My Favorite Vietnamese Dish is So Easy….

I know I said that I would continue posting recipes from my trip to Italy here, but the other night I made this fantastic dish and couldn’t wait to share…

There used to be a small local chain of 4-5 Vietnamese restaurants in Boston called “Pho Pasteur”.   My favorite dish was bun, a type of cool noodle salad.  Sadly, the restaurants closed many years ago but, as I discovered recently while in Chinatown, one remains!  A trip is imminent…..

With the heat of summer approaching, bun makes a great dinner.  The rice noodles sit underneath a bed of crunchy bean sprouts, cucumbers, and lettuce, and they’re topped with warm seafood, chicken, or beef.  When you drizzle over it a dressing made of soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic, it becomes a wonderfully-flavored dish of different tastes, textures, and temperatures.  I love this dish, not because it showcases some of the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine, but because it’s also very healthy.

As always, use the freshest ingredients.

Fresh, crispy veggies

Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, you can also include fresh mint or basil leaves.

I did not have any fish sauce on hand for the dressing, so I substituted soy sauce and the dish was still amazing.

Vietnamese Bun

(serves 4)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
In a bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar.  Stir well until the sugar dissolves.  Add the fish sauce, ginger, and garlic.  Set aside.
For the Bun:
  • 8 oz rice vermicelli
  • 4 chicken breast halves, on the bone (you can also use beef or shrimp)
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha, or other hot sauce
  • 1/2 head red or green leaf lettuce, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 2 cups fresh sprouts
  • 6 pickling cukes, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

Turn on the broiler.

Bring a kettle of water to a boil.  In a bowl, combine the noodles with enough boiling water to submerge to cover the noodles.  Set aside for about 15 minutes.  Drain the noodles and transfer to a bowl.  Add 3 tbsps of the dressing and toss well.

Place the chicken, skin side up, in a broiler pan.  In a bowl, combine the oil, soy sauce, and sriracha. Rub the mixture over the chicken skin.  Broil about 10 inches from the element for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown.  Reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Set aside to cool.

Remove the meat from the bone in one large piece.  Cut diagonal slices.

Divide the noodles among 4 bowls.  Add lettuce to each one.  Top with the carrots, sprouts, and cucumbers.  Spoon some of the dressing over the vegetables.

Add the chicken and spoon more dressing on top.  Garnish with the scallions and the peanuts.

The noodles are hidden at the bottom for a nice surprise!