Vietnamese Bi Recipe

Vietnamese Bi Recipe Recipe

Going through the website, I realized I've posted several vegetarian bì recipes but never showed how to make it with meat. Today, I made it with veal. A more authentic version would use pork meat, fat and skin. In any case, the meat is cooked, then shredded and tossed in a finely-ground dry-toasted rice powder mixture. This version is healthier than the original and every bit as tasty.

It's eaten at room temperature. You can serve it with bún (cold rice vermicelli noodles), steamed cơm tấm (Vietnamese broken rice) or in bánh mì (Vietnamese-style baguette sandwiches). I usually accompany the meat salad with đô chua (pickled carrots and daikon), Vietnamese herbs, fresh sliced chiles, lime wedges, shredded lettuce or cabbage, cucumber and nước mắm dipping sauce on the side. It's a fairly easy treat, so give this recipe a try!


Yields: 6 servings

1 pound veal (or the meat of your choice)
1½ tablespoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup canola oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
½ cup jasmine rice
1 tablespoon mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
½ teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ fresh kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped
1 (4-inch) piece galangal (see tips), peeled and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon palm sugar, freshly grated
¼ cup green onions, chopped


For the dry roasted rice powder: Dry roast the jasmine rice in a pan on the stove. Stir the rice using wooden chopsticks until the grains turn a rich brown color (about 5-7 minutes over high heat). Let cool. Grind the grains into a fine powder using a food processor or spice grinder. The result should be a fine mill.

Prepping the meat: Slice the piece of veal horizontally into about 2½"-thick slices (4 slices). In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, baking powder and 2 teaspoons mushroom salt. Pat dry the pieces of meat using paper towels. Rub the veal with dry rub. Set aside and let marinate for 15 minutes.

Cooking the meat: In a large pan, heat the oil. Add the green onions. Cook until softened and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl, leaving about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in the pan. In the same pan, add the garlic and fry until golden. Add the galangal and cook for 1 minute until fragrant but not browned. Transfer to another bowl, leaving all the oil in the pan. In the same pan, re-heat the oil (you can add more if necessary but I didn't) and add the pieces of meat. Sear the meat on both sides. Once an outer crust is formed, cover the meat and lower the heat to the lowest setting. Liquid will be released; cook for about 10 minutes, flipping the pieces of meat periodically until the liquid evaporates. Once the meat is cooked, transfer to a plate. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, cut into thin slices, then very thin strips. 

Making bì: In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded meat, remaining mushroom salt, sugar and red chili powder. Toss well. Add about 4 tablespoons rice powder. Toss the meat salad in the rice powder until well combined. Add the reserved fried garlic and galangal. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. Toss well, then sprinkle with more (about 1 tablespoon) rice powder. Mix well.

Assembly time:

I served the bì with steamed cơm tấm (Vietnamese broken rice, drizzled with the reserved green onions.

Serve with the condiments indicated in the description.

Bon appétit!


Dry roasted rice powder is called thinh in Vietnamese. If you want a finer mill for the roasted rice powder, you can use the Nutrimill brand mill if you have one. You can also buy ready-made thinh in Asian stores but I prefer grinding my own for a more fragrant, toasty scent. The rice powder is used to absorb the moisture from the meat and helps keep the meat salad dry.

I used fresh kaffir lime leaves from our garden. If you don't have any, you can omit them or use fresh mint leaves or even squeeze a bit of lime juice instead. Kaffir leaves are very fragrant, so add the quantity wisely as the taste is strong and can overpower the dish.  

Kaffir lime Leaves with Picture
Kaffir lime trees are prized for their fragrant leaves, not their fruit.

You can find galangal in most Asian specialty markets. It's called "củ riêng" in Vietnamese. If not, you can replace it with ginger, "củ gừng". 

You can find mushroom seasoning salt in most Asian specialty markets.



Published By: Jacqueline Pham on October 25, 2012.


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