This refreshing main course dinner, Vietnamese Pork in Tomato Sauce with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce seems spring-like to me. Warm rice on a bed of lettuce and fresh herbs, topped with a tomato based meat sauce. The nuoc cham is sprinkled on at the table and the fresh flavours of Vietnamese cuisine are in every bite.
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Adapted from a beautiful coffee table cookbook, The Foods of Vietnam by Nicole Routhier, she describes this as the Vietnamese interpretation of spaghetti and meat sauce.
The Asian Pantry – Vietnamese Cuisine
Fresh herbs and fish sauce are essential in both Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. I think of fish sauce as the secret ingredient since it seems to be used in every dish yet the final taste can be completely different from one dish to the next. Nuoc cham is the dipping sauce you may recognize by taste, that is made of fish sauce, rice vinegar and lime juice. It takes only five minutes to make and will keep in your fridge for weeks or even months. In this dish the nuoc cham is sprinkled on at the table.
If you are new to cooking Vietnamese or Thai foods, or need a vegan option, you may find these posts helpful:
- The Gluten Free Asian Pantry
- Fish sauce
- Vegan fish sauce substitute, perfect for anyone with a fish allergy or on a vegan diet.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Do you like the idea of cooking once, and eating twice? This recipe already makes two meals for two people but sometimes I make a double recipe of the meat sauce and freeze half of it. As long as I have a jar of nuoc cham in the fridge then this becomes a quick and easy dinner. If you need a reminder to use up all those jars in your fridge then add a label to the sauce that reads “for Viet Pork & Tom Sauce”. You can also use the sauce for Salad Rolls or Chicken Cabbage Salad (links below).
Get The Tools – Wok Cooking
I can’t say it enough about cooking in a wok, you really should own one. A standard flat bottom wok isn’t expensive, will last for years and it is ideal for many Asian dishes. You can cook this sauce in any frying pan or Dutch oven, but the wok is perfect. The large surface area of a wok is the key to stir-frying and it’s small base but large top also makes it perfect for deep-frying. Once you have a wok you’ll find all sorts of ways to use it.
Let me know in the comments below if you tried this dish and what you thought.
More Vietnamese Recipes
|2 cloves of garlic, crushed|
|1/8 tsp red pepper flakes|
|2 Tbsp sugar|
|2 Tbsp lime juice|
|¼ cup rice vinegar|
|¼ cup fish sauce|
|¼ cup warm water|
|1 small head of lettuce, cut into fairly small pieces or shredded|
|4 green onions, thinly sliced|
|½ cup chopped mint leaves|
|1 cup chopped cilantro|
|2 Tbsp vegetable oil|
|1 pound ground pork|
|1 Tbsp sugar|
|3 Tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce (divided)|
|6 garlic cloves, chopped|
|1 large onion, slivered|
|28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice|
|½ cup chicken broth or water|
|2 Tbsp tomato paste|
|freshly ground pepper|
- NUOC CHAM - Combine all ingredients in a jar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- SALAD - Combine lettuce, green onions, mint and cilantro in a salad bowl and toss.
- PORK-TOMATO SAUCE - Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground pork and saute, breaking up the lumps, for 8-10 minutes until no longer pink. Add the sugar and 1 Tbsp fish sauce. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in the wok. Add the garlic and onion and fry until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, the remaining 2 Tbsp fish sauce and the cooked pork to the wok. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Sprinkle generously with black pepper.
- SERVING - To serve spread salad on each plate, top with warm rice then warm, pork-tomato sauce. Let each person drizzle the Nuoc Cham on their plate at the table.