Start by marinating your meat in the garlic. Add the sliced pork into a large ziplock bag. Toss in the garlic, seal the bag, and massage that garlic into the pork. Set in the refrigerator until the following day.
Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, green onions, cilantro, sugar, and lemongrass to a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the pork to the bowl, and give another good mix, making sure you marinate all of the pork. Set this aside and let it rest for about 45 minutes. During this time, make the sauce that you will pour over the noodles.
Make the sauce. Add two cloves of minced garlic, one chopped Thai bird chili, four tablespoons of white vinegar, one tablespoon of fish sauce, four tablespoons of sugar, and six tablespoons of water to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring from time to time. You want all of the sugar to dissolve. Once dissolved, remove it from the burner, and set it aside to cool. The sauce will have reduced a bit as well.
Now boil your noodles until they are cooked al dente. Once cooked, drain, and set them aside.
Make your pickled carrots by adding the vinegar, sugar, salt and water to a skillet. Bring to a boil, making sure you dissolve all of the sugar. Add the carrots to a jar, and pour the pickling liquid over the carrots. Set these to the side until you are ready to plate.
OK, now fire up your grill. I’m a big believer in grilling over coal, but if you have a gas grill, go ahead and use that. No big deal.
Once your coals are hot, begin laying down the pork onto the grates. You will probably need to do these in batches, and you will not want to walk away from it as pork shoulder has some fat on it and well, the sugar in the marinate… you get it.
Cooking the pork will go rather quickly, and probably only take a few minutes per side. You will see how the pork caramelizes.
ONE THING. Resist eating the cooked pork at this time. Remember, this pork is the star of the dish and it will have to make it into the bowls. It’s hard to resist, trust me.
Once the pork is grilled, it is ready to plate.
Add a bit of the noodles to a bowl. Drizzle some of the chili sauce over the noodles. Add pork, bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, green onions, cucumber, pickled carrots, and crushed peanuts to the bowl. Drizzle more of the chili sauce. Give it a good mix, and dig in.
The dish is huge in flavortown. The sweetness of the mixture, along with the pickled carrots, and a mild heat from the chili sauce, this dish has everything you would ever want in a great Vietnamese dish. Let’s just say my oldest, and somewhat pickiest of eaters, had three servings.