Vegan Bún Chay (Vietnamese Noodle Salad – Gluten-free and Grain-free)


If anyone ever says salads are boring then clearly they haven’t tried this one. If I’ve had a few days of over-indulgence and am craving vitamins, or if I’m feeling in need of something fresh but packed with flavour, this is my go-to. In one zingy, crunchy, salty, spicy, colourful bowl you can feel like you’ve done something truly good, both for your body, your taste buds, your general well-being, your career, your love-life… (OK I’m probably over-selling this salad but you get the idea).

There are few different elements in this recipe but it’s surprisingly quick to bring together. Delicate glass vermicelli noodles form the base of the salad, hidden under an array of vibrant veg. You can buy vermicelli made from mung beans in Chinese supermarkets, some larger supermarkets or online, and these are my favourite to use in this recipe. If you aren’t grain-free then you can also use rice vermicelli noodles. For the vegetables, I use carrots, red cabbage, cucumber, beansprouts, radishes and spring onions but there are plenty of others you could include, essentially anything nice and crunchy that can be eaten raw.

Marinated tofu provides some protein and a bit more substance. Just leave it to soak in a little soy sauce then fry over a medium-high heat until browning and crispy. You can buy pre-marinated tofu (Taifun smoked tofu with sesame and almond is delicious) in which case you can skip the marinating and frying. It tends to be quite pricey but oh-so-convenient.

Some big handfuls of soft fresh herbs provide some aromatic interest, and then a simple yet punchy dressing is poured over this tempting pile – lime juice, soy sauce, sugar and a garlic clove, shaken with a couple of tablespoons of water, is all you need. Then some final flourishes; sliced red chilli for some pops of heat, a sprinkle of crushed salted peanuts, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil for a little richness and you have a mouth-watering mound of goodness. Enjoy!

Vegan Bún Chay (Vietnamese Noodle Salad)

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

A fresh, zingy and vibrant noodle salad with tofu

Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free

For the salad:

  • 200g firm tofu*
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
  • 300g (approx.) raw vegetables** (e.g. 100g carrots, 100g cucumber, 50g radishes, 50g red cabbage)
  • 100g beansprouts***
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 red chilli
  • 25g soft fresh herbs (e.g. mint, coriander, Thai basil)
  • 25g salted peanut, crushed
  • oil for frying
  • 100g dried vermicelli noodles (made from mung beans, or rice if not grain-free)
  • 1–2 tbsp toasted sesame oil (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (approx 1 lime)
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar or agave / maple / brown rice syrup
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp water

Directions

  1. First marinate 200g tofu. Slice into small cubes (about 2–3 cm dice) and put in a bowl with 2 tbsp tamari. Ensure all the tofu is coated then set aside.
  2. Prepare your vegetables. Thinly slice, julienne or grate any carrots, peppers, cabbage or radishes. Split the cucumber in half length-ways and scoop out the seeds, then slice into thin batons. Finely slice the spring onions and red chilli and roughly chop the herbs. Roughly crush the peanuts in a pestle and mortar, or chop them with a knife.
  3. Boil the kettle and put a frying pan on a medium-high heat with 2 tbsp oil for frying. Once hot add the tofu and fry, turning every minute or so, until golden brown, then place on some kitchen roll to cool. Put the vermicelli noodles in a heat-proof bowl or saucepan, pour over plenty of boiled water from the kettle and leave to soak for 3 mins (or according to packet instructions). Drain and rinse with cold water, then add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
  4. Measure out all of the ingredients for the dressing in to a jar or bowl, then shake or whisk vigorously until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Assemble the salad. Start with the noodles, then pile on the vegetables and tofu and scatter the herbs over the top. Pour the dressing over the salad, then add the red chillies and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts. Finish with a drizzle of sesame oil.

Notes

*If you have pre-marinated or ready-to-eat tofu then skip all of the tofu related instructions, simply slice and add to the salad.

**You could also use white cabbage, crisp lettuce, red or yellow peppers or mooli. Broad beans or edamame beans would also be a nice addition.

***If the beansprouts are labelled ready-to-eat then you can add them to the salad raw. Otherwise you will need to cook, fry or steam them until them are hot through to avoid risk of food-poisoning.

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