The Relish Test Kitchen
I've been working on some recipes for a new Asian influenced Long Lunch class I'm looking to introduce in the new year and made my version of the delicious Vietnamese Bun Cha which included some delicious sticky char grilled pork patties, some noodles, Asian herbs, the added freshness of some pickled carrots and finally, tucked under all the goodness is some of our beloved Iceberg lettuce. Hands up if you think Iceberg lettuce is so, so cool (and that was not even meant to be a joke)! I'm making a big call here, but I'm coming out on my stance on the Iceberg, I really love it - just sayin'
The porky patties in this recipe are so versatile, you can make them ahead of time, freeze them uncooked or cook them up and reheat them in the microwave when needed. Here are a few ways I've used them -
simply serve them straight up as a meat ball, but remember to reserve the sticky sauce for dipping, won't be the same without it. I would probably double or even triple the sauce recipe if you are going to use it like this as it does reduce down quite a lot.
get the whole family or your friends involved by serving all the prepped ingredients on the table and making a delicious 'hand-held' roll using, yes you got it, some Iceberg lettuce cups. If you aren't a fan of the Iceberg, you could certainly use rice paper rolls instead.
serve them as a Slider (mini burger), in a small dinner roll topped with a leaf of baby spinach, some of the pickled carrot and a dash of sticky sauce for a more substantial finger food option. Perfect for a Spring or Summer appetiser when friends come over.
So many options, get creative and make this the basis for your own spin on this fresh and very delicious dish.
Relish's Bun Cha
It's fresh, sweet, salty and sticky - what more could you want! There may seem to be a lot of ingredients here, but dont freak out it's just meat balls and salad (and it's worth the effort), as once you have made all components, they store well so check out the tips below.
Quick Pickled Carrots
1/2 cup of each apple cider vinegar and white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1-2 carrot, julienne (or match sticks)
Pork Patties (makes around 25-30 balls)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 stick lemon grass (white part only), finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander stalks* (reserve leaves for garnish), finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
2 spring onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup oats
1 egg lightly beaten
4 tbsp each of soy, mirin and rice wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped
handful mixed salad leaves
100g vermicelli noodle, prepared as per instructions on packet 1 zucchini, cut into thin batons or 'spirilised' if you are fancy enough to have one of those!
1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into batons
handful bean sprouts
fried shallots (see below tips), finely chopped red chilli, fresh coriander and mint, to serve
To make the pickled carrots, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add vinegars and sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Add carrots and place in an airtight container in the fridge until needed. The longer you can leave them the more flavour (even make the day before if you can).
To make the pork patties, add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.
Roll into 1 tablespoon (golf ball) sized balls and place onto a tray lined with baking paper. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins. Add 1/2 the oil to a frying pan and over medium to high heat, then add balls in batches pressing them down slightly to form a thick patty. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until there is some nice colour, then remove from pan. Add remaining oil and repeat until all balls are cooked. Set aside until needed.
Add all the sauce ingredients to the frypan which had the pork, and stir to combine. Once it starts to boil, add patties back to pan, reduce heat to medium to low and cook for a further 3-4mins constantly turning patties until they are cooked and sauce has slightly reduced and becomes sticky.
In 4 individual serving bowls, add Iceberg lettuce, noodles to one side, layer the mixed leaves, zucchini, cucumber and carrot around the bowl. Add the patties to one side and top with sprouts, coriander. mint and fried shallots.
Finish with a drizzle of the leftover sauce, and serve immediately. Serves 4
if you don't want to bother with the pickling bit, just grate some carrot on top. Although the pickled carrots are very easy to make and they really do lift the dish. Try doing a few carrots in one go, it lasts for ages in the fridge and is also a great addition to a sandwich too!
Most people only use the leafy part of coriander but using the stalk and actual white root part as well will bring so much extra flavour to your dish. Just make sure the roots are scrubbed really well before finely dicing. A yummy tip I learnt many years ago from a Thai friend of mine.
After you have rolled the balls and placed them onto a tray, cover them with glad wrap and they can be popped into the freezer. Once they are frozen, to save space, place them into zip lock bags for later use. To cook, remove them from the freezer and place them while still frozen, back onto a lined tray to defrost in the fridge over night. This will avoid them sticking together once they defrost.
I like to cook the patties on a cast iron grill plate so they end up with lovely dark grill lines
You can buy the fried shallots from Asian grocers and sometimes in packets now at your IGA, Coles or Woolies. I pretty much use it as a garnish on all my asian cooking - curries, salads and on top of a stir-fry as it adds a nice crunchy element.
I hope you ENJOY this dish and the many recreations that come with it.
LOVE YOUR FOOD MOMENTS... ENYOY!