Saturday, June 28, 2014

Recipe: Bun cha - Vietnamese pork patties with herb salad

This is a labour intensive dish but absolutely delicious on a hot Summer's day.

Pork patties

500g (2lbs) ground lean pork
1 onion or 1 bunch of spring onions
1/4 bunch fresh mint
1/4 bunch fresh coriander
4 bird's eye chillis
2 carrots
2 eggs
1 sprig lemongrass
1 clove garlic
1 tbspn ginger
2 tbpsns soy sauce
1 tbspn Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam)

  • I prepare the vegetable/herb mixture using a food processor or electric vegetable chopper to save time
  • Grate or chop the carrots and onions and add to your mixer or a bowl
  • Separate out some of the herbs,  you will use the rest in the salad about 1/4 of each bunch will do, you should end up with about 1 cup of each once you have removed the stems and separated the leaves
  • Add diced garlic and ginger, mince the herbs and chili and add to the mix
  • If mixing by hand then whisk the eggs before adding to the vegetable mix, if using a machine you can add directly 
  • Add the liquid ingredients - soy and fish sauce. You should now have a quite liquid mix. 
  • For a gluten free/low carb variation use Tamari or wheat free soy sauce
  • Add to the minced pork and mix thoroughly to ensure that the herbs and egg are distributed throughout the meat
  • Take a generous spoon (a serving spoon or ice cream scoop size) of each and form into patties, I do this by rolling into a ball and then tossing between my hands. Place on a tray covered in plastic until you are ready to cook. 
  • This recipe should make enough for 4 people, as I often cook for 2 you can transfer 1 tray of meat patties to the freezer and once frozen store in a bag or box for another day
  • Grill or fry the pork patties until a firm texture is reached then serve on top of the dressed salad detailed below
  • Because there is no breading in this dish it is perfect for keto or gluten free eaters. 3g carbs (2g net) for 2 patties.

Dressing (Nuoc Cham)

5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1 large clove garlic
2 bird's eye chillis
1 spring onion

  • Depending on how cold you like your dressing you may wish to begin with this step before making the pork
  • Boil the water and add the sugar, stir until all the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Splenda or Stevia work just as well for Keto; but this sauce will be odd if you omit all sweeteners. Sauce is around 1g carbs per 1/4 cup if using low carb sweeteners. 
  • Add the fish sauce, be sure to use Vietnamese Nuoc Mam and not Thai fish sauce which is much stronger and overpowering in this recipe
  • Add the lemon juice, if using fresh lemon juice strain the sauce to exclude all the pith
  • Dice the garlic and add to the sauce
  • Cut the spring onion and chilli into fine slices and add to the sauce
  • Chill and serve, this recipe is enough to make sauce for 2 servings, discard after 2 weeks if unused
  • The sauce can also be used as a dipping sauce for Summer rolls and other Vietnamese appetisers


1 cake of rice vermicelli
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh coriander
200g bean sprouts 
4 tbspns roasted peanuts
1/2 cucumber
1 carrot

  • The salad ingredients take some time to prepare; I suggest doing this before cooking the meat patties or they will cool too much before serving
  • Boil the vermicelli for 5 minutes in hot water and then transfer to a colander. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to remove any rice starch from the noodles and to cool. 
  • Leave the noodles to cool and dry thoroughly before using in the salad. If you do this step first the noodles should be cool by the time you finish preparing the other salad ingredients.
  • Peel the carrots and julien, cut the cucumbers into strips
  • Pull the leaves of the herbs off the stems and set asside, you should use the rest of the bunch that you didn't  use in the meat preparation
  • Crush or dice the peanuts until to small crumbly pieces
  • In a noodle bowl layer the salad - or ask your guests to choose their own. 
  • I layer noodles, then vegetables, then herbs, pour dressing over, top with the meat and then crumble with peanuts. 
  • Omit the noodles and replace with lettuce or more herbs for a low carb variation. 
  • Serve with Summer rolls and a small dish of the dressing so that diners may dip their meat with each bite

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