This Vietnamese rice noodle salad is a vegetarian-forward version of the traditional bún salads drizzled with nuoc cham—the popular Vietnamese dressing and dipping sauce—with spring lettuces, crunchy fresh vegetables and sweetened with the season’s best fresh berries.
Yes, this noodle salad does taste as good as it looks. And it’s just the beginning of my job to convince you to try this baby soon.
I’ve been a fan of fresh and crunchy Vietnamese vermicelli noodle salad bowls (bún) since my college days way back when, and ever since visiting Vietnam last Christmas, lighter, healthier, simpler recipes with a flare of these worldly-inspired Asian flavors have been at the top of my must-have cravings.
Today I’m sharing this recipe for vermicelli noodle salad to be served as a main meal noodle bowls for four. Or, the salad can be served in smaller portions as a side dish to this lighter chicken satay, tossing it all together in one big bowl the same as I do in my basic, fresh and easy Vietnamese noodle salad for serving to a party or salad recipe for a potluck or bbq.
There’s no cooking involved with this salad, just some peeling and chopping, so let’s get on to getting our salad cravings cured.
What Is Bún?
The traditional Vietnamese bún noodle salad is a main meal dish served with grilled pork (bún cha) and vermicelli rice noodles (fried egg rolls are so good too!), sliced or shredded fresh vegetables, and loads of fresh herbs with a side dish of vinegar-flavored dipping sauce called nuoc cham.
I LOVE the charcoaled flavor of the marinated and grilled pork in bún cha, but when I found myself with a bounty of fresh fruit on hand I didn’t want to waste, I created this berry-infused version for a light vegetarian version.
Chicken, shrimp, and tofu are also popular proteins to add to this dish.
Vermicelli Bún Noodle Salad Bowl Ingredients
This salad uses basic ingredients found at any grocery store, and can easily be customized to suit your tastes or use up what’s sitting in your fridge as an easy-to-make, clean-out-the-fridge salad. Why let all that goodness go to waste??
Here are some ingredient suggestions for this salad:
- rice vermicelli noodles
- spring lettuces or thinly chopped romaine
- red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
- bean sprouts
- red onion
- green onion
- berries such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, or pomegranate seeds
- chopped peanuts or almonds
- lots of fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, basil
How to Assemble the Salad
The noodles in this salad are dried vermicelli rice noodles, and while there is no cooking involved, you do need to soften the noodles. To do so, simply place them in a large bowl and cover them in boiling water to soak for a few minutes. As the noodles soften, separate the strands with a fork or your fingers, then rinse and drain.
The rice noodles can be softened ahead of time then refrigerated before use. While it isn’t an absolute must, I take the noodles out of the fridge at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature before serving to lose their chill and make them soft and pliable again.
While there’s no cooking involved with this recipe, plan on some chopping or shredding of the vegetables.
I use this set of three vegetable peelers (so cool that they stick together with a magnet) to create the thin strips and shreds of the fresh carrots, bell pepper, and cucumbers. If you prefer to slice them with a knife, keep them long and thin to mimic the noodles so the flavors blend.
The vegetables can be prepped and shredded for meal prep 2-3 days before then assembled and dressed right before eating.
Finally, group the individual ingredients in the bowl with the lettuces as your base topping with chopped peanuts and more fresh herbs with the dressing on the side to add just before eating.
Nuoc Cham Vietnamese Dressing
The dressing is what pulls this noodle salad all together. Nuoc mam cham is a dressing and dipping sauce made with seasoned rice vinegar and fish sauce sweetened with sugar.
Now, don’t get all freaked out about fish sauce. A good quality fish sauce hardly tastes fishy at all, and adds the unique salty bite that can’t be imitated by substituted ingredients in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. When choosing fish sauce, always choose a high quality fish sauce that hasn’t been left opened in your cupboard for too long (the fishy flavor will become more pronounced.)
This is my favorite brand of quality fish sauce. It can be found online or at many Asian grocery stores.
I use seasoned rice vinegar instead of regular rice vinegar because it already has a little sugar in it and I like it best for salad dressings. However, if you prefer to have more control over the amount of sugar in the dressing, use regular rice vinegar and add more or less sugar I’ve listed in the recipe to your taste.
Also, beware of confusing rice vinegar with rice WINE vinegar. This is how they’re different, producing very different tastes.
More Asian Salad Recipes
- Vietnamese Curry Chicken and Rice Noodle Salad Bowl
- Asian Ramen Noodle Salad Recipe
- Fresh and Easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad
- Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing
- Thai Quinoa Salad
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Berries
For the prettiest presentation, layer your salad bowl with spring lettuces as the base then divide the noodles, vegetables and berries in the bowl and top with the fresh herbs, chopped green onion, and chopped peanuts.
- 8 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
- 8 cups spring lettuce greens
- 2 cups berries such as blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or pomegranate seeds
- 2 carrots thinly shredded or sliced
- 1 cucumber seeded and thinly shredded or sliced
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 3 green onions chopped
- 1 cup mint leaves torn or sliced
- 1 cup cilantro chopped
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- sliced limes
Soften the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl by covering them with boiling water and soaking for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Use a fork or your fingers to separate the noodles then rinse under cold water and drain.
Divide the lettuce greens between the four bowls followed by dividing the berries between the bowls with the carrot, cucumber, red onion, green onion, cilantro and mint.
In a bowl or a glass jar fitted with a lid or a bowl, mix together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and crushed red pepper.
Serve the salad bowls with 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing per salad and if you have any left, save it to use on regular green salads. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, more cilantro, mint, and green onion and a squeeze of lime if desired. These salads are best served the day they're made at room temperature.
More Vietnamese Recipes to Make Now
- Vietnamese Dressing and Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham)
- Grilled Shrimp Vietnamese Spring Rolls
- Chicken Satay With Lighter Almond Dipping Sauce
- Cheesy Shrimp And Grits Banh Mi In A Waffle Cone
- Asian Marinade Master Sauce
- How To Make An Easy Asian Hot Pot
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