Bun Cha with the Best Dipping Sauce Ever

Bun Cha are little meatballs served with noodles wrapped in lettuce and are a common Vietnamese street food.  I have never been to Vietnam, but if all food taste like this then I am going soon.  These little bites of heaven are a firm favourite in my repertoire of recipes.   Every time I make them, people love it and any ideas I may have had of leftovers go out the window.

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One thing I can definitely say is that the dipping sauce makes the entire dish.  It’s called Nuoc Mam Pha dipping sauce but the Best Dipping Sauce Ever is much easier to say.  The saltly-sour-fresh sauce coupled with the hot pork meatballs, soft noodles and crunchy lettuce are so tasty! And the best part is that you can eat them with your hands.  It is also a great dish if you are having a lot of people over for dinner.  Nearly everything can be prepared in advance and put in the fridge.  Even the meatballs, just cook for slightly less time and reheat quickly later.  The only thing that needs to be done before serving is the noodles otherwise they get a big grubby and gross.

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The recipe calls for fish sauce and for those of you who haven’t used it before don’t be put off by the smell.  It really doesn’t smell too appetising but trust me it is essential and mixed in with everything else delicious!!

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Bun Cha with the Best Dipping Sauce Ever

Adapted from Fast, Fresh and Unbelievably Delicious (Matt Preston)

Serves 4

  • Large bunch of coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 stem lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 Tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 200g noodles (I used egg noodles)
  • 2-4 heads cos lettuce (depending on the size, I get small heads of cos lettuce)
  • Small bunch of mint

Dipping Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tsp castor sugar
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  1. Cut off the coriander stalks, finely slice and mix with the garlic, lemongrass, pork mince, soya and fish sauce, egg and pepper
  2. Mix together until thoroughly combined before stirring in the spring onions
  3. Make into small meatballs and fry in batches in a medium-hot frying pan with a little oil until cooked (+- 3-5 minutes)
  4. While the meatballs are cooking, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions
  5. Place the remaining coriander, mint and cos lettuce (leaves separated) on a serving platter, the cooked noodles in a bowl with the meatballs in the side with the sauce in a bowl
  6. Dipping Sauce: Mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a bowl, making sure the sugar is dissolved.  Initially just use 2 limes, taste then add more if you want.  Also add more sugar, depending on what taste you are going for
  7. Place some noodles and a meatball or two in your cos lettuce wrap with coriander and mint then dip in the sauce and enjoy!

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