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
- 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
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’