epic prep: bún vermicelli bowl with tofu

bún vermicelli bowl with tofu | everybody likes sandwiches

A couple weeks ago, we found ourself in our old neighbourhood and decided to visit the Union, a restaurant that I’ve visited a few times with friends, but never with my husband. We ordered drinks and I ordered their bún vermicelli bowl with fish and it blew me away with how fresh everything tasted. I vowed that I’d try to recreate the dish (minus the fish) at home.

bún vermicelli bowl with tofu | everybody likes sandwiches

This is the result and oh-m-gee, it’s fantastic, fresh and pretty dang healthy too! And yet, it’s pretty freaking epic in terms of prep. Because this is a glorified salad, there are a lot of vegetables that need prepping. I may have went a little overboard adding in purple cabbage and snow peas as they’re not traditional bún ingredients, but they needed to be used up stat. Plus, they added extra crunch which is always good and the purple cabbage provided a visual feast for the eyeballs.

bún vermicelli bowl with tofu | everybody likes sandwiches

There’s also plenty of other components besides the vegetables. Like the sweet-tart nuoc cham dipping sauce. The little bowl that comes alongside your dishes at Vietnamese restaurants is always my favorite part of the meal and I was surprised at how easy it was to make. If you want to keep it vegan use 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce instead of fish sauce. The traditional pickled veg is super easy as well – if you don’t have daikon, skip it or use regular radishes instead. No need to keep things strictly traditional!

bún vermicelli bowl with tofu | everybody likes sandwiches

For protein, I opted for tofu since I had some in the fridge. I fried it up, but I think next time, I’d marinate and bake it instead. Or I’d use some grilled chicken or pork instead. My salt & pepper tofu was delicious, but frying – even a very shallow fry – makes a lot of mess and things got a little bit smokey. I had to get Cornelius to open up all the windows on a rainy and cold night to air out the place. I’ll try a different protein or a different method in dealing with the tofu next time. And while I think you can play around with ingredients, please, please, please do not skip the fresh mint!! Even if you think you’re not a mint fan, add the mint. Just tear in a few leaves into your bowl – it makes a huge difference in flavour.

bún vermicelli bowl with tofu | everybody likes sandwiches

So you’ve been warned. There’s a lot of components but that just means that you’re dinner is going to be a whole lot more interesting, right?! Warm noodles, slippery fried scallions, fresh bites of mint and herbs, crunchy watery bean sprouts and salty peanuts. Serious flavour happenings! Why not share all this good stuff with a crowd? Call up some friends and chow down on a little bún vermicelli bowl. Or go nuts and pile it onto a plate like someone I know did above. It also makes for very happy leftovers – no prep!

bún vermicelli bowl with tofu | everybody likes sandwiches

While I’m not marking this recipe as gluten free or vegan/vegetarian, it can easily be made either of these things with a few tiny tweaks! Enjoy!

11 comments to “epic prep: bún vermicelli bowl with tofu”

  1. 1
    Joanne   June 17, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I love how each bite of this would have so much flavor and crunch and variety! Such a fun salad!

  2. 2
    Dixie   June 17, 2013 at 10:17 am

    This looks absolutely amazing! When I have a day off, I love to pick a recipe that seems daunting. It always makes eating it that much more rewarding. I seriously can’t wait to try this.

  3. 3
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe   June 17, 2013 at 11:53 am

    This sounds incredible, fresh, perfect! I don’t mind a bit of prep, as long as I can get more than one meal out of my efforts.

  4. 4
    Meghan   June 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Yum! Bun (how do you make that symbol over the u?) is one of my favourite can’t be bothered to cook/comfort/rainy day foods. How lovely to see it on a sunshiney summer day. It has always been the sauce that tripped me up – stay tuned!

  5. 5
    kickpleat   June 17, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Joanne, yes, it’s full of everything good!!

    Dixie, it’s really not even that daunting – I made most of it before lunch – though I did make the veggie brine the night before. But there’s many components and I think they’re all necessary. I hope you try it out.

    Yes, Amanda, you should get quite a few meals out of it. We got 6 servings and it’s very easy to double or even triple!

    Meghan, funny you think of it as a rainy day food – I think of it as solid summer fare. Maybe because I first made fresh spring rolls for summer picnics and this is very similar. The sauce is pretty great and I think next time I might try it with a bit of ginger for a bit of a twist. It’s altogether quite lovely. Enjoy!

  6. 6
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar   June 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Unreal! This is so full of goodness – love it!

  7. 7
    elena   June 18, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I am so excited to make this. I never realized this dish (one of my lunch faves!) would be so simple to make at home… even if it takes some time to accomplish, everything is within easy reach.
    The only problem now is all of a sudden, it’s getting late and night and I’m seriously considering whipping up a batch to eat right now, you’ve given me a serious craving!

  8. 8
    Hag   June 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Yes, lost of prep…but when it is time to eat so easy! And it looks delish. I had the same experience recently when I made salad rolls.

  9. 9
    kickpleat   June 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks Katrina, it’s a great meal.

    Elena, it is easy to make – just be prepared for some serious chopping! Make up a batch and you’ll have it for the rest of the week. It’s a little bit of planning for a week of good eating 🙂

    Hag, so true. And the eating part is the best part of all 🙂

  10. 10
    Joanne (Bijoux)   June 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Nice presentation! This would be the perfect lunch for me at work. It looks so filling and tasty. I would sub in some grilled chicken instead as I don’t eat tofu as much any more (phytoestrogens and hormone stuff) but I do miss its versatility.

  11. 11
    kickpleat   June 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Bijoux, chicken would be awesome in this – maybe grilled with a lemongrass marinade? That’s what I’d like next 🙂 I eat tofu pretty rarely, but I like it, bad things and all!

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