Cao lau is made with noodles, pork, and greens traditionally found only in the town of Hoi An, Vietnam. This recipe approximates authentic cao lau with easier-to-find ingredients. Use fresh rice noodles about the same thickness of linguine.

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Recipe Summary

prep:
20 mins
cook:
10 mins
additional:
1 hr
total:
1 hr 30 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
6 servings
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Ingredients

6
Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk soy sauce, garlic, Chinese 5-spice, sugar, paprika, and chicken bouillon together in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add pork cubes and toss to evenly coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

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  • Remove pork from marinade and shake off excess. Discard remaining marinade.

  • Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Cook and stir pork in hot oil until browned, 4 to 7 minutes. Add water; cook and stir until water evaporates and pork is cooked through, about 2 minutes more.

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Rinse rice noodles under cold water and gently break noodles apart. Immerse noodles in boiling water until about half tender, about 30 seconds. Add bean sprouts to the water and noodles; continue cooking until tender but still firm to the bite, about 30 seconds more. Drain.

  • Combine noodles and pork mixture together in a large serving dish. Top noodles with lettuce, green onion, basil, cilantro, and crispy chow mein.

Cook's Note:

Rice noodles are very easy to overcook. They should be quite firm (al dente). They can be overcooked in just a few seconds, turning soggy and pasty. It is best to use fresh Vietnamese-style rice noodles of about 1/4-inch thickness. If you have not cooked with these before, work it out on your own before planning this dish for guests. Don't serve this dish with overcooked noodles.

You can substitute rice paper croutons or broken chicharonnes for the crispy chow mein noodles.

Nutrition:

The nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of the marinade ingredients. The actual amount of the marinade consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts

488 calories; protein 23.7g 48% DV; carbohydrates 78.1g 25% DV; fat 8.1g 12% DV; cholesterol 49mg 16% DV; sodium 373mg 15% DV. Full Nutrition

Reviews (3)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 4 stars
05/23/2015
I've never had Cao Lau before so I pulled up recipes on the internet to see what it was supposed to look like when brought to the table. Every recipe had sliced pork instead of cubed so I sliced it thinly and every recipe had either a slice or wedge of fresh lime to squeeze over the bowl. I had everything on hand for this recipe except the thick Vietnamese style rice noodles so I substituted thick spaghetti (Barilla). When the pork came out of the fridge it had soaked up every little bit of the marinade but its flavor was fantastic. On the downside the single thing that suffered most in this recipe was that it was dry but I think that's an easy fix. What I'll try next time is doubling the marinade and adding some pork or chicken broth to the sautéed pork to ramp up the moisture level; probably will add more herbs too. Other than the dryness issue I have no complaints (hubby thought there was too much pasta). We liked it we ate it and I'll try again with a few tweaks to suit our tastes. Read More
(6)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
05/22/2017
This dish is served with a fish sauce over the noodles topped with raw veggies. Mint is a nice touch to fresh greens. Also have had it with slivered carrot and maybe white radish?. Can you recommend a brand of fish sauce light and fresh tasting and the marinaded carrot/crisp white veggie mix? Read More
(1)
5 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 1
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 4 stars
05/23/2015
I've never had Cao Lau before so I pulled up recipes on the internet to see what it was supposed to look like when brought to the table. Every recipe had sliced pork instead of cubed so I sliced it thinly and every recipe had either a slice or wedge of fresh lime to squeeze over the bowl. I had everything on hand for this recipe except the thick Vietnamese style rice noodles so I substituted thick spaghetti (Barilla). When the pork came out of the fridge it had soaked up every little bit of the marinade but its flavor was fantastic. On the downside the single thing that suffered most in this recipe was that it was dry but I think that's an easy fix. What I'll try next time is doubling the marinade and adding some pork or chicken broth to the sautéed pork to ramp up the moisture level; probably will add more herbs too. Other than the dryness issue I have no complaints (hubby thought there was too much pasta). We liked it we ate it and I'll try again with a few tweaks to suit our tastes. Read More
(6)
Rating: 3 stars
05/22/2017
This dish is served with a fish sauce over the noodles topped with raw veggies. Mint is a nice touch to fresh greens. Also have had it with slivered carrot and maybe white radish?. Can you recommend a brand of fish sauce light and fresh tasting and the marinaded carrot/crisp white veggie mix? Read More
(1)
Rating: 3 stars
08/04/2015
I had to add a lot of soy sauce at the end to increase flavor. I would also use broccoli instead of lettuce if I make this again. Read More
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