You knew I was going to give it a go, didn’t you? :) The classic Bun Cha of Hanoi is made up of grilled pork patties or sliced grilled pork served with rice noodles, herbs and condiments. And you know what? It isn’t hard to do a home version at all. I stretched the definition to include some grilled prawns as well, so guests who couldn’t eat pork could enjoy the meal with us. I also made some simple carrot and cucumber pickles to be served on the side.
The pork was seasoned with fish sauce, galanggal or ginger, a bit of soy sauce, palm sugar and lots of lemongrass (minced) and allowed to marinate for a couple of hours. It was then grilled and cut into small strips. The shrimp were sprinkled with fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar and grilled. A dipping sauce of fish sauce, lime juice, water, sugar, chilies and coriander was served on the side. Some dried rice noodles were blanched for a minute or two in boiling water, then rinsed under cool water to stop the noodles from getting mushy.
The serving platter included fresh cilantro, mint and some sawtooth coriander (becuase it is growing gangbusters in the garden) and it could have used some vietnamese mint and or basil leaves as well. Some cucumbers and carrots were “mandolined” into fine shreds and marinated in a light pickling solution of vinegar, water and sugar and a little salt.
This didn’t take long at all, and the experience and flavor profile was definitely vietnamese. I am really becoming a huge fan of these rice noodles, they seem the perfect foil for a lot of well seasoned protein and I suspect I have a tendency to eat less carb this way compared to steamed rice. The noodles also are a great vehicle for the sauces as their surface area gets coated in the sauce and complements the piece of meat and herbs that you get in one mouthful.