Bun Thit Nuong Recipe (Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork and Vermicelli)

I can’t live without Bun Thit Nuong since I first tried a bowl many years ago. Bun Thit Nuong is a combination of various tasty, mouth-watering elements of Vietnamese cuisine, from fried spring rolls to grilled lemongrass pork, from pickled carrots and daikon to fresh vegetables, roasted peanuts, and rice vermicelli. But believe me, it’s not hard to make yourself a bowl at home.

vietnamese bun thit nuong grilled beef with vermicelli

What is Bun Thit Nuong?

Bun Thit Nuong (with Vietnamese accents: Bún thịt nướng) is a popular Vietnamese dish. This dish is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures: flavorful grilled pork, crispy fried spring rolls, soft noodles, fresh vegetables, pickled daikon and carrots, and the tangy-sweet sauce made of fish sauce, chili, garlic, sugar, and lemon juice.

I don’t exactly know the origin, but nowadays, with Vietnamese people like me, Bun Thit Nuong is a symbol of Saigon’s cuisine, like Hanoi’s bun cha and pho. If you visit Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll see Bun Thit Nuong sold everywhere, from a small street food stall nearby an office building or in luxury restaurants of 5-star hotels. One irreplaceable component in a bowl of Bun Thit Nuong is pickled carrots and daikon, which is also a signature of Saigon’s cuisine.

vietnamese bun thit nuong grilled beef with vermicelli

Main Components in Bun Thit Nuong Recipe

Lemongrass Pork

The uniqueness of Bun Thit Nuong Recipe as compared to other Vietnamese vermicelli dishes is the lemongrass pork. The pork, ideally pork shoulder, is thinly sliced and then marinated in a mixture of lemongrass and garlic juice, crushed lemongrass, honey, salt, sugar, and fish sauce. Lemongrass juice will absorb into the pork shoulder slices, bringing a unique flavor and aroma to them.

Pork shoulder is the best option to make grilled lemongrass pork. It is a cut of meat from the upper part of the front leg of the pig. This part of the pig includes a significant amount of connective tissue and fat. Therefore, pork shoulder is ideal for grilling because it can still retain its softness and juiciness after being grilled.

vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
Pork is marinaded with lemongrass, garlic and shallot before grilling.

Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls

Although this is not a must-have item in the Bun Thit Nuong recipe, I highly recommend having some of it. The crunchiness from fried spring rolls (Cha gio) makes the dish much more delicious, although it will take you some more time to prepare. Besides, you can buy premade, frozen fried spring rolls from Vietnamese supermarkets or make some yourself and freeze them. When making Bun Thit Nuong, just fry them from frozen to add them to the bowl. A Bun Thit Nuong bowl with Cha Gio is also called “bun thit nuong cha gio,” the favorite dish of Saigonese people.

To make Vietnamese fried spring rolls, refer to my recipe here.

Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls Cha Gio

Pickled Carrots and Daikon

Another common and tasty part of Bun Thit Nuong is pickled carrots and daikon. Crunchy, juicy, sweet, and tangy, it is added to a variety of dishes, from Banh mi, Vietnamese grilled pork with rice (com suon), Pho tron, Bun Bo Nam Bo, etc. With Bun Thit Nuong, it’s indeed a must to stimulate your taste buds and balance the taste of this dish.

pickled carrots and daikon

Dressing Sauce

For Vietnamese dishes with noodles, if there is no broth, there will be a dressing sauce. Usually, we have fish sauce as the base, and so does Bun Thit Nuong. A mixture of fish sauce, chili, garlic, lemon juice, and sugar will be cooked until well combined.

However, if you are not familiar with fish sauce, try vegan fish sauce. It’s the best way to avoid the fishy smell from fish sauce but still enjoy the authentic dressing styles. This is also the method that Vietnamese restaurants abroad apply to serve their foreign customers.

Vegetables and More

In the Bun Thit Nuong recipe, as long as you have some lettuce, it’s alright. Depending on availability, you can add some herbs such as mint, Thai basil, etc.

To garnish the dish, a handful of roasted peanuts and fried shallots will be a good match.

vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
Components of bun thit nuong: grilled lemongrass pork, fried spring rolls, pickled carrots and daikon, vegetables and fish sauce.

Bun Thit Nuong Recipe

This is my simple Bun Thit Nuong Recipe for home cooks, for 4 servings:

Lemongrass Pork

  • 400g (14.1 oz) pork shoulder
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt

Others

  • 8 Vietnamese fried spring rolls (optional)
  • Lettuce and herbs
  • 1 cup pickled carrots and daikon
  • 200g (7 oz) dried vermicelli

Dressing Sauce

  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 20 tbsp water
  • 8 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

How to Make Bun Thit Nuong

Step 1. Marinating the Pork

  • Chop shallot, garlic, and lemongrass to get 1 tbsp each.
  • Mix them together with 2 tbsp of water, then blend them well and filter to get the aromatic juice.
  • Cooking the marinade: cook 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp of the aromatic juice above, and a pinch of salt together until well combined.
  • Slicing the pork: While waiting for the marinade to cool down, slice pork shoulder thinly. To slice more easily, you should freeze your pork for around 1 hour before slicing. The firm meat will ease your cutting process significantly.
  • Marinating the pork: pour the marinade you have cooked onto the pork slices. Add two more crushed stalks of lemongrass, then let them sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer, the better.

Step 2. Preparing Other Ingredients

  • If you haven’t had pickled carrots and daikon, you can make it while waiting for the pork to be ready. Learn how to make pickled carrots and daikon here. Wash vegetables, roast peanuts, and fry shallots if needed. To save time, you can make a large batch of roasted peanuts and fried shallots or buy them from stores and save them for later use.
  • If you would like to add some homemade Vietnamese fried spring rolls, refer to the recipe here.
  • In the meantime, boil rice vermicelli. Add dried vermicelli and water to a saucepan or a pot and start heating them up with high heat. When the vermicelli starts softening, stir it occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan/pot. Finally, drain out the water and rinse the cooked vermicelli under cool water. The whole process often takes 5-8 minutes.

Step 3. Grilling the Pork

  • It’s not easy to grill indoors due to smoking, so I usually use a skillet covered with aluminum foil to replace a barbecue grill. The effect is nearly similar, but it will save much of your time during the process and cleaning.
  • Grill the slices of pork shoulder on medium heat. Once one side is cooked, flip them.
  • Increase the heat and grill each side for 1-2 minutes to achieve a charred appearance. If the aluminum foil is blackened like in the picture below, replace it.

Step 4. Preparing the Dressing Sauce

  • Follow the dressing sauce recipe, mix all the ingredients together, and cook on medium heat until boiling. You can proceed with this step in parallel with step 3.

Step 5. Assembling

  • Now you have all the components ready. Add rice vermicelli into the bowl first as a base, then top with grilled lemongrass pork, fried spring rolls, vegetables, pickles, roasted peanuts, and fried shallots.
  • Before eating, drizzle a desired amount of dressing sauce on your bowl. Mix well and enjoy.

Storing Bun Thit Nuong

Similar to every vermicelli dish, you should store each component separately and try to consume all within 2 days.

If you would like to prepare in advance for the next meal, freeze marinated pork and premade spring rolls, then just grill and fry them when desired. For the dressing sauce, because it’s cooked, you can store it in a sealed jar and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

bun thit nuong grilled lemongrass pork and vermicelli

Vietnamese Bun Thit Nuong Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Bun Thit Nuong is a combination of various tasty, mouth-watering elements of Vietnamese cuisine, from lemongrass pork to pickles and cha gio.

Ingredients

Lemongrass Pork

  • 400g (14.1 oz) pork shoulder
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt

Others

  • 8 Vietnamese fried spring rolls (optional)
  • Lettuce and herbs
  • 1 cup pickled carrots and daikon
  • 200g (7 oz) dried vermicelli

Dressing Sauce

Instructions

Step 1. Marinating the Pork

  • Chop shallot, garlic, and lemongrass to get 1 tbsp each.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
  • Mix them together with 2 tbsp of water, then blend them well and filter to get the aromatic juice.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
  • Cooking the marinade: cook 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp of the aromatic juice above, and a pinch of salt together until well combined.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
  • Slicing the pork: While waiting for the marinade to cool down, slice pork shoulder thinly. To slice more easily, you should freeze your pork for around 1 hour before slicing. The firm meat will ease your cutting process significantly.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
  • Marinating the pork: pour the marinade you have cooked onto the pork slices. Add two more crushed stalks of lemongrass, then let them sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer, the better.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli

Step 2. Preparing Other Ingredients

  • If you haven't had pickled carrots and daikon, you can make it while waiting for the pork to be ready. Learn how to make pickled carrots and daikon here. Wash vegetables, roast peanuts, and fry shallots if needed. To save time, you can make a large batch of roasted peanuts and fried shallots or buy them from stores and save them for later use.pickled carrots and daikon
  • If you would like to add some homemade Vietnamese fried spring rolls, refer to the recipe here.Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls Cha Gio
  • In the meantime, boil rice vermicelli. Add dried vermicelli and water to a saucepan or a pot and start heating them up with high heat. When the vermicelli starts softening, stir it occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan/pot. Finally, drain out the water and rinse the cooked vermicelli under cool water. The whole process often takes 5-8 minutes.boil vermicelli for bun bo nam bo

Step 3. Grilling the Pork

  • It's not easy to grill indoors due to smoking, so I usually use a skillet covered with aluminum foil to replace a barbecue grill. The effect is nearly similar, but it will save much of your time during the process and cleaning.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
  • Grill the slices of pork shoulder on medium heat. Once one side is cooked, flip them.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
  • Increase the heat and grill each side for 1-2 minutes to achieve a charred appearance. If the aluminum foil is blackened like in the picture below, replace it.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli

Step 4. Preparing the Dressing Sauce

  • Follow the dressing sauce recipe, mix all the ingredients together, and cook on medium heat until boiling. You can proceed with this step in parallel with step 3.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli

Step 5. Assembling

  • Now you have all the components ready. Add rice vermicelli into the bowl first as a base, then top with grilled lemongrass pork, fried spring rolls, vegetables, pickles, roasted peanuts, and fried shallots.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
  • Before eating, drizzle a desired amount of dressing sauce on your bowl. Mix well and enjoy.vietnamese bun thit nuong lemongrass pork vermicelli
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 250
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 650

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