Bún chả Hà Nội - Grilled pork with vermicelli and fresh greens

By Helen Le Published: August 16, 2012

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Ready In: 2 hrs 30 mins

  • Yield: 6 - 8 Servings

In Central and Southern Vietnam, we also have a similar dish with grilled pork and vermicelli called Bun Thit Nuong. But as soon as I discovered Bun Cha, it has become my favorite dish in Hanoi. Rather than serving all in one bowl, Bun cha is served with a separate bowl of dipping sauce with grilled pork, and a platter of fresh greens and vermicelli.

  • To make the caramel sauce: melt sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat until caramelized. Occasionally swirl the pan to avoid burning. Take off the heat. Using a long-handle ladle, add the hot water to the caramelized sugar. Be careful as it will splash.
  • Marinate the pork belly with half of the minced garlic, oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce , minced shallot, caramel sauce /molasses/honey, seasoning powder (optional), ground black pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes or a few hours in the refrigerator.
  • Marinate the minced pork similarly with the other half of the marinade ingredients. Pinch and form the minced pork into 2-inch (5cm) patties.
  • Grill the pork and minced pork patties outdoor on charcoal until both sides are golden brown.
  • To make the pickles, mix the thinly sliced kohlrabi/ green papaya and carrots with 2 tsp salt. Set aside for 15 minutes. After that, rinse well and slightly squeeze out the excess water. In a large bowl, mix the kohlrabi and carrots with sugar and vinegar. Set aside for at least 1 hour so that the veggies can absorb the flavor.
  • To make the dipping sauce, in a medium sauce pan over medium low heat, dissolve sugar in fish sauce and water. Minced garlic and chili can be added to diners’ preference during serving.
  • To assemble the dish, fill a medium serving bowl half-full with the dipping sauce. Then add some grilled pork, pickles, minced garlic and chili, and black pepper. Serve with a platter of fresh greens and cooked rice vermicelli noodles. To serve, dip a bit of vermicelli and fresh greens into the bowl and eat with the grilled pork and pickles.


You can also grill indoor on grilling pan or non-stick pan. In that case add 1 tbsp cooking oil in the marinade, and only “grill” a little at a time. (If you overcrowd the meat, you will get “thit kho” (caramelized pork) instead of grilled pork.)

Currently, you can order Helen’s cookbook on amazon or you can order items that Helen often uses in the kitchen.