Bun Cha Salad

As I write this I am recovering from quite a decent bout of food poisoning. I have pinned it on an absolutely delicious Vietnamese meal I ate 6 days ago, in a nice, clean restaurant. It’s a shame as Vietnamese is the flavour du jour! However, I am determined not to let it put me off this amazing fresh cuisine. So here’s a recipe for one of my favourite Vietnemse dishes. Tiny, juicy morsels of pork served simply with noodles and salad. It’s pretty damn tasty not to mention actually quite healthy. Just be careful not to poison yourself.

RECIPE: (serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:
Dressing:
4 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
2 red chillies (seeded and chopped)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lime (juice of)
4 tablespoons fish sauce

Bun Cha:
500g pork mince
1 teaspoon sugar (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
1 tablespoon coriander stalk (very finely chopped)
1 egg (lightly beaten)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 cup breadcrumbs
salt & pepper

Salad:
300g vermicelli noodles (soaked and cooled as packet instructions)
1 medium cucumber (julienned)
1 large carrot (julienned)
4 cups lettuce (chopped)
1 large tomato (thinly sliced)
4 tablespoons crispy onions
4 tablespoons unsalted peanuts (chopped)
4 sprigs fresh mint

DIRECTIONS:
Dressing:

In a pestle & mortar grind together the garlic, chillies and sugar to form a thick paste. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and 5 tablespoons of water. Stir well and leave for 1/2 hour to let the flavour develop.

Bun Cha:
Combine with your hands all the ingredients until you reach a smooth paste. Mould the paste into small balls (about the size of a walnut) then flatten to make a small pattie. Place under a hot grill and cook, turning until browned on all sides (about 8-10 minutes), or better still cook on the barbecue until browned.

Salad:
Divide the noodles into 4 deep soup bowl, then top each with a large handful of lettuce then a small handful of carrot and cucumber. Add a couple of slices of tomato then divide the bun cha evenly between the bowls. Finally, sprinkle over 1 tablespoon each of crispy onion and peanuts and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

SERVING:
Pour equal amounts of the dressing over the salads just before serving.

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