Grilled Pork Noodle Soup (Vietnamese: Bún chả) is a Vietnamese dish, which is thought to be originated from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Bun cha is served with a plate of white rice noodle (bún) and herbs in a steamy broth.
There are a couple of 'secrets' to a good Bun cha, most important is the fish sauce. Learning how to gauge the right amount of sugar, vinegar and nuoc mam (fish sauce) is the tricky bit. The line between fish sauce heaven and a big bowl of crap is a fine one. The other secret is how the meat is grilled. It needs an extremely hot flame and should be charred on both sides. When it is placed in the bowl small flakes of black char fall off and dot the fish sauce. Standard Bun cha comes with small bites of grilled sliced pork.
In with the fish sauce are a few finely pickled sliced carrots and sliced green papaya. The cold noodles should be added a bit at a time to the fish sauce. The last part of a bun cha lunch is that impressive herb hedge pictured above. There are seven different clippings in among that lot. The sauce is what brings everything together. The fish sauce electrifies everything around it.
Bun cha normally order a side dish of spring rolls. These are filled with a dash of crabmeat, minced pork, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, translucent noodles and seasoning. You dip them in the same fish sauce with the pork balls in.
Ingredients (serve 4)
- 1 pound fresh rice vermicelli or rehydrated noodles.
- 1 head boston lettuce
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 large shallot, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small red chili
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons plain oil
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons coconut caramel (or palm sugar or brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- Dipping Sauce/Broth
- 1. Wash lettuce, mint and cilantro. Soak in salt water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside on a serving plate.
- 2. Finely chop lemon grass, garlic, shallots and chilies (or grind with a mortar and pestle). Mix with ground pork. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Let marinate for 10 minutes.
- 3. Form meat into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. Put on a grill-rack.
- 4. Cook meatballs over a charcoal fire until caramelized on the outside and cooked through, about 10 minutes depending on the fire.
- 1 cup water
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 small kohlrabi or or green papaya
- 1 small carrot, peeled
- 1 small chili, seeds removed and sliced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1. Thinly slice green papaya and carrot. Toss with salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Rinse.
- 2. Heat water to a boil. Add garlic, chilies, fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add kohlrabi, carrots and lime juice.
- To serve, divide the dipping sauce between 4 warmed bowls, add the pork, torn lettuce leaves, bean sprouts and herbs. Then dip the noodle into the bowl and serve.