I seem to be on a big Vietnamese food kick as of late. It´s been so hot and the only things that sounds good to eat are fruit, grilled meat, and fresh herbs.
When I visited Hanoi last September, one of the most popular dishes was Bún Cha, which is fatty grilled pork served with bún (vermicelli rice noodles) served with sweet and vinegary dipping sauces and fresh herbs. It was crazy good and very addicting. I can thank my friends Tali and Nate for showing me the light.
Most western Vietnamese restaurants serve southern style Vietnamese food and this dish is called Bún thịt on most menus. The difference between bún thit and bún cha is it is more like a composed salad and is most typically served with charcoal grilled pork neck. It is dressed with nuoc cham (fish sauce) and sometimes topped with pickled carrots, peanuts, and/or sliced egg rolls.
I attempted to make the more southern version of this dish (bún thit) and thought it came out well. I used grilled steak instead of pork neck or pork shoulder because it was hard to find, but I´m sure it would be delicious and is certainly more traditional.
Vietnamese Vermicelli Steak Bowl
1 8oz steak
vermecilli noodles (bún)
lettuce, cut in ribbons
2 carrots, julienned (Julienne is optional. You could also shave the carrot, or just chop thinly.)
1 cucumber, julienned (Again, optional. I used a mandolin.)
basil (Thai basil is best)
salted peanuts (chopped)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Nuoc Cham (Fish Sauce)
4 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced (use a mortar and pestal if available)
2 thai chilis, cliced thinly
1 tablespoon honey
bashed spring onion
1 tablespoon white sugar
In a small pot, combine the sugar, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, white vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add the bashed spring onion and garlic.
Coat the steak well with a few spoonfuls of sauce, a little water, and a tablespoon of soy sauce, then enclose the flavours with the vegetable oil. Let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight, for a better result.If there´s no time for marinade, no worries. Just put the steak in the fridge until grilling time. This would apply to pork shoulder as well.
Preheat a grill on medium to high heat. Put the steak on and char grill on medium to high heat for 4-6 minutes on each side.I like it charred on the outside and pink in the middle, but you can cook the steak anyway you like it.
Start boiling water for the vermicelli noodles. Follow package directions, or if they are in Vietnamese, bring the water to a bowl, turn it off and add the noodles. Cook about 3-5 minutes or until tender. Keep in cold water until ready to serve, and then drain them.
Put together the bowls, starting with the noodles, then lettuce, carrots, cucumber and herbs, next the meat, and top with peanuts and the nuoc cham sauce. Enjoy!
Other protein subs include fried tofu, chicken, shrimp, or spring rolls. You could also add bean sprouts or other veggies of choice. If you want to get really fancy, dress the salad with spring onion oil and fried red asian shallots. Perfect summer food!