Cao Lau Noodles (SERVES 4) Adapted from the recipe of Trinh Diem Vy
1 pound pork loin ¼ cup vegetable oil 1 stick lemongrass 2 cups pork stock ½ tsp Chinese five-spice seasoning ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp black pepper 1 tbsp garlic, pounded 3 tbsp soy sauce 2 tsp sugar 7 ounces bean sprouts, blanched 17 ounces thick Chinese wheat noodles, or ramen 4 ounces mixed herbs: anise basil, coriander, mustard sprouts, lettuce, and chrysanthemum leaves 4 sheets of rice paper, grilled, fried or microwave quickly ½ cup Cao Lau croutons, or deep-fried pita bread, cut into 1cm squares ½ cup spring onion curls 4 slices mild red chili soy sauce on the side
Heat the oil in a pan, add the lemongrass and cook slowly to release the fragrance. In a bowl, coat the pork well with five-spice powder, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic. Place the pork in the pan with lemongrass and sear well on all sides, being careful not to overcook the garlic. Add the soy sauce and extra sugar, coat well, cook slowly two to three minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce. Add one cup of the stock, then cook the pork slowly for 10 minutes on each side until sauce is further reduced and the meat glazed. Remove the pork and set it aside.
Add one cup of stock to the pan and an extra teaspoon of sugar, bring it to a boil and then turn the heat off. Slice pork thinly. Heat the bean shoots in boiling water for 30 seconds, then add the noodles for a further 30 seconds. Remove the noodles and shoots and strain well. In four bowls place a cup each of blanched bean shoots and some noodles. Arrange the herbs to the edge of the bowl so they stay fresh and crunchy. Top with pork slices and rice paper sticking upwards at the edge of the bowl. Place two small ladles of sauce over the pork and garnish with spring onion curls and a chili slice. Serve with soy sauce on the side.