How to make a very flavorful “bun cha thit nuong” (Vietnamese kebabs-rice noodles)

If anyone has ever come to Hanoi and tried several noodles, they will surely admire and compliment that bun cha is one of the most delish noodles in Hanoi. In fact, making Hanoi bun cha is not complex at all. Right now would like to share how to marinate the extremely delectable kebab rice noodles for those who love cooking.

The renowned “bun cha” is considered as Hanoi traditional cuisine. Notably, recipe for marinating kebabs plays an important role in creating the tasty food.

bun cha recipe

bun cha recipe

How to make “bun cha” to get fragrant flavor, tender and absorbed kebabs are the concerns of many people who want to make at home.


  • 1/2 kg bacon
  • 1/2 kg lean shoulders
  • 2 shallots
  • 5-6 stalks of lemongrass
  • Garlic, chilli, lemon
  • 1 carrot, 1/2 papaya
  • Raw vegetables: lettuce, coriander
  • Spices: soup powder, seasoning powder, MSG, brown sugary water

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Step 1: To begin with, the important step to make kebabs (thit nuong) is to select fresh meat. Bacon with equal parts of lean and fatty meats is the best choice. Besides, the shoulder lean meat must be fresh, tender and when gently pressing does not release water.

After buying, clean two kinds of meat, then place to the pot covered with a little water, heat the pot until boiling, discard all the water in pot. Clean again with cool water. Then, mince lean shoulder to make grilled kebabs. For bacon, largely slice to grill on charcoal to make charcoal grilled pork (cha mieng).

Step 2: Make sure not lacking seasonings to marinate together. Remove shell of lemongrass, pound then thinly slice. Place onto grinder to grind and squeeze the juice. Add more lemongrasses to the marinated bowl to increase the fragrance of kebabs.

Remove shells of shallots, clean then place to grinder to get juice. You can mince very thinly by knife if grinder is not available.

Step 3: Mince chili, peel garlic shells, then thinly chop.

Clean all raw vegetables, leave to drain the water. Soak with salt water to make vegetables fresher, remember to wash them gently to avoid being broken.

Step 4: To get great kebabs, mixture of spices is a very necessary and important factor in marinating meat helping the kebabs as tasty as the authentic recipe. The below recipe is for 1 kg meat.

  • 3 tsp soup powder
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 3 tsp MSG
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (according to the Hanoi traditional bun cha, shrimp paste helps dish more yummy, however if you cannot stand the paste flavor, do not add it)
  • One spoon of brown sugary water can be home-cooked or you can buy. (bitter sugar for alternative)

After stirring spices, separate into three parts. One to mix with minced lemongrass, one to mix with sliced bacon, the rest to stir with grounded meat. Then marinate in 30 minutes until all kinds of meats being well absorbed with spices.

Furthermore, grilled pork can be marinated after one night, leave in refrigerator to make them absorb seasonings. For minced meats, we just need to marinate with the above recipe.

Step 5: Papaya and carrot with sour and sweet flavor cannot lack in bun cha. To make the mixture salad, you cut off papaya thinly into mouth-sized pieces. Soak in salt cool water in 15 minutes to reduce the strong smell. Besides, soak with cool water also helps carrots and papayas more crispy. Take them out then drain the water.

Then add a little lemon, sugar, soup powder, vinegar and chilli to make salad have enough flavors of sour and sweet. You can season to fit your taste.

Step 6: After marinating meat, form into meatballs, assemble to the grill then start grilling. Cover cooking oil on the surface of meatballs to avoid being sticky to the grill.

For charcoal grilled pork, we have two ways: first way, stretch the marinated meat on the charcoal grill, grill until meat turn brown golden colour. Or the second way, you can use chopsticks which are cut in halves, then assemble marinated meat in the verticality. Grill on charcoal until turning to brown golden color.

Nowadays, though there are many grill machines, charcoal grilled kebabs are preferred by gourmets because of its authentic kebab flavor.

Remember while grilling, occasionally cover a little cooking oil or marinated mixture on the grill to avoid the sticking to grill, as well as easy to turn up and not breakable.

thit nuong 2

Step 7. It is not only the recipe to marinate kebabs, but the important factor is also the sour sweet sauce with eye-catching garlic floating on the surface of sauce. These below are recipe to make bun cha sauce.

  • 5 teaspoon cool boiled water
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 5 tsp lemon juice
  • 5 tsp sugar

Pour all of them together, stir well until gaining the tasty flavor of sour, salty and sweet. Add chopped garlic and chilli on the top. Before mix the sauce, you just need to soak garlic and chilli on the lemon juice for a while if you want those float.

bun cha sauce

Sweet and sour sauce by mixing

Step 8: Now, time to assemble kebabs, noodles, raw vegetables, sauces and papaya- carrot salad.

bun cha all

bun cha hanoi

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In the nutshells, to have a great bun cha, you need to learn the secret to marinate kebabs. How to make each meat piece be cooked with the nice color and not being dry when eating.

With the recipe to make above marinate kebabs, you can make bun cha dish or serve with rice. The fragrant and greasy grilled-meatballs is considered to be one of the best Vietnamese foods.

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