Bun Cha / Bún chả Hà Nội / Chef Chris Colburn

Bún Chả Hà Nội Recipe

Bun cha (Bún chả) is a signature dish of Hanoi.  At lunchtime, you’ll find just about everyone sitting on kid-sized stools and slurping down this combination of charcoal grilled pork, salty-sweet broth, crunchy green papaya, rice noodles, and fresh herbs.

A great place for lunch is in the Old Quarter, a labyrinth of 36 streets dating back to the 13th century.  Both exuberant and exhausting, its present day pandemonium is just a different form of the ancient chaos, when specialized trade guilds were responsible for each street.

Bun Cha / Bún chả Hà Nội / Chef Chris Colburn

Bun Cha Ha Noi Recipe


For the pork patties

1 # fatty ground pork

1 large shallot

2  stalks lemongrass

2 garlic cloves

1 Thai bird chili

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons neutral flavored oil

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons palm sugar (or brown sugar)

salt and pepper to taste


Finely mince lemongrass, garlic, shallot, and chili (or grind with a mortar and pestle).  Mix thoroughly with ground pork, add remaining ingredients and mix  to combine.  Let sit overnight.  Form meat into balls about 1 inch in diameter and flatten slightly with your hand.  Cook patties over red-hot charcoal until caramelized and cooked through.

For the broth

1 cup water

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 small green papaya

1 small carrot

1 Thai bird chili, minced

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice

3 teaspoons white sugar

1 teaspoon salt


Thinly slice papaya and carrot, toss with a pinch of salt and let stand for 5 minutes, rinse.   Bring water to a boil and sugar to a boil, remove from heat, add all the remaining ingredients and cool.

Bun Cha / Bún chả Hà Nội / Chef Chris Colburn

To assemble

Place the piping hot meat patties in the cool broth and serve with the following

1 # rice vermicelli

1 head butter lettuce

1 bunch mint

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch Thai basil

1 bunch rice paddy herb (Ngổ Ôm)

small bunch perilla

Bun Cha / Bún chả Hà Nội / Chef Chris Colburn

It’s one of my favorite dishes and costs roughly $1

( or 20,000 VND / Vietnamese Dong )

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