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!
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.