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As the weather is improving, and now it’s light longer, we’re increasingly spending much of our evening outside. Actually afternoon and evening now my toddler’s stopped napping. It was inevitable at some point, and I guess as spring gets going is as good a time as any. However particularly as he adjusts, and if he’s with friends, it can be tricky to persuade him to head home for dinner. When I do, though, it often needs to be quick as he suddenly realizes he’s hungry – and right now! I know life will just get more hectic as our kids grow up and sports practices need to be juggled in there so I’m always looking for good, quick midweek meal ideas that don’t skimp on flavor so I can build a stock of recipes to draw on. This Vietnamese-style pork and rice bowl is my latest idea along those lines and it was so delicious, it’s definitely going into regular rotation. Plus, if you have leftovers the pork and pickled veg can be easily adapted to make a great lunch.
Vietnam is somewhere we considered when we were planning our honeymoon in that region but we decided it needed its own visit at some point, there was too much we would want to see and do, so for now it’s stuck on the bucket list. However that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some Vietnamese flavors at home, and luckily it’s not hard to roughly replicate some of their dishes. This Vietnamese-style pork and rice bowl is based on a fairly common dish, with the fresh flavors of cilantro and pickled daikon radish and carrot – both such simple features of many Vietnamese dishes but that make such a difference – alongside the pork and rice plus a little salad.
I’ve made use of some Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork that I picked up in Walmart to help things along. To me it’s definitely allowed when you’re tight on time, and helps add an extra burst of flavor. Here I used Smithfield Peppercorn Garlic Tenderloin which has a delicious peppery flavor to it that goes perfectly in this dish. You can find it in the meat and poultry section at Walmart and while the peppercorn garlic tenderloin is perfect here, I’m looking forward to trying some of the other marinated tenderloins, fillets and roasts. I can see the mesquite pork fillet being great for grilling season.
For this dish, it doesn’t matter too much how you cook the pork – I seared it then finished in the oven but you could also grill it. It will be quick either way, and with lots of tender, juicy flavor. A little Vietnamese-style limey dressing over the rice and salad, your quickly-made pickled veg, and you’ve got one amazing, flavor-packed meal in no time at all.
Making this Vietnamese-style pork and rice bowl
Don’t worry when you look at the ingredient list, I know it looks long. And while there are a few things to do here, it’s actually very quick. You can in fact do most while other things are cooking. First you cut your vegetables, massage them with salt and sugar then cover with water and vinegar to pickle. They’ll keep and in fact improve over about three days. So if you can, make up a bigger batch (just multiply everything) and use them a few times. You can also just make them and let them sit while you make everything else.
Next, start your pork – as I said I seared it in a pan then put it in the oven but you can also grill it. While it’s cooking, get your rice cooking and make up your salad dressing. Pull a few cilantro leaves off the stem and chop a little red onion ready to add to your bowls. Once the pork is cooked, let it rest a few minutes while you put your bowls together. First, put in the rice and top with the pickled veg, salad leaves, cilantro and onion. Slice up the pork and add it on top. Drizzle over the dressing and dig in to the deliciousness.
One of the great things about this dish, as well as it being so quick and flavorful, is if you have any leftover pork and pickled vegetables, they can be made into an easy bahn mi sandwich for lunch the next day as well. Just put some salad leaves, pork and the pickled vegetables ideally in a piece of baguette but other plain bread will work. You can add some mayo or pate if you like as well but even without it will be delicious. All really easy but fresh and flavorful.
This Vietnamese-style pork and rice bowl is a great way to have a really tasty, flavorful meal without taking too long to make which is perfect for busy nights. The pork is tender and flavorful, the pickled vegetables crunchy and sweet-savory. Plus, the leftovers are pretty amazing as a bahn mi sandwich as well. So get down to Walmart, find yourself some Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork and get yourself a taste of Vietnam (with a fraction of the cost and the time to get there!).
Vietnamese-style pork and rice bowl
For the pickled vegetables
- 140 g carrot 1 cup, julienned
- 140 g daikon radish 1 cup, julienned
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar 60ml
- 1/2 cup water 120ml
For the salad dressing
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 tsp minced chilli pepper around 1/2 hot red chili
- 1 Smithfield Peppercorn Garlic Marinated Pork Tenderloin
- 1/2 cup basmati rice
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 onion approx
- 2 handfuls salad leaves eg spring mix
- 1 bunch cilantro coriander, small bunch
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C (unless grilling pork).
- First cut the carrots and daikon radish into thin strips (julienned) - I find it easiest to cut slices the cut the slices into strips. Put the strips of vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle over the salt and sugar. Rub the salt and sugar into the vegetables - basically massage them - so that you start to draw liquid from them and you feel them becoming softer and bendy. Pour the rice vinegar and water over them in the bowl and leave to sit while you prepare everything else. You can make these a couple days ahead of time and refrigerate.
- Romove the pork from the packaging and pat dry. Warm an overproof skillet/frying pan and add a little oil (or you can use a griddle pan, as I did, that's also ovenproof) then sear he pork on all sides.
- Transfer to the oven and roast for approx 20min, until the meat reads an internal temperature of 140F in the thickest part.
- Meanwhile, cook the basmati rice in the water by putting both in a pan, bringing it to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until all of the water has gone and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat.
- While the rice is cooking, make the dressing by whisking everything together (the rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chili). Finely slice the onion and remove the leaves from a few stems of cilantro.
- Remove the pork from the oven once done and allow to rest for around 5 minutes on a board while you prepare your bowls.
- Divide the rice between two bowls, top with the pickled carrot and daikon, some salad leaves, the onion and cilantro leaves. Drizzle over the dressing.
- Slice the pork, add it to the bowls and enjoy.