Vietnamese Noodle Salad

We love Vietnamese food for lunch– pho, bánh mì, and my favorite, bún.  Bún is a noodle salad.  It’s a bold mix of contrasting of flavors and textures:  crunchy vegetables, aromatic herbs, cool rice noodles, spicy sauce, and crushed peanuts.  noodle-salad

This is something you can throw together at home, using whatever you have on hand.  It’s also easy to pack in a lunchbox.  Separate the veggies, noodles, and sauce in containers or ziplock bags, then toss together when you’re ready to eat.  veggies-for-noodle-bowlsIt’s best with a combination of fresh vegetables and pickled vegetables.  The pickled vegetables add a spicy kick.  I used jicama instead of the traditional daikon for this batch.  It’s mild and stays crisp even after weeks in the brine.  Next I grab a handful of herbs from the garden.  I also cut up a little mango or pineapple.  The fruit is completely optional, but I think a little sweet, juicy fruit goes well with the rice noodles.  

Bún is usually served with stir-fried tofu, shrimp, or meat, served hot, which contrasts with the cool rice noodles and vegetables.  Right now I just want all the cold stuff, but I sprinkle the whole thing with lots of roasted cashews to make it more satisfying.noodle-salad-bowlNext, choose a sauce.  Nuoc cham is traditionally served with bún.  It’s Toby’s favorite, but not everyone shares his love of those wicked hot Thai bird’s eye chiles.  For a mild sauce, try it with my mango and kaffir lime vinaigrette.  mango-kaffir-lime-saucevietnamese-pickles

The pickles and sauce will keep for weeks in the fridge.  Once you make them, you’re only minutes away from a noodle salad lunch.  You can slice the fresh vegetables and even cook the rice noodles ahead of time (they’re supposed to be cold anyway).  When hunger strikes, it’s only a matter of assembly.  

Vietnamese Noodle Salad
For the pickles
  1. 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 3 tablespoons honey
  4. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  5. 1 " piece of ginger, minced
  6. 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  7. 1 jalapeno, julienned
  8. 2/3 cup julienned carrots
  9. 1/2 cup julienned jicama
For the sauce
  1. 1 tablespoon lime juice
  2. 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  3. 1 tablespoon water
  4. 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  5. 1 garlic clove, minced
  6. 2-3 Thai bird's eye chiles, thinly sliced
For the salad
  1. 1/2 pound rice stick noodles
  2. 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  3. 2 cups bean sprouts
  4. 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  5. 1 avocado, sliced
  6. 1/2 cup pineapple or mango, diced
  7. 1/4 cup crushed roasted cashews
  8. handful of fresh herbs (mint, Thai basil, cilantro)
  9. lime wedges
Make the pickles
  1. Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and ginger. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Pack the shallots, jalapeño, carrots, and jicama in a pint-sized mason jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Once it has cooled to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.
Make the sauce
  1. Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and water. Add the coconut sugar and whisk until it dissolves. Stir in the garlic and chiles. Keeps for 1 month.
Make the rice noodles
  1. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Drizzle with the olive oil to keep them from sticking. Toss them with the bean sprouts. Set them aside or refrigerate until you're ready to make the salad.
Make the salad
  1. Combine 1/4 of the noodles and bean sprouts with 1 tablespoon sauce. Top with 1- 2 tablespoons pickles, a few slices of cucumber and avocado, 2 tablespoons pineapple, and 1 tablespoon cashews. Garnish with fresh herbs and lime wedges.
Suwannee Rose
Vietnamese Noodle Salads, aka Bun, with cold rice noodles, crunchy veggies, pickles, aromatic herbs, cashews, and a spicy sauce

7 Comments Vietnamese Noodle Salad

  1. John August 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

    This sounds like a winner. The kids might actually eat this. Rachel is allergic to pineapple so we’d go w/ mango.
    Look forward to seeing you guys tomorrow!

    1. suwanneerose August 7, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Thanks, John! I can’t wait to be there. I’ve got mangos for you in my suitcase.

  2. Aunt Mary Ann August 7, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I have rice noodle dishes at least once a week for lunch. there is a great little Vietnamese restaurant down the street from work here in Memphis. I cant wait to attempt your recipes. Thank you for sharing – will let you know how it turns out!

    1. suwanneerose August 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Aunt Mary Ann! There is so much good food in Memphis. I loved the farmer’s market in your town– so many pickles! I need to visit again soon. I hope you all enjoy the noodles. 🙂

  3. Coley August 10, 2015 at 9:57 am

    totally making these! such great light and vibrant flavors. and those colors!! awesome pics. hope you had a great time in gloucester this weekend!!

    1. suwanneerose August 12, 2015 at 7:06 am

      Thanks, Coley! Soaking up a few more days of lovely weather, my favorite little people, and lots of good food. I love Gloucester.

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