- 400 g strip of pork (loin, fillet or shoulder), cut into 0.5 cm thick slices
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ t ground star anise
- 2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed and finely chopped
- 2½ t fish sauce
- 2 T caster sugar
- 400 g rice noodles (wider than vermicelli)
- 1 small t shrimp paste (optional)
- 2 T oil
- 6 clove garlic, sliced
- 4 large mild red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 2 t soy sauce
- 3 T oyster sauce
- 400 g bean sprouts
Toss the sliced pork with the salt, pepper, star anise, lemon grass, fish sauce and caster sugar.
Plunge the noodles into a large saucepan of just-boiled water, stir to separate and leave for 3 minutes.
Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water, and leave in the colander.
In a wok, fry the shrimp paste (if using) in the hot oil until the former darkens slightly, then stir in the garlic and chilli and stir-fry for a few minutes.
Stir in the spring onion and fry for 2 minutes more. Scoop the mixture onto a plate.
Sear the pork in the same (uncleaned) wok for 30 seconds on each side, or until lightly caramelised – no more or it will become too dry.
Add any remaining marinade, together with the soy sauce, oyster sauce and 4 T water. Simmer for a few minutes, then remove and keep warm.
Put the bean sprouts into a sieve placed over the colander of noodles. Pour boiling water over the top – this will blanch the sprouts and reheat the noodles.
Drain, then pile into four bowls.
Top with the sliced pork, spoon over the soy "gravy", and top with the fried spring-onion mixture.
If you wish to add some herbs to this on eating, do. And don’t fret if it all cools down too much – it’s equally good at room temperature. Shrimp paste is optional, yet the blend of the pungent with the fragrant, and the soft with the crunchy is all key. A handful of pork scratchings, chopped or crumbled over on serving, is perfection.