Vietnamese Bun Cha (meatballs)

This bowl featured lightly sauteed bok choy, and a pile of fresh veg – cucumbers, radish, tomato, fresh herbs and scattered with fresh chives.
another night we sauteed peppers and zucchini, adding mint and basil with chopped peanuts

Cooking the bright flavours of Vietnam are the only way we can travel there right now and this one bowl was packed with lightly carmelized pork patties, tender rice, sautéed vegetables and the crunch of pickled vegetables. Finish it all off with fresh vibrant herbs and peanut crumbles. Don’t forget the nuoc cham to drizzle over! In Vietnam this is often served with enough of the nuoc cham to make you think it is a soup, here I just drizzle enough to make each bite sing! You can easily serve with rice noodles instead of the rice, but we sure do miss fresh rice noodles in Vietnam, so we often use rice. I guess I have to figure out how to make fresh rice noodles at home…

MEATBALLS

  • 8-10 ounces ground pork
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely sliced green onions
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp each freshly ground white pepper and sea salt

Oil – for frying.

NUOC CHAM

  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small birds eye chili (or 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes)

PICKLED VEGETABLES

This is really just a guideline – use whatever vegetables you think complement the vegetables that you are sautéing.

  • 2 cups very thinly sliced vegetables – use a mandolin if possible

In a bowl mix up the vegetables, and toss with 1/2 tbsp each salt and sugar, then pour over:

  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Make this at least an hour before dinner to allow the quick pickling to work.

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix all the nuoc cham ingredients together and set aside to allow those flavours to get to know each other.

Mix all the meatball ingredients together and form meatballs, then pat down into little patties.

In a lightly oiled fry pan fry all the patties until they are golden brown and slightly sticky.

SERVING

  • Pork patties
  • Sautéed vegetables of your choice
  • Cooked rice or rice noodles
  • Pickled vegetables
  • roughly chopped roasted peanuts, basil, cilantro & mint

Centre the rice or noodles in the bowl, and circle that with the pork patties, sautéed vegetables, pickled vegetables and drizzle with the nuoc cham. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and peanuts. Dig in! Serve with a little bowl of the nuoc cham to dip your pork into for a little extra juiciness.

Vietnamese Rice Bowl

Vietnamese Bowl

Lime juice is used in so many dishes in Vietnam and Cambodia, and we loved it.  Tonight I sautéed the green vegetables with garlic and ginger, once tender I just squeezed fresh lime over and used a generous sprinkle of fresh Kampot pepper – they were so good and fresh.

We’ve just returned from a month in Cambodia and Vietnam and can’t seem to leave those fresh bright flavours behind us.  This rice bowl (or use rice noodles if you like) is delicious – use a variety of different textures and flavours to get the right balance, but whatever you use – make it your own.  The only actual recipe portion of this is the Vietnamese sauce, Nuoc Cham, the rest of it is more of a guideline.

You will need:

  • cooked rice
  • grilled steak (or chicken/prawns/tofu)
  • pickled fresh vegetables
  • sauteed vegetables (tonight I used broccoli, baby bok chow & snap peas)

Garnish:

  • toasted peanuts
  • slivered spring onions
  • rough chopped cilantro/basil/mint
  • toasted sesame seeds

Nuoc Cham Sauce:

  • 2 – 2/12 tbsp sugar (I used palm sugar but you can use white, or maple syrup or honey)
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup very warm water (warm helps the sugar to dissolve)
  • 2 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp fish sauce

Stir sugar and lime juice together, then add warm water and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Add rice vinegar and fish sauce.  I always start with the lesser amount of sugar, lime juice and fish sauce … adjust as needed when you have it all together.

To assemble, place your rice or rice noodles in the bottom of a bowl, then layer on your other ingredients.  Drizzle Nuoc Cham over and sprinkle with garnishes.  This dish is just as versatile as you want it to be.

Vietnamese noodle bowl 1

This time the Vietnamese bowl featured rice noodles and chicken.

Vietnamese noodle bowl 2

Quick pickled vegetables and Nuoc Cham sauce ready to dress up your bowl.

Vietnamese noodle bowl 3

Put everything out on the table and let everyone create their own bowl.

Vietnamese noodle bowl 4

Good to the last drop!