Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Rice Noodles and Salad (Bun Cha)
Why This Recipe Works
Vietnamese bun cha—a vibrant mix of grilled pork, crisp salad, and delicate yet resilient rice vermicelli, all united by a light yet potent sauce—is an ideal meal for a hot summer night. We started by boiling dried rice vermicelli, after which we rinsed the noodles well and spread them on a platter to dry. Then we mixed up the bold and zesty sauce known as nuoc cham using lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce. To ensure that every drop of the sauce was flavored with garlic and chile, we used a portion of the sugar to help grind the pungent ingredients into a fine paste. For juicy pork patties, we mixed baking soda into supermarket ground pork because it raised the meat's pH, which helped the meat retain moisture and brown during the 8-minute grilling time. Per tradition, we also seasoned the pork with shallot, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper. Briefly soaking the grilled patties in the sauce is a traditional step that further flavored the patties and imbued the sauce with grill flavor. We then plated the components separately to allow diners to combine them according to their taste.