My mom would make so many Vietnamese dishes at home from scratch. Her mental catalogue of recipes mind is endless. As I lived with my dad for most of my upbringing, this style of Vietnamese dishes would be totally foreign to me. Often times at the dinner table, I would simply think that my mom invented the recipes of these dishes by herself on a whim (I was very wrong). Bun cha is one of those many dishes (others would be xoi khuc and imperial omelette). It’s a wonder how someone came up with grilling meats and serving it warm in fish sauce with the perfect pickled vegetables. Who would have known, and it’s ridiculously delicious!
This is one dish that takes a little bit of effort. If you’re looking to update your regular bowl of vermicelli noodles, you’ve scrolled in the right place.
This Hanoi-style noodle is made up of noodles and a warm bowl of sweet fish sauce and freshly grilled meats. Such fond memories of our time in Hanoi, and making it at home tasted just as satisfying as in Vietnam! Here’s my Instagram post on my experience in Hanoi: link.
Here’s a few tips for that perfect bowl of bun cha
- Serve the sauce & meats warm! The oil from the meats congeals quickly. Otherwise, a 15-second microwave fix should do it just fine.
- To the dipping sauce, add extra minced garlic, and sliced whole chili for a good kick.
- Pickled vegetables are best made with young pickles, as it’s sweeter and pickles faster.
- Bundle the noodles in smaller handfuls when warm for easy grabbing – but beware, it’s so easy to slurp up three of them with a blink of the eye!
Recipe: Bún Chả Hà Nội (Vietnamese Patties & Pork in Fish Sauce)
Cooking time: 20
Preparation time: 10
1lb Ground Pork, Medium
1lb Pork Shoulder, sliced thinly in 2-inch pieces
1 tbsp Fish Sauce
2 tbsp Knorr Liquid Seasoning
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
4 tbsp Caramel Sauce (recipe below), or substitute for Honey/Molasses
1 tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 tbsp Lemongrass, minced
1 cup Carrot, sliced thinly (0.5mm)
1 cup White Radish, sliced thinly, 1.5cm strips
1 tsp Salt
1½ tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Vinegar
4 tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 tbsp Vinegar
¾ cups Water
Fish Sauce Dip
4 tbsp Granulated Sugar
3 tbsp Fish Sauce
1 ½ Cups of Water
1 tsp Rice Vinegar or Lime Juice
1 Thai Chili, sliced (optional)
1 tbsp Garlic, minced finely (Optional)
Vietnamese Basil (Optional)
Vietnamese Mint (Optional)
- Pickled vegetables: Peel and slice carrot and radish. Place sliced vegetables in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and massage in until covered. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to extract moisture. Rinse carrot and radish under running water 2-3 times. Add to a jar with sugar and vinegar. Mix pickled vegetables after 15 minutes to allow even coverage of vinegar and sugar. Ready to eat after 30 minutes total.
- Caramel (optional): On medium heat, add sugar to a pot. Observe and stir continually. Once the sugar liquid turns brown, it will quickly become darker. Once there are rapid bubbles, add warm water to the pot. Mix until caramel is combined with water.
- Marinade: To a large bowl, add fish sauce, Knorr liquid seasoning, caramel sauce (optional, see ingredients for substitute), minced garlic, pepper, sugar and lemongrass. Mix well until combined. Divide the marinade mixture into two bowls.
- Minced Pork Patty: To one of the bowls, add minced pork and mix well. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Portion the mixture into 12 balls, and create patties. To cook, add patties to a pan on medium heat. Cook one side for 4-5 minutes, then flip. Cook for a further 4 minutes, or until the patty doesn’t feel as bouncy upon touch.
- Pork Shoulder Slices: Slice pork shoulder against the grain in thin, 2 inch slices. To the second marinade bowl, add sliced pork shoulder and mix well. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. To cook, add pork shoulder slices to a pan, cooking one side first for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for a further 1-2 minute then remove from heat.
- Cook vermicelli noodles as per package instructions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, and allow to drain until ready to serve. Portion noodles in bundles as pictured.
- Fish sauce mixture: Combine sugar with warm water until combined. Add fish sauce and lemon. Add additional water a few tablespoons at a time to taste. (Optional) Add sliced Thai chili.
- To serve, add warm fish sauce mixture to a medium-sized bowl. Add 3 pieces of pork patties, and a few pieces of sliced pork shoulder. Add pickled carrot & radish. Add minced garlic and freshly sliced chili (Optional).