This isn’t really a Cao Lầu. We didn’t have all the right ingredients, but it could never have been a proper Cao Lầu anyway, unless we took water from the Cham well in Hoi An. Let me explain, there’s a beautiful place in Vietnam called Hoi An, and it is famed for its food. We travelled through on our Honeymoon and ended up spending the rest of our time there because we loved it so much. Well, we may have become slightly addicted to the ‘medicinal’ qualities of La Lot leaf (beef wrapped in, to be precise). So much so, that I tried to track down the plant; by speaking to the RHS, the botanical gardens in Oxford, I even imported the wrong plant from the US, which turned out to be infested with white eggs. Oops.
Anyway, I digress, apart from the aforementioned dish, one of the things that Hoi An is famous for is a noodle dish called Cao Lầu. It normally comprises of pork, greens, noodles and broken croutons. Mine is a bastardised version, but it was bloody delicious. Be warned: dribble chin is inevitable.
350g pork fillet, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
Thumb of ginger
1 tspn Chinese five spice
2 tblsp sesame oil
1 green chilli, finely sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1.5 litres chicken stock
2 tblsp light soy sauce
4 or 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
Handful of green beans
2 portions of flat egg noodles
Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
To Serve On Top:
Baked, pre-made and cooked tortilla, broken into shards
Small handful of crushed peanuts, optional (Jamie thought unnecessary, but that’s because he didn’t like me taking from his peanut stash)
A few more coriander leaves
Light soy sauce
Marinade the pork with the garlic, ginger, five spice, chilli and half the oil. Leave for at least half an hour. Then, in a large wok, heat the oil, and brown the pork. Next, pour in the stock, soy, lime and season (go easy on the salt, as the soy should take care of that). After about twenty minutes add the spring onions and after five more, the green beans. Finally add the noodles and the coriander for a couple more minutes.
Ladle into bowls and add the toppings. Happy Buddha.