Bun Cha Hanoi

Bun Cha Hanoi has got to be one of the best dishes originating from Northern Vietnam… seriously.  Try to pronounce it in Vietnamese – boon ja ha noy, or not and say the American mouthful, ”I-don’t-want-to-bother-twisting-my-tongue” version - Vietnamese Hanoi-Style Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork Patties.  My go-to restaurant for bun cha is Hanoi Restaurant in Little Saigon… but forget you guys now!  I’ve mastered the recipe!  Dare I even claim that mine is better?! *Doing the Carlton dance*
I think the key here is to allow time for the meat to absorb the marinade.  The flavors in this dish are found in the meat and in the sauce so nurture them like your babies!  People eat this in different ways.  You can either combine all the yummy elements in a bowl of nuoc mam or wrap the vermicelli, meat, and herbs into a lettuce and dip into the sauce.  (Recipe below)

Ingredients / Preparation Instructions
Sides:
  • 1 package of vermicelli
  • 4 cups of nuoc mam cham
  • Fresh herbs: Mint (rau thom), Perilla (tia to), Vietnamese Balm (kinh gioi).
Boil the vermicelli, drain and set aside. Prepare the fresh veggies and set aside. Make the nuoc mam cham (dipping sauce) and set aside.
Sliced Pork:
  • 1 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced about 1/8 to 1/4 inch or
    Stay away from lean cuts of pork as it will become dry.
  • 1/8 cup minced Lemongrass (xa bam). Many Asian markets will sell minced lemongrass in the freezer section – I used fresh Lemongrass… the smell is amazing once you start chopping
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp ground pepper
  • 10-15 cloves garlic, minced (don’t be shy!)
  • 2-3 shallots, minced
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp thick soy sauce (make sure you use thick soy sauce and not the regular kind… if you can’t find it, use regular and add browning sugar or molasses)
Slice the pork into thin slices roughly 2-3 inch strips with about ¼ inch thick. Grill the meat outdoor for a better taste… we did ours over charcoal… yum!
For the marinade, combine in large mixing bow:l the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, dark soy sauce, sesame oil. Add pork and mix well and marinade for at least 2 hrs or overnight is even better.
Pork Patties:

  • 1 lb of ground pork (I got the pork butt/shoulder and had the butcher ground it for me)
  • 15-20 cloves of garlic (yup… keep ‘em comin’!) – minced
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • ½ tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp of pepper
  • 6 tbsp of thick soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of molasses
Combine all the ingredients above except for the pork into a bowl.  Add mixture to the ground pork.  Work your hands into it and mix well.
Refrigerate the pork for about 1/2 hr to let it set and easier to handle when forming patties. Keep a bowl of water or oil handy to keep your hands from sticking to the meat.  Form little patties and set aside for at least 2 hours before grilling.
To cook, spread the slices of pork (thit nuong) alongside the patties onto an outdoor grill and cook until golden brown and slightly charred.
When both thit nuong and cha (patties) are done, place in a serving bowl containing the nuoc mam cham and pickled vegetables. The juices of the meat will darken and meld with the fish sauce. Allow to soak for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with the vermicelli and herbs family style with extra nuoc mam for dipping.  Mmmmm… so delicious!