A recipe by Thuy Linh Nguyen, chef and owner of Café Goethe
In its birthcity Hanoi, bún chả usually falls under the umbrella of street food. It's so easier to turn to a street corner - anywhere - and have a decent portion served in almost no time than to go through all the hassles of marinating and grilling. It may sound paradoxical, yet for the same reason, a traditional Hanoian household would not waste a chance to make the dish from scratch to delight a cherished guest, especially if it’s someone who has come from afar.
Over the dining table, people would discuss with the guest about how even within Vietnam the combination of side fresh herbs and greens are different from regions to regions; that aside from the general recipe, some people would have certain modifications to the dish that they would half-jokingly referred to as ‘family secret'.
Years ago, behind the closed door of the kitchen, my grandmother told a very tender age me: “It’s the fresh coconut water, it makes all the different.”
Minced lean pork shoulder
Spring onion, Shallot, Garlic, Chili pepper
Pepper, Salt , Sugar, Caramel liquid, Fish sauce
Fresh coconut water
Green papaya and carrot
Lettuce and other fresh herbs and greens as a side
Prepare charcoal for grilling
Slice pork belly, marinate with coconut water, sugar, caramel liquid, pepper, fish sauce, minced shallots and garlic, sliced spring onion for 30 minutes.
Marinate minced pork shoulder in a similar brine for 30 minutes. Knead into bite-size ball.
Grill marinated meat over charcoal until the meat is cooked through. Place on a plate.
Dipping sauce: in a bowl mix 2 Tsp fish sauce, 2 Tsp sugar, 2 Tsp vinegar, 10 Tsp distilled water. Adjust to taste. Add minced garlic and chili pepper.
Paysanne cut green papaya and carrot, soak in saltwater brine to soften. Rinse clean and add to the dipping sauce.
Serve grilled meat, rice noodle and fresh herb and greens on separate dishes with a bowl of the dipping sauce for each guest.