Pork and Peanut White Noodle Salad
A friend went to a health farm. The medical staff put the fear of death into him and he came back with a determination to eat more healthily. So I sought inspiration in Gizzy Erskine’s Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts, but in the process of making it the recipe ran deliriously amok.
The result is nothing like her recipe – it’s missing the hot Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce for starters. And it’s probably not nearly so austere in terms of calories – but just think of all the protein in those peanuts – it just has to be good for you!
You can also make this successfully with chicken, or if there is any of this salad left it would go very well with cold chicken.
Alternatively, Uyen Luu who runs a Vietnamese supper club out of her east London flat, produces a version which, very broadly, substitutes 100g of cooked, peeled prawns, purple sprouting, and a plain omelette made of three eggs and shredded for the pork. Instead of an onion she uses banana shallots. Instead of the cos lettuce she substitutes kale crisps.
Recipe for Pork and Peanut White Noodle Salad
Serves – 2
- 200g/8 oz really good quality pork fillet, get your butcher to slice into oval disks and hammer thin – or you can use leftovers
- 1 lemongrass stalk
- 2 fat cloves of garlic crushed with a teaspoon of smoked salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp golden caster sugar
- 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- Instant white rice noodles – one nest for hungry people, those going easy may share possibly
- Rapeseed oil to fry, sesame oil to stir through noodles
- ½ cucumber, diced
- 25g/ 1 oz/small bunch mint
- 25g/ 1 oz/small bunch coriander
- 6 cos lettuce leaves, finely shredded
- 6 spring onions, finely sliced, and including about an inch of the green
- 2 tbsp roasted salted peanuts (buy a pack and nibble the rest while you cook, drink)
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- Smoked salt and Indonesian long black pepper
- Slosh of dry cider or vermouth to deglaze
- Make sure you warm your plates, as well as a lovely serving platter.
- Take the outer leaf of the lemongrass and chop finely.
- Put it into a medium sized freezer bag with the garlic, turmeric, sugar, fish sauce, pork and onion and put in the fridge for at least an hour, or even better, overnight. You could also freeze it.
- Mix the olive oil, the vinegar and the seasoning.
- Chop the herbs.
- Put the noodles in a bowl and leave to stand for three minutes…. Then drain, stir through a little sesame oil. You can even leave them in a warming oven, covered in foil for twenty minutes or so while you have a drink, bath etc.
- You will need to ‘fluff’ it up a bit.
- Dress the lettuce, cucumber and the spring onions.
- On a ribbed griddle pan, on the hob, onto which you’ve dropped a thin coat of rapeseed oil fry the pork quickly just a few minutes each side, move to the end of the pan which is off the heat (leaving it, sort of, to rest), and add the marinated sliced onion to the hot bit – empty rest of the marinade onto the hot part of the pan. Cook through.
- While this is happening begin to assemble on individual plates, or on one big attractive platter. First, divide the noodles between the plates; then top with salad; top with the pork and the onions; sprinkle over the chopped herbs and the peanuts; deglaze the pan with cider vinegar and pour over with a flourish.