Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bun Cha and Ga Chanh Roti

These are the two dishes I make when I'm craving Vietnamese food. Both are extremely easy to make and really delicious. I usually serve the pork in a lettuce wrap or combine the lettuce wrap ingredients into a salad. I serve the chicken on its own so that the subtle lime leaf flavor remains the star of the dish. Both of these dishes are going to give you some serious charring on the grill (due to the palm sugar in the pork and the honey in the chicken marinade) so keep an eye on them as they cook.

Hanoi Grilled Pork (Bun Cha)
   For Pork:
      6 tablespoons palm sugar
      4 tablespoons fish sauce
      2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
      2 large shallots, finely chopped
      2 teaspoons salt
      2.5 pounds boneless pork loin, minced
   To Serve (See picture below):
      lettuce leaves, torn
      8 oz. bean sprouts
      julienned cucumber and carrot
      cilantro, basil, and mint leaves
      Dipping Sauce (combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chilies to taste)
Gently melt the 2 tablespoons of palm sugar with 3 tablespoons of the fish sauce in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring all the time. Allow to cool a little, then transfer the mixture to a bowl and combine with the garlic, shallot, 4 tablespoons palm sugar, the remaining fish sauce, and salt. Add the minced pork, mix thoroughly, then cover and leave to stand for 3 - 5 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Shape the minced pork into 12 flat patties, place them on a preheated grill and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

To serve, use lettuce leaves as a wrap and fill with pork, veggies and herbs then dip in the dipping sauce.

Serves 6.

Grilled Lime Chicken (Ga Chanh Roti)
   4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
   2 tablespoons clear honey
   2 tablespoons fish sauce
   2 green onions, chopped
   2 cloves garlic, chopped
   16 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
      salt and pepper

Mix the chicken in a bowl with the honey, fish sauce, and salt and pepper. Leave to stand.

In a small food processor or blender, mix the green onions, garlic, and lime leaves, adding a little water if necessary. Make sure the lime paste is completely smooth, then add to the chicken. Stir well then cover and marinate for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and season with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated grill and cook until just cooked through.

Serves 4 - 6.


By the way, in theory you could cook both dishes under the broiler in your oven, but in case you need proof of how much better I think these taste cooked with fire, this is what my grill looked like when I went out to start cooking:

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