Summer is in full swing here in Hong Kong, and though that means the occasional rain shower, temperatures are high, and there's enough humidity to make us break a sweat within minutes of stepping outside of our air-conditioned apartments. To combat the heat, there's nothing better to eat in the summer than a nice, refreshing salad, full of greens and with a fragrant dressing to cool us down and leave us energised. So, we asked John Nguyen, the head chef at Wan Chai's exciting new Vietnamese restaurant Xuân, to show us how to make a summertime Vietnamese salad to keep us cool all season long.
Bun heo nuong nam heo nuong – grilled pork chop with vermicelli noodles and mixed vegetables – is a delicious dish that is regularly eaten from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City to fight the summer heat. Chef Nguyen will be showing us how to prepare a simplified version of this classic summer bite in a way that is easy to follow and using easy-to-find ingredients.
Photograph: Sam Evans
"I ate bun heo nuong nam heo nuong for the first time in Hanoi, and it's basically a dish made of vermicelli noodles with vegetables and any type of protein," Chef Nguyen tells us. "The version I tried in Hanoi was made with beef, and it contained so many peanuts and fried shallots that I instantly fell in love with it and decided to bring it back with me to Xuân to make for the people of Hong Kong. For my take on the dish, I use pork chop instead of beef, and I add more colourful vegetables than will typically be found on the streets of Vietnam, but the overall taste of the dish is very similar."
"For the dressing, we use our house-made nuoc cham dressing, the base for which is a unique Vietnamese fish sauce with no additives or chemicals that we source directly from Vietnam. To this, we add lime juice, minced garlic, chilli, and sugar to balance out the flavours and make it extra delicious! For the dish itself, we mix a lot of different herbs such as rau ram – Vietnamese coriander, Thai basil, mint, and coriander, so that every single bite gives a different flavour."
"It is a very simple dish that is easy to make at home with ingredients that most households will already have, or can easily get hold of. I personally love it because it is the ultimate comfort food that reminds me of home."