April 15, 2008

Vietnamese Bun salad

Ever since our son took us to a Vietnamese restaurant last year in Seattle, my husband has been trying to re-create a bun salad like the one we had there. (the "u" is pronounced like "oo" in "book") They've been mostly in the "experimental-needs work" category. Tonight he made one that was delicious and he assures me it was easy. He found a recipe, tweaked it and made it vegan. It's a combination of both hot and cold components. He added some things and left others out and came up with a terrific meal. I hope you like it as much as we did.

Actually, he left out a couple of crucial ingredients by accident. As we were munching away, I said, "isn't this supposed to have shredded romaine?" "Gasp," he replied. Oh well. It tasted great, and he'll add the lettuce - and the basil - next time. You can add it or not. Obviously it works both ways.

Vietnamese bun salad
raw salad ingredients - each in a separate bowl
• 2 cups shredded romaine
• 1-1/2 cups chopped cucumber
• 1/2 cup chopped basil
• whole green onions (optional)

8 ounces of skinny Asian rice vermicelli
Cook for two minutes in boiling water, drain and rinse. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Got that? These are served at room temperature, not hot.

Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham)
• 1 clove garlic, minced fine
• 1/2 - 1 teaspoon red chili paste
• 2/3 cup hot water
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2 (or more to taste) tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 2 tablespoons shredded carrots
Combine ingredients and stir well.

cooked topping (served hot)
• 8 ounces extra firm water-packed or vacuumed-packed tofu (not the shelf-stable boxed kind)
• 2 teaspoons tamari
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
• handful of chopped fresh cilantro
stirfry vegetables (bok choy, napa cabbage, red bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms, green onions)
Toss the tamari with the tofu and let sit for five minutes. Stir fry the tofu in one tablespoon oil until browned. Add rest of oil to wok and stir fry the veggies until cooked the way you like them. Add cilantro at the end of cooking.

Prepare the salad ingredients, noodles and sauce and arrange each in a separate bowl. Cook the stirfry last so it's hot. Put it in a bowl. At the table, each person has a bowl and assembles their own salad. Usually noodles on the bottom, followed by the raw salad ingredients, followed by the stir fry, followed by the sauce.

This uses a lot of bowls, but is really quite simple to prepare, and looks beautiful laid out on the table. It's very colorful and appealing. I wish I had photographed the spread - but I was so hungry!


  1. Looks like a great recipe. I will make it tonight for dinner.

    Great Blog!!


  2. Thanks for your comment, Michael. As you can see, not many people were reading this blog in 2008! We think the salad is really good, and I hope you enjoy it, too.


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