Bun Cha – Vietnamese Pork Meatballs with Vermicelli and Herbs

I’m taking a slightly different direction with my blog and focusing mainly on Asian cuisine and how to make them healthier and, if applicable, a Paleo version. As many of you may be aware, I’m very partial to Asian food and love being able to cook some of my favorite dishes at home. So I’ve been picking the brains of some of the incredible cooks in the family and asking them to pass along their delicious recipes. I am giving these recipes my own spin though, without sacrificing any of the taste!

My husband’s cousin has made this Bun Cha dish twice for us and each time, I am amazed at how delicious it is! And it’s such a great meal to serve for a crowd as well, since each person can customize their own bowl.  So here’s my attempt at recreating her dish and I hope to do it justice.

Serving Size: 4
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients:
1 pack of Asian vermicelli (rice noodles)
Large handful of cilantro
Large handful of mint leaves
Large handful of Thai basil
Large head of lettuce

Meatball Ingredients:
1 lb freshly ground pork, use tenderloin if you can
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced
¼ cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 ½ tbsp cane sugar

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp brown rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup Coco Rico soda
1 1/2 cup water
2/3 cup fish sauce
2 Thai chilis, left whole (sliced, if you prefer spicy)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

To make the meatballs, in a food processor  combine the garlic, lemongrass, green onions, cilantro, fish sauce and sugar until the mixture is very finely minced.  In a large bowl, combine the pork with the garlic/lemongrass mixture and mix well. I find it best to use your hands to work the mixture. Allow the mixture to marinate, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Roll into large golf ball size meatballs and gently pat so they flatten a little (it makes it easier to cook them on the grill). You should get about 25 – 30 meatballs. Grill them for about 7-8 minutes per side. 

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While the meatballs are grilling, prepare the dipping sauce. In a sauce pot over medium heat, combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust amounts, if necessary, to get your desired balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool.

Bring a large pot of water to a roaring boil. Remove from heat and add the rice noodles. Stir quickly to separate noodles. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold water.

To assemble, divide the noodles among four bowls. Top the noodles with the desired about of herbs, lettuce and meatballs. Add the dipping sauce to taste.

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For anyone who’s looking to cut out the carbs, I suggest making lettuce wraps as a healthier alternative.  You still get all the taste, minus the unwanted noodles.

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