To understand the sublime beauty of bún chạo tôm chả giò, you first have to meet the ingredients.
Dear readers, meet chạo tôm.
Chạo tôm is usually translated as prawn paste on sugar cane sticks. But it’s not just prawn. For the right consistency, minced prawn is mixed with minced pork. The “paste” is then squeezed onto sugar cane sticks and thrown on the barbecue.
Now meet chả giò.
It’s heaven-in-a-bowl. Or Vietnamese spring rolls if you want to be more precise. Filled with pork and shredded vegetables and scissor-cut into bite-size pieces.
Now meet your old friend bún thịt nướng. (And remember that bún is a type of fresh rice noodle and thịt nướng is barbecued meat, in this case pork.)
Now imagine what happens when you put all these things together.
It is pure mouth magic.
Let me introduce Bún chạo tôm chả giò.
Hiding under the bún noodles, meat and pickled vegetables are fresh herbs, strips of cucumber and fresh bean sprouts. And when the bowl is plonked down in front of you, the first thing you do is dump nước mắm, the all purpose Vietnamese dipping sauce, on top and then toss the ingredients until everything is thoroughly mixed through.
This, dear readers, is what we give our hardiest Saigon Street Eats food tourers. Most people can’t manage lunch because they gorge themselves at our picnic in the temple grounds. But on our morning walking tour, those with handy ever-expanding stomachs get to try this dish (and it’s usually the skinniest people who can fit the most in, believe it or not!)