Bun Cha Recipe

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bun cha is a vietnamese dish of grilled pork noodle and herb closeup in the plate

Bun cha is a traditional Vietnamese dish that consists of grilled pork meatballs, vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce. It is a popular street food in Vietnam and has gained popularity around the world due to its delicious taste and easy-to-make recipe. This article will provide a brief introduction to bun cha and a step-by-step guide on how to make it at home.

The dish originated in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, and is a staple in the Northern Vietnamese cuisine. The dish is often served with a side of fresh vegetables, including lettuce, mint, and coriander, which are used to wrap the meatballs and noodles. The dipping sauce, made with fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, and chili, adds a tangy and spicy flavor to the dish.

Making bun cha at home is a simple process that requires a few basic ingredients and some grilling skills. The pork meatballs are marinated in a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and pepper before being grilled until they are golden brown and caramelized. The vermicelli noodles are cooked and served alongside the meatballs, herbs, and vegetables. The dipping sauce is made by mixing fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and chili together until well combined.

History of Bun Cha

Bun Cha is a traditional Vietnamese dish that has been around for centuries. It is believed to have originated in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, where it has been a staple food for locals and tourists alike.

The dish is said to have been created during the 20th century and has since become a beloved dish in the region. The original recipe for Bun Cha consisted of grilled pork meatballs served over a bed of vermicelli noodles with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and dipping sauce.

The popularity of Bun Cha has spread beyond Vietnam and has become a favorite dish in many other countries. The dish has undergone some changes in preparation and ingredients depending on where it is being served, but the basic elements remain the same.

Bun Cha has become an important part of Vietnamese culture and is often associated with family gatherings and special occasions. It is a dish that is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.

In recent years, Bun Cha has gained international recognition thanks to former US President Barack Obama, who enjoyed the dish during his visit to Vietnam in 2016. This has helped to further popularize the dish and has put it on the map for food lovers around the world.

Overall, Bun Cha is a dish that has stood the test of time and continues to be a popular choice for those looking to experience the authentic flavors of Vietnam.

Essential Ingredients

Bun cha is a traditional Vietnamese dish that consists of grilled pork meatballs, rice vermicelli noodles, and a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables. To make a delicious and authentic bun cha, it is important to use high-quality ingredients that are commonly found in Vietnamese cuisine.


The most important ingredient in bun cha is pork. Traditionally, bun cha is made with two types of pork: ground pork and thinly sliced pork belly. The ground pork is used to make the meatballs, while the sliced pork belly is grilled and served alongside the meatballs.

When selecting pork for bun cha, it is important to choose a cut that is fatty and flavorful. Pork shoulder or pork butt are good choices for the ground pork, while pork belly is the best choice for the sliced pork.


Another essential ingredient in bun cha is rice vermicelli noodles. These thin, translucent noodles are made from rice flour and water and are commonly used in Vietnamese cuisine.

To prepare the noodles for bun cha, they should be soaked in hot water until they are soft and pliable. Then, they can be drained and rinsed with cold water to prevent them from sticking together.

Herbs and Vegetables

Fresh herbs and vegetables are an important part of bun cha. Some of the most commonly used herbs and vegetables include:

  • Lettuce
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Thai basil
  • Bean sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers

These ingredients are typically served raw and are used to add freshness and crunch to the dish.


The final essential ingredient in bun cha is the sauce. The sauce is typically made from a combination of fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, and water. Some variations of the sauce may also include garlic, chili peppers, and lime juice.

The sauce is used to flavor the meatballs and noodles and is typically served on the side so that diners can adjust the flavor to their liking.

Preparing the Pork Patties

Marinating the Meat

To make the perfect pork patties for bun cha, marinating the meat is crucial. The key ingredients for the marinade are shallot, fish sauce, sugar, baking soda, and pepper. Mix these ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and add the pork. Ensure that the pork is well coated with the marinade by mixing it thoroughly.

It is recommended to marinate the pork for at least 30 minutes, but you can leave it in the fridge for up to 24 hours for a more flavorful taste. The longer the pork is marinated, the more tender and flavorful it will be.

Grilling Techniques

Grilling the pork patties is the next step in preparing the perfect bun cha. The patties should be grilled until they are golden brown and cooked through, which should take about 3-4 minutes per side.

It is important to maintain a consistent heat on the grill to ensure that the patties cook evenly. You can use a grill pan or an outdoor grill, but make sure that the grill is well-oiled to prevent the patties from sticking.

Once the patties are cooked, remove them from the grill and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess grease. The pork patties are now ready to be served with the noodles and dipping sauce.

By following these simple steps for marinating and grilling the pork patties, you can create a delicious and authentic bun cha dish that will impress your guests.

Making the Noodle Component

Bun cha is a popular Vietnamese dish that features grilled pork meatballs and vermicelli noodles. The noodles are an essential component of the dish and are responsible for providing the perfect balance of texture and flavor. Here’s how to make the noodle component for your bun cha dish.


To make the noodle component, you will need:

  • Vermicelli noodles
  • Water


  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add the vermicelli noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Divide the noodles into individual serving bowls.
  4. To prevent the noodles from sticking together, you can toss them with a small amount of oil.
  5. Set the bowls of noodles aside until you are ready to serve your bun cha dish.

Making the noodle component for your bun cha dish is a simple process that requires just a few ingredients and steps. With this recipe, you can create the perfect texture and flavor to complement the grilled pork meatballs and other toppings.

Creating the Dipping Sauce

Sauce Ingredients

The dipping sauce, also known as nước chấm, is a crucial component of bun cha. It is a versatile sauce that is used in many Vietnamese dishes. The sauce is relatively easy to make, and the ingredients can be found in most grocery stores. Here are the ingredients needed to make the sauce:

  • Sugar
  • Fish sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Lime juice
  • Water

Sauce Preparation

To prepare the dipping sauce, follow these simple steps:

  1. Combine the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, and water in a pot.
  2. Heat the mixture over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool.
  4. Once the mixture is cooled, add the lime juice and stir to combine.

The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It is important to note that the sauce should be served at room temperature, so be sure to take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.

In conclusion, creating the dipping sauce for bun cha is a simple process that requires only a few ingredients. By following the steps outlined above, anyone can make a delicious dipping sauce that complements the flavors of the grilled meatballs perfectly.

Vegetable and Herb Accompaniments

Bun cha is often served with a variety of vegetable and herb accompaniments. These ingredients add freshness and crunch to the dish, as well as complement the flavors of the meat and noodles.

One common vegetable accompaniment is lettuce. The lettuce leaves are used to wrap the meatballs and noodles, creating a refreshing contrast to the warm and savory components of the dish. Other popular vegetables include sliced cucumbers and julienned carrots. These add a pleasant crunch and a touch of sweetness to the dish.

Another important component of bun cha is the herbs. Vietnamese cuisine is known for its use of fresh herbs, and bun cha is no exception. Common herbs used in bun cha include mint, cilantro, and Thai basil. These herbs add a complex and refreshing flavor to the dish, as well as a bright pop of color.

To serve bun cha, simply arrange the vegetables and herbs on a plate alongside the meatballs and noodles. Diners can then customize their bowls to their liking, adding as much or as little of each ingredient as they prefer. The result is a dish that is both flavorful and customizable, making it a favorite among Vietnamese cuisine lovers.

Assembling Bun Cha

To assemble Bun Cha, start by placing a small amount of vermicelli noodles in the bottom of each serving bowl. Then, add a few meatballs on top of the noodles.

Next, add a generous amount of the pickled vegetables on top of the meatballs. The pickled vegetables add a tangy and refreshing flavor to the dish.

Finally, pour the dipping sauce over the top of the dish. The dipping sauce is the key component of the dish and brings all of the flavors together.

Garnish the dish with fresh herbs such as mint and cilantro, and sliced chili peppers for a bit of heat.

It is important to note that the dish is typically served with a side of fresh lettuce leaves and herbs such as Thai basil and cilantro. These can be used to wrap the meatballs and vegetables before dipping them into the sauce.

Overall, assembling Bun Cha is a simple process that can be customized to individual preferences. The dish is a delicious and satisfying meal that is perfect for any occasion.

Serving and Presentation

Bun Cha is a dish that is usually served family-style, with all components arranged on a large platter or bowl in the center of the table. Each person can then assemble their own bowl of noodles, meatballs, and vegetables to their liking.

To serve Bun Cha, the rice vermicelli noodles should be cooked according to the package instructions and then drained. The meatballs can be served either hot or at room temperature, depending on preference. The fresh vegetables and herbs should be washed, chopped, and arranged on a separate plate alongside the noodles and meatballs.

Traditionally, Bun Cha is served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers. This sauce can be poured over the noodles and meatballs or used as a dipping sauce on the side.

To add some visual interest to the dish, colorful vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce can be used to garnish the platter. Fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, and Thai basil can also be scattered over the top for added flavor and aroma.

Overall, Bun Cha is a versatile and customizable dish that is perfect for sharing with friends and family. With a little bit of preparation and presentation, it can be a beautiful and delicious addition to any meal.

Variations and Substitutions

Bun cha is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit individual preferences. Here are some variations and substitutions that can be made to the traditional recipe:

  • Meat: While pork is the most commonly used meat in bun cha, other meats such as beef or chicken can be used as a substitute. Vegetarians can also use tofu or tempeh as a protein source.
  • Noodles: The traditional bun cha recipe calls for rice noodles, but other types of noodles such as wheat or egg noodles can be used as well. For a low-carb option, zucchini noodles or shirataki noodles can be used instead.
  • Vegetables: The vegetables used in bun cha can also be varied. Cucumber, lettuce, and carrot are the most common, but other vegetables such as bell peppers, bean sprouts, or pickled vegetables can be added for extra flavor and texture.
  • Sauce: The dipping sauce is an essential component of bun cha, but it can also be customized to suit individual tastes. Some variations include adding more or less sugar, using different types of vinegar, or adding chili flakes for extra heat.
  • Garnishes: Bun cha is typically served with a variety of fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, and Thai basil. Other garnishes such as crushed peanuts or fried shallots can also be added for extra flavor and crunch.

By experimenting with different variations and substitutions, bun cha can be a versatile and delicious dish that can be enjoyed in many different ways.

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