Brian is home and we are having so much fun playing with food. Because of his extensive travel, he is a wealth of knowledge about Asian ingredients, flavors combinations, and ingredients. Korean, Thai, and Japanese dishes are more deeply understood by a person who has eaten them in their country of origin, rather than tasted only in their American adaptations.
There are two recipes with which we have been preoccupied. Bun cha, is a Vietnamese dish consisting of grilled pork patties with rice vermicelli. Larb is a Lao meat salad which is popular in Thailand.
Because I am less committed to authenticity than my son, I feel free to pick his brain and come up with hybrids that are usually delicious, though conceptually corrupt.
I hope you enjoy this delicious bastardization.
1 lb ground pork or turkey
2 tbs raw rice
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. chicken stock
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbs fish sauce or soy sauce
1 large shallot, peeled, cut into rings
1 med spicy chili, minced
2 tbs raw cane sugar or brown sugar
1 lime, zested
8 oz rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions, rinsed in cold water
Whole butter or leaf lettuce leaves, washed and dried
Garnishes: lime wedges, cilantro, mint, cucumber, radishes, peanuts, daikon salad (matchstick daikon and carrot with rice wine vinegar and sesame oil), extra fish sauce or soy sauce
Toast the rice in a microwave for 45 seconds. Alternatively, heat it in a small pan until fragrant. Grind to a powder in a spice grinder or food processor.
Mix the cornstarch and 2 tbs stock in a small bowl.
Heat remaining stock in a 12 inch skillet. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up clumps, until very little pink remains. Add fish or soy sauce, sugar, shallot, chili, lime juice and zest, rice powder, and cornstarch slurry. Cook until the meat is coated in thick sauce.
Serve in lettuce leaves with vermicelli and garnishes.
Wine suggestion: a spicy Reisling or Gewurtztraminer.