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Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatball and Vermicelli Noodle Salad (Bun Cha)

Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatball and Vermicelli Noodle Salad (Bun Cha)

I’m going to be honest here. I had bun cha (lemongrass meatball and noodle salad) for the first time this year, and since I am such an expert now I decided to replicate it for my blog. I don’t know how authentic this is, but I did my best to recreate what I had at the Vietnamese restaurant – fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro and Thai basil combined with salad greens, mixed with cold and refreshing rice vermicelli noodles, freshly julienned vegetables, a heaping pile of smoky lemongrass and cilantro pork meatballs cooked on a grill all placed beautifully on a large rimmed plate, and drizzled with a pungent and slightly spicy dipping sauce made with fish sauce that enhanced each component of the dish. Since the dish is still fresh in my mind, I say the flavors match what I had the first time I ate bun cha, and was a success.

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This is similar to a bibimbap in that you arrange it beautifully (like above) and then mix it all up with the sauce. I like to cut up the meatballs so I have some meat in every bite with some salad and noodles. Because balance.

I love this dish because the combination of flavors are unique yet work so well together. Cilantro, mint, basil, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce. Refreshing, funky, sweet, sour, spicy. Salads are boring no more.

I posted a lemongrass paste last week in order to add into the meatball mixture, so check it out!

Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatball and Vermicelli Noodle Salad (Bun Cha)

October 30, 2017
: 4-6
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Lemongrass meatballs (makes 20 meatballs):
  • 1.5 lb. ground pork (80% lean)
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. lemongrass paste
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Nước chấm Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup water (more to taste)
  • 4 Tbsp. castor sugar (if using granulated sugar, mix until sugar is fully incorporated into the sauce)
  • 1.5 limes, juiced, and more to taste
  • 4 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red chili, more to taste (optional)
  • Other ingredients:
  • 14 oz. vermicelli noodles, cooked and cooled
  • lettuce leaves
  • julienned carrots
  • julienned cucumbers
  • mint leaves
  • cilantro
  • Thai basil leaves
Directions
  • Step 1 In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Cover and set in fridge for 30 minutes so the flavors infuse the meat.
  • Step 2 In a jar or small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Nước chấm dipping sauce. If using granulated sugar, mix until sugar is fully incorporated into the sauce. If combining in a mason jar, put a lid on it and shake until fully mixed. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If you want it more sour, add more lime juice. If you want it funkier, add more fish sauce. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar, if you want it spicier add more minced peppers, etc. Set in fridge until ready to use.
  • Step 3 Take meat out of the fridge, roll into meatballs (approx. 20) and flatten them slightly. Cook on a skillet, or grill pan, for 4-5 minutes per side or until fully cooked. Set meatballs on plate until ready to use.
  • Step 4 To assemble your noodle salad: Place cooled vermicelli noodles on a large rimmed plate or medium sized bowl for each person. Add lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, mint, cilantro and basil. Add a few meatballs to each plate (4-5). Put a small bowl of dipping sauce by each plate so they can drizzle some on the salad, and reserve some to dip the meatballs in. Serve.
  • Step 5 *Depending on how much dipping sauce you like to use, you maybe double or triple the ingredients for this and save the remainder in a jar in the fridge for other dishes.

 

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Instructions with Photos:

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These are the types of noodles that I found for this dish. It was identical to the thickness of the noodles I had at the Vietnamese restaurant. It was intimidating to search for vermicelli noodles at the Asian supermarket because there were so many types to choose from and I was afraid of getting the wrong ones. But luckily I found them.

Cook them per the instructions on the package, then pour into a colander, rinse with cold water and set aside.

*While the instructions on my package said to boil for 10-12 minutes, I only needed to boil for around 6-8 until they were fully cooked. So check your noodles as they cook because you don’t want to overcook them.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Cover and set in fridge for 30 minutes so the flavors infuse the meat.

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In a jar or small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Nước chấm dipping sauce. If using granulated sugar, mix until sugar is fully incorporated into the sauce. If combining in a mason jar, put a lid on it and shake until fully mixed. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If you want it more sour, add more lime juice. If you want it funkier, add more fish sauce. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar, if you want it spicier add more minced peppers, etc. Set in fridge until ready to use.

Castor sugar is used for the dipping sauce because it is more fine and easier to incorporate into the sauce. Granulated sugar consist of bigger granules so it takes longer to mix into the sauce. You can heat the water for the sauce beforehand, then add the sugar and mix it up before adding the remaining ingredients too. Or just shake everything up in a mason jar until the granulated sugar infuses into the sauce.

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Take meat out of the fridge, roll into meatballs (approx. 20) and flatten them slightly.

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Cook on a skillet, or grill pan, for 4-5 minutes per side or until fully cooked.

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Set meatballs on plate until ready to use.

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To assemble your noodle salad: Place cooled vermicelli noodles on a large rimmed plate or medium sized bowl for each person. Add lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, mint, cilantro and basil. Add a few meatballs to each plate (4-5).

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Put a small bowl of dipping sauce by each plate so they can drizzle some on the salad, and reserve some to dip the meatballs in.

I was extremely gratuitous with the minced hot peppers in my sauce.

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Mix it all up and enjoy!

bunchapin



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