Basil-Cashew-Lime Vermicelli Bowls with Pork and Green Beans

Dinner Epicurious Recipe What's in the Bowl

Not sure where my disinterest in the humble pork chop originated. It's pork. I love pork. But the idea of a dinnertime pork chop brought to mind a neutral colored meat that required more chewing than I would like. 

The swoosh of wind that pushed me over the edge of the cliff to even try this recipe to begin with was thanks to the Cashew-y, basil-y, serrano-y sauce. I thought "When the pork chop is too tough, which it will be, I'll just smother it in the sauce. K. Cool."

You know where this is going... because you're smart and you know how story arc works, but... dang. I was wrong. 

Call me to the front of the church and watch me as I dance with jubilee because a I AM A PORK CHOP BELIEVER. 

I found this recipe a little clunky in it's execution -- making sure all the different components stayed warm by the time I ate them was a fail, but I've explained below the order in which I would put this all together and am not worried about it for next time. Because there will be a next time. 

Ingredients:

1 cup salted, roasted cashews, divided
1 tsp. ground turmeric (I've settled with the fact that I'm not a huge turmeric person, so I subbed for curry paste and loved it. Curry powder would be great... cumin would probably be great. You know what... just use whatever your favorite spice is here and you'll love it.)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
2 1/2 tsp. light brown sugar, divided
2 large boneless center-cut pork loin chops (about 1 1/4 lb. total)
8 oz. vermicelli rice noodles (I used the really thin angel hair kind and it totally worked, but I do think I would try and go for a wider noodle next time. Less tangly.)
2 cups basil leaves
2 small serrano chiles, seeds removed (unless you like the heat!)
1 Tbsp. finely grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise
1 cup mint leaves (optional)
Lime wedges (for serving)

Instructions:

People always say this and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't... but I would definitely recommend doing all measuring and chopping of the ingredients list before you start. Things move fast and having everything ready to go would make this a really easy recipe instead of a potentially stressful one. 

1. Place 3/4 cup cashews in a blender and cover with 3/4 cup boiling water. Let soak 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mix turmeric (I used curry paste... you can use any aromatic seasoning in my opinion... think thai spices, if the word "any" is scary), pepper, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside. This will be the rub for the pork chop. 

3. Working one at a time, place pork chop flat on a work surface. First, butterfly the pork chop so that it’s thinner, which will reduce cooking time and create more surface area for seasoning. Using a sharp knife and starting from an outside edge, slice three-quarters of the way through the center of chop, as though you’re slicing a bagel in half, then open it up like a book. Place butterflied chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or inside a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and pound to 1/4" thin. Repeat with remaining chop. Rub chops with turmeric mixture and let sit 10 minutes.

4. It's been about ten minutes, right? Go back to the blender with the cashews and water in it. Add basil, chiles, lime zest and juice, and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar and 3/4 tsp. salt to cashews and cashew soaking water in blender and purée until smooth and creamy. Set that sauce aside for now. 

5. Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Run under cold water to stop the cooking, then transfer to a large bowl. Pour sauce over noodles and toss to combine.

6. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over high until shimmering. Cook cutlets one at a time until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice into 1/2"-thick strips.

7. While pork rests, cook green beans in same skillet over high heat, stirring often, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

8. Divide noodle mixture among bowls. Arrange pork and green beans over. Top with mint and remaining 1/4 cup cashews. Serve with lime wedges alongside.

recipe by Anna Stockwell via Epicurious
photo/food styling by me


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