Makes for a fresh and healthy lunch or dinner meal!
Bun (pronounced boon) also known as rice vermicelli, are used in many types of Vietnamese cooking like soups and noodle salads. They are sold as small, thin rice sticks and are quite fragile. In Vietnam bun is sold fresh, but they are available at many markets dried. Nuoc cham is the essential condiment in a Vietnamese househould. It is used for dipping vegetables, meat, or seafood. It flavors many rice, noodle, and salad dishes.
I grew up eating this dish at home or at restaurants. My husband gets so excited when I make bun with fresh herbs, because it reminds him of traveling to Vietnam. What I enjoy about creating this dish is that all the parts can be prepared ahead of time. This dish has many different flavors and textures that come together. The soft textures of the bun noodles are balanced with the crunchy textures of the lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots. The mint and the nuoc cham sauce bring bright and subtle flavors to the bun.
Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs (Bun voi rau thom) Recipe
Yields 2 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 4 minutes Inactive Time: 20 minutes
Drink Suggestion: Green Tea
8 ounces small dried rice vermicelli
1/4 of a cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1/2 of a carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cup chopped green leaf or red leaf lettuce
1/4 cup mint leaves, sliced thinly
2 spring rolls, cut crosswise
2 tablespoons peanuts crushed
4 tablespoons nuoc cham (recipe below)
Optional garnish: 1/4 cup shredded chicken
Put the dried rice vermicelli in a bowl of water, make sure the rice vermicelli is submerged. Let it soak for 20 minutes.
Boil a pot of water and add the soaked vermicelli. Stir to gently loosen the noodles from each other. Boil for about 4 minutes.
Drain and rinse under cold water. Stop water when noodles are cool to the touch. Shake the vermicelli to remove the water.
Separate the vermicelli into two bowls. Add the spring rolls, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, mint, peanuts, and chicken if using.
Right before eating add the nuoc cham and toss the salad together and enjoy!
Do not add the nuoc cham too early or else the salad will get mushy. It only needs to be added right before consumption.
Other proteins work well in this dish. Tofu or beef also work well with these flavors.
Nuoc Cham Recipe
Yields 1 cup
Prep Time 3 minutes Active Time 1 minute
3 tablespoons of sugar
6 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2/3 cup warm water
1 clove of garlic, minced
Optional garnishes: 1 tablespoon carrots, shredded, or 2 chili peppers, sliced
Add all the ingredients into a jar and mix together until well incorporated.
If using right away pour some of the liquid into a sauce dish and garnish to preference.
If not using right away, put lid on the jar. The nuoc cham will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
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