• Chargrilled pork and betel leaves (Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam)Source: Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam

Luke cooks with a husband and wife team to help cook their famous dish at the couples' eatery located at the Cam Le Market.






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  • 500 g pork neck, thinly sliced against the grain into 3 mm-thick slices
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp annatto oil
  • 1 large bunch of betel leaves, picked and washed
  • 250 g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 5 mint leaves, roughly sliced
  • 5 perilla leaves, roughly sliced
  • 5 Vietnamese mint leaves roughly sliced
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 2 handfuls bean sprouts
  • 25 g (⅓ cup) fried red Asian shallots
  • 50 g (⅓ cup) crushed roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups shaved green papaya


  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fermented anchovy paste (optional)
  • 2 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced

Nuoc cham

  • 1½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1½ tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ red bird's eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time: 2 hours

1. For the marinade, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Add the pork, toss to coat well, then pour the vegetable oil and annatto oil over the top and mix again. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight for an even tastier result.

3. For the nuoc cham, place the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring mixture to just below boiling point, then set aside to cool. Add the garlic, chilli and lime juice and stir to combine.

4. Preheat a charcoal grill to medium-high. Working in batches, place the betel leaves shiny-side down on a wire grill, then place a layer of pork over the top of the betel leaves. Close the wire grill, then chargrill over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through and nicely browned.

5. Divide the noodles among 4 serving bowls and top with the herbs, cucumber and bean sprouts, then sit the grilled pork on top. Drizzle each bowl with a little nuoc cham and sprinkle with the fried shallots, crushed peanuts and some shaved green papaya.


Catch Luke Nguyen on the tracks dishing up Vietnamese fare in the brand-new series, Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam.