Bún cha Meatball Salad

I’ve really been missing traveling this week, and one of my all time favorite meals abroad has to be Bún chả in Hanoi, Vietnam. The best part of the dish, for me, are the flavor packed grilled pork meatballs. While you can’t book flights to Vietnam right now, you CAN make my version of the bún cha meatballs and serve them over a fresh salad with classic pickled carrots and daikon.

Serves 4


For the pickled daikon and carrots

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup shredded carrots 
  • 6 oz daikon, cut into match sticks, about 1.5 cuts 
  • 1 tsp salt

For the meatballs

  • 1 llb ground pork
  • ½ cup green scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 tbs fish sauce
  • Pepper
  • 1 small shallot, minced 2 tbs
  • 1 tbs lemongrass, minced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • Salt, to taste
  • Canola oil for pan frying

For the nuoc cham

  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small thai chili, minced, or 1 tsp chili flakes

For the salad

  • 2  small heads butter lettuce, loosely torn
  • ¾ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup picked mint

First, make the pickled daikon and carrots

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water, then add the vinegar and salt.
  2. Pour the liquid mixture over the carrots and daikon and place in fridge for at least 1 hour, but ideally one day. 

Next, make the nuoc cham and prep the salad greens

  1. Combine the hot water and sugar until dissolved. 
  2. Add the rest of the nuoc chom ingredients and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 
  3. Combine lettuce and herbs in a separate large bowl and set aside

Then, make the meatballs

  1. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. 
  2. To taste for seasoning, heat a pan and fry off a small taste of the meatball mixture. Adjust seasoning if needed. The fish sauce provides salt, but you may want additional salt or chili. 
  3. Form the mixture into 16 mini patties (a flattened shape will cook more evenly). 
  4. Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. 
  5. Working in batches, fry the patties for about 2 minutes per side. They should be deeply browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside. 


  1. Dress the lettuce and herbs with enough nuoc cham to coat (you may not need it all). 
  2. Divide salad into 4 bowls and top with pickled daikon and carrots and 4 meatballs each.