When you’re in Hanoi, Vietnam’s charming capital, Bún Chả is a local delicacy you can’t afford to miss.

Following Phở (yes, I mean the genuine Northern-style Phở), Bún Chả proudly secures its spot as the second most beloved dish for every Hanoian.

a bowl of Bun Cha Ha Noi

In 2016, Bún Chả gained even more recognition after the encounter between President Barack Obama and Chef Anthony Bourdain.

Fortunately, preparing an authentic Bún Chả at home isn’t as daunting, particularly when compared to other Vietnamese recipes like Phở or Bún Bò Huế.

Despite being a BBQ dish, its light and refreshing taste makes Bún Chả a delightful choice year-round, whether in the heat of summer or the chill of winter.

❤️ Bún Chả – A Cherished Hanoi Delicacy

My first time trying Bún Chả was in 2002 (22 years ago) when I and my parents visited our relatives in the North.

It instantly reminded me of Bún Thịt Nướng from the South. The flavorful combination of rice noodles paired with grilled pork, pickled vegetables, and dipping fish sauce left me enamored with Bún Chả.

A tempting photo of Bun Cha, featuring grilled pork patties, pork belly, vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and dipping sauce.
Bún Chả in Hanoi

I learned this recipe from my aunt, who was born and raised in Hanoi. She preserves her mother’s recipe despite the evolving variations of Bún Chả these days.

As a Southern girl, I find the flavor just as delish as any Bún Chả vendor in the Old Quarter.

❓ What is in Bún Chả?

You can find the ingredients at Asian markets. For precise measurements, refer to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Here are four essential components for a plate of Bún Chả:

  • Grilled pork
  • Vermicelli noodles
  • Dipping fish sauce
  • Plenty of herbs

Grilled Pork

I’ve noticed that many recipes refer to Bún Chả as Vietnamese meatballs, Vietnamese grilled meatballs, or meat patties… However, grilled pork meatballs are just one component of the complete grilled pork for Bún Chả.

For an authentic Bún Chả Hà Nội, there are typically two types of grilled pork:

  • Chả Miếng: Thinly sliced grilled pork, often made from pork belly, but pork shoulder works well too. Grilled pork belly adds a satisfying crunch and a rich, flavorful taste.
  • Chả Băm: Grilled meatballs, they are tender and juicy. It seems that in the West, people prefer meatballs, which is why many Vietnamese restaurants abroad omit the pork belly.
Grilled pork belly for Bun Cha.
Chả Miếng (pork belly)
Grilled meatballs for Bun Cha.
Chả Băm (meatballs)
  • Marinade: fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, Vietnamese caramel sauce (nước màu), black pepper powder, cooking oil.
  • Aromatics: scallions, shallots and garlic
Bun Cha Marinade Ingredients
Bun Cha Marinade Ingredients

Vermicelli Noodles

Vermicelli noodles (Bún) are a staple ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. We have many kinds of Bún, from soups like Bún Mọc, Bún Riêu, and Bún Mắm to salads like Bún Chả Giò and Bún Bò Xào.

Dipping Fish Sauce

In Vietnam, dipping sauce is just as important as the main dish, whether it’s for fresh spring rolls (gỏi cuốn), egg rolls (chả giò), or sizzling pancakes (bánh xèo).

Most online recipes use Nước Chấm with a Southern flavor for Bún Chả, but the Northern dipping fish sauce differs slightly in the ingredients and their ratios.

Bun Cha Dipping Sauce
Northern Dipping Sauce

It’s closer to a broth than your usual dipping sauce. In some regions, people even use pork broth instead of water to prepare the dipping sauce.

The essence of Bún Chả dipping sauce lies in achieving a harmonious blend of flavors without overpowering saltiness. When enjoying Bún Chả, you can slurp the sauce just like you would with noodle soup broth.

The pickles are also different. In the South, people often use Đồ Chua made from carrots and daikon, but in the North, the pickles are Dưa Góp made from carrots and green papaya (or kohlrabi).

Carrot & Green Papaya for Bun Cha Dipping Sauce
Carrot & Green Papaya for the pickles

Herbs

Salad and herbs are an irreplaceable part of Bún Chả. You could use lettuce and any Vietnamese herbs you have on hand, such as cilantro, Thai basil, Vietnamese balm, perilla, and mint.

I highly recommend Vietnamese balm (kinh giới) and perilla (tía tô) for the authentic flavor.

Rau Kinh Gioi (Vietnamese Oregano)
Vietnamese Balm (kinh giới)
Tía Tô (Perilla Leaves)
Perilla (tía tô)

📝 Instructions

Marinate the Pork

  • Begin by preparing the pork belly. Remove the pork skin (optional) and thinly slice the pork to about 1.5 inches (4 cm).
  • Separate the green and white parts of the scallion, and finely chop them. Mince the garlic and shallot, too.
  • In a bowl, combine the fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, Vietnamese caramel sauce, and black pepper powder.
  • Marinate the pork belly with half of the sauce, half of the minced garlic and shallot, and all of the chopped white parts of the scallion. Allow it to marinate for one hour.
Marinated pork belly
  • Marinate the ground pork with the remaining sauce, garlic, shallot, and all of the chopped green parts of the scallion. Mix well. Finally, add the cooking oil and mix again (the cooking oil creates a layer to keep the meatballs juicy when grilling). Let it sit for 30 minutes to one hour.
  • Shape the ground pork mixture into mini hamburger patties with your hands.
meatballs for Bun Cha

Grill the Pork

With charcoal grill (the best way)

  • Place the pork on the grill rack and grill each side for around 3-4 minutes.
Grilling pork for Bun Cha.
Grilling pork for Bun Cha.

With air fryer

  • Arrange the meat in the air fryer basket.
  • Cook the meat at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes.
  • Flip the meat and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.

With oven

  • Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C).
  • Place the meat on the rack (with the drip tray underneath).
  • Bake the meat for 20 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
  • Flip them and grill for another 15 minutes.

Prepare the Dipping Sauce

  • Peel and thinly slice the green papaya and carrot. You could use a mandolin to slice them even thinner, but be careful not to cut yourself.
  • Soak the green papaya in water with salt for 30 minutes to remove the milky sap. Then, rinse and drain it welll (skip it if you use kohlrabi).
Thin slices of green papaya in a bowl of salt water and thin slices of carrots in another bowl.
  • Toss the carrot and papaya slices with salt and sugar. After 15 minutes, you’ll have Dưa Góp pickles.
Green papaya and carrots tossed with salt and sugar.
  • Mince the garlic and chili.
  • In a saucepan, mix together the fish sauce, sugar, water, and vinegar. Cook over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Add the minced garlic, chili, carrot, and pickles to the saucepan. Stir well to combine. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Bun Cha Dipping Sauce

Prepare other Ingredients

  • Prepare the rice noodles according to the instructions on the package.
  • Wash and drain the lettuce and herbs.

Assemble & Enjoy

a bowl of Bun Cha Ha Noi
  • Place the grilled pork in a bowl, then pour the fish sauce with pickles over the pork.
  • There are two ways to eat Bún Chả:
    • Dip the rice noodles and herbs into the bowl of sauce, similar to eating Japanese Tsukemen.
    • Place the rice noodles and herbs into the bowl of sauce and enjoy.
  • In the winter, locals will often heat up the fish sauce broth to turn it into a hearty meal.
  • In Hanoi, Bún Chả usually goes with Nem Rán (Hanoi-style fried spring rolls).

Besides being served with rice noodles, the grilled pork in Bún Chả pairs perfectly with other Vietnamese staples like:

As summer approaches, what could be more delightful than hosting a BBQ party?

  • Cook the pork in large batches, set out the dipping sauce, rice noodles, and herbs, and let everyone enjoy their meal at their own pace.
  • In addition to Bún Chả, Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken or Thai BBQ Chicken would also be fantastic options for your Asian BBQ bash.

🌟 Variations

  • For the marinade, you could add a small amount of minced lemongrass or lemongrass powder . Traditional Bún Chả marinade doesn’t have lemongrass.
  • You could also add a bit of 5-spice powder to the pork (not traditional either but it’s not against the law 😂).
  • If you don’t have Vietnamese caramel sauce (it is easy to make at home), you could substitute it with:
    • Dark soy sauce or molasses.
    • Honey or sweetened condensed milk: Vietnamese not only love to use condensed milk in desserts (like in Vietnamese flan and baked cassava cake) but also in making BBQ (like in my 5-spice roast chicken). Don’t forget to adjust the amount of sugar.

🍜 Indulge in more delicious Hanoi delicacies

In my kitchen in Germany, I often recreate many Northern dishes , especially when I’m craving the comfort of Hanoi food . Some of my favorite foods are:

  • Phở Bò Sốt Vang: red wine beef stew pho.
  • Cà Phê Trứng (egg coffee), a true icon of Hanoi’s coffee culture.
  • Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm (rice noodles with fried tofu and mắm tôm shrimp paste): Not for the faint of palate.
  • Bánh Cuốn (Vietnamese steamed rice rolls), a beloved breakfast in Hanoi.
  • Chả Cá Lã Vọng (turmeric fish with dill), a must-try when traveling to Hanoi.


Thanks a bunch for giving my recipe a shot! If you enjoyed it, I’d truly appreciate a 5-star rating or a comment to let me know your thoughts.

And don’t forget to stay in touch with me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and YouTube 🥰.

a bowl of Bun Cha Ha Noi

Very Authentic Bún Chả Hà Nội (Recipe from a Hanoian)

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Bún Chả Hà Nội is a specialty of Hanoi, Vietnam's capital city. It has captured the hearts of President Barack Obama and Chef Anthony Bourdain. Creating authentic Bún Chả at home is much easier than you might imagine.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Family meal, Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Charcoal grill

Ingredients
  

Grilled Pork:

  • 1 pound pork belly (450g) (without skin)
  • 1 pound ground pork (450g)
  • 2 tbsp chopped white parts of the scallion
  • 2 tbsp chopped green parts of the scallion
  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp Vietnamese caramel sauce
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

Dipping fish sauce:

  • 0.3 pound carrot (150g)
  • 0.3 pound green papaya (150g) (or kohlrabi)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar (or distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 10 tbsp water
  • tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • minced garlic (to your taste)
  • minced chili (to your taste)
  • black pepper powder (to your taste)

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 pack rice vermicelli noodles
  • Salad
  • Vietnamese herbs (perilla, Vietnamese balm, cilantro…)

Instructions
 

Marinate the pork

  • Remove the skin from the pork belly (optional) and thinly slice it to about 1.5 inches (4 cm).
  • Finely chop the scallions (green and white parts separated). Mince the shallot and garlic.
  • In a bowl, mix together the fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, Vietnamese caramel sauce, and black pepper powder.
  • Season the pork belly with half of the sauce, half of the garlic and shallot, and all of the white parts of the scallion. Allow it to marinate for one hour.
  • Mix the remaining sauce, garlic, shallot, and all of the green parts of the scallion with the ground pork until well combined. Add the cooking oil and mix again (the oil helps keep the meatballs juicy when grilling). Allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes to one hour.
  • Shape the marinated ground pork into mini hamburger patties.

Grill the pork

  • Charcoal Grill (yielding the best flavor):
    + Put the pork on the grill rack and grill each side for 3-4 minutes.
  • Air Fryer (more convenient):
    + Place the pork in the air fryer basket.
    + Cook it at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes.
    + Flip the meat and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Oven (for large batches):
    + Heat the oven to 390°F (200°C).
    + Arrange the meat on the rack with the drip tray underneath.
    + Bake the pork belly and pork patties for 20 minutes or until they achieves a golden brown color.
    + Flip them and grill for an additional 15 minutes.

Make the dipping sauce

  • Peel and thinly slice the green papaya and carrot. You can use a mandolin to slice them even thinner, but be cautious not to cut yourself.
  • Soak the green papaya in water with salt for 30 minutes to remove the milky sap, then rinse and drain it well (skip this step if using kohlrabi).
  • Mix the carrot and papaya slices with salt and sugar. After 15 minutes, you'll have Dưa Góp pickles.
  • Finely chop the garlic and chili.
  • Combine the fish sauce, sugar, water, and vinegar. Cook the mixture over low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  • Add the garlic, chili, carrot, and pickles to the saucepan. Stir thoroughly to combine. Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Prepare the rice noodles & vegetables

  • Cook the rice noodles following the directions on the package.
  • Rinse and drain the lettuce and herbs.

Assemble & Enjoy

  • Place the grilled pork in a bowl, then pour the fish sauce with pickles over the pork.
  • You could dip the rice noodles and herbs into the sauce in the bowl, then eat.
    Or you could place the rice noodles and herbs into into the bowl altogether, and enjoy.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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