Bun Cha Hanoi Recipe

Hanoi has been voted the Best Food Destination of 2024 by TripAdvisor’s readers. I’m never surprised by this, as I’ve always been a fan of Hanoi’s cuisine. My top-of-mind dish is Bun cha Hanoi. It’s also one of the most famous dishes in the city, and everything about it is perfect, from the grilled pork and meatballs to the special fish sauce, and the carrots & green papaya pickles. After enjoying this dish many times at some local restaurants, I tried to imitate the cooking method and would like to share my homemade Bun cha Hanoi recipe in this post. Let’s discover how to make it.

bun cha hanoi recipe

What is Bun Cha Hanoi?

Bun Cha Hanoi is a popular Vietnamese dish that originates from Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. It consists of grilled pork patties and sliced grilled pork belly/ pork shoulder (called “cha” in Vietnamese), in a bowl with rice vermicelli noodles (bun), fresh vegetables, fish sauce and pickles.

Here’s how Bun Cha Hanoi is typically served:

Grilled Pork Patties (Cha)

The pork patties are made by mixing ground pork with various seasonings. They are then shaped into small, flat patties and grilled until they turn golden brown and cook through. Grilled pork belly (sometimes with pork shoulder) is also referred to as ‘cha’ in this dish, but in reality, they are grilled pork. Thinly sliced pieces of pork belly and pork shoulder are marinated and grilled until they caramelize and become crispy at the edges. Cha gio (fried spring rolls) can also be a part of “cha” in bun cha. The ingredients to make “cha” are all common ingredients found worldwide, so I’m confident you have all the necessary components for the Bun cha recipe.

Rice Vermicelli Noodles (Bun)

Rice vermicelli noodles are cooked until they become soft and are then served at the bottom of the bowl, serving as the starchy base for bun cha Hanoi.

Dipping Sauce

The dipping sauce is a crucial component of Bun Cha Hanoi. It typically consists of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, water, garlic, and chili. Especially in the original version of Bun Cha Hanoi, people used a special essence extracted from an insect known as Lethocerus indicus (Vietnamese: con cà cuống) to enhance the flavor of the fish sauce. This essence is quite rare and expensive, so nowadays, only a few local restaurants continue to use it in several of Hanoi’s dishes, such as the dipping sauce for this Bun Cha or Banh Cuon (rice noodle rolls).

Carrots and Green Papaya Pickles

I believe the pickles represent the uniqueness of the Bun Cha Hanoi recipe. Instead of carrots and daikon pickles, which are popular in the South of Vietnam, in the North, green papaya becomes the key pickle. While you can skip the green papaya if you can’t find one being sold in your region, I believe this pickle adds the finishing touch to the dish with its crunchiness and flavorful taste.

Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

A plate of fresh herbs and vegetables is served alongside the bowl of Bun Cha. Common herbs and greens include mint, coriander (cilantro), lettuce leaves, and perilla leaves. These provide freshness and contrasting textures to the dish.

bun cha hanoi

Bun Cha Hanoi Recipe

In this Bun Cha Hanoi recipe, I have tried to simplify the list of ingredients as much as possible to shorten the cooking time. To make this dish, you will need to prepare:

Grilled Pork Patties

  • 250g (8.8 oz) ground pork
  • Marinade: 1 tsp fish sauce or 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, 1 tbsp minced shallots, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cooking oil

Grilled Pork Belly & Pork Shoulder

  • 200g (7 oz) pork shoulder & 200g (7 oz) pork belly, or
  • 400g (14 oz) pork belly
  • Marinade: 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp minced shallots

Carrots and Green Papaya Pickles

  • 50g (1.7 oz) green papaya
  • 50g (1.7 oz) carrots
  • 3 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp vinegar 5%, 3 tbsp water

Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tbsp fish sauce/vegan fish sauce
  • 4 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic and chillies (optional)

Rice Vermicelli

  • 400g (14 oz) dried rice vermicelli

How to make Bun Cha Hanoi

Step 1. Preparation

  • Ground Pork: Mix the ground pork with fish sauce, salt, ground pepper, minced shallots, sugar, and cooking oil. If you purchase ground pork from a store, check for existing salt seasoning in the meat; if it’s already seasoned with salt, reduce the salt in the marinade. Let it rest for 30 minutes to enhance the flavor. Then, roll into meatballs and flatten them to get pork patties.
  • Pork Belly and Pork Shoulder: Slice the pork belly and pork shoulder thinly. If using pork belly, remove the skin to prevent it from burning during grilling. To achieve thin slices, you can freeze the meat until firm (approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the fridge and meat thickness), making it easier to slice thinly. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-sliced pork at the supermarket.

Step 2. Making pickles and dipping sauce

  • Carrot and green papaya pickles: For the carrots, trim and slice them into attractive carrot flowers. For the green papaya, slice it into small flakes. You can find instructions on how to cut a papaya here. Next, season them with salt, rinse, and squeeze to remove excess liquid.Mix water, sugar, and vinegar (5%) in a 1:1:1 ratio. Soak the prepared carrots and green papaya for at least 30 minutes.
  • Dipping Sauce: Combine fish sauce/vegan fish sauce, lemon juice, sugar, and water in a 1:1:1:10 ratio. Then, add minced garlic and chilies.

Step 3. Grilling pork patties and pork slices

  • Grilling Method: Indoor grilling can produce smoke, so I usually use a skillet covered with aluminum foil as a substitute for a barbecue grill. It gives a similar effect while saving time on the process and cleaning. I applied this method in many recipe, such as bun thit nuong (lemongrass pork and vermicelli) or com suon trung. Alternatively, you can use an electric grill or a barbecue grill for the best results.
  • Grilling Pork: Grill the pork patties, pork belly slices, and shoulder slices over medium heat. Once one side is cooked, flip them.
  • Achieving Charred Appearance: Increase the heat and grill each side for 1-2 minutes to achieve a charred appearance. If the aluminum foil becomes blackened, replace it.

Step 4. Boiling rice vermicelli

  • In the meantime, boil the rice vermicelli. Place the dried vermicelli and water in a saucepan or pot and heat them over high heat. As the vermicelli starts to soften, stir it occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain the water and rinse the cooked vermicelli under cool water. This process usually takes 5-10 minutes.

Step 5. Assembling

  • In a large bowl, combine the dipping sauce and pickles. Dip the grilled pork patties, pork belly, and pork shoulder into the fish sauce mixture. When serving, dip a portion of rice vermicelli into the fish sauce, then transfer it along with several pieces of grilled pork patties and pork belly to your bowl. Enjoy with fresh vegetables.

Storing Bun Cha Hanoi

Once I make Bun cha Hanoi, I never make just enough for a meal. I would like to enjoy it several times more! To store bun cha Hanoi for future meals, here are some of my tips:

  • Store everything separately: Pickles, grilled pork patties, pork belly and pork shoulder (“cha”), dipping sauce, rice vermicelli, vegetables. You should store them all in the fridge.
  • Reheat: To reheat rice vermicelli, you can blanche it in boiling water, or spray a bit of water on it and microwave in 2-3 minutes. With the “cha”, air-fry or bake them in oven to recall the flavor and taste of grilled meat.

I hope you this Bun cha Hanoi recipe works for you. Enjoy!

bun cha hanoi recipe

Bun Cha Hanoi Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

After enjoying this dish many times, I tried to imitate the cooking method and would like to share my homemade Bun cha Hanoi recipe.

Ingredients

Grilled Pork Patties

  • 250g (8.8 oz) ground pork
  • Marinade: 1 tsp fish sauce or 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, 1 tbsp minced shallots, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cooking oil

Grilled Pork Belly & Pork Shoulder

  • 200g (7 oz) pork shoulder & 200g (7 oz) pork belly, or
  • 400g (14 oz) pork belly
  • Marinade: 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp minced shallots

Carrots and Green Papaya Pickles

  • 50g (1.7 oz) green papaya
  • 50g (1.7 oz) carrots
  • 3 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp vinegar 5%, 3 tbsp water

Dipping Sauce

Rice Vermicelli

Instructions

Step 1. Marinading pork

  • Ground Pork: Mix the ground pork with fish sauce, salt, ground pepper, minced shallots, sugar, and cooking oil. If you purchase ground pork from a store, check for existing salt seasoning in the meat; if it's already seasoned with salt, reduce the salt in the marinade. Let it rest for 30 minutes to enhance the flavor. Then, roll into meatballs and flatten them to get pork patties. bun cha hanoi recipe
  • Pork Belly and Pork Shoulder: Slice the pork belly and pork shoulder thinly. If using pork belly, remove the skin to prevent it from burning during grilling. To achieve thin slices, you can freeze the meat until firm (approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the fridge and meat thickness), making it easier to slice thinly. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-sliced pork at the supermarket.bun cha hanoi recipeSlice pork belly....and pork shoulder
  • Marinade pork belly and pork shoulder and let them rest for at least 30 minutes.bun cha hanoi recipe

Step 2. Making pickles and dipping sauce

  • Pickles: For the carrots, trim and slice them into attractive carrot flowers. For the green papaya, slice it into small flakes. You can find instructions on how to cut a papaya here. Next, season them with salt, rinse, and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Mix water, sugar, and vinegar (5%) in a 1:1:1 ratio. Soak the prepared carrots and green papaya for at least 30 minutes.bun cha hanoi recipe
  • Dipping Sauce: Combine fish sauce/vegan fish sauce, lemon juice, sugar, and water in a 1:1:1:10 ratio. Then, add minced garlic and chilies.bun cha hanoi

Step 3. Grilling pork patties and pork slices

  • Grilling Method: Indoor grilling can produce smoke, so I usually use a skillet covered with aluminum foil as a substitute for a barbecue grill. It gives a similar effect while saving time on the process and cleaning. Alternatively, you can use an electric grill or a barbecue grill for the best results.
  • Grilling Pork: Grill the pork patties, pork belly slices, and shoulder slices over 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 becomes blackened, replace it.bun cha hanoi recipe

Step 4. Boiling rice vermicelli

  • In the meantime, boil the rice vermicelli. Place the dried vermicelli and water in a saucepan or pot and heat them over high heat. As the vermicelli starts to soften, stir it occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain the water and rinse the cooked vermicelli under cool water. This process usually takes 5-10 minutes.

Step 5. Assembling

  • In a large bowl, combine the dipping sauce and pickles. Dip the grilled pork patties, pork belly, and pork shoulder into the fish sauce mixture. When serving, dip a portion of rice vermicelli into the fish sauce, then transfer it along with several pieces of grilled pork patties and pork belly to your bowl. Enjoy with fresh vegetables.bun cha hanoi recipe
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 300g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1150

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