Bun bo xao
What is bun bo xao?
Bun bo xao (pronounced “boon bòh sao”) is a main course dish consisting of stir-fried marinated beef (bo xao) that is served directly from the wok with warm (but not hot) rice vermicelli noodles (bun). Lettuce and raw vegetables are the regular accompaniments to this dish, which is prepared as a salad with nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) and extra lime juice. The result is a simple, clean-flavoured and uplifting dish.
Although bun bo xao is a South Vietnamese dish, you can see it on almost every restaurant menu. That makes sense because it is easy and quick to make, but still includes all the flavours that are typical of Vietnamese cuisine. A true classic.
How to make bun bo xao
First, cubes of beef are marinated in a fragrant mixture of fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar and garlic. Rice noodles are cooked and are allowed to cool. A bowl is prepared with lettuce and the noodles. The meat is then briefly stir-fried in a piping hot wok and scooped on top of the noodles. The bowl is finished with spring onion, carrot, cucumber, daikon and spices, plus a topping of chopped peanuts and fried onions. Drizzle some nuoc cham over it – the dipping sauce fuses the separate components into a whole – and you’re good to go.
How to eat
Mix with your chopsticks so that you can see each of the components of this dish in every bite; tender meat, silky noodles, fragrant herbs, crispy vegetables and lettuce, peanuts and onions.
Bun bo xao looks like bun bo nam bo, although with its oyster sauce marinade this is a bit sweeter, while bun bo xao is fresher. Bo kho is another popular beef dish in Vietnam. More in the mood for pork? Try bun thit nuong. You can also combine your noodles and vegetables with crispy fried spring rolls (bun cha gio).