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How to make Vietnamese Bun Cha (Pork Patties)

Some background…

Bun Cha is one of Hanoi’s famous dishes.┬áIt’s the Northern equivalent of South Vietnam’s Bun Thit Nuong. The two dishes are very similar in that it is rice noodles with grilled pork, served with a sweet chili dipping sauce and salad with fresh herbs.

In Bun Thit Nuong, the meat, noodles, and salad are all mixed in a bowl together drizzled with the iconic Vietnamese dipping sauce.

In Bun Cha, the meat is separated from the noodles and salad and served in a variation of the dipping sauce which is slightly thicker in consistency.

Anyhoos, this is an authentic hybrid recipe, in so much that it was taught to me by my mum who is proper Vietnamese.

Ingredients (serves 6-ish or 4 Lushes)

Patties

  • 500g ground/minced pork
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 large sprigs of spring onions – finely chopped
  • 1 slice of bread – the bit at the end (chopped into small breadcrumbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small chili – finely chopped (optional)
  • Handful of fresh mint and coriander – finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 Shallot – finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup minced lemongrass (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground salt and chili flakes (optional)

Salad

  • Assorted fresh salad (iceberg lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, coriander, sliced cucumber)
  • 2 bags rice vermicelli (Jiang Xi rice stick or Bun Giang Tay – normally in a red packaging)

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
  • 1 carrot thinly sliced into penny coin size – extra points if you can score them to make them into flower petals

The sauce should be sweet, tangy, and salty (and garlicy). Adjust the amount of sugar, fish sauce, or lemon accordingly.

Instructions

  1. To make the pork patties (cha), combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. You can leave it to marinate for 30 minutes (if you can wait).
  2. Roll the ground pork into small patties. Think ping-pong ball, but squished.
  3. Grill the sliced pork and patties over charcoal fire for a more authentic taste. Cheat-version: You can also pan-fry them on a medium-high heat using a griddle pan with a dash of olive oil for around 10 minutes. Make sure to turn and rotate frequently for even cooking. They need to be caramelised and crispy on both sides.
  4. To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, combine water and sugar and mixed until dissolved. Add fish sauce, lemon juice, garlic, chili sauce and sliced carrots.
  5. Cook the noodles per package instructions. Normally, it’s fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the noodles (two square portions will serve 6 people) to the boiling water. Cover and turn off the heat. Leave to steam for 10 minutes. Drain the hot water and run under cold water.
  6. To serve, add layer of noodles followed by the salad and then place the patties on top. Drizzle a generous amount of the sauce over everything.
  7. Enjoy! Don’t forget to take photos and share it with me on social media @whoatemycrayons, because “photo, or it never happened”.

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