Return to Local Dishes in Vietnam

Vietnamese Cau Lau

Cau Lau is a truly local dish that uses local spring water and the ash from a local tree. The embodiment of local. It’s complex to recreate but worth it to create such a unique plate.


250g dried flat rice vermicelli noodles
500g pork tenderloin,
1 (heaped) tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (3tsp light soy)
2 tsp caster sugar
50g fresh mint
50g coriander
25g chives
20cm x 20 cm strip of pork skin (or fat with skin)
600g pork bones (approx)
3 liters of water
50g dried shallots/onion or 10 fresh shallots..
20g dried small prawns (optional)
1 ½ tsp salt or MSG

How to: 

Finely chop the shallots add to a large suacepan with the pork bones, water and dried prawns. Simmer on a medium heat for approximately 5- 6 hours until 2 liters of stock is left. Skim the fat off the top and pour through a sieve . Season with the  MSG (for a more authentic taste) or salt.

Crush the garlic into a paste and in a bowl mix this with the salt, Chinese five spice, soy sauce, sugar and the pork. Ensure the meat is well covered and leave to marinade for 1 hour.

Lie the pork fat on a flat surface and carefully cut the soft fat as closely as possible from the skin. Cut the skin into 2.5cm x 2.5cm squares. Pre-heat a frying pan on a medium- high heat, with enough oil so the base of the pan is completely covered and fry for around 4 minutes, sprinkle evenly with salt and turn over. Fry for another 4 minutes until the fat is golden brown and crispy. Leave on kitchen towel to remove the oil from the skin pieces.

Now the pork has marinaded add to a frying pan with ¼ cup water and all the marinading juices. Cook slowly over a low heat for around 20 minutes until the water has evapourated. Slice the meat 1/2cm thick.

Remove the stalks from the mint and coriander and roughly chop the leaves and tips. Finely chop the chives.  Boil a small pan of water and on a medium heat cook for 5 minutes until soft and drain.

To serve add around a handful of noodles to a large bowl and add a ladle full of boiling stock. Add a ¼ of the meat to the top of the stock. Sprinkle over some of the chives, coriander  mint and a dusting of black pepper to finish. Complex but worth it!