This is one of those dishes that made me fall in love with Vietnamese food.
My neighborhood in San Francisco had a Vietnamese restaurant (wut up Aux Delices!) and the Vietnamese Bun Chay noodle bowl was my go-to.
I loved living in my SF studio apartment. It’s the only time I’d ever lived alone. I owned a hot-pink rug, ate popcorn for dinner and stared out the window at neighbor’s flowering tree downstairs. Unquestionably, life is good now, but nostalgia hits you in the face every once in a while.
It’s hard to tell if I love this dish because it reminds me of that time of my life or because it’s really that good.
I can tell you now, with certainty, it really is just that good.
Filing this recipe under “things you must make in the summer” because it’s a cold noodle salad. I know, it’s winter we should eat warm things blah blah but I’m sick of warm things and sometimes you want something light.
It’s hard to even call this a “recipe” because it’s mostly assembly. Another sign this is a good dish to save. You’ll make this once and never need to reference the recipe again.
That’s your basic “recipe”. I made mine vegetarian this time around, but you could easily swap tofu for this Lemongrass Chicken or your favorite beef or pork.
Typically you’d add pickled carrots or daikon – I had red onions and jalapeños in my fridge. I like to add an absurd amount of herbs and lots of dressing.
It’s gluten-free (if that’s your thing) and easily vegan (if that’s your thing).
Get a giant bowl and start crafting your Vietnamese Bun Bowls.
Start by pressing some of the water out of your tofu block with a paper towel or two. Heat your oven to 375F.
Slice your tofu into 1-inch cubes. Gently mix together your roasted chili paste, light soy sauce and sesame oil together and coat your tofu with it. Lay your tofu on a roasting pan and put into the oven for about 25 minutes.
In the meantime, cook your vermicelli noodles according to the package and let them rest until you’re ready to assemble.
Chop your lettuce and prep your toppings. Make your flavored fish sauce, unless you’ve already got some in the fridge.
Time to assemble the bowls – Place a handful of lettuce, handful of noodles and as many toppings as you want in your bowl. Add some dressing and crushed peanuts and dig into your Bun Bowl.