Hampshire Bun Cha


Serves 4

4 pork belly strips

2 lemongrass stems, trimmed and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce

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1 tsp five spice powder

For the dressing:

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce

1 small red chilli, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

To serve:

400g ‘bun’ noodles or rice vermicelli, cooked & cooled

Shredded lightly pickled vegetables

Fresh mint, coriander, watercress and baby salad leaves

Salted peanuts and deep-fried shallots


Remove the rind and any pieces of bone from the pork, then bash each strip with a rolling pin to increase the surface area. This will allow the meat to take on more flavour from the marinade and speed up the cooking. Put the pork in a sandwich bag with the rest of the marinade ingredients, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and give it a good squidge. Leave to infuse for a couple of hours.

To make the dressing, stir together all the ingredients until the sugar has melted. This makes a great dipping sauce for spring rolls too, which are sometimes served with bun cha.

The best way to cook the pork is over a charcoal barbeque, but you can use a griddle pan if the weather isn’t favourable. Timings will depend on the temperature – just make sure the meat is cooked through, but still juicy.

Put a good handful of herbs and salad leaves in the bottom of 4 bowls and divide the noodles between them. Slice the pork and lay it on top, then generously spoon over the dressing. Finally, add a big spoonful of pickled vegetables and a sprinkling of peanuts and crispy shallots.

Eat: Susie Says,

“Having recently returned from a foodie pilgrimage to Vietnam, I’ve been keen to try out some of the recipes at home. My favourite dish, Bun Cha, varied enormously from one end of the country to the other, in some places pork patties were used, in others marinated pork meat, whilst in the north the spicy dressing was pushed aside in favour of a warm broth. The recipe below brings together all my favourite elements. Fresh salad leaves and herbs are an important part of Vietnamese cuisine, so make the most of Hampshire’s watercress and check out the great selection of baby leaves grown by Secretts.”

Drink: Nick Says,

“When I match a wine to food I look at the dominant characteristics of the dish and think about what aspects of a wine would complement them. Now the weather has finally improved and we move towards summer it’s time to put the big heavy red wines back in the cellar and awaken the taste buds with some vibrant, fresh, fruity wines. I have chosen three white wines which will match the fresh flavours in Susie’s pork recipe perfectly."

Wines to match

2010 El Quintanal Blanco                                           Was £9.45 Now £8.50

This perfect spring wine, made from the verdejo grape, is from Rueda in Spain. The aromatics of this wine bring to mind spring flowers and apricots with hints of grapefruit and this complexity is carried over to the rich flavours, where notes of juicy stone fruit are met with generous passion fruit and hints of nutmeg and quince. This is an ideal match for pork, and perfect for al fresco dining.

2009 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc                       Was £14.95 Now £13.45

New Zealand has become the focus of good sauvignon blanc, making wines in such an individual style that it is now copied around the world. This sublime example is made by the same talented Kiwi duo that created the now-famous Cloudy Bay. Zesty lime and tropical fruit aromas lift the nettle, gooseberry and asparagus flavours. This is a fantastically well-balanced, zingy wine which will deal splendidly with the fattiness of the pork.

2006 Domaine de la Solitude                                    Was £20.95 Now £18.85

Arguably one of the best dry white Bordeaux, sauvignon blanc is blended with sémillon, the latter adding creamy notes which balance the spicy flavours in Susie’s recipe. There are subtle aromas of white flowers, honeyed citrus and figs, while the dominant silky gooseberry and mown lawn flavours and notes of terroir complement the coriander and watercress. Hailed as the white wine of the 2006 Bordeaux vintage, it is the perfect wine to turn this dish into a dinner party.

Pickled vegetables

Traditionally green papaya is used, but carrot and cucumber work really well. I use a gadget that looks like a peeler with teeth to shred the vegetables, but a grater will suffice. Mix 50ml of rice or cider vinegar with 150ml water, 2 tbsp caster sugar, 1 crushed clove of garlic and a good pinch of salt. Add your shredded vegetables, toss together and leave to stand for 5 minutes before draining off the liquid. As the vegetables are only lightly pickled, they will only keep in the fridge for a day or two.

Find it in Hampshire

Greenfield Pork  – belly pork


The Garlic Farm – garlic


Mapleleaf Watercress - watercress

01256 464221

Secretts Farm – herbs, baby leaves & carrots


K & RJ Freer Glasshouse Salads – chillies & cucumbers 01243 512040