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Real World Eats: Pork Vermicelli with garden vegetables

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

I hated cooking Asian noodles for a long time.

I’m still never 100 percent sure that I won’t accidentally overcook them, but I’ve gotten better at learning how long to soak paper-thin vermicelli in hot water or that you can boil thicker rice noodles, as long as you put them in a cold water bath as soon as they are tender.

Asian grocers carry hundreds of varieties of these inexpensive noodles, so I always stock up on a little bit of everything every time I’m in one.

Over Memorial Day weekend, a friend gave me some beautiful vegetables — a gigantic spring onion, a bag of crisp lettuce, small, smooth potatoes and a trio of peaches straight off the tree — from his dad’s prolific garden. A few days earlier, I’d put a pound of ground pork in the fridge to thaw, even though I had no idea what I wanted to do with it.

Those veggies and the dried vermicelli noodles in the pantry made that problem a lot easier to solve.

I sauteed the pork in a big skillet, adding a hearty dash of this Asian spice mixture from McCormick’s, a tablespoon of the Huy Fong chile garlic paste and a tablespoon of soy sauce and fish sauce. (Did I actually use exactly one tablespoon of each? I don’t measure when I cook like this — and I hope you don’t either — but that’s my best guess.)

After the pork had cooked, I removed it from the pan, added about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and then cooked the potatoes, onions and carrots, which I’d thinly sliced while the pork was cooking. Just a few minutes before they were finished, I threw in a few handfuls of kale because greens.

While those vegetables were cooking, I toasted some cashews in a dry skillet and filled a pot with super hot tap water to soak the vermicelli. (The package only called for soaking them for two minutes, but it took about 10 minutes for them to get soft enough for my liking. Go figure.)

Mix the pork into the vegetables, drain the noodles, remove the cashews from the stove.

Put it all on a plate and enjoy. Save the leftovers for lunch.

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