Bun Cha (Vietnamese Meatballs with Rice Vermicelli)

After savoring the iconic flavors of Vietnam in a bowl of Pho, I was eager to embark on my next culinary adventure with another renowned dish—Bun Cha or Vietnamese Meatballs with Rice Vermicelli. I planned to visit the spot where former President Obama and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain had once indulged in this delicacy. However, the place was too crowded, so I decided to pivot and seek out another restaurant offering Vietnamese Bun Cha.

The dish typically consists of grilled pork (often in the form of meatballs or patties), served with rice vermicelli noodles and a variety of fresh herbs and dipping sauces.

Bun cha - a famous dish in Vietnam
Bun cha Hanoi

I thought the star of this dish was the dipping sauce. It was a well-balanced combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors. It complements the pork minced balls and rice vermicelli, adding a delicious and tangy element to the dish. The sauce even had some slices of carrots and papayas in it, giving the crunchiness to the dish.

I grabbed some rice vermicelli and dipped it into the bowl of dipping sauce filled with grilled meat and fresh herbs, then savored it. The first bite was a flavor fiesta! It was like a dance of sweet, savory, and smoky notes, harmonized by fresh herbs and crisp veggies.

The flavor was so good that I had to recreate the dish at home. Here is the easy Bun Cha recipe (Vietnamese Pork Meatballs with Rice Vermicelli):

Bun Cha (Vietnamese pork patties or meatballs with Rice Vermicelli)

A must-try Vietnamese masterpiece!
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Vietnamese
Servings 4
Calories 800 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 packages rice vermicelli noodles about 1 kg
  • 700 g pork shoulder or pork belly thinly sliced
  • 500 g minced pork
  • 1 carrot thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green papaya thinly sliced
  • 500 g herbs: lettuce/perilla/basil/fish mint
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp minced chili
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp caramel from sugar and water
  • 200 g sugar
  • 250 ml fish sauce
  • 100 ml vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt, pepper, MSG to taste

Instructions
 

  • Marinate thinly sliced pork belly with 1/2 tbsp minced shallot, 1/2 tbsp minced garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp MSG, 1/2 tbsp ground pepper, 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp caramel. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Mix ground meat with 1/2 tbsp minced shallot, 1/2 tbsp minced garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp MSG, 1/2 tbsp ground pepper, 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp caramel. Let them marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Combine carrots, papaya, and 1/3 tbsp salt in a bowl. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with water.
  • Meanwhile, cook the rice vermicelli according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • In the same bowl in step 3, add 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1/4 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1/2 tbsp minced garlic. Stir thoroughly and let it marinate for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Once 30 minutes have passed, simply take an appropriate amount of ground meat in your hands and shape it into balls.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Grill the marinated pork slices and pork meatballs until they are cooked through and have a nice char.
  • In a pot, combine sugar, vinegar, 200 ml of fish sauce, and 2 cups of filtered water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn off the heat. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  • Divide the cooked rice vermicelli and herbs on plates. Put the pickled carrots and papaya and a little minced chili into a bowl, then add grilled meat and the newly cooked dipping sauce. Now you can serve the Bun Cha.

Notes

If you don’t have a grill, you can fry the pork patties in a pan. Make sure they are cooked thoroughly.
Keyword gluten free, homemade, noodles, South East Asia, vietnamese
Johanna Cleveland
About the author
Kate

Hi, I'm Kate, the creator of Happy Baking Days. I'm a food lover, recipe creator, and kitchen explorer. I have amateur baking knowledge gained from years spent in the kitchen with my grandma and mum, where I graduated slowly from dusting work surfaces with flour and licking the spatula to the finer arts of pastry and meringue. Now in my own kitchen, I put all those years of training into practice, experimenting with recipes and ingredients from around the world. Join me as I share my culinary journey and favorite recipes that make cooking a delightful experience.

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