Vietnamese-style marinated pork chops are often served whole with rice noodles, herbs and a dipping sauce. This version mixes all the components, infusing the noodles, sliced meat and vegetables with the sauce and keeping the noodles tender even after a day in the fridge. Dark, robust maple syrup takes the place of the traditional dark caramel in a nod to autumn (and as a weeknight shortcut to save you the hassle of browning sugar). The pork takes only a few minutes to cook, the noodles, too, so this whole dish comes together really fast.
Rice noodles with seared pork, carrots And herbs
• 1/3 cup fish sauce
• 1/4 cup dark, pure maple syrup
• 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
• Black pepper
• 1 long red finger chile, thinly sliced (1/3 cup)
• 3 small garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
• 4 thin (1/2-inch) boneless pork chops (3/4-1 pound total)
• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
• 3 carrots, peeled and julienned (2 cups)
• Kosher salt
• 8-9 ounces thin rice vermicelli noodles
• 2 packed cups torn fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil and dill, plus more for garnish
Whisk the fish sauce, syrup, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the shallots, chile and garlic. Transfer 2 tablespoons liquid to a large shallow dish and add the pork. Turn to evenly coat and let stand until ready to cook.
Stir the lime juice into the sauce in the bowl. Add the carrots and toss until evenly coated. Let stand.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in the skillet and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the pork and cook, turning once, until seared and just rosy in the center, 2-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Put the noodles in the boiling water, stir well and remove from the heat. Let stand until softened, 3-5 minutes. Drain very well, then transfer to the sauce in the bowl. Toss until evenly coated.
Cut the pork into thin slices and add to the noodles with any accumulated juices. Toss well. Toss in the herbs until well mixed. The mixture may look a bit soupy. As it sits and cools, the noodles will absorb the liquid. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature or cold, with more herbs and lime wedges.
Total time: 20 minutes, serves 4-6.
The noodles can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to three days. You can toss in the herbs right before serving if you prefer a fresher bite.