Dipping Sauce, Bahn Cuon and Bun Cha

I have been busy cooking and since our lockdown has just been extended another 2 weeks I do not see that changing anytime soon! These recipes are definitely my favourite so far! These are mostly the very base forms and I am sure you could add a multitude of spices and other things to them and I likely will add different things everytime I make them now too.

N.B. I have not included any coriander or ginger in any of these recipes and nor will I because I despise both of those things. But please, feel free to defile your tastebuds if you wish.

The amazing dipping sauce. Doesn’t look special but it’s AMAZING.

Dipping Sauce
-2 Cups Boiling Water
– 1/3 Cup White Sugar
– 1 Lime
– 1/3 Cup Fish Sauce
– Fresh Sliced Chilli

I absolutely love this dipping sauce. It is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine and is used for dipping various recipes and things ie the Bahn Cuon and the Bun Cha. Everytime I make it it turns out differently for multiple reasons (which I will explain in the recipe) but it is so easy and very difficult to mess up and best of all you make it to your own taste! Unfortunately for Brendles I am the one who is making it and so he has to deal with my sweet tooth!

1. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water ( I like the dipping sauce hot like a soup and the sugar also dissolves better in hot water). Taste!*
*Traditionally the sauce is super sweet and the original recipe I would follow had so much sugar but looking into the science of sugar – only so much sugar is actually registered on the tongue and the rest is wasted energy and money so I have been trying to work out the optimum amount of sugar.
2. Add in lime juice. 1 half first and then add a little more at a time until it taste like limonade.
*Each lime/lemon tastes different so the amount changes every time. This is why I start with half a lime first and then add in dashes after that.
**You can use lemons and make it taste like lemonade. You can also use rice wine vinegar instead of lime/lemon.
***The first time I made it I used tangerines because I mistakenly got them instead of limes… It turned out lovely! I used a splash of rice wine vinegar in that batch to add that little more acidity which you need further flavour profile.
3. Add in Fish Sauce. Until you like the taste.# I add half of the amount here and then add little bit more after each tasting.
4. Garnish with sliced Chilli! This adds a little kick and spice and really brings out the rest of the flavours!

#Keep in mind that as this is a dipping sauce (although I use it as a kinda dipping sauce/soup) It should be a little stronger tasting when by itself as it will dull a little when using it with the Bahn Cuon or Bun Cha or whatever you are eating.
My advice would be follow a recipe the first time to see what it is like and then adjust and experiment after that! Garlic is very commonly added but I haven’t done that yet! The original recipe I followed is from HERE. However the above has been altered from that.

Bahn Cuon
This is my favourite dish so far and I HAD to try and recreate it! It turned out mostly ok! Hopefully practice will make better!

– 1/2 Onion chopped very finely
– 2 gloves garlic
– 400g pork mince
– 100g shittake mushrooms
– 40g woodear mushrooms
– 1 bag Bahn Cuon flour mix (Can be found in Asian markets but if you cannot find it you can make with tapioca starch and rice flour – recipe HERE)

1. Prepare the dried shittake and woodear mushrooms (rehydrate, remove the stems, chop finely)
2. Prepare the Bahn Cuon Four mix as per the packet instructions (or the tapioca starch and rice flour as per the linked recipe)
3. Fry the onion, garlic, and pork mince in a saucepan.
4. On a well oiled and preheated pan pour an amount of flour mix into the pan. It should thinly cover the whole pan being used. Cover with a lid.
*It is SO easy to make the batter too thick and you WILL stuff up a fair few of them getting it semi right. haha.
5. When the pancake is ready (should be almost translucent and will be peeling away from the edges and have a big bubble in the middle between it and the pan). Flip the pan onto a flat and slightly oiled surface (bench top/plate etc). Hopefully the pancake comes away in one go and is flat on the surface. Put in the next lot of batter and cover.
6. Spread a couple of spoonfulls of pork mince in a line onto one end of the pancake and roll!
7. Repeat until all batter and/or filling is gone.
8. cover with fried/dried onions as a garnish
9. Dip in the dipping sauce to just before eating. We have been cutting it into sections and eating like that.

This is not 100% the same as authentic as they do this on large fry plates and also do a thin layer of filling on the pancake and then roll it so there is a bit of filling in most of the rolled layers.
This is fiddly and I struggled with the rolling of it (hot and slippery and delicate) but was getting better at it by the end!

Bun Cha

This is Brendles favourite meal and fast becoming mine too because it is so easy and delicious to make from scratch. I have outlined how to make the meat part of Bun Cha.
– 300g Pork Belly sliced thinly
– 300g Pork Mince
– 4 cloves of Garlic*
– 1 Red Onion*
– 1 1/2 TBS Brown Sugar*
– 3 TBS Fish Sauce*
– 1/2 TSP Black Peper*
– Pinch Salt*
– 2 TSP Chilli Powder*
– 1 TBS Oil

1. Chop onion and garlic finely
2. Mix all * ingredients together and then separate into 2 bowls
3. Add pork belly in one bowl and cover with the marinade.
4. Add pork mince in the other. Mix well.
5. Refrigerate both for at least an hour.
6. Take mince and add oil and mix. Form into small meat patties and fry in an oiled pan.
7. Fry pork belly

Bun cha uses the dipping sauce as described earlier BUT before serving you add sliced carrot, cucumber and lettuce. Brendles and I also like adding roasted peanuts too! You can also add the meat in all at once (The photo below) OR dip with the pickled veg (pickled veg is the next recipe).
Serve with cooked and drained vermicelli (cook and drain and keep seperate until ready to eat – the noodles are best dipped in small amounts and then eaten straight out of the dipping sauce).

Pickled Veg
– 1 TSP salt
– 1/3 Cup Castor Sugar
– 1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar
Vegetables of choice
I really want to try other veg but not sure what just yet. There is something called a winter melon here that is super common and MAY be a good veg to try.

1. Slice veg thinly.
2. Add salt to veg. Mix and sit for 15 mins
3. Rinse and dry (with a cloth) the salt off the veg
4. Dissolve the sugar in the rice vinegar.
5. Add Veg
6. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

That’s it! I was so super surprised how simple and easy and TASTY this was too make! Like I said, not sure what other vegetable yet I can try but cannot wait to experiment!

There you have it! These recipes are actually super easy (the Bahn Cuon pancakes can be fiddly to get right but still not too bad) and taste so good! I am so happy with how they all turned out! We have decided that while we are in Viet Nam I probably won’t make Bahn Cuon too often as it is fiddly and we can buy it so cheap over here but when we get back to Aus I will make it more. BUT! I will DEFINITELY be making this Bun Cha again. And often!
It’s amazing.

Love and Hugs,
Chomps (literally chomps).

PS – If you DO make any of these please let me know how it goes. I have altered and mixed and matched the recipes (several different recipes for each one) that I followed and that’s what these are.

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