The recipe today is “Cao Lầu”, a regional Vietnamese noodle dish that cannot be found in the town off Hoi An. 

It is an ancient town that belongs to Quang Nam province of Central Vietnam. As the UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Vietnam. eventhought you might see more tourists than local here, the town is really well preserved and organized. In the 17th century, Hoi An was the trading port and also a center of Japanese trading activity.

The famous Hoi An bridge was built by Japanese. It has a Buddhist pagoda at the one side and it is called “Chùa Cầu” in Vietnamese (literary “Bridge Pagoda”).

The noodle dish that we will cook today is believed to be derived from Japanese soba noodles .In Hoi An, you can easily find a local food store selling “Cao Lầu”. It is a wonderful noodle dish so today we will learn the recipe of cooking this dish. Let’s begin


For the Char Siu

500g (1.1 lb) pork (shoulder/thigh/belly/lean)

6-7 cloves of garlic, pounded in to a paste in a mortar and pestle

2-3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp five-spice powder

½ tsp salt (optional)

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp pork/chicken stock

½ tsp ground pepper

For the pork broth

1 kg (2.2 lb) pork bones

1 tsp salt

1 peeled onion

3 liters (3 quarts) water

For the greens

1 lettuce, shredded

Herbs: mint, perilla, lemon basil (rau é), coriander, chrysanthemum (tàn ô), bitter mint (rau đắng) fish mint (diếp cá) etc.

500g (1.1 lb) bean sprouts, blanched

1 kg Cao Lau (or soba Noodle)

Cao Lau cripsy squares (deep-fried or microwaved for 1 minute)

lime, sweet Chili sauce


Mix all ingredients for the char siu marinade together and combine with the pork. Massage the marinade on all sides of the pork, cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2-3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

To make the pork broth, fill the pot with the pork bones and enough water to cover the bones. Cook over medium high heat for 5-10 minutes until the impurities rise to the top. Then dump out the whole pot, wipe the pot clean, fill with 3 liters water and add one peeled onion and some salt. Cook on medium low, uncovered for 1 hour.

After marinating, scrape the garlic off the pork and save the marinade. In a large wok or a pan, add 1-inch vegetable oi and sear the pork both sides on medium high heat. Searing with a generous amount of oil helps prevent the pork skin from splashing. After searing, extract the oil (and burnt garlic if any) and discard. Keep the pork in the same wok, add the marinade and 4 tbsp of the pork broth. Simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Occasionally flip the pork so it is well coated with the sauce. You can also cover to shorten the cooking time.

When cooked, transfer the pork to a plate and let cool. Then slice thinly.

Combine the sauce with the pork broth and season to taste with salt, sugar/stock powder. You want to season it a bit saltier than a soup.

Rinse the greens and drain well.

To assemble the dish, fill a serving bowl half-full with fresh greens. Place the noodles on top of the greens. Top up with sliced char siu pork, and ladle over 1.5 ladles of the broth. Garnish with crackers, lime wedge, sweet chili sauce. Stir well before serving.

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