This is another dish that I have been wanting to make for some time. According to Blogger, I put this recipe in my queue back in early September 2010. Granted, I have recipes that I picked out years ago and haven't made yet saved in my Gmail account. The fact that I picked a recipe out so long ago and haven't made it yet doesn't necessarily bear any relation to how much I want to make the dish. Sometimes I sit on a recipe for ages because I just cannot manage to find one particular ingredient. Then there are the times that I pick out a recipe and then misplace it or forget about it. That happens a lot. Sometimes I sit on a recipe because it just never quite comes together - everytime I get ready to make it something comes up or I find that I am missing something that I could have sworn we had in the apartment. Usually we discover that we are missing something before we actually start cooking, but every once in awhile there is a late stage panic when we realize that we are out of some absolutely necessary component halfway through the cooking process. Anyway the component that we were always missing for this dish was the 1/4 pound of thinly sliced pork shoulder/butt. Since pork shoulders tend to be so large, they aren't something we generally stock in the freezer. And most normal grocery stores don't stock pork shoulder so buying one always requires a special trip to Fairway or Whole Foods. But the last time we cooked pork shoulder I hacked off a chunk and threw it in the freezer so I would have it the next time I thought about making this dish. Good thinking on my part, huh?
Not to quote Alex's favorite phrase twice in a row, but this dish was kind of awesome. Vietnamese food is always a huge winner in our apartment - neither Alex nor I can get enough of the flavors of nuoc cham (Alex actually claimed that he likes it so much he could drink it), fresh herbs, fish sauce and lime juice. Vietnamese food just tastes so fresh and bright. It is also perfect for hot, steamy weather (like mid-80s over Memorial Day weekend in NYC), which is really no surprise given the steamy climate in Southeast Asia. The pork and shrimp in the stir-fry itself had a surprising amount of flavor given that they were quickly marinated in fish sauce and sugar, before being simply stir-fried with lemongrass and garlic. They didn't really need the nuoc cham at all. But if you are going to serve the stir-fry over rice noodles like we did, I would recommend the nuoc cham for the noodles. We quickly stir-fried our noodles in the pork and shrimp juju that was left in the wok after we cooked the stir-fry to loosen the noodles up and flavor them. If you don't have noodles, you could also serve the stir-fry with rice and a sauteed vegetable of some sort. Any way you serve it, I think you will have an excellent meal.
Recipe after the jump!
Vietnamese Shrimp and Pork Stir-FryHot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia
By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
1/2 lb medium to small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 lb boneless pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemongrass, minced
fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp mint or cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)
Place shrimp and pork slices in a bowl. In another small bowl, mix together fish sauce and sugar, then pour over shrimp and pork. Stir to make sure pork and shrimp are well-coated with marinade. Marinate, covered, for 30 minutes.
Heat a wok over high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the wok. When the oil is hot, add garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add lemongrass. Stir-fry until the garlic starts to change color. Toss in shrimp and pork and any remaining marinade. Stir-fry vigorously until the pork is cooked through. Transfer to a plate, grind black pepper over the top and garnish with herbs (if desired).
Serve stir-fry on top of rice noodles with salad greens, nuoc cham and fried shallots.