We recently purchased some pork patties from the the LeBlank Family farm in Vermont. What made these patties interesting is that they are flavored with maple. So we thought, um, great, pork patties. Now, patties are the easiest thing to cook. Fry them in butter or olive oil, and serve with a side vegetable. But, then, inspiration struck, and I decided on something different. I decided to cook ’em Vietnamese style.

I’ve been a fan of Vietnamese cuisine since my tour in ‘Nam back during the Vietnam War. Those days are long gone, thank the gods; and now I can experiment with their vibrant cuisine. I decided to prepare the patties with Nuoc Cham, a sweet-sour combination of fish sauce, garlic, sugar and lime juice very prevalent in Vietnamese cooking. Think of garam masala in Indian cooking, and the proverbial salsa in Mexican cooking.

The dish worked very well.  I added rice noodles to the mix plus a western twist, zucchini slices (we happened to have some zucchini on hand). For this recipe you can use prepared beef, turkey or chicken patties. Or you can make your own. Your choice. You can even utilize hamburger patties, if desired. Just adjust the cooking time to the size of the meat. The patties can also be done on a grill. This is the season for it. On a charcoal grill, heat coals until hot, and cook patties, about 5 minutes, turning once during grilling. On a gas grill, turn all burners to high, cover and cook patties 3 to 4 minutes per side.

PORK PATTIES WITH RICE NOODLES

Ingredients:

1 small green chili (or Thai chili), stemmed and minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/4 cup hot water
5 tablespoons fish sauce (can be found in any Asian market or even most supermarkets these days)
Juice of 1 lime
1 medium-sized zucchini, peeled and thinly sliced, then slices cut in half
4 pork patties (or chicken, turkey, beef—whatever you have on hand), 4-5 ounces each, abut 1
pound
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces rice vermicelli or rice noodles
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large  of water to boil (at least 4 quarts).
  2. While water is boiling, in small bowl, combine the chili, sugar, garlic, water, fish sauce, and lime juice. Stir to mix until sugar is dissolved and set aside.
  3.  In a pan or skillet, heat olive oil, and cook patties over medium heat until browned (about 3-4 minutes per side). Place on a plate or dish with paper towels to drain, and set aside.
  4. Add noodles to boiling water and cook until tender. Usually this means placing noodles in boiling water, cover, turn the heat off and let stand for 3-4 minutes. Loosen with a fork, drain, rinse with cold water, and you’re set.
  5.  Place noodles in a platter or serving dish. Arrange zucchini slices on top. Drizzle with the fish sauce. Sprinkle with the chopped mint; and top with pork patties.
    Yield: 4 servings.