Vietnamese-inspired Caramelized Pork Bowls are my vegan take on Caramelized ground Pork using lentils instead of meat substitutes. The dish comes together so quickly and is packed with flavor. My new favorite way of serving lentils! Nutfree vegan recipe. Gluten-free option.
Get ready for some sticky spicy goodness. These Vietnamese-inspired lentil pork bowls are a vegan version of Vietnamese-style caramelized ground pork, a popular take-out dish.
There are variations in the dish depending on the restaurant. You can use pork or chicken subs here but we skip the meat substitutes and use lentils instead. Budget-friendly and whole food!
The pork versions usually use fish sauce. Since vegan fish sauce isn’t available as easily, I make my own fish sauce dressing with the ingredients listed adapted from this.
For this recipe, we sautee the lentils with chili, garlic and ginger for that flavor and caramelize them using some coconut sugar or brown sugar.
But the deliciousness only starts here. Now we toss the lentils with a sweet and spicy dressing. This step turns them into something utterly addictive.
We save the rest of the dressing for tossing any veggies we want to add to the bowls. DIVINE! It’s zesty and spicy and great over cucumber and radish and saves time if you don’t have pickled veggies to serve with the bowl. I served my lentils over rice along with some refreshing cucumber slices and green onions but you can get creative here. Use noodles or lettuce, Some pickled radishes and carrots go wonderfully.
More vegan lentil recipe:
- Lentil Orzo Salad
- Vegan Lentil Sambusa Pie
- Vegan Handi Lentils (Creamy Indian Dal)
- Vegan Lentil Sausage Rolls
More Asian meals
- Vietnamese Curried Tofu Noodle Bowl Recipe
- Curried Tofu Banh Mi Vegan Recipe
- Baked Vietnamese fries
- Miso Chili Garlic Tofu Sandwich
Vegan Vietnamese Inspired Caramelized Lentil Pork Bowls
- 1 teaspoon miso yellow or white
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or use tamari for gluten-free
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons warm water or vegan chicken flavored broth
- optional add ins : 1-2 teaspoons vegan fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon boullion paste or powder
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 or 1 green chili such as serrano finely chopped, use milder chilies for less heat
- 15 oz (425.24 g) can lentils , drained or 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils. Brown or green lentils. Use black lentils if you like hardy lentils
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or use tamari for gluten-free
- 4-5 tablespoons of the mixed dressing from above
For the Bowl:
- Cooked rice or cooked vermicelli noodles
- 1 cucumber thinly sliced
- green onions and sesame seeds for garnish
- Make the dressing; Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix really well. Press the miso to the side of the bowl and mix until miso and sugar are mixed in. Set it aside.
- Make the lentil pork; Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once the oil is hot add in the onion and a good pinch of salt and a good pinch of sugar. Mix and cook until the onions start to turn golden on some edges, then add the ginger, garlic, and green chili and continue to cook.
- Deglaze the pan as needed with a few teaspoons of water if the mixture is drying out too much. Continue to cook until the onion is golden and starting to turn brown, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Then add the lentils, brown sugar, soy sauce and mix in. Add in the 3-4 tablespoons of the mixed dressing and mix in. Cook until the sauce comes to a boil and starts to thicken. Taste and adjust flavor by adding salt if you need or add another tablespoon of the prepared dressing and mix in.
- You can also add in the zest of half a lime here for additional tang. Once the sauce has thickened and lentils are starting to stick, Take off the heat .
- Serve in a bowl or lettuce wraps To the bowl add cooked rice or cooked noodles, a good helping of the caramelized lentils then cucumber or other sliced fresh veggies or pickled radishes and carrots. Drizzle remaining dressing over the cucumbers and rice/noodles.
- Store: store the lentils in a covered container in the fridge for upto 3 days. Reheat and serve in the bowl.
- lentils: canned or cooked . I used brown lentils here. I would not recommend red lentils as they are too soft.
- the lentils are fried with onion, ginger, garlic and green chili
- we caramelize the mix with brown sugar or coconut sugar
- soy sauce adds the saltiness to counterbalance the sweetness
- For the sweet & spicy dressing we mix miso with soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, pepper flakes, coconut sugar
and garlic . Some of these make up a dish sauce substitute flavor
- For the bowl, I add cooked rice, cucumber and green onions
- instead of white rice, you can use quinoa or rice noodles
- dont want to use lentils? Use soycurls or chickpeas! Rehydrate soycurls then chop into a mince and use
- To make this recipe gluten free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
How to make Vegan Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Bowls with lentils
Make the dressing; Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix really well.
Press the miso to the side of the bowl until completely mixed in. Set it aside.
Make lentil pork ; Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Once the oil is hot add in the onion and a good pinch of salt and a good pinch of sugar.
Mix and cook until the onions start to turn golden on some edges, then add the ginger, garlic, and green chili and continue to cook.
Deglaze the pan as needed with a few teaspoons of water if the mixture is drying out too much. Continue to cook until the onion is golden and starting to turn brown on some edges, 7 to 10 minutes.
Then add the lentils, brown sugar, soy sauce and mix in. Add in the 3-4 tablespoons of the mixed dressing and mix in.
Cook until the sauce comes to a boil and starts to thicken. Taste and adjust the flavor by adding salt if you need or add another 1-2 tablespoon of the prepared dressing and mix in.
You can also add in the zest of half a lime here for additional tang. Take off the heat and serve.
WAYS TO SERVE These Delicious Caramelized Pork lentils
You can serve the lentils in a bowl or you can make lettuce wraps.
If you want to serve this in a bowl, add some rice or cooked noodles, a good helping of the caramelized lentils then sliced cucumber or other sliced fresh veggies.
Add pickled radishes or carrots as well then dress the rice or noodles, the lentils and the cucumber generously with dressing and serve.