Vietnamese Noodle Bowl - bun thit ga nuong with do cha

Every now and then my family has an international themed dinner. It's our way of experiencing something different keeping my eight year old's food horizons broad. This is one of the dishes that made it from our international dinner night to a frequently eaten meal.The globe was spun and my eight year old's finger landed firmly planted on Vietnam. So the search was on for the dish that would make it to our table. Bun thit na nuong was the one that seemed to epitomise Vietnam, it's just bursting with fresh summery flavours. The brightly coloured carrot and daikon Vietnamese pickles ( du cha) have become a staple in our house and turn up regularly with all manner of meals as a crisp and refreshing addition.

Make Do cha (Vietnamese pickles)

Prepare your Vietnamese pickles (Do cha) in advance. These will keep well in the fridge for several weeks.
2 medium carrots - peeled and julienne cut
500 g of daikon - peeled and julienne cut
1 tspn salt
1 Tblspn of sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of lukewarm water
1 chilli ( optional)

Place the carrot and daikon in a bowl with the salt and the first measure of sugar. Rub the carrot and daikon with these until well covered.
Leave to sit for roughly 5 minutes. You should find that a lot of liquid has been released from the vegetables. Put them in a colander and drain off the liquid. Rinse them under running water.

Make the brine

place the warm water in a bowl along with the vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place the carrot daikon and chilli into the brine and pour into a clean jar. Store in the fridge for up to a month. The pickles will be ready to eat in about 2 hours. (You will have plenty leftover to eat with cold meats and fish and many other dishes.)

Make dressing (nuoc mam cham)

Mix all of these well and let the flavours meld for a little while. You can adjust this to taste - adding more or less of the ingredients to get the balance you prefer. This is just a guide.
4 Tblspns fish sauce
3 Tblspns rice vinegar
1 Tblspn sugar
2 cloves garlic crushed
Juice of one lime
1 bird’s eye chili
1/4 cup of water
2Tblspns garlic and chilli sauce - optional.
This will keep in the fridge for some time.

Bun thit ga nuong

Marinate your meat

I used chicken but pork is very commonly used as well. Vegetarians could use tofu and have a delicious result by omitting the fish sauce and subsituting with some light soy sauce mixed with some miso.

2.5 Tblspns fish sauce
1.5 Tblspns sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 spring onions sliced.
600 grams of chicken- I like boned thighs but you could use any cut.

Marinade for at least 30 minutes then place under a hot grill until cooked through, keep warm while you assemble your other ingredients.

Prepare your noodle bowl ingredients

Fry Vietnamese mini spring rolls - bought ones are fine these are quite fiddly to make I like to allow four per bowl.
White rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package instructions, these come in different thickness's - just choose whatever appeals. Cook them cool. Run a little cold water over these if they stick together.
cucumber, sliced
handful of washed & dried mint and basil leaves or thai basil
mung bean sprouts ( optional)
crushed roasted peanuts
spring onions lightly sautéed.
mixed lettuce ( optional)
wedge of fresh lime

Into your noodle bowls place the rice vermicelli.
Top with your hot spring rolls and chicken.
Add in your pickles, cucumber, lettuce, herbs and bean sprouts. Top with your spring onions and roasted peanuts.
Drizzle some of the dressing over the whole dish and serve with a wedge of fresh lime.