Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bun: Vietnamese Noodle Salad

This is by far one of my favorite lunches.  Eating out can be hard at times.  I eat fish, but I don't eat other meats so American restaurants filled with burgers and bacon are out.  I don't eat dairy, so Italian food, which 99% of is smothered in butter and cheese, is also out.  Ma' & Pop' restaurants which are often Southern food are out.  Breakfast joints serving up biscuits and gravy and everything cooked in bacon grease is out.  BUT...take me to an Asian restaurant and I am bound to find something!  I was introduced to Bun (pronounced 'boon') at my local Vietnamese restaurant and have since been making it about once a week for lunch.  It is made of rice noodles on top of torn lettuce and veggies; Hence the term Noodle Salad.  Today, I forgot to pick up romaine and had to improvise with baby kale, but romaine or green leaf lettuce is definitely ideal since it wilts quickly.   This recipe really is easy but can be confusing if not read through entirely first.  So, get to reading!  ;)

Vietnamese Bun (Noodle Salad)
Serves 2-4 depending on portion size

1 Tbsp peanut oil (or other cooking oil)
1 12oz block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 medium yellow or white onion, sliced
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
8oz rice noodles (8oz dried)
1/4 c shelled peanuts
2 cups torn romaine or green leaf lettuce
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into match sticks
1 carrot, grated
2 green onions, cut on the diagonal (about 1")
bean sprouts
lime wedges
cilantro, mint and basil
sriracha sauce

1/2 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c fish sauce (or soy sauce, tamari or Braggs liquid aminos for vegetarians)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha sauce (optional)

Heat oil in skillet to medium-high heat.  Cube tofu.  When oil is hot toss in the tofu and onions.  Oil should be hot enough so that tofu immediately sizzles.  Turn occasionally to cook all sides for 5 minutes.  Drizzle the hoisin sauce over the tofu and onions and continue to cook another 5-8 minutes on medium-high heat, tossing and turning until dark brown or blackish (from sauce...not from burning!) on most sides.  Remove from heat.

Cook rice noodles according to package instructions.  Or bring a pot of water to a boil, toss in dry noodles and turn heat off.

Heat a small dry skillet on medium-high heat.  Add peanuts and roast in skillet, stirring and tossing for about 5 minutes until fragrant and starting to brown.  Crush them with a mortar and pestle or you can cheat and use a small chopper (or put into a brown bag and crush with the back of a large spoon)

To make the sauce, put all sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and heat on medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.

To serve, divide lettuce up among bowls.  Top that with cucumber matchsticks and carrot shreds.  Then add your noodles and then the tofu.onion mixture.  On top of that, toss in green onions and a handful of bean sprouts.  Serve with herbs, lime wedges and sriracha sauce on the side.  Also, serve sauce on the side to pour over noodles.  The heat from the noodles and tofu and the sauce will soften the lettuce and cucumbers underneath.  Enjoy!


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