Ingredients for the Pork Patties:
- 24 oz. Ground pork shoulder (chilled for 30 min. in freezer)(chicken can be used as well)
- 2 Tablespoons Black Caramel
- 2 Tablespoons Fish sauce
- 1/3 cup Minced shallot
- 2 cloves smashed garlic
- 6 scallions finely sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (loosely packed)
- 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
Ingredients for the Sauce:
- 2-4 Thai bird chilies - minced (1 serrano can be used)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (or half lime juice and half rice vinegar)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup warm water (130-140 degrees)
- 1/2 cup Fish sauce
Ingredients for the Set Up:
- 1lb. Dried rice vermicelli
- 2 cups romaine lettuce shredded
- 2 small kirby cucumbers cut into julienne strips
- 1 cup carrots, shredded
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup Thai Basil
Ingredients for the Black Caramel:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
Directions for the Black Caramel:
This is a Vietnamese secret weapon. The sugar is cooked beyond being sweet and now offers a pleasant off sweet bitterness, rich color and caramelization.
- Combine sugar with 1/4c of water in a small sauce pan. Stir to combine.
- Heat over med. high until sugar is melted and begins to bubble.
- Continue to simmer WITHOUT stirring (this will prevent crystallization) until mixture begins to foam and smoke a bit. The color of the liquid beneath the foam should be reddish black like black coffee.
- Turn off heat, and add remaining water. Be careful as the mixture will bubble vigorously.
- Whisk to dissolve the seized sugar until a smooth consistency is reached. It may be necessary to turn the heat back on to low to achieve this.
- Cool to room temperature before using.
Directions for the patties:
- In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients. Use a wooden spoon or your hands and combine the mixture vigorously to develop the protein myosin. You will start to see elastic looking strands in the meat mixture. This will give the patties a bouncy texture.
- Allow mixture to rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Using wet hands, form mixture into 12 even meatballs. Place on platter lined with plastic or parchment
- Over med-high heat on a gas grill, charcoal grill or grill pan, cook patties about 3 minutes per side until slightly charred and an internal temperature of 160 degrees is reached.
Directions for the Sauce:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the fish sauce.
- When the sugar is dissolved, whisk in the fish sauce and set aside.
Make The Set Up:
- Soak rice noodles in room temperature water for about 15 minutes (you can do this while you prepare the patties and Nuoc Cham). Cook noodles in 1 gallon of salted water water until tender but not mushy (30 seconds-1 minute). Drain noodles in a colander and rinse with cool water. Drain well.
- Divide the noodles and the remaining set up ingredients among four large serving bowls, reserving some of the herbs
- To serve: Present patties in dipping sauce and bowls to diners. Top each bowl with 3 patties and spoon some more sauce over the bowls. Enjoy with chop sticks.
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