Vietnamese Bun Cha Recipe

authentic Vietnamese bun chaa

One of North Vietnam’s most popular food dishes is bun cha. When you travel in North Vietnam you will see signs everywhere advertising the sell of this famous dish called Bún Chả.

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Bún Chả is a Vietnamese food dish that is thought to have originated in North Vietnam. It is made from rice noodles, grilled pork, salad, and a Bún Chả fish sauce mixture. It is a dish that you can learn to make and serve in your own home.

Bún Chả became very famous when the U.S. President Barack Obama sat down with CNN’s Anthony Bourdain in a small local Bún Chả noodle shop in Hanoi, Vietnam.

What Does Bún Chả mean?

Bún Chả which is pronounced as Bún (boon) Chả (cha) is a Vietnamese dish of that is thought to have originated from Hanoi in North Vietnam. The word bún means rice noodles and chả means pork. So together Bún Chả means a rice noodle grilled pork dish.

The reason why Bún Chả is thought to have come from Hanoi is Vu Bang (1913-1984), a food writer and critic wrote this in 1959 about Hanoi and Bún Chả:

“Hanoi is a town ‘transfixed by Bún Chả.”

Vu Bang

You can watch our video on how to make Vietnamese Bun Cha by clicking on the link below:

About Vietnamese Bún Chả

Bún Chả is a dish that consists of rice noodles, pork, vegetable that is served with a Bún Chả sauce. There are basically two kinds of pork that are served with Bún Chả as:

  • Grilled Pork – A lot of the Bún Chả will use fatty grilled pork or pork shoulder. This is similar to bacon but not exactly the same. Sometimes this meat can have a lot of fat on it as the Vietnamese like the fat on the pork and will choose the meat cut that more fat than actual meat.
  • Grilled Pork Patties – The other way that Bún Chả is served is with small grilled pork patties. These are more like a mini pork grilled hamburger.

There is another dish in Vietnam that is similar to Bún Chả called Bún Thịt Nướng. The major difference between Bún Chả and Bún Thịt Nướng is that for Bún Chả the meat is always grilled on a BBQ.

What Ingredients Are Used To Make Bún Chả?

One of the most important things in making a good Bún Chả is to have some of the right ingredients. This is a very important part of making it as authentic as possible.

The Four Parts of Vietnamese Bún Chả

A good Vietnamese Bún Chả has four main parts to it. The four parts for a good Bún Chả are:

The Four Parts of Vietnamese Bun Cha Guide

  • Rice Noodles – To make Bún Chả you need to have rice noodles. The Vietnamese use round rice noodles and not flat ones. In Vietnam, they sell them fresh. If you are not able to buy the noodles fresh you can make them fresh by checking out this recipe by Epicurious. Alternatively, can also go to the Asian Grocery store and buy some dried rice noodles. You would boil them as you would spaghetti noodles. Bún Chả rice noodles are usually served cold and not hot, you can prepare these ahead of time.
  • Vegetable Salad – As with most Vietnamese dishes, the Vietnamese like fresh vegetables. The traditional vegetables they use for the Bún Chả salad are lettuce, mint leaves, cilantro, marjoram, and perilla. The marjoram that we are talking about is a Vietnamese or an Asian Marjoram, and not middle eastern marjoram. If you cannot find it fresh your Bun Cha will be Ok without it. Also, perilla is a Vietnamese herb that is part of the mint family. Some other Asian countries also use both fresh marjoram and perilla so you may find them at your local Asian grocery store. If you do not find them at the grocery store, you can use lettuce, fresh mint, and fresh cilantro for your Bún Chả salad. If you have some fresh mild oregano or sweet basil you can also try to include that as part of your salad instead of the marjoram or perilla.
  • Grilled Pork – The meat used in Bún Chả is pork. The two common cuts of pork used to make Bún Chả are 1) ground pork and 2) pork belly. If you really do not want to eat so much pork for the ground pork you can try to mix in some ground chicken or turkey to make it leaner.
  • Sauce – The sauce for Bún Chả includes water, sugar, pepper, fish sauce, carrots, garlic, and lime or apple vinegar. Also optional is fresh red chili and green papaya.

The carrots for the Vietnamese bun cha sauce are usually cut into flowers. You can watch our video to see how they are cut.

Vietnamese Bun Cha Recipe

Serves 6

Vietnamese Bun Cha Recipe

Recipe by Anita L Hummel Course: Vietnamese Bun Cha, Bun ChaCuisine: Vietnamese, AsianDifficulty: Medium
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

1

hour 

20

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Total time

1

hour 

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • FOR THE MEAT MARINADE
  • Ground Pork – 1 kilo or 2.2 pounds

  • Pork Belly – .45 kilos or 1 pound

  • Shallots – 100 grams or 3.5 ounces

  • Black Pepper – 2 tsp

  • Vietnamese or Asian BBQ sauce known as Thịt Nướng – 1 packet, (or see marinade as listed below)

  • IF YOU CANNOT FIND THE THIT NUONG PACKET, HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS TO MAKE YOUR OWN THIT NUONG BBQ MARINADE
  • 2 shallots finely diced

  • 2 stalks lemongrass tender inside part only, diced and cut

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 2 cloves garlic finely crushed

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar or honey

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 3 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • BUN CHA SAUCE
  • Warm Water – About 4 .5 cups of water.

  • Sugar – 1/3 cup

  • Small Garlic – 1 clove cut up and finally chopped.

  • Fish Sauce – 1/2 cup

  • Apple Vinegar – 1/4 cup

  • Carrots – 2 medium carrots cuts in thin slices

  • Optional – Cut up pieces of green papaya or green apples

  • SPRING ROLL SALAD
  • 1 Small Lettuce Heads or 1/2 Large Head of Green Lettuce

  • 1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro

  • 1 Bunch Fresh Mint

  • 1 Bunch Marjoram

  • 1 Bunch Perilla

  • RICE NOODLES
  • 1 Kilo or 2.20 Pounds of Rice Noodles. (if dried follow the direction on the package of the rice noodles).

Directions

  • MARINADE THE MEAT
  • Mix 1/2 a packet of the Thịt Nướng BBQ sauce, 3/4 of the shallots, 1 tsp black pepper in the ground pork.
  • Mix the rest of BBQ sauce and shallots and 1 tsp black pepper with the pork belly strips.
  • Marinade the meat for at least an hour.
  • (If you are making your own Vietnamese Thịt Nướng BBQ marinade sauce you can increase the marinating time to 2 or 3 hours or even allow it to stay overnight covered in the refrigerator in an airtight container.)
  • During the time it is marinating you can start to prepare the other parts of your Bún Chả.
  • PREPARE THE CARROTS
  • Peel and slice 2 medium-size carrots (for any idea on how to cut them so they look like a flower, you can watch our video
  • After they are cut, then put the cut-up carrots in salt water (about 2 cups water and 1 Tablespoon salt. Let it sit for about 30 mins.
  • Then take out them out of the water, no need to rinse. Mix carrots in 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Coat the carrots with sugar. They are now ready to be put in the Bún Chả sauce
  • MAKE THE BUN CHA SAUCE
  • Mix the warm water and sugar together. Stir until sugar is almost dissolved. Add the garlic, fish sauce, and vinegar or lime. Stir all of them together. Taste the sauce. If you want it sweeter you can add some sugar or more sour add more fresh limes or vinegar. Put the carrots in the sauce.
  • PREPARE RICE NOODLES:
  • Prepare the rice noodles as per the packet (if they are dried)
  • The rice noodles should be cut into smaller pieces so they are easier to eat. The noodles do not need to be hot and are usually served cold.
  • PREPARE THE SALAD
  • Clean all the vegetables and cut the vegetables up into bit size pieces.
  • COOK THE MEAT
  • Cook the meat until it is fully cooked. It is best if you can BBQ on a grill. If you cannot grill it you can fry it up in a frying pan.

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Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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Vietnamese Bun Cha