Prawn Bun Cha

Bun cha is a light, fragrant Vietnamese dish that consists of a sharp, sweet, salty and spicy dipping sauce, crunchy salad, rice noodles, and fried patties that are usually made from pork.

Here I’ve made prawn ones, and they work wonderfully with the aromatic flavours –but if you want to give some tofu ones a go, check out the ‘flexible’ tip, as they are equally delicious.

 Time taken 40 minutes

Serves 4

  • 250g/9oz raw peeled prawns
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 bird’s-eye chilli, roughly chopped
  • sunflower oil, for frying

For the dipping sauce

  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 bird’s-eye chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp palm or light brown sugar

For the salad

  • 300g/10½ oz vermicelli rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 large carrot
  • ½–1 mooli 
  • 2 baby gem lettuce
  • 75g/2¾ oz beansprouts
  • large handful each of coriander, mint and Thai (or standard) basil


Put the prawns, egg white, ginger, garlic, coriander, lime zest, fish

sauce, rice wine vinegar and chilli in a food processor and blend

until you have a paste. With wet hands, shape into tablespoon-sized

flat patties. Place them on a plate and chill for 10 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, mix everything together until the sugar

has dissolved. Have a taste and add extra fish sauce or lime if

needed. You want a nice sharp, sweet and slightly salty flavour.

Cook the noodles by putting them in a large bowl. Pour over

boiling water and leave for 3 minutes (or according to the packet

instructions). Drain and toss in sunflower oil to prevent them

from sticking.

Thinly shred the courgette, carrot and mooli using a mandolin,

spiraliser or knife. Break the lettuce into individual leaves.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying fan over a medium–high heat,

and fry the patties for 3–4 minutes on each side, until golden and

the prawns are cooked through.

Serve all elements separately for people to help themselves to,

or place some salad leaves in the bottom of the bowls. Divide the

noodles, salad, beansprouts and herbs between them, and spoon

over some dipping sauce. Place the patties on top and serve with

extra sauce for dipping.


Tofu makes a fantastic alternative to using prawns

in the patties. Buy 250g/9 oz of the firm variety that

holds its shape, drain off any packaging liquid and

blend with the remaining patty ingredients.

‘Images and recipes from The Flexible Pescatarianby Jo Pratt, photography by Susan Bell, Quarto, RRP $39.99’

The Flexible Pescatarian by Jo Pratt

Jo Pratt’s latest book, The Flexible Pescatarian, shares everything you need to know about seafood and its prep!

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