Bun thit nuong
What is bun thit nuong?
The Vietnamese dish, bun thit nuong (pronounced “boen tit noeng”) literally means grilled meat (thit nuong) on noodles (bun). The noodles are thin rice vermicelli noodles and the meat is typically crispy grilled pork.
Although bun thit nuong is on the menu in almost every Vietnamese restaurant, we recommend looking for a Vietnamese street vendor who sells nothing but bun thit nuong. These are the real specialists; chefs who spend their working lives repeatedly making just one dish.
Most of the stalls where bun thit nuong is made open early in the morning. The Vietnamese eat the dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
How to make bun thit nuong
Slices of pork are marinated, ideally overnight, in a marinade of lemongrass, garlic, chilli, soy sauce and sugar. The meat is grilled over hot coals until it has crispy, caramelized edges and then served on a bed of lettuce and cold, cooked rice vermicelli. Cucumber and fresh herbs such as Thai basil, mint and/or coriander add freshness and aroma to this dish, while chopped peanuts add crunch. Bun thit nuong is usually drizzled with nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce). Apart from in Danang, where people prefer a sauce of liver, minced meat and fermented soybeans.
How to eat bun thit nuong
North and South Vietnamese eat this dish in different ways. In the south, all ingredients are served in a bowl and mixed together so that all tastes and textures are thoroughly combined. The bowl is garnished with mo hanh (spring onions in oil). In the north, you’ll be served a bowl of meat with nuoc cham and do chua (sour carrot and daikon), with the noodles and vegetables on a separate plate. The Northern Vietnamese put each bite together separately before they eat it.
In North Vietnam, people love to eat a dish that is very similar to bun thit nuong, namely bun cha. For bun cha, minced pork is rolled into balls and grilled, then served in a dipping sauce with the noodles added separately. Same flavours, different version.
This dish is can be improved with the addition of one or two pieces of cha gio (fried Vietnamese spring roll) in authentic Vietnamese style. The dish is then known as bun thit nuong cha gio.