Barb Hodgens
Barb Hodgens

Barb Hodgens loves to cook with alternative, healthy whole food ingredients, with a focus on gut health. Barb has overcome her own gut health issues through healthy eating. Share your ideas, comments and photos at the end of this post :)


My family continues to reminisce about a recent holiday to Vietnam and the delicious street food of Hanoi. One meal in particular takes us straight back to that fabulous, food frenzied city; their famous' Bun Cha' – Vietnamese meatballs. Traditional Bun Cha does pork two ways - a pork meatball and strips of pork belly. Back home, I simplify the method by combining my cuts with a meat grinder. I grind a portion of shoulder meat together with belly to replicate the flavour in one meatball and halve the work in the traditional dish.

On the streets of Hanoi, Bun Cha is char-grilled on a small pile of hot coals. Obviously char grilling brings with it a unique flavour that my version is missing but no one has ever complained! A stove top pan or BBQ hot plate does the job perfectly! 

Bun Cha is served with a generous pile of fresh herbs. Fragrant and digestion friendly herbs are one of the things I love most about Vietnamese food. They give Vietnamese cuisine an unparalleled freshness. There is no substitute for their unique flavour or aroma so I recommend a trip to your local Asian grocer. These are all gut-loving herbs, full of medicinal qualities that are well known to support and improve digestion, so the more the merrier.

Traditionally Bun Cha is served with vermicelli rice noodles and bean shoots but it’s easy to skip the carbs in favour of more greens. There are no rules and many common non-Asian salad vegetables complement this dish.

As with many Vietnamese dishes the key ingredient is fish sauce. The sauce ties it all together.  I recommend you use ‘Red Boat’ which, is made in Vietnam and is a premium fermented fish sauce. You may only find it in Asian grocers but it’s worth tracking it down because cheap imitations will be full of preservatives. 

These Vietnamese meatballs are a perfect summer dish, and easy enough to prepare mid-week. This recipe produces enough meatballs for two meals or enough to freeze for another time. If you are new to using a meat grinder, be sure to read our tipsbefore you begin.   


Large bowls work best with this meal. Simply pile in salad herbs, optional vermicelli noodles, bean shoots and meatballs and pour over the sauce. Enjoy!



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