend cuts the pork and starts cooking it, we put the spring rolls in the oven (I cheated in the interest of time and bought frozen spring rolls), and I started on the sauce. I chopped the lemon grass, and added in the garlic and the ground white pepper, and look for how much fish sauce I need. Now, for those of you who have had this dish before, you know you get a little dish of sauce that is mostly liquid. I added the one tablespoon of fish sauce that the recipe called for, and looked at my concoction. It looked nothing like what it was supposed to look like. It was at that point that I read the directions attached to the recipe I’d found and realized it was Vietnamese marinade disguised as “sauce” in the title. At this point the pork is done, and the spring rolls are 5 minutes away. Luckily I had my laptop again and after struggling with the password for the wireless network, I opened the original fish sauce recipe I’d found. Of course it was very different from what I’d been working with before. Instead of a tablespoon of fish sauce, there was half a cup of fish sauce. Plus half a cup of sugar instead of one teaspoon, and one cup of water.

So I throw all the ingredients together (and I’m very thankful that we had all the ingredients we needed and didn’t have to go back out to the grocery store). And this time the sauce tastes exactly like it should -needless to say I am very proud of how it turned out. My boyfriend put the pork into the oven to keep warm while we cooked the vermicelli noodles. As he puts on the water for them, the timer goes off for the spring rolls. I go to get them and check that they are done. And discovered that the oven had actually never turned on. I had turned it on time bake; apparently I was supposed to just turn it on bake. Whoops. Suddenly we know our pork is going to dry out keeping warm in the oven for the 20 minutes that the spring rolls are going to take. Whoops.

20 minutes later, we toss the vermicelli noodles in the boiling water, and a couple of minutes after that we finally plate dinner. It’s now past 9pm. Pure determination kept me from picking up the phone and ordering in. And let me tell you what, it was worth it. I am shocked and proud at how well this dish turned out! Except for the sauce, the rest of the recipe can be considered “original”, though it is based on what I’ve eaten at Vietnamese restaurants and is not that hard to figure out. So, here you are, my homemade version of:

Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli With Pork and Spring Rolls

I am unable to tell you prep and cook times for this recipe as I had so many mistakes in making mine. However, I would estimate that it will probably be 20-30 minutes.
Yields: 4 servings (or 2 Vietnamese restaurant-sized servings)

1 package rice vermicelli noodles
1 package bean sprouts, rinsed
Pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp (whichever your preference is for)
1 spring roll per person – I prefer 2 springs rolls in my dish; and I cheat and buy frozen
Vietnamese fish sauce (below)

If you have frozen spring rolls, turn the oven on and cook according to directions. Meanwhile, slice your meat in thin strips (unless you have shrimp – de-vein, de-shell, de-tail, butterfly if you’d like), and cook to your preference.

My boyfriend’s pork: Cook until done in soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, little bit of onions and garlic. No need for salt as the soy sauce provides enough for the dish.

Boil water for noodles; add vermicelli noodles to water and cook for approximately 3 minutes. (These noodles do not take very long at all, so keep a close eye on them.)

Remove spring rolls from oven and cut into quarters. Careful – they aren’t easy to cut; the trick is to use sharp kitchen scissors!

Serve: noodles, meat, spring rolls, bean sprouts, and drizzle sauce over everything.

Vietnamese Fish Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes
Yields: 2 cups

1/2 cup Vietnamese fish sauce (the one for cooking you’ll find in the Ethnic aisle at the grocery store)
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp red chili paste (or chopped red chilies)
1/2 chopped carrot

Combine ingredients and serve with Rice Vermicelli dish (above).

Original recipe: click here.

I hope you don’t experience the mini disasters I did while preparing this dish!

S.

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