I’m so thankful that I work so close to Chinatown in Boston. Well, not that close but close enough to run down there to get some food to take back to the office to eat while getting back to work. I love when a group of coworkers take a longer lunch and get to sit down together to enjoy a meal. I have my favorite places too. I have a place for containers of prepared fried rice that is quick and cheap. There is a great place for bubble tea and pastries. And my favorite place has big bowls of Bun.
Bun, more specifically Bún chả or Bún thịt nướng, is a Vietnamese dish that contains vermicelli, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, mint, and your choice of protein. It’s dressed with a fish sauce based sauce called nước chấm. I love when that big bowl of Bun arrives at my table. I immediately drop my eggs rolls on top and then pour the nước chấm over it all. I love nước chấm so much that I usually ask for extra. I love the sweet tartness of it.
Well, I haven’t been able to go to Chinatown in a very long time because I spend half of my lunch pumping so I don’t have enough time to get there and back in time. I’ve been craving some Bun!
I always thought that making one of these bowls would be really tricky, time consuming, and I’d have to go out and get a bunch of ‘exotic’ stuff. You know, like when you buy something like mace and use a pinch of it for only some random recipe you’ll only ever make once. Well, this recipe proved me wrong! It was easy, quick, and I had most of the stuff at home already. And the additional stuff I had to get will just get out to use the next time I make this because yum! Serious yum.
Fellow Bostonian, Becky made a smashing bowl of vermicelli. It hit all the right flavors, smells, and textures that I’ve come to love in my big bowls of Bun. I love the crunch from the lettuce, crisp pickled veggies, and bean sprouts. The marinade on the meat is super flavorful giving each bite an extra kick. But my favorite element was the nước chấm. I can’t get enough of it whenever I order Bun out so I usually order extra because I love the sweet & salty flavor combo it has from the fish sauce and sugar in it. Well, now I can tweak it to make it my own and make oodles and oodles of it for my oodles of noodles.
I did make some changes to Becky’s original recipe, but only minor ones. Instead of pork I used chicken and that is my protein of choice. And I didn’t use lemongrass as I couldn’t find it. I went to 2 grocery stores and neither had it. It’s not a hard item to come buy but the big grocery store that always has it was actually in the middle of a protest so the employees stopped stocking the shelves. Of course, I didn’t know this the morning I walked 1 1/2 miles there (each way) or I would have gone else where. And after 2 grocery store trips I was ‘over it’ do I just omitted it and it was still great. So don’t sweat if you can find it either, it will still be great.
I’m so glad that I had Becky’s blog this month for Secret Recipe Club. She shares awesome recipes that you’ll be dying to make, just like this vermicelli bowl. Noms!!!
Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Vermicelli Bowl
Makes 4 servings
For the chicken:
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 4 inch piece of lemongrass, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 pound chicken breast, sliced thinly
For the quick-pickled carrots and cucumbers:
- 1-2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar (no sugar or salt added)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
For the nuoc cham sauce:
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon chili paste
For the scallion oil:
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sliced scallions (3-4 scallions)
- 12 ounces vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
- 1 head of green leaf lettuce, so finely chopped it resembles thin ribbons
- Bunch of cilantro
- Fresh bean sprouts
- Crushed roasted peanuts
- To prepare the marinade for the chicken, in a large bowl mix together all the ingredients from the garlic to the soy sauce. Marinate the chicken by placing in the bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour before cooking.
- To make the quick-pickled vegetables, pour the vinegar, sugar, and salt over the vegetables and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving. If you make this more than a couple of hours in advance, store them in the fridge.
- For the nuoc cham sauce, mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set aside.
- For the scallion oil, heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat. When it’s hot, add the scallions and cook until wilted but still bright green, about three minutes.
- Take the chicken out of the fridge about ten minutes before you want to cook it. Prepare the grill/grill pan by preheating it over medium high heat. Cook the chicken with a little marinade spooned on top, on both sides until browned and cooked through. Brush the cooked chicken with the scallion oil just before you remove it grill the grill. Let the chicken rest and then slice on a diagonal.
- To serve, place a small pile of lettuce and another mound of vermicelli in a bowl. Top with pickled vegetables, bean sprouts, grilled chicken, and roasted peanuts. Serve with nuoc cham sauce on the side.
Adapted from A Calculated Whisk
Check out all the other great Secret Recipe Club posts this month!
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