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Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Rice Noodles and Salad (Bun Cha) for Two

Published July 2018

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.

Ingredients

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Noodles and Salad

4 ounces rice vermicelli
½ head Boston lettuce (4 ounces), torn into bite-size pieces
½ English cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin on bias
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
½ cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large

Sauce

½ small Thai chile, stemmed and minced
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 small garlic clove, minced
cup hot tap water
2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice

Pork Patties

1 small shallot, minced
1 ½ teaspoons fish sauce
¾ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 ounces ground pork
Nutritional Information

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Per Serving (Serves 2)

  • Calories 610
  • Cholesterol 81 mg
  • Fat 24 g
  • Sodium 2461 mg
  • Saturated 9 g
  • Carbs 69 g
  • Trans 0g
  • Dietary Fiber 4 g
  • Monounsaturated 10 g
  • Sugar 16 g
  • Polyunsaturated 2 g
  • Protein 26 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Featured Equipment

From The Shop

Instructions

For two

Look for dried rice vermicelli in the Asian section of your supermarket. We prefer the more delicate springiness of vermicelli made from 100 percent rice flour to those that include a secondary starch such as cornstarch. If you can find only the latter, just cook them longer—up to 12 minutes. For a less spicy sauce, use only one-quarter of the Thai chile. For the cilantro, use the leaves and the thin, delicate stems, not the thicker ones close to the root. To serve, place platters of noodles, salad, sauce, and pork patties on the table and allow diners to combine components to their taste. The sauce is potent, so use it sparingly.

1. FOR THE NOODLES AND SALAD: Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large pot. Stir in noodles and cook until tender but not mushy, 4 to 12 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse under cold running water until cool. Drain noodles very well, spread on large plate, and let stand at room temperature to dry. Arrange lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, and mint separately on platter and refrigerate until needed.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Using mortar and pestle (or on cutting board using flat side of chef's knife), mash Thai chile, 1½ teaspoons sugar, and garlic to fine paste. Transfer to medium bowl and add hot water and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in fish sauce and lime juice. Set aside.

3. FOR THE PORK PATTIES: Combine shallot, fish sauce, sugar, baking soda, and pepper in medium bowl. Add pork and mix until well combined. Shape pork mixture into 6 patties, each about 2½ inches wide and ½ inch thick.

4A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

4B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.

5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Cook patties (directly over coals if using charcoal; covered if using gas) until well charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer grilled patties to bowl with sauce and gently toss to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes.

6. Transfer patties to serving plate, reserving sauce. Serve noodles, salad, sauce, and pork patties separately.