Vietnamese-style chicken burger noodle bowl

This is my own take on a street food dish I was partial to when I lived in Vietnam - what feels like a million years ago now. Make up a batc...

This is my own take on a street food dish I was partial to when I lived in Vietnam - what feels like a million years ago now. Make up a batch of these meatballs. They're easy and light to eat, and while the weather is hot you'll be patting yourself on the back for having done the cooking in advance. || Vietnamese-style chicken burger noodle bowl
I don't bother much with cooking Vietnamese food at home. I never seem to get the same balance of flavours and textures as when it's prepared by someone more familiar with cooking the cuisine. They are flavours I love though, and in summer I find myself craving them.

This noodle bowl was inspired by recipes in Poh's Same Same But Different cook book, namely the Vietnamese pork meatballs (reimagined with chicken or turkey) and her Vietnamese spring rolls with dipping sauce - or her own interpretation of nuoc cham.

If using chicken or turkey, I first prepare the mince by putting it in a bowl, making a fist of my hand and pretty much 'whisking' the mince until it becomes sticky and holds together - almost like a dough. I don't cook with red meats, but I understand it's a tip for making burgers from any mince. Try it. It's revolutionised my burger and meatball making. || noodle bowl with Vietnamese-style bun cha meatballs



For the chicken meatballs (serves four):
1kg chicken or turkey mince (the recipe actually calls for pork mince)
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (I cheat and give it a good squirt of chunky minced garlic from a tube)
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1tbsp fish sauce
2.5tspns salt
1tspn cracked pepper
1/3 cup caster sugar
2tbspns honey
vegetable oil, for cooking

For the sauce:
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped (make the effort here to peel and chop, don't cheat with garlic in a tube)
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
80ml lemon juice
1tbspn fish sauce
2tbspns caster sugar

For the noodle bowl:
Packaged rice noodles, for four
Small handful of Vietnamese mint or Thai basil for each bowl
Handful of curly lettuce leaves for each bowl (shredded iceberg lettuce works a treat too)
Cut fresh vegetables (I use julienned carrots, sliced and blanched beans, even blanched shredded cabbage is good. You can also add snowpeas or snowpea shoots and mung beans, or similar.)


For the meatballs:
Mix all the ingredients together and then chill in the fridge, covered with cling wrap, overnight.
Before cooking, remove from the fridge, roll into small burgers, dip in vegetable oil and lay out on foil until all are prepared. For a really yummy, authentic flavour, skewer together and grill on a barbecue. You can do it under a grill too, but trust me, the barbecue is better.

For the sauce:
Mix all the ingredients, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. My tip is whack it all in a screw-top jar and shake until the ingredients are done. It's a nice job to hand a visiting guest who's asking how they can help prep dinner.

For the noodle bowl:
This is the easy bit. Prepare your rice noodles as per the packet directions and drain. I drop onto a clean tea-towel just to get rid of the excess water and so they take up the sauce. Add your greens and vegies and top with the warm meatballs (you can add them cold too). Drizzle over the sauce and dig in. Eat with friends, and with an Asian beer to wash it down.

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