Vietnamese Vegetarian Noodle Salad (Bún Chay)

  • Preparation: 20 mins
  • Cooking: 20 mins
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Servings: 2

Description Vietnamese Vegetarian Noodle Salad (Bún Chay)

Vietnamese Cuisine excels at contrasts of taste and texture, and Vietnamese Noodles, or noodle salad, is a shining example. With slender rice noodles, a generous handful of fragrant herbs, crunchy bean sprouts, savory protein, and a salty-sour-sweet sauce, Vietnamese Vegetarian Noodle Salad (Bún Chay) is delightfully complex, yet incredibly simple to make.
Think of this more as inspiration and guide than a recipe. We like serving bún with deep fried tofu, which is quick and easy to cook, and the crispy texture is a nice contrast to the other salad ingredients. However, you could also use marinated tofu to add more flavor, baked tofu for a healthier version, or beef, pork, or shrimp for a non-vegetarian version. Feel free to include more lettuce, omit the cucumber, add a shredded carrot, use the herbs you like and have on hand. Most of all, enjoy your escape!


  • Noodles: 4 ounces dried rice sticks or vermicelli
  • Tofu: 1/2 pound extra firm tofu
  • Vegetable oil
  • Greens: 1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup julienned cucumber
  • Large handful of mixed herbs, coarsely chopped or torn (basil, mint, cilantro; if available: rau răm or Vietnamese coriander, tiá tô or Vietnamese perilla)
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons peanuts, chopped
  • Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

Method Vietnamese Vegetarian Noodle Salad (Bún Chay)

1, For the noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add rice sticks. Stir and cook until noodles are white and tender but still firm, about 3-5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water, fluffing the noodles to separate the strands. Drain again completely.
2, For the tofu
Cut tofu into bite-size pieces and press between clean kitchen towels or paper towels to rid of excess water. Heat oil in a skillet and fry tofu until crispy and golden. Drain excess oil.
3, For the greens: Prepare the greens and set aside. (May be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.)
4, For the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce. Set aside. (May be prepared ahead of time kept in the refrigerator.)
5, To serve: Divide the noodles between two bowls. Arrange greens and tofu on top and garnish with peanuts. Just before eating, drizzle with sauce to taste and toss.

Chef's Note

A note on the sauce: Traditionally, bún is served with a sauce called nuoc cham, which includes nuoc mam, or fish sauce. This is a quick vegetarian version using soy sauce. If you want, substitute real fish sauce or vegetarian fish sauce (available at Asian markets) for the soy sauce.

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