Ed Smith readily admits he has “not invented bun cha” – the classic Vietnamese pork and noodle dish – but living in East London has given him a great appreciation for it.
“There are lots of Vietnamese supermarkets and restaurants nearby,” he says, and bun cha is his go-to meal when he needs to feel “enlivened and refreshed”.
For the pork patties:
- 500g pork mince
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small banana shallot, very finely chopped
- 1 stick lemongrass, very finely chopped
- 3 teaspoons golden caster sugar
- 3tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 lime, zest finely grated, remainder quartered
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil, for frying
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
- 150ml water
For the noodle salad:
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 25g mint
- 25g coriander
- 25g Thai holy basil
- 400g dried rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 butterhead lettuce, torn
- 2-3 tablespoons roasted, salted peanuts, crushed
- 2 tablespoons crisp fried shallots or onions
- 1 lime, zested and quartered (included above)
Combine all the ingredients for the patties into a bowl (except the oil, which is used for frying), mix well, then use wet hands to shape into eight balls, approximately 80g each. Set on a plate, lightly press into patty shapes and refrigerate until required.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Cut the carrots into thin matchstick-like strips, ideally using a julienne peeler if you have one, or with a sharp knife and a bit of patience. Cut away the thickest stems from the herbs but otherwise leave as intact sprigs.
Read more: Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
Cook the noodles following the packet instructions (usually around three to four minutes), drain and either plunge into iced water or cool under a running tap, then drain again, shuffling them with clean fingers to ensure they don’t clump together.
To cook the patties, place a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan or griddle pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil and, once hot, add the patties. Fry for 90 seconds before flipping them and cooking for the same amount of time, then repeat on both sides. Sear the edges too, then remove from the heat. While the pork patties are cooking, assemble four separate bowls of noodles, adding the carrots, lettuce and fresh herbs. Add the patties and a good sprinkling of peanuts, shallots or onions, and a lime quarter to each bowl, before pouring the sauce over the top.
Read more: Baked Garlic Pork Rissoles
Crave: Recipes arranged by flavour, to suit your mood and appetite by Ed Smith, published by Quadrille, available now.
What’s your favourite Vietnamese dish? Why not share what you would serve alongside this dish in the comments section below?
– With PA
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