Bun Cha or Bún Chả was one of my favorite street food discoveries in Vietnam. Juicy pork meatballs are partly flattened and grilled over an open flame, then served in a warm sweet broth. As with many meals in Vietnam the entire dish is lighter than you expect as it is served with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs.
Making this meal at home is very easy and is a great candidate for a quick weeknight meal since it takes less than 30 minutes. The key to success is to find ground pork which isn’t super lean. As with any great burger or meatball fat is a key to juiciness. Unfortunately I don’t always have open flame available in my kitchen but even a stove top grill produces a delicious Bun Cha.
Haven’t had a chance to read about my travels in Vietnam, Hong Kong & Cambodia? Read all about it here:
Foodie Travel Diary Pt1: Hong Kong – Shiny Meats and Chicken’s Feet
Foodie Travel Diary Pt2: Vietnam – Noodle Soup for Breakfast
Foodie Travel Diary Pt3: Vietnam – A Country of Foodies
Foodie Travel Diary Pt4: Vietnam – How to Navigate Street Food
Vietnamese Grilled Pork Meatballs(serves 2 )
Combine the meatball ingredients into a bowl: pork, fish sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, and scallion. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the spices with the meat. Divide the meat into 6 equal parts and form each into a small, slightly flat ball. Heat your grill to medium-high to high heat.
To prepare the broth put the water, garlic and sugar into a small saucepan. Prepare the chili. If you found a real birds eye chili I suggest you wear gloves for this. Cut the chili in half and remove the seeds, slice in half and add to the broth along with the fish sauce. Bring to a simmer, stir so that the sugar dissolves and remove the broth from the heat. Stir in the tablespoon of lemon juice. Use a peeler to peel some very thin strips off of the carrot and add it to the broth. If your kitchen is warm, just leave it covered until you serve the meatballs or you can keep it on a low flame if your kitchen is cold.
Put a pot of water on to boil to cook the vermicelli noodles.
Grease your grill well and grill the meatballs on each side until thoroughly cooked. You want them to have a nice char but still be juicy. Remove to a plate, and quickly cook your vermicelli noodles in the boiling water, watch them carefully as they likely will only need 45 seconds or so. Drain them quickly and rinse them under cool water to help stop them from sticking together.
Plate it all together. To eat it like they do in Hanoi, serve the meatballs in a bowl of warm broth with vermicelli, herbs and fresh greens on the side, adding vermicelli and herbs to it as you eat. I quite like just piling it all into a bowl to begin with.