One of our absolute favourite things to eat in Vietnam is bún thịt nướng (pronounced more like boon tit nurnn )
As always when I travel I try to break down the translation of the words for myself because I find that the more individual words I recognise in a language, the easier I find it to work out what and how a country eats – Bún (noodle, in this instance a white rice noodle) thit (meat) nướng (grilled) ‘grilled meat on noodles’.
Bún thịt nướng comes from the south of the country and it’s the perfect blend of sweet, sour and spicy whilst being incredibly fresh and, like many other Vietnamese dishes pretty healthy.
There’s quite a lot of components – Fresh bún rice noodles are served cold, topped with grilled pork meat which is marinated in a mixture of sugar and fish sauce. The grilled meat has great smoky, fatty caramelised flavours.
Chilli, peanuts, beansprouts, pickled carrot and cucumber matchsticks and crispy fried onions are added to add texture and balance the ingredients. For freshness, a handful of Vietnamese herbs, mint, perilla and lettuce are added with fresh coriander.
The contents are dressed with Nước chấm (pronounced more like nook chum) – a dipping sauce, which blends sweet and salty flavours of fish sauce, palm sugar, lime and sometimes chilli and/or garlic depending on its use.
Often, many places will include fried minced pork spring rolls known as chả giò (pronounciation more like jah zo) – the warm slightly greasy crunch is a welcome addition.
Bún thịt nướng could be considered the southern counterpart to bún cha, a dish from the north, specifically Hanoi. Similarly, it’s grilled meat, cold noodles and salad but served individually, for the eater to mix to their liking. In the north cha gio are known as nem rán (pronounce nem zan)
Some useful phrases
Sin chow – hello
Mot – one
Hai – two
Gam urn – thank you
Tra da – iced tea, a popular and cheap drink to accompany meals and usually available at hole in the wall restaurants (pronounced cha)
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