You probably know what Pho is (the Vietnamese noodle soup, pronounced Fur!), but have you tried Bun (said with odd attempt to sound Vietnamese)?
The other night we met a group of friends for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant (in St Leonards, Sydney) owned by one of our friend’s aunty. Our meal was really delicious (they do traditional Vietnamese style cooking) and also very reasonably priced. What’s not to love about that!
Its quite easy to eat healthily when dining at Asian restaurants as you can usually get lots of fresh vegetables as part your meal (very important that I practice what I preach!). Plus in Vietnamese cuisine they use loads of fresh herbs which provide the most gorgeous fresh, lively flavour to the food, making it extra delicious.
One of my favourite Vietnamese dishes is the noodle soup Pho, but given that it was a warm night I was wanting something more like a salad, so Bun was the perfect choice.
Bun is a vermicelli noodle salad (‘bun’ is the vermicelli noodles) and I had Bun ga nuong which is with grilled lemongrass chicken . It is like a Vietnamese version of warm chicken salad. A scrumptious mixture of textures and flavours from the tender, juicy, warm lemongrass chicken on top and underneath, a mixture of fresh delicate herbs, crunchy vegetables and the soft vermicelli noodles. On the side comes a sauce (nuoc cham) which you pour over before mixing everything together, then eat. Just delicious!
So I decided to give this a go at home this weekend. I hunted around for a recipe and found one using beef from the Food Safari series (LOVE that show!) featuring Luke Nguyen, a Sydney based chef and restaurateur who I think spends his time now travelling around Asia filming cooking shows and writing cookbooks – lucky guy! The recipe looked really straightforward and easy. I just had to adapt it to use chicken. Too easy.
I made the nuoc cham (sauce) and put the chicken in to marinade earlier in the day. When it came to assembling the dish, it only took about 15 minutes. Quick, easy and delicious! Here is my version….
- Sauce or - nuoc cham:
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsps brown sugar
- 2 tbsps fish sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Whisk together all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- Bun ga nuong:
- 1 (200g) chicken breast, sliced
- 1 stem lemongrass (the tender white part only), finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 65g mung bean vermicelli - these are lower GI than regular rice noodles (also known as glass noodles) - this was ¼ of the packet I bought which was very helpfully separated into 4 bundles! Once softened this made 2 cups = 1 cup for each serve
- 3-4 lettuce leaves (I used about 8 baby cos leaves)
- 1½ cups bean sprouts
- 1 small Lebanese cucumber
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- 10 mint leaves
- 12 Vietnamese mint leaves
- 1 carrot, finely julienned
- 2 teaspoons rice bran oil
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons raw peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
- To make the bun ga nuong:
- Combine chicken, lemongrass, garlic and fish sauce. Set aside and allow to marinade for 20 minutes while you prepare everything else.
- Soak vermicelli in boiling water, about 15 minutes until soft. They go semi-translucent when ready. Drain and reserve.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry lettuce, then shred roughly.
- Wash and dry cucumber. Using a vegetable peeler, shred cucumber into fine strips.
- Wash and dry herbs. Roll the herbs together (easiest if you use the largest leaves to wrap around the smaller leaves) and slice thinly.
- Cut the carrot into fine julienne strips.
- Slice the onion in half, then into ½ moon shapes quite thin.
- Grab your 2 serving bowls and place half of the noodles in the bottom of each bowl. Top with shredded lettuce. Sprinkle the bean sprouts, cucumber slices and herbs over the lettuce. Set bowls aside.
- Heat a wok or frying pan over a medium-high heat setting. Quickly toss in the peanuts and toast for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned. Tip into a small bowl and set aside.
- Add the oil and the sliced onion to the wok. Stir the contents around the pan for a few minutes, then toss the chicken in. Cook for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked and starting to brown. Turn off heat.
- Top each noodle salad with the chicken, pour over a couple of teaspoons of sweet chilli sauce, then sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.
- Pour over some nuoc cham and stir sauce through before eating.