Vietnamese Bun Cha

I have been meaning to make an Em’s Food version of this delightful Street style Vietnamese Meatball Salad ever since I visited Vietnam in 2017. What the hell have I been waiting for? This was so damn good, super duper easy and so refreshingly light that I was gobsmacked by my failure to do this earlier. The perfect meal for a family, fabulous for the waistline and even better on the wallet! I am so happy I did make it in the end because I am hoping this will be on high rotation in my house. If I am lucky, I’ll get to cook it more than once as more often than not I am trying to come up with new recipes for you lot. The things I do…….:)

Prep time: 20 Minutes

Cooking time: 20 Minutes

$$ Medium Budget

Serves 4

For the Vietnamese Meatballs:

500gm of pork mince

2 spring onions finely sliced

3 coriander sprigs, finely chopped

2 tbs of fish sauce

1 tsp of finely minced lemongrass

1 level tbs of caster sugar

1 tbs of runny honey

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

A pinch of sea salt

1/4 tsp of ground white pepper

For the Salad:

1 baby Cos lettuce, leaves whole, washed and drained

1 lebanese cucumber, very finely sliced

1-2 carrots, peeled and then finely julienned or grated (you can buy a tool for this at House or online, it is called a julienne peeler)

2 cups of whole herb leaves, I used mint, coriander, Thai basil & Vietnamese mint

1/2 cup of toasted granulated peanuts

4 portions of dried vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions, drained and rinsed in cold water

2 spring onions, finely sliced

For the Nuoc Cham (dressing/dipping sauce):

1 long red chilli, seeds removed for less heat and finely minced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbs of fish sauce

1 tbs of caster sugar

2/3 cup of warm water (this will help the sugar to dissolve

To keep the carrots, cucumber and herbs nice and crispy, I place them in individual bowls of iced water and then drain well before serving.

To prepare the meat balls, place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to combine (I like to use my hands). Have a small bowl of cold water handy and with wet hands, roll the mince mixture into golf ball sized patties. Place on a tray and flatten slightly with your finger tips. Place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before cooking for best results.

Place the dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine until the sugar has dissolved and then place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Heat a frypan until nice and hot and add a little oil. Fry the meatballs in batches for 3-4 minutes or until lovely and golden on the outside and firm to touch. You can keep them warm in a low oven once cooked while you plate the salad.

Arrange the salad ingredients around each plate (refer to the image at the top of the page for my plating method). Top the noodles with the meatballs and spoon half of the dressing over all of the ingredients, leaving some for dipping either on each plate or in the centre of the table. Sprinkle over the toasted nuts and spring onions and serve.

The beauty of this dish is that you can eat it Vietnamese street style where you place a little of everything in a lettuce leaf and wrap it up. Otherwise you can use chopsticks or a knife and fork and eat the items individually. Whatever floats your boat!

Leftover Vietnamese Mint or other herbs? You might like to make this……