These are three of the recipes I made when I went to cooking school in Hoi An on my travels – and all work perfectly together. I’m guessing you may have done a similar thing when you were there but they are delicious so thought I’d share them with you.
Vietnamese Bun Cha
A simple yet delicious dish originating from Hanoi derives its name from the combination of fresh spices and grilled pork (cha) served over fresh white rice noodles
- Pork mince: 180 grams
- Spring onions:1 tbsp
- Fresh shallots: 2/3 tbsp
- Fish sauce: 1 tsp
- Mushroom stock powder: 1/2 tsp
- Fresh garlic: 1/2 tsp (2 pinches)
- Caramelised sugar: 1/2 tsp
- Pepper: one pinch
In a mixing bowl add pork mince, 1 pinch of pepper, fresh shallots, spring onion, fish sauce, mushroom stock powder and garlic. Add half a teaspoon of caramelised sugar and mix well. Be sure to get as much air from the mix as possible by hitting the mixture against the inside of the bowl, this helps the mix stick together and infuses the flavours nicely.
Roll the mixture into small balls and flatten out to make small patties about one centimetre high and 3 centimetres wide. Grill on a griddle or charcoal BBQ for seven minutes turning to cook evenly. Serve on a bed of fresh white rice noodles and enjoy.
Vietnamese Papaya Salad
Traditionally papaya salad is served as a starter or side dish to cleanse the pallet, but this fragrant, light salad can also be served as a main dish.
- 1 medium, green papaya
- 1 small carrot
- 1 red chilli (optional)
- Fresh Thai Basil
- Fresh mint leaves
- Roasted peanuts
- Crispy deep fried shallots
Peel, then grate the papaya and carrot into long strips using a medium sized vegetable grater.
Prepare the dipping sauce and drizzle generously; adding the fresh mint, Thai basil and chili. Stir well and garnish with a sprinkling of roasted peanuts and crispy fried shallots.
For a deeper flavour marinade the papaya, carrot and herbs in the fridge for an hour before garnishing.
Classic Dipping Sauce
A Vietnamese table is never complete without the addition of a closely guarded ‘secret’ family recipe dipping sauce.
- Fish sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Filtered water
- Traditional additions: Chopped garlic, chili, basil and crispy shallots. (optional)
Countrywide the basic sauce is the same, a simple mix of fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and water. It’s then that the ‘secret’ ingredients are added to taste.
Using equal measures of fish sauce and rice vinegar, put all the ingredients in a bowl. Add a third measure of sugar and gently stir until it has completely dissolved.
Then put whatever flavours you like in. For example: chopped garlic, chili, Thai basil, crispy shallots… to make your desired dipping sauce.
Leave for at least an hour for the flavours to infuse before serving.