Fresh and crunchy Vietnamese Bun Cha Gio Salad Bowl Recipe, my all-time favorite classic Vietnamese dish.
In college, one of my dearest friends and I, often scheduled lunch dates at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant.
One day, we entered the restaurant and were intercepted by a young Vietnamese waiter who was still learning English. He led us to our table as we chatted and giggled away.
The waiter, who seemed to show special interest in our dining experience, hovered over us, trying to make conversation. We felt a little embarrassed at the extra attention.
As he took our order, he asked me if I wanted my meal to be mild or spicy. I answered, “Spicy, please.” He smoothly winked and answered, “Ahhhh, spicy food for a spicy personality!”
Yes, even with broken English, he had game. Some things cross all cultural boundaries.
Even though that was close to twenty years ago, my friend and I never miss an opportunity to slip that unforgettable line to each other, “Spicy food for a spicy personality.”
The town I grew up in has a significant Vietnamese population with incredible little restaurants and vast Asian markets. Exploring the Asian markets is a feast for the eyes, especially the produce department and meat counter.
Vietnamese Bun Cha Gio is a traditional pork noodle salad, served in a bowl with fresh veggies and nuoc cham, an acidic dressing/dipping sauce.
Nuoc Cham is normally made with sweetened lime juice and fish sauce, but I discovered that restaurants often make theirs with rice vinegar instead of lime. I find I actually prefer this method, as it cuts out a little of the “bite”.
The nuoc cham is the only source of spicy heat in Vietnamese Bun Cha Gio, so add as much or as little as you want to the salad. You can also boost the heat by adding more chili-garlic sauce.
Gio’ is the Vietnamese word for fried spring rolls. Hot, chopped spring rolls are added to the top of the salad for crunch.
In order to speed up the prep time on this dish, I did not make our spring rolls from scratch. Instead I bought good-quality frozen spring rolls, oiled them and baked them in the oven. It provides the extra flavor and crunch without turning this meal into a 2 hour cooking affair.
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