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Vietnamese Rice Noodle Bowl

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Rice noodle bowls are very popular these days. This Vietnamese Rice Noodle Bowl with Lemongrass Chicken is one of my favourite Vietnamese meals. I will admit it has several steps but it is a healthy, delicious, salad kind of main course. It takes a little advance preparation but not hours in the kitchen. So worth it!

The Vietnamese word for thin rice vermicelli, the kind of noodles used in this recipe, is bún. Vietnamese menus generally have a whole section of their menu with rice vermicelli dishes all starting with the word bún. My son and my husband both like the bún combo that includes chicken, pork and shrimp. But for this blog post I went all out and make the combo. I’m not going to say it was easy, but it definitely was amazing.

For an everyday dinner I make this noodle bowl recipe with just one protein choice; chicken, pork, beef or shrimp. My favourite is the lemongrass chicken but you try what appeals to you.

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Organize for Success

Organization is the key but you can make a delicious version of this dish using all or only some of the ingredients listed.

The Vietnamese rice noodle bowl starts with rice vermicelli that is then topped with fresh vegetables, herbs and meat. I like a generous sprinkling of peanuts on top too. Nuoc cham sauce is served on the side and poured over the whole bowl just before you eat it. Yum!

The Making of a Rice Noodle Bowl

The Noodles – These gluten free noodles should be a pantry staple to be used in many Asian soups and salads. I keep my rice vermicelli noodles in a very large ziplock bag so I can break some from the bundle without the rest spraying all over the kitchen floor. Try it!

The Nuoc Cham – Having the sauce made and ready in the fridge is one less thing to do when you are making this dish. It is easy to make and will keep in the fridge for months. It is the same sauce you use for dipping salad rolls, sprinkling on my this pork in tomato sauce, this dressing for Cabbage Chicken Salad and many other Vietnamese dishes. It’s awesome!

The Veggies – I use a mandoline to cut perfect julienned carrot and cucumber for this salad. If you don’t have one you can simply cut the veggies with a knife. Vary the recipe here by including any other vegetables you like. For all the bún dishes I have enjoyed is seems that carrot, cucumber and lettuce are almost mandatory.

The Herbs – Vietnamese cuisine is all about fresh herbs. Cilantro would be my bare minimum and in the summer I also add fresh mint since there is lots of it growing in my garden. I absolutely love Thai basil in this dish and if I can find it I buy it.

The Meat – Use whatever meats you like for this dish. Today I used pork, chicken and shrimp so that means it was a special day. You can make this recipe with only one of those three choices. Although chicken satay is Indonesian it is an excellent choice for a noodle bowl too.

The Lemongrass Marinade – This marinade adds flavour to the meat and it is a long time favourite recipe of mine. I buy and store frozen, chopped lemongrass in my freezer. I started doing this long before you could easily buy fresh lemongrass but I like the convenience of always having it available. The fact that it is already cut up is a bonus too.

This recipe is a guide. Simply calling it a rice noodle bowl implies to me that you can wing it. I gave amounts for the meat, marinade and sauce; the rest is up to you. Tell me about your bún creation in the comments below.


6 Tbsp lemon juice (2 lemons)
4 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp GF soy sauce
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp chile sauce (I like Sambal oelek)
½ tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 Tbsp frozen, chopped lemongrass (or 4 fresh stalks trimmed, cut and chopped)
THE MEAT (any or all of the following)
2 or 3 chicken breasts sliced thin, pounded thin or chicken filets
1 or 2 pork chops sliced thin or pork tenderloin cut in pieces and pounded thin
12 large shrimp
thin rice vermicelli noodles
carrot, sliced or julienned
cucumber, sliced or julienned
lettuce, sliced or julienned
fresh herbs of your choice - cilantro, mint, Thai basil
GARNISH – chopped peanuts
½ tsp crushed chiles
½ Tbsp vinegar
½ cup fish sauce
¼ cup lime juice
¾ cup warm water
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup sugar


Combine all ingredients.
Pour marinade over chicken (and pork if using) in separate dishes. Marinate for 30 minutes or over night.
If using shrimp marinate for no more than 30 minutes or it will start to cook.
Combine all ingredients in a large measuring cup or jar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside. Keeps in the fridge for weeks.
Place rice noodles in large bowl. Cover with boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Can be prepared a day in advance.
Cut carrot, cucumber and lettuce any way you like. Can be prepared a day in advance.
Cut fresh herbs or pluck whole leaves from the stems.
Chop peanuts and set aside.
Cook the meat on a barbecue, broiler or sauté depending on the way you prepared it.
Fill individual bowls as follows:
Noodles / carrot / cucumber / lettuce / fresh herbs / cooked meat / peanuts
Serve nuoc cham on the side.


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