I seriously crave Vietnamese food.Spicy, colourful, a little bit of everything street food.
I fell in love with it during my travels in Vietnam (you can catch up on them here) and ever since, I've been craving the country's fresh, spicy and salty cuisine.
One of my favourite street food meals which I came across for the first time in Hanoi, is Bun Cha.
Its a mix of a spicy and aromatic sauce/soup with pork patties usually charcoal grilled and accompanied with fresh rice noodles, lime and lots of herbs.
Its a delicious contrast of flavours and textures with sticky, caramelised pork and a tangy refreshing sauce.
And the best thing about it, is that it's one of those meals where you can get your hands stuck in and throw a bit of everything together - a great meal to serve with lots of friends around a big table.
With hopefully better chopstick skills than mine!
I also apologise for the low quality of these photos- I only decided to make this for supper last minute and so by the time I'd got round to photographing it, there was no natural light left and 4 very hungry people waiting to tuck in!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2tbsp caster sugar
600g pork mince
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1tbsp Soya sauce (or fish sauce)
Small piece of fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
750ml chicken stock
2tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp soya sauce (or fish sauce)
Juice of 1 lime
Stir fry vegetables
1 pack of beansprouts
Cooked Rice noodles
Mix the caster sugar with 3tbsp of water in a small pan. Cook over a high heat for 5-8 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and a golden brown caramel begins to form. When you have a caramel, remove it from the heat and swirl in 2 more tablespoons of water. (Swirl the pan rather than stirring in the water with a spoon.)
Let this mixture cool slightly. Meanwhile combine the pork mince, soya sauce or fish sauce and finely diced onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Add a good seasoning of black pepper and salt and the caramel. Mix well with your hands until everything is fully combined. Then form the mixture into small patties (the size of meatballs) and leave to marinate on a plate in the fridge.
Meanwhile, finely chop the ginger and 1 clove of garlic and add it to a large pan with a little oil on a medium heat. Fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes and then add in the brown sugar and chicken stock. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then add in the soya sauce and lime juice. Leave the mixture to simmer whilst you fry the pork.
Put a large frying pan over a high heat and add in a good glug of oil. Fry the patties in batches for about 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown, cooked through and beginning to caramelise.
Then remove from the heat and cover with foil to keep warm.
At this stage, add your stir fry vegetables to the broth and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. At the same time, steam the pak choi and beansprouts for 2-3 minutes.
Finely slice the cucumber and prepare some extra lime wedges. When you are ready to serve, add a big handful of roughly chopped mint and coriander to the broth.
Fill each bowl with a few pieces of pak choi, some beansprouts, 4-5 of the pork patties and a good serving of the broth and vegetables.
Then let everyone help themselves to noodles, fresh herbs, sliced cucumber and more lime.
I like mine with a lot of fresh mint leaves and a good squeeze of lime.
Influenced by: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Bun-Cha-Vietnamese-Pork-Meatball-Noodle-Salad