It’s summer time, which means it’s time for salads and BBQs. I wanted to share one of my favourite salads, bún gà – a Vietnamese rice noodle salad with chicken.
I’ve been to Vietnam twice – it’s a beautiful country with a fascinating culture, and the food is my favourite of all cuisines. In particular, nuoc mam sauce – the perfect combination of salty and sweet – always makes me think of meals I ate there (and makes me want to return because my attempts at making those dishes will never be as good).
I think of all the dishes though, bún is my favourite. The combination of fresh herbs, lightly pickled and crunchy vegetables with the rice noodles, seasoned meat and the sauce make it the perfect dish to eat on a hot evening with an ice cold beer.
Below, you’ll find a recipe I was given during a cooking course I did while in Vietnam. When I want Vietnamese food, I make this and once you’ve made it a few times, it’s a breeze.
This should serve 2-3 people, depending on how hungry they are.
Step 1: Nuoc mam sauce
This dressing can be made in any amount by following this ratio:
- 1 part lemon/lime
- 1 part sugar
- 1 part fish sauce
- 1 part water
Put these all in a clean jar, then add chilli and garlic to your own tastes. Shake.
I usually make this first and let it sit while I do everything else.
Step 2: Marinate the chicken
- 1 tbs minced lemongrass
- 1 tbs minced ginger
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp chilli or chilli sauce
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 pinch five spice
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 200 gram chicken, sliced
- Put all the ingredients (except the chicken) together in a bowl and mix well.
- Add the chicken.
- Cover and put in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it.
Step 3: Quick pickle
- 1 tsp sugar
- Juice of half a lime/lemon
- Pinch of salt
- 2 carrots, julienne (you can use daikon too)
- Put all the ingredients in a sandwich bag, seal it and shake it around.
- Leave it to the side until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
Step 4: Prepare the rest of the ingredients
- Cucumber (as much as you like), batons
- Lettuce (as much as you like), sliced thinly
- 200 grams rice vermicelli, soaked and drained
- 20 grams mint leaves
- 20 grams Vietnamese mint leaves (if you can get it)
Step 5: Assemble
- Cook the chicken in a frying pan (keep in mind that the sugar in the marinade means it might stick to the pan).
- In two bowls, evenly distribute the rice noodles.
- Top with the cucumber, lettuce, mints and pickled carrots.
- When the chicken is cooked, let it cool slightly before adding it to the bowls.
- Distribute the dressing over the two bowls.
If you can get deep-fried shallots (available at any Asian grocery shop), sprinkle some on top. If you can’t get them, it’s not a problem!
Step 6: Enjoy!
Bún gà is a joy to eat and it’s definitely a wonderful alternative to boring old salad when you’re craving something fresh and delicious.