Bun Bo Nam Bo Recipe – Vietnamese beef noodle salad

It’s all about Vietnamese food so I will be sharing three Vietnamese recipes this week. If you’ve missed my Xoi Xeo Recipe (sticky rice with mung beans and fried shallots) earlier, click on the link to check it out.

Today, I’m sharing how to make another ONE OF THE BEST things I’ve eaten in Hanoi which is the Bun Bo Nam Bo – a warm beef salad with rice vermicelli.

This Bun Bo Nam Bo was the first thing I had upon arrival in Hanoi and I remembered it was so delicious that I couldn’t stop ‘hmmm-ing’ away, lol. Though it was considered a salad, I thought it resembled more like a dry beef noodle. It had nuoc cham (typical Vietnamese dipping sauce made with fish sauce) doused over it and overall it tasted sweet and salty. The salad also came with ground peanuts, fried garlic, bean sprouts, lettuce, pickled green papaya and herbs that added textures and crunch. The whole combination was just amazing.

Bun Bo Nam Bo Recipe

And this was the version I made. Looks the same, doesn’t it?

Bun Bo Nam Bo Recipe

The key is really about balancing that nuoc cham so it doesn’t get too sweet or too salty that it will overpower the rest of the ingredients. Personally I can take lighter flavours and when it comes to home cooking, I like to cook with less sugar and less salt. In fact, I like my nuoc cham to be more refreshing so I’ll add extra calamansi lime juice. However if you find this nuoc cham a bit too bland or tangy for your liking, adjust the amount of fish sauce, lime juice or sugar to your liking.

For the pickled green papaya, do note you’ll need to prepare it the night before just so the papaya can be pickled longer in the fridge overnight for maximum flavour.

Bun Bo Nam Bo Recipe

And when you’re done, all you have to do is to toss everything up and enjoy. It looks like a very unassuming dish but trust me, the flavours do hit all the right notes. Light on the palate yet substantial and satisfying. It’s a must try dish in Hanoi and if you love it as much as I do, you’ll be happy to make this at home too. It makes a healthy meal for the whole family.

Bun Bo Nam Bo Recipe
  • 200g beef, sliced
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 150g rice vermicelli, soaked in water till fully constituted & cooked in boiling water
  • beansprouts, blanched
  • assorted herbs (coriander, mint & basil)
  • mixed salad leaves
  • roasted peanuts
  • 2 bulbs garlic, peeled & sliced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
For the pickled green papaya (combine in a container & chill in fridge overnight):
  • 750g green papaya, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
For the sauce (combine in a bowl):
  • 150ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of 4 calamansi limes
  • 1 tbsp sugar
Marinate beef with light soy sauce and set aside for 15 minutes.
Heat oil in pan and fry the garlic slices till golden brown and crispy. Remove & drain on paper towels.
In the same pan, stir fry the beef till the meat is no longer pink. Remove.
To assemble the bun bo nam bo, place rice vermicelli in a bowl followed by salad leaves, herbs, beansprouts, beef and green papaya.
Scatter the fried garlic and peanuts on top.
Spoon the sauce over the salad. Toss and enjoy!

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