For most of the country, thinking about sitting down to a fresh, vibrant salad is probably the furthest thing from everyone’s minds right now, especially with so much of the country under snow. I know it’s only January but I’m eager to be cooking summery food (I’m not eager for the hideous Florida heat though). I was craving for some sweet, salty, tart flavors that only Vietnamese & Thai food could give me. Enter this beautiful salad…
I’ve made this salad a few times recently, testing & tweaking it. Initially I used pork belly which was really, REALLY good but as the noodles don’t even need any real cooking, I simplified the pork part of the recipe & went with a quick stir-fry of some pork butt steaks instead.
These noodles are marvels, requiring only 20 minutes of luxuriating in a hot bath to become soft & ready to slurp. They’re made from tapioca starch so they contain no gluten. Rice noodles or bean thread noodles would work just fine in their place. While the noodles are soaking, cut up your veggies, have the tart, sweet dressing made & fire up the wok.
The pork just gets some quick cooking, then you toss it all together & next thing you’re slurping on this heavenly salad. Yeah bae-bee!
The pork butt is buttery tender, the noodles are silky & a little chewy, the veggies crisp & the dressing is tart, sweet & salty. And with some heat from the little Thai chilies – it’s noodle salad heaven.
- 12 oz (375g) pork butt, cubed (I used a pork butt steak, I wanted some of the fat to keep the meat from drying out)
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce (I used gluten-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon (or a good pinch) five-spice powder
- 3 balls of tapioca noodles (about 3 oz/85g) you could also use rice noodles
- boiling water
- 1 cup cilantro (coriander) leaves & stems, coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (vegetable or canola oil will also work)
- 1 handful snow peas, trimmed & cut into thin strips
- 1 red bell pepper (capsicum) thinly sliced (or use a mixture of different colors like I did)
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- extra cilantro (coriander) & mint leaves to serve & extra chopped chilies to serve
- LIME DRESSING
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons grated palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 to 3 small red chilies, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- To make the dressing: Place all ingredients in a jar with a screw-top lid. Shake well to combine. The dressing can be made several hours ahead of time.
- Combine the cubed pork, hoisin sauce, pepper & five-spice powder in s re-sealable bag or a small bowl. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes or for several hours if you want to prep it ahead of time.
- Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl & pour over enough boiling water to cover them completely. Leave them to stand for 20 minutes or until they’ve softened. Drain noodles into a sieve & rinse until cold water, using your hands or tongs to lift the noodles making sure they’re thoroughly rinsed (this ensures the noodles don’t stick together). Drain the noodles well. Place in a medium bowl. Add chopped herbs & 3 tablespoons of dressing; toss to coat.
- Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork in two batches for about 5 minutes, stirring, until cooked, glazed & sticky.
- Combine noodles, pork, snow peas, bell pepper & onion in a medium bowl. Spoon onto serving plates or a platter. Drizzle with remaining dressing; serve immediately.