Perhaps it’s the contrast in temperatures and textures that first drew me to this Vietnamese Vermicelli Recipe– hot grilled lemongrass chicken (or tofu or shrimp), paired with cool crunchy vegetables like daikon radish, carrots, bean sprouts, cucumber, or bell pepper.
Fresh aromatic herbs, vermicelli rice noodles and the flavorful Vietnamese oil-free dressing called Nuoc Cham – are a feast for the senses… fragrant, lively and bright. The noodle bowl, known as Bun Ga Nuong, can be made with your choice of tofu, chicken, or prawns, marinated with lots of lemongrass, then grilled (or use a grill pan or skillet). Sometimes I’ll make chicken for Brian and tofu for myself, by simply dividing the marinade. Vermicelli rice noodles are traditional in the dish, but for an easy low-carb option, try substituting daikon “noodles”. (See below). This can also be made completely vegan, using tofu and Vegan Fish Sauce (see recipe below). It is also gluten free. This has become one of my favorite meals– leaving me feeling energized, healthy and light.
It starts with fresh ingredients.
Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and pulse.
The secret ingredient that really gives this marinade its authenticity– is Chinese Five spice. Though its called Chinese Five Spice, it is often used in Vietnamese Cuisine–for example, its commonly in the broth of Vietnamese Pho. I believe it’s because of their proximity to one another…..Southern China borders Northern Vietnam.
If using tofu, cut tofu into bite sized pieces.
Toss with the marinade and let sit for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
While it’s marinating….prep your veggies and boil the noodles.
Vermicelli noodles need only 2-3 minutes to boil. Rinse and set aside.
Heat your grill or grill pan to medium heat, and when hot, sear each side 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.
Make the simple flavorful dressing called Nuoc Cham with lime juice, sugar, water, fish sauce and chilies.
Please don’t let the fish sauce prohibit or scare you, it really is delicious and adds depth and flavor. But if you are vegan and would like to substitute it, see bellow for a vegan fish sauce recipe.
Begin assembling the bowls, adding noodles, veggies, herbs and grilled chicken or tofu.
Spoon the Nuoc Cham over top and serve.
- 1 ½ lbs chicken, tofu or large prawns
- ½ Cup finely chopped lemongrass ( 3 stalks- white part)
- ½ C onion or shallots
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp ground Chinese five spice
- ¼ Cup oil
- 8 oz vermicelli rice noodles, cooked.
- 1 Red Bell pepper -sliced into strips
- 1 English cucumber, halved and sliced
- 1 daikon radish- grated or cut into matchsticks
- generous handful of fresh basil or mint leaves
- ¼ Cup fresh lime juice
- 1 Tble fish sauce ( or make vegan fish sauce…see below)
- 2 Tble water
- 1 Tble sugar
- 1 red chile- medium spicy
- Cut chicken or tofu into long strips ( if grilling) or bite sized pieces if cooking in a skillet or grill pan. Make the marinade. Place lemongrass in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped….see photo. Add the remaining ingredients- onion, garlic, salt, sugar, five spice, and pulse until finely chopped. Place mixture in a bowl, stir in oil and chicken. Let marinate 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Boil noodles (read package directions- normally boil for 2-3 minutes.) Drain, rinse with cold water. Or if you prefer your noodles warm, rinse with hot water. Prep Veggies. Make Dressing- mix lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar and a few sliced chilies in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Pre heat grill. Grill Chicken (or use a grill pan or skillet on the stove) and cook on medium heat until cooked through. Place in a warm oven until ready to use.
- Assemble bowls. Place noodles, veggies, fresh herbs, grilled chicken, grouped together in a bowl, Spoon a little dressing over the noodles and veggies. Enjoy!!
Vegan Fish Sauce
From The Kitchn
(makes about 3-4 cups)
1 1/2 cups shredded seaweed- wakame
6 cups water
6 fat cloves garlic, crushed but not peeled
1 T peppercorns
1 cup mushroom soy sauce
1 T miso
Combine wakame, garlic, peppercorns and water in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Strain and return the liquid back to the pot. Add soy sauce, bring back to a boil and cook until mixture is reduced to 3-4 cups. Remove from heat and stir in miso.
Place into a bottle or jar and refrigerate. Use one-for-one to replace fish sauce in vegan recipes.