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Bun cha in black bowl from above
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5 from 3 votes

bun cha - vietnamese grilled pork with rice noodles

Bun cha is a savoury Vietnamese rice noodle dish served with grilled pork balls and nuoc cham. It's perfect for warm weather dining.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 6 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: bun cha, rice noodles
Servings: 4
Calories: 706kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


Pork balls

  • 2 lbs ground fresh pork
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted rice powder - see notes
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 10 flat wooden skewers (don't use round ones) - soaked in water for 30 minutes

Nuoc cham

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice - about one lime's worth
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • minced red chilies - optional and to taste

Bun cha

  • 10 oz dried rice noodles - the thin flat ones
  • pork balls
  • mint, cilantro, thai basil, baby greens and lime to garnish
  • nuoc cham to serve


Pork balls

  • Soak 10 wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
  • Combine the ground pork, shallots, garlic, toasted rice powder, sugar, fish sauce and sambal oelek in a mixing bowl. 
  • Use your hands to mix thoroughly.
  • Transfer half the pork mixture to a food processor. Pulse about 10-15 times. You want a big homogenous mess. 
  • Repeat with the rest of the pork mixture. You don't want to overload your food processor. It won't mix well if you do. Let the pork mixture sit for about 30 minutes.
  • While the pork sits, build an indirect charcoal fire in your grill. Bank the coals on both sides and put a drip pan in the middle. If you are using gas, turn on a burner or two but leave a cool zone in the middle. You want the grill at about 500 degrees. Hot. 
  • Here's a nifty grilling tip. To approximate a Japanese grill put two fire bricks sideways with enough space between them to sit the skewers on them. Far apart enough that the meatballs don't touch the bricks but close enough so your skewers sit on them. You don't have to do this. You can grill them how you like. But the brick trick is what I do.
  • Form the pork mixture into golf ball size balls. You should get around 24 balls.
  • Thread the pork balls onto the skewers. Take care to try to get the skewers through the middle of the balls so they are balanced. This is tough. Do what you can.
  • Grill the pork ball skewers until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees. This goes pretty fast at 500F. Under 10 minutes. Less maybe. Don't have an instant read thermometer? Time to get one. Seriously. They start at $10. Everybody should have one. Guessing is almost always wrong. Instant read is always right. You want to nail it every time don't you?

Nuoc cham

  • Combine all the ingredients and stir to combine. Let stand as long as you can. An hour or two isn't out of the question. 10 minutes is probably OK too. 

Bun cha

  • At some point along the way bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles until tender. The package may or may not have instructions on it (annoying). If it doesn't 3 minutes plus or minus about a minute is usually about right. You want tender. You don't want mush. Rinse under cold water until cool. 
  • Place a good handful of noodles in the middle of a bowl. Top with the garnishes and 5-6 pork balls. Serve nuoc cham along side and let people drizzle it on themselves.


Toasted rice powder is just that. Take about 1/4 cup of jasmine rice. Put it in a dry skillet over medium low heat. Toss every 15-20 seconds or so. Dry roast the rice until it gets to be a light golden colour. Let cool and grind in a spice grinder. 


Serving: 4servings | Calories: 706kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 2502mg | Potassium: 747mg | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2.3mg