Vietnamese street food : Bun thit nuong (grilled pork and noodle salad)

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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.

Bun thit nuong, or Vietnamese grilled pork noodles

Bun thit nuong, or Vietnamese grilled pork noodles

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.

Street seller making  cha gio

Street seller making cha gio

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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Vietnamese street food : Bun bo hue (Hue style beef noodle soup)

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Vietnam has a lot of noodle soups, and they are all different.

I always 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.
The name translates as  bún (noodles) bò (beef) Huê (pronounced more like hoo-ay) the imperial city in the central region of the country where the dish originates.
The area is famed for its cuisine and its relative spiciness compared with other Vietnamese dishes.  According to Lonely Planet, Emperor Tu Duc was quite the fussy eater and this lead to Huê’s culinary distinctions from other areas of the country.

Bún bò Huê consists of a plethora of ingredients, and after looking at a few recipes seemingly takes time, diligence and a lot of specific ingredients to create.

It’s a deep, rich base of pork and beef stock, coloured red from the inclusion of annatto seeds, flavoured with lemongrass, pineapple, onion and Vietnamese shrimp paste, mam ruoc. The broth is filled with bún noodles – thicker than you would find in bún cha, or bún thịt nướng, more like worms and less like spaghetti –  with beef and pork meat. It’s commonplace to have pork knuckles (and have read about trotters) bobbing about in the soup broth with blood cubes and cha. In our experience, we were saved from the gelatinous blood cubes and had tasty knuckle included in the soup. 

Cha is a kind of Vietnamese sausage, or meatloaf which is often added to soups – it’s made by grounding meat with spices and fish sauce into a paste and then wrapping in banana leaves before steaming or boiling. Cha can also be found served with bánh cuốn & xôi. 

Bun Bo

Photo sourced from Flickr via a creative commons license. Thanks, Long Khủng

Like a lot of other Vietnamese dishes it is served with a mount of fresh herbs. These usually contain mint, Vietnamese coriander, purple perilla and in this case slithers of banana blossom too.

It’s a really tasty soup, a good dish to try to differentiate tastes from other Vietnamese soup dishes, such as phở.

Although this is a Huê dish, it’s available throughout the country in speciality restaurants – in Hanoi, there is a popular restaurant ‘Net Hue’ chain which serves Hue classics, it’s cheap and has English language menus so popular with both locals and tourists. In Siagon/HCMC we found Bún Bò Huế Đông Ba via the useful blog eatingsaigon. In Hue, it will just be referred to as ‘Bún bò’.   

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

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Thai street food : Khao muu daeng (Red pork and rice)

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Street food opportunities are abundant in Thailand, with carts and pop up street restaurants everywhere. When the cover of night falls, plastic chairs are whipped out in front of closed shops, people drink, eat and socialise on the street.

Khao muu daeng is another street food staple on the streets of Thailand, an example of Chinese-Thai fusion cuisine, the red pork, seasoned with Chinese five spice, and stained red known as char sui in Cantonese cuisine.

Khao muu daeng : red pork and rice

Khao muu daeng : red pork and rice

Many streetcarts sell this and variations exist, for example one food cart we’ve eaten at several times sells khao muu daeng as well wantan soup variations including the red pork.

It’s a cheap, quick meal option, the pork is tender in a sweet, sticky glaze served with rice, sliced cucumber and sometimes boiled egg and/or Chinese sausage. If you’re really lucky you might get a crunchy bit of crackling. Some vendors also serve a clear soup of stock on the side.

At a street cart or kitchen expect to pay 30-50Baht for a plate.

Some useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy’  – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai sai prik khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much?
Arroy! – Delicious!  

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Thai street food : Yam Naem Khao tod (fried rice ball salad)

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Nam khao tod is something we discovered in Vientiane, Laos entirely by accident, I ordered out of curiousity, with an “I want what he’s having” kind of mentality. I had no idea what I was about to eat, but drawn in by the arancini like rice balls on the shelf of the street cart.

It’s something I’ve since seen in Laos, and also in the north eastern Thai province of Isaan and made myself a tonne of times because it’s awesome.

The arancini-like rice balls are flavoured with curry paste and deep fried and left to cool before being used to order.

When you order a serve, the lady will take one of the precooked balls, and smash it up, mixing it with raw red onion, fresh chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, green beans, coriander, scallions or spring onions, peanuts and naem – fermented sour pork – in her mixing bowl. In Laos we found it included shredded coconut and mint.

The end product is essentially a cold rice salad, with flecks of crunchy, crispy rice that became golden from the fryer and spicy, sour flavours.

In the Isaan region it’s customary to serve spicy dishes with some raw cabbage and a few herby leaves to help offset the chilli. I like to eat this with a couple of sticks of carmelised barbecued pork sticks known as muu ping. The sweetness works really well with the spicy sour flavours of the rice.

In Laos, nam khao is often eaten as an appetiser, with the rice wrapped up in a lettuce leaf cup.

Useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy’  – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai Sai Prik Khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much. 

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Thai street food : Tom saap (Isaan spicy sour pork rib soup)

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The eastern region of Thailand, known as Isaan (sometimes spelled Isan) is the home of so many great dishes, most of my favourite Thai foods – and a lot of the things you’ll see posted on these pages – come from this area.

In isaan, chilli is a key flavour and this soup is full of flavour and spice.

The ribs are cooked down to create as stock with lemongrass, garlic, chilli, shallots and galangal which is a large part of this dish. After some time of stock development, more ingredients are added including mushrooms, tomatoes, lime leaves and finally dried chillies and lime juice.

Tom saap pork (muu) soup

Tom saap pork (muu) soup

The soup is a thin and translucent.  Watery, but salty, spicy and sour at the same time, with soft flaky meat which falls of the bone and chunky slices of mushrooms. It packs a far bigger punch than it looks like it’s capable of.

Tom sap goes great with other Isaan staples such as sticky rice (khao niao) mince pork salad (laab) papaya salad (som tam or tam mak hung) and grilled chicken (gai yang)

Phrases worth knowing

mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Mai sai prik  Khap – no chilli please (khap is only for males, females use ‘khaa’ )
Sai tung – take away  (literally means put in bag)
Pai sed –  when ordering it means the large size, or special – the difference is often around 10 baht on a street cart .
Tow rai? – how much.
Arroy! – delicious

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Thai street food : Ka na muu krob ( crispy pork with kale)

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Street food opportunities are abundant in Thailand, with carts and pop up street restaurants everywhere. When the cover of night falls, plastic chairs are whipped out in front of closed shops, people drink, eat and socialise on the street.

ka na muu krob is a dish of crispy pork and chinese greens in gravy. It’s pretty easy to find this all over the country in pop up street restaurants and mobile kitchens.

Chunks of deep fried belly pork are added to stir fried Chinese kale in a gravy of garlic, oyster sauce, soy and sugar. Based on the flavours and ingredients presumably this dish has Chinese heritage – the use of Chinese kale, known as gailan in Cantonese and oyster sauce another common Cantonese ingredient.

The sauce is a salty, sweet and heavy on the garlic. It’s thin, almost like a dressing but packed full of flavour with the pork which is fatty, juicy and super crisp.  

Ka Na Moo Krob (Crispy pork belly with Gailan) - Koon Thai

Photo sourced from Flickr using a creative commons license. Thanks, Kirk K – no modificatons made.  

I like this, a lot – It’s a go to dish and, like pad kra pao something that’s a guaranteed pleaser if I’m not sure what I want to eat. It’s also cheap and easily found in street kitchens.
A fried egg (khai dow) on the side is an excellent choice and usually sets you back around 10Baht extra. Fried eggs will be cooked in wok with an excess of very hot oil you should expect to get crispy edges. If you’re having trouble getting a soft yolk you could try asking for khai dow mai suk.

Some useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet – not spicy
phet nit nawy’  – a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai Sai Prik Khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much.
Khai dow – fried egg
Khai dow me suk – fried egg ‘soft’ (hopefully with a runny yolk) 

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Thai Streetfood : Yum Muu Yor (spicy sausage salad)

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Street food opportunities are abundant in Thailand, with carts and pop up street restaurants everywhere. When the cover of night falls, plastic chairs are whipped out in front of closed shops, people drink, eat and socialise on the street.

Thailand, the sausage champion of Asia and there are a few that the reasonably inquisitive traveller will more than likely stumble across. Sai oua, sia krok and muu yor.

Sai oua, a grilled coarse pork sausage made with big explosions of flavour and spice. Sia krok, a pinkish coloured fermented sour pork and rice sausage originating from the Eastern province of Isaan.

Muu yor is also a pork sausage but white in colour, and more rubbery in texture due to the cooking method being steaming as opposed to grilling. It’s got a clean flavour and smooth texture, it carries bigger, hard hitting flavours well.

Yum muu yor: Thai steamed sausage salad

Yum muu yor: Thai steamed sausage salad

Yum, in Thai refers to a spicy salad and moo yor is the main ingredient, to simplify, or anglicise it could be a ‘spicy steamed sausage salad’.

Sliced muu yor is mixed with sliced chilli, lime juice, slithers of onion, garlic, herbs and mixed leaves.

Best served with sticky rice (khao niao) and some smoky barbecued meat.

Some useful words

Neung – one
Sawng – two
mai phet’ – not spicy
phet nit nawy’ — a little bit spicy.
Phet mak – very spicy
Aroy – delicious
Mai Sai Prik Khap/khaa – no chilli (M/F)
Sai tung – take away (put in a bag)
Pai sed – special, as in the large size in at a foodcourt.
Tow rai? – how much

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