BUN CHAY WITH NAUC CHAM SAUCE
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 2 servings bun + ample nauc cham
BARBECUE-PORK STYLE TOFU INGREDIENTS
1/2 package of extra firm tofu
1 TBS oil (to cook, not for marinade)
1 TBS sesame seeds, 3 TBS lemon grass, 3 TBS brown sugar, 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt, black pepper
2 cloves garlic. 1 shallot, 1 TBS honey, 1 TBS fish sauce, 1 TBS sesame oil
BASIC BUN INGREDIENTS
2 servings (about 4 oz) vermicelli rice noodles
1 large carrot, finely julienned
1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 1 TBS honey, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 head of lettuce, ribboned (~ 1- 1 1/2 cups)
1 cucumber, finely julienned
8 wonton wrappers, 1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup peanuts
NAUC CHAM INGRDIENTS
1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 TBS white sugar, 1-2 tsp sambal chili sauce, 1 tsp fish sauce
First, boil water for you noodles. They only need to cook for a couple of minutes, but you'll want to allow plenty of time for them to drain (rinse with cold water and leave them in the strainer until ready to use) and cool.
Next, leave the tofu to strain while you make the sauce. First mince your garlic, lemon grass, and shallots as finely as you possibly can (the more work you do with a knife, the less you'll have to do with elbow grease). Add the sesame seeds, lemon grass, sugar, salt, and pepper to a mortar. Grind into a fine paste, then add the garlic and shallots and grind again. You can also make this paste in a food processor, but I've heard it doesn't do as good a job at enhancing the flavor as grinding by hand. When you have a fairly smooth paste, scrape it into a small bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients.
Whisk together the pickling liquid for the carrots and let them lightly pickle for about 10 minutes before straining off the pickling liquid. While the carrots pickle, take your wonton papers and (working one at a time) use your finger to dab water around the edges and then pinch all of the ends together firmly (as seen in the photo above) and press the center of the folds to the bottom to avoid too much pillowing when you fry them. Get the oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat (6/7-10). When the oil is hot, toss the wontons in 2-3 at a time. They cook quickly- so be prepared to flip them after about 1 minute and pull them out of the oil shortly thereafter. Rest the cooked wontons on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
When the wontons are done, move on to your tofu and sauce. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add your tofu shallow fry, allowing the tofu to thoroughly caramelize, for about 6- 8 minutes- flipping the tofu gently a couple of times throughout. When the tofu looks golden, add in the sauce. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens, another 3-4 minutes. While the tofu finishes up, toast up the peanuts in a small, dry pan and set aside.
Lastly, prepare the nauc cham. Whisk together the water and white vinegar and microwave (or heat it in a pot) for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the sugar, heating the sauce for a bit longer, if necessary, such that all of it dissolves. Finaly, whisk in the chili sauce and fish sauce. To assemble (large bowls are ideal for this dish), first place your noodles in the bowls and top them with lettuce. Then add the veggies, tofu, wontons, and peanuts on top. Pour some nauc cham over everything and dig in!