This dish has become a favourite dinner (and lunch) in our household lately. It’s a simple and tasty crowd pleaser that uses the slow cooker. The fresh vegetables make for a lovely combination with the richer pork meat and tangy sauce.
A few tips and ideas for getting the most out of these Vietnamese style noodle bowls:
- This a great dish to serve in warmer weather as it is just as tasty served cool, or gently warming the meat, noodles and sauce.
- I’ve discovered through trial and error that using meat on the bone gives a tastier result in the slow cooker than meat without a bone. Funnily enough, meat on the bone is harder to find in supermarkets these days. Check the butcher if you can, and keep your eye out for a piece of meat on the bone, but don’t worry too much if you can only find boneless pork.
- This version is deliberately not very spicy. Spice it up by adding chilli powder to the pork as it is cooking, or extra sweet chilli sauce to the sauce, or just put the sweet chilli sauce on the table for guests to help themselves to an extra dollop if they like.
- Coconut water is an ingredient that I hadn’t used in my cooking 5 years ago, but I now see it everywhere. It is fairly reasonably priced in most supermarkets, and any leftovers are perfect for fruit and vegetable smoothies or to drink straight.
- I’ve also discovered through trial and error that the meat tastes better the next day. This can work in your favour if you are able to plan ahead and have a chance to slow cook the meat one day so it is ready for the next. Remove the cooked meat from the slow cooker and refrigerate, making sure to preserve all those precious juices in a separate container. The next day, the fat from the pork should have risen to the surface so you can scoop it off the meat juices before making the sauce with the remaining juices.
- We’ve tried the dish with a few different types of noodles such as thick rice noodles, super thin vermicelli noodles, or udon noodles (by special request from someone in our household). It seems to work just as well regardless, so pick your favourite noodle and enjoy!
- This dish would also work with other meats such as chicken or beef. Adjust the cooking time to suit the size of your meat. It’s also a dish that’s easy to make vegetarian by replacing the meat juices in the sauce with vegetable stock and adding extra vegetables (perhaps grilled or roasted), tofu or egg to the bowl.
- Speaking of dietary adjustments, leave out the onion to make an onion free dish. Use gluten free soy sauce and rice noodles to make it gluten free.
- Make it a little bit fancy by serving it with fresh herbs such as coriander or mint, some lime wedges and perhaps a sprinkle of nuts or seeds for some extra crunch.
Vietnamese style pork and noodle bowls
This is an ideal dish for sharing around, either to pack up and deliver to someone, or as an easy dinner to share with a crowd at home. Let people help themselves and put all the ingredients in the centre of the table, either in separate smaller dishes or a couple of bigger ones, with the sauce in a jug or bowl.
This is also the perfect dish for flexible leftovers:
- Use the cold noodles and vegetables in a salad.
- Fry the noodles and meat together with a little of the sauce and as many of the leftover vegetables as you like.
- Once the meat is shredded, freeze it to use in future stir fries, or pop in onto a wrap with lots of finely chopped lettuce, carrot and extra sweet chilli sauce.
- The sauce is quite delicious! If you do have any leftover, you could use it for another stir fry, as a dipping sauce for noodles or vegetables, or as the base of a light and refreshing soup. It does take on a jelly like texture after being in the refrigerator, but is back to liquid in no time when gently heated through.