“The irresistible sweet, treacly smell of barbecued patties and caramelised pork is luring and mouth-watering. They sit on a pillow of thin rice vermicelli (bún) and crunchy sweet and sour pickles with plenty of refreshing herbs and leaves as salad. A large, warm, sweet and umami bowl of dipping sauce with pickles, garlic and chillies serves as a bath for the meats to soak in. You can either dip or bathe your meat in this delicious broth, or pour it over your noodles and slurp them up.
To make the caramel sauce, melt the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat for about 7–10 minutes until it turns golden and caramel, swirling every now and again to move the sugar. Turn off the heat then – with extreme caution – pour the hot water into the caramel. Mix well then set aside.
Place the pork mince and sliced pork belly into two separate bowls. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and divide evenly between the two bowls of meat. Then top with 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce and mix well. Form 5cm-wide patties with the minced pork, and place in a container. Set both aside in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare the pickles. Mix the carrot and kohlrabi in a bowl with the salt and rest for 15 minutes – this removes the moisture and gives it crunch. Rinse well and slightly squeeze out any remaining water. In a large bowl, mix the kohlrabi and carrots with the sugar and vinegar. Set aside for at least 1 hour in the fridge so that the veggies can absorb the flavour.
Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Add a large handful of leaves to four bowls, then top each bowl with the noodles and divide half of the pickles amongst them.
Make the dipping sauce by adding all the ingredients to a bowl then giving it a good stir.
Divide it among four small bowls and add the remainder of the pickles with the pickle juice.
Using a non-stick frying pan, on a medium to high heat, place the patties clockwise from 12 o’clock. Cook until golden on both sides for about 10 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes. Set aside on kitchen paper.
On a medium–high heat, in the same frying pan, add the oil and fry a batch of the pork belly (don’t crowd them) until it is caramelised and golden, turning occasionally. Place the pork on kitchen paper to drain the fat. Wipe the excess oil from the pan after each batch, leaving just a touch of fat to cook the next batch.
Place half of the patties and slices of pork on each of the noodle bowls and the other half on each of the medium dipping sauce bowls.