Recipes 06.21.18

Seasons by the Sea: Rest in Peace, Anthony Bourdain

Bun Cha (Vietnamese Pork Patties)

Anthony Bourdain’s favorite foods came from the streets of Asia. In one episode of “Parts Unknown” he enjoyed a dish called bun cha with President Barack Obama at a little place in Hanoi. He thought it would be funny to pay the bill for the president. It was $6. Here is a recipe for bun cha. There are many variations of this. Some are served as meatballs in broth; this one is served with a dipping sauce.

I served this with Kimchi Jews black bean ssam sauce and sweet chile garlic sauce. They greatly enhanced the dish because original recipe’s nuoc cham was rather bland.

Serves four. 


For the patties:


1 lb. ground pork

2 Tbsp. sugar

5 Tbsp. water

1/2 cup finely minced shallots

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. fish sauce 

1/2 jalapeno or red chile pepper, minced


In small heavy saucepan over medium high heat, dissolve sugar in three tablespoons of water. Caramelize to a deep brown, then add remaining two tablespoons water. Be careful; it will sputter. Set caramel sauce aside to cool. 

When cool, combine pork, caramel sauce, and the rest of the ingredients. Form into small patties and refrigerate for a few hours.


For sauce:

This is just a basic guideline for nuoc cham.


2 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 red Thai chile, minced


Combine all ingredients and taste for seasoning. Some people like it saltier, hotter, or more tart.  You can add lime juice, extra fish sauce, whatever.


For serving:


10 oz. rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package directions, then rinsed with cold water

1 head red leaf lettuce, washed, leaves separated

1 bunch each, Thai basil, cilantro, spearmint sprigs


Prepare charcoal or gas grill. Cook pork patties until well browned and cooked through. Serve sauce in individual bowls with garnishes, noodles, lettuce, and patties on platters for people to help themselves. Use scissors to cut vermicelli noodles. Play with your food. It’s fun!