At its heart, bun cha is grilled pork, rice noodles, herbs and fish sauce all in one bowl. What a combination!
- 500 g minced pork
- 500 g pork belly, thinly sliced
- 500 g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
- 200 g bean sprouts
- 1 bunch perilla, leaves picked
- 1 bunch Asian basil, leaves picked
- 1 bunch Vietnamese mint, leaves picked
- 1 bunch mint, leaves picked
- vegetable oil, for brushing
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) fish sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 10 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 100 g garlic chives, coarsely chopped
- 55 g finely diced red Asian shallots
- 65 g (⅓ cup) crushed garlic
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Nuoc cham dipping sauce
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time: 2 hours
1. For the marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. Place the minced pork in another bowl, then add half the marinade and mix until well combined. Add the pork belly slices to the remaining marinade and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight for an even tastier result.
2. Near serving time, preheat a charcoal grill or barbecue to medium–high. Place the noodles, bean sprouts and herbs on separate platters or bowls and place in the middle of the table.
3. Using oiled hands, form the minced pork mixture into small balls, then slightly press down on each ball to form patties, about 5 cm in diameter and 1 cm thick. Brush the patties with oil and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until just cooked through, then transfer to a serving platter. Now cook the pork belly for 4 minutes on each side, or until brown. Arrange on the same platter and place on the table.
4. While the patties are cooking, for the dipping sauce, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a saucepan. Mix well to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chilli, garlic and lime juice.
5. Transfer the warm dipping sauce to dipping bowls — one for each diner. Each guest should have their own dipping bowl, with all the ingredients at hand. To eat, take a mixture of the noodles, bean sprouts, herbs and meat and dip into the warm dipping sauce with each mouthful.
Catch Luke Nguyen on the tracks dishing up Vietnamese fare in the brand-new series, Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam.