Bun Cha (Hanoi Grilled Pork)

Ingredients : 
  • 1 packet of 500 gm thin rice noodles
  • 4 cups of nuoc mam cham (preparation following)
  • Mint (rau thom), 
  • Perilla (tia to), 
  • Vietnamese Balm (kinh gioi).

Sliced Pork:
  • 500 gm (~1 lb) pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced about 1/8 to 1/4 inch . Don't use lean cuts of pork for this dish.
  • 1/8 cup minced Lemongrass (xa bam). 
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp ground pepper
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2-3 shallots, minced
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp thick soy sauce 

  1. Boil the fine rice noodles according to pkt directions, drain and set aside. 
  2. Prepare the fresh veggies and set aside. 
  3. Make the nuoc mam cham (dipping sauce) and leave it for later. 
  4. Slice the pork into thin slices roughly 5 – 8 cm (2-3 in) strips with about 5 mm (¼ in) thick. 
  5. For the marinade, combine 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.

Pork Patties: 
  • 500 gm (1 lb) of ground pork (once again a marbled meat is a better choice)
  • 10 cloves of garlic smashed and  minced
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • ½ tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of white pepper
  • 6 tbsp of thick soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of molasses or a tbsp of fresh caramel sauce.

  1. Combine all the ingredients above except for the pork into a bowl.  Add mixture to the ground pork.  Mix well. 
  2. Refrigerate the pork for about 1/2 hr to let it set and easier to handle when forming patties. Form little patties and set aside for at least 2 hours before grilling.  
  3. To cook, spread the slices of pork (thit nuong) alongside the patties on a charcoal grill and cook until golden brown and slightly charred. 
  4. When both thit nuong and cha (patties) are done, place in a serving bowl containing the warm 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 noodles and herbs.

Dipping sauce (nuoc mam pha):

The lime/lemon for vinegar is interchangeable.  

  • 1 part lime/lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1/2 part minced garlic
  • 1-2 chopped thai chili
  • 1 part fish sauce
  • 1 part sugar
  • 2 parts water
  • Ingredient quantities are quite variable and a matter of personal preference.

  1. Prepare the sauce on a hot stove to dissolve the sugar more quickly, then leave to cool before adding the rest of the ingredients.  
  2. Combine the garlic and chillie together in a mortar and pound into a smooth paste, add a little sugar to keep it from splattering. 
  3. Transfer to a bowl and add fish sauce, water, lime and sugar. 
  4. Many add pickled daikon and carrot (Do Chua) to the sauce but I think the authentic sauce in fact has small flat squares of green papaya in the sauce. It doesn't matter as it tastes just so good.

This is often served with crispy spring rolls included in the "dipping sauce".