Friday, May 25, 2012

Home Is Where The Pork Is

My brother's pulled pork changes lives.

People who claim not to like pork will put away half a pound before coming up for air.  Lifelong pork aficionados have to recalibrate their rankings to accommodate this new upstart.  Even severe sensory integration afflictions are powerless before the slow-smoked succulence that my brother creates.  And they all back for more.

This is why my brother has taken to smoking two seven-pound pork shoulders at a time, even if the expected crowd is relatively small and the pork is preceded by a sausage sampler course and several marinated tri-tips.  Though no one thought they had room after the onslaught of the first two meat rounds (and their accompanying sides), the revelers assembled at our family's house last weekend still pounced on the pork bowl like starving vultures the instant it appeared.

The ravening beasts descend.

My only claim to fame associated with this miraculous porcine power (other than my relation to its creator) is that my Vietnamese cabbage slaw recipe has become the condiment of choice.  Whether in a pulled pork taco, slider, or full blown sandwich, this slaw provides just the right amount of crunch, tang, freshness, and redeeming nutritional value to help you put away that extra helping of pig.  It is, in a word, indispensable.

Like the pork, this slaw must be made in vast quantities to appease the hungering hordes -- but unlike the pork, I'm authorized to share the recipe.  And it doubles easily.

Vietnamese Cabbage Salad

1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl big enough to whisk, and whisk together:
  • 1 medium size garlic clove, smashed and minced as small as possible
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, depending on your taste
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, or according to your taste
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • a generous showering of freshly ground black pepper
  • (optional) a pinch or two of minced chili pepper, or a dash of hot red pepper flakes, or sriracha, or... whatever spicy goodness you've got.
The dressing ideally should sit for a bit (30 minutes or more) before you dress the salad to let the flavors blend, but it's not essential.  If you're just eating this salad on its own, without something outrageously rich and fabulous to flesh it out, add a couple of tablespoons of neutral oil to the dressing to compensate.

2. Mix the salad ingredients in your serving bowl:
  • 4 cups (approx 1 10-oz bag)"angel hair" shredded green cabbage 
  • 1 cup (about half a bag) julienned carrots
  • 1/4 cup julienned red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup julienned fennel
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 12-20 fresh mint leaves, torn or chopped
3. Toss the salad thoroughly with the dressing, et voilà.



  1. great post! I am now craving pork!! wow, what a description of both your brother's pork and your cabbage slaw..mmmm!

  2. I can't wait to try this, avec Andy's pulled pork! Thank you, brilliant Bourdets!

  3. Reporting back: I have now tried the slaw...and the pork...amazing!! Not everyone can get their hands on Andy's pulled pork, but everyone can make this sweet-tart, umami-crunch flavorfest and experiment with the many delightful pairings it will doubtless lend itself to. For the cilantro haters out there (that would be my husband, not me), the slaw is perfectly delicious without it -- I amped up the mint and didn't miss a thing.