Vietnamese Bun (Noodle Bowl)
Update: I originally posted this recipe for Vietnamese bun a few years ago, but was never happy with the recipe. When people would ask me if I had one, I would say not to use it.
But! I finally got a chance to do more testing and have updated my recipe for the serving sauce, Nuoc Cham. The key to the sauce is to taste and adjust to your personal preference. Too strong? Add more water. Too weak? Add more fish sauce or rice vinegar. Either way, I’ve given you a starting base that you can tweak to your liking.
You’ll also notice that some of the pictures feature pork, while some feature shrimp (and that the original recipe calls for shrimp). You can use any meat you like, or leave it out altogether.
I love Vietnamese food. Especially noodle bowls, or Vietnamese bun. There was a little place next to my work that always made the most killer noodle bowls. Over time, they started going downhill, which created a major problem for me. The solution? Start making my own!
Not only are noodle bowls delicious, they are easy and healthy to boot! The meat and vegetables can be adjusted to whatever you have on hand. Serving with Sriracha, soy sauce and chili oil on the side allows each person to adjust the heat level and “sauciness” based on their own personal taste. And while not required, spring rolls make a delightful accompaniment (though perhaps not the most healthy one).
Before I move on to the recipe though, I need to get something off my chest.
I recently came to a realization. Using a professional camera and trying to make the lighting in my kitchen work for my recipes is a major pain in my rump. It has been taking all the joy out of blogging for me.
So I realized I had two options:
1) Keep using a camera/tripod and lighting setup that frustrates me to no end, leaving me completely unsatisfied with the results, constantly telling my 2-year-old not to touch it, resulting in way fewer recipes.
2) Be satisfied with lower quality/resolution images using my iPhone, but be a happy and pleasant person to be around, with more recipes to share with you.
I’m going to go with #2. From now on, the pics may be a little blurry once in awhile and any professional photographers out there will probably cringe. But you know what? I didn’t get into this because I loved photography or had aspirations to become a photographer. I got into this because I love to cook and I love to share recipes. I want to continuing loving those things for years to come. And the only way for me to do that is to realize that I can’t be perfect at everything, which is sometimes a hard pill for me to swallow.
But, starting with this post, you are going to see a whole lot more imperfect iPhone photos. I hope you enjoy…because I sure did. This was just so much easier, and I actually got to enjoy the food before it got cold. :)
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 (454g pkg) vermicelli noodles
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp Sambal Oelek (Asian chili paste)
- 24 large shrimp
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- ½ cucumber, julienned
- 1 carrot, julienned or grated
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped peanuts
- 1¼ cup water
- 6 tbsp white sugar
- ½ cup fish sauce
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Soy sauce
- Chili oil
- In a saucepan on low heat, combine water, white sugar, fish sauce and rice vinegar. Heat through, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add garlic. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired and keep warm.
- Divide lettuce between bowls.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook vermicelli according to package instructions. Drain, place on top of lettuce.
- Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil and Sambal Oelek in a skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Top vermicelli with shrimp, cucumber, carrot, green onions and peanuts.
- Divide sauce into individual bowls.
- Serve immediately with soy sauce, Sriracha, and chili oil to taste.