As you move around Vietnam, you will gradually learn more about the Country and its people. A Vietnam holiday is an education so it is a great place to take children. If you look online for a good Vietnam travel agent, you are likely to find one offering a Vietnam family travel that you will all enjoy. The food is just one of the pleasures of the Country whose cuisine has become popular well beyond its national borders. One of the dishes that is a typical lunch for the locals is Bún Chả which is noodles, a variety of herbs and marinated meat cooked over a fire. There are places that will serve it for longer periods of the day, such is its popularity.
You will find it throughout Vietnam, typically street corner food in Hanoi but equally popular in Ho Chi Minh City. It is thought to have been a North Vietnam dish created in Hanoi but now it is eatennationwide. Hanoi claims to be its true home and it is the dish that US President Barack Obama selected as his favourite during his time in Vietnam.
The main meat in Bún Chả, and indeed in many Vietnamese dishes, is pork, belly and neck, some minced, with the ever-present fish sauce, oyster sauce, shallots, salt and sugar, five spice, vinegar, pepper and papaya. The pork is marinated for a minimum of an hour but ideally overnight. Before cooking, that meat should be cut into manageable sizes so they need not be cut once they have been served.
You make a paste of the shallots, salt, sugar and sauces using a mortar and pestle and use that paste to coat the meat and the mince and marinate the mixtures. The mince is actually shaped into round patties before cooking.
Both the patties and the cubed meat are deep-fried in oil or grilled over charcoal until they are browned and ready. It is then time to assemble the meal for the dinner table.
Bún Chả is always eaten with a dipping sauce with fish sauce an ingredient whose odour is tempered by the addition of water, vinegar, sugar and pepper. What is being created is something that many tourists might describe as a sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is warmed and can then be poured over the meat when its cooking is complete and is also available in a small dish placed with the other side dishes. It is the flavour of the sauce that marks a good dish from an average one. Within a local family, the cook of the house will know exactly how to create the sauce that the family likes so Bún Chả becomes a family favourite.
You can also expect to see side dishes which are common with many Vietnam meals; lettuce, garlic, chillies, mixed herbs and rice vermicelli which must be thin and soft. You can eat this in the street but you will also find it on restaurants menus everywhere.