Explore the vibrant tastes of Vietnam with our Vermicelli Noodle Bowl, a perfect blend of silky noodles, succulent chicken, and fresh, colorful veggies, topped with a refreshing mint twist.
Vietnamese cuisine is known for its balance of five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet. It incorporates a plethora of fresh herbs, including lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, and Thai basil leaves. The main meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are fish, chicken, pork, beef, and various kinds of seafood. The Vietnamese also have a strong vegetarian tradition.
Noodle bowls are a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. They often consist of a light and flavorful broth or dressing, rice noodles (called “phở” in the north and “hủ tiếu” or “bún” in the south), a variety of herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà). These dishes are garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, chili, lemon or lime, bean sprouts, and Thai basil leaves.
Table of Contents
Reasons to Love This Noodle Bowl
- Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl offers a flavorful balance. It’s a perfect balance of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors.
- The dish is light, making it ideal for a refreshing meal.
- Whether it’s chicken, beef, tofu, or shrimp, it’s adaptable for every protein preference for this dish.
- Packed with vegetables, this Vietnamese Noodles Bowl is a nutrient-dense meal that’s both healthy and satisfying.
- The use of fresh herbs adds a unique and aromatic flavor.
- Vermicelli Rice Noodles: The base of the dish that provides a light and delicate texture.
- Chicken: Thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts serve as the primary protein and offer a savory element.
- Vegetables: Key fresh vegetables like red bell pepper, English cucumber, and daikon radish add crunch and color.
- Herbs and Peanuts: Fresh mint leaves and roasted peanuts bring in aromatic freshness and a nutty crunch.
- Dressing: A combination of lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and chili creates a tangy and slightly spicy dressing that ties all the flavors together.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- Fish Sauce Variation: For a gluten-free twist with a milder taste, opt for tamari instead of fish sauce. Alternatively, embrace the familiar umami notes by choosing soy sauce as a common substitute for fish sauce.
- Chicken Variation: Replace the chicken breasts with boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a richer flavor and more tender texture. Marinate and cook them the same way as the chicken breasts for a delicious twist on the traditional Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl. Chicken thighs can add a bit more juiciness and depth to the dish.
- Add Rice Vinegar: To add a subtle tangy twist to your Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl, incorporate a splash of rice vinegar into the dressing for a slightly different yet delightful zing.
How to Make Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl
Step #1: Place the sliced chicken breasts in a large bowl. Put the chopped lemongrass in the bowl of a food processor and grind into a very fine mince.
Step #2: Add the shallots, garlic cloves, fish sauce, brown sugar, and five spices into the food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms.
Step #3: Transfer the paste to the bowl with the chicken, add the quarter cup of oil, and toss to coat.
Step #4: Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight.
Step #5: When ready to cook, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
Step #6: Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Step #7: Make the dressing by mixing together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Step #8: Place a quarter of the cooked noodles in the bottom of a bowl.
Step #9: Top with a quarter of the cooked chicken, red bell peppers, cucumbers, and radishes. Garnish with mint and peanuts, then drizzle a quarter of the dressing over the top. Enjoy!
- Prepare Lemongrass: To make the marinade, peel away the tough outer layers of the lemongrass stalks and finely mince the white and very light green portions.
- Green Portion Lemongrass Storage: Save the dark green portions in your freezer. Once cooked, the white/light green parts will become tender enough to eat. On the other hand, you can use dark green parts for steeping soups or tea and remove them before serving.
- Food Processor Efficiency: When making this, put the white and light green parts in a mini-food processor along with the rest of the marinade ingredients and grind it to a pulp. Toss with the chicken and some oil and let it marinate! If you need a mini-food processor, here is the one I love and use.
- Pan Perfection: Once you’re ready to cook, just heat up a pan and toss in the chicken. I like to use a good non-stick pan for this chicken, like my favorite everyday pan.
- Noodle and Dressing Finale: Cook the vermicelli noodles according to package instructions, chop up all your veggies, and whip up the quick dressing. (Note: Look for vermicelli noodles that say “made in Vietnam” on them – you want really thin rice vermicelli noodles!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Marinating the chicken for at least 30 minutes is essential, but letting it marinate overnight in the fridge will enhance the flavor and tenderness significantly.
Definitely! You can add vegetables like thinly sliced carrots, lettuce, or even bean sprouts for extra crunch, nutrition, and color, making the bowl even more vibrant and healthy.
For uniform and thin slices, use a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline slicer.
Thai basil can be a fantastic addition for an aromatic lift. Use chopped Thai basil, sprinkled over the bowl before serving. Its unique flavor will add a fresh, slightly spicy touch to the dish.
After cooking the noodles, rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove excess starch. Tossing them with a little oil can further prevent sticking.
Store the cooked components of the Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. The chicken and noodles will stay good for up to 3-4 days. It’s not recommended to freeze this dish, as the noodles and vegetables may become mushy upon thawing. For reheating, gently warm the chicken in a microwave or on a stovetop, but serve the noodles and vegetables cold or at room temperature to maintain their texture.
More Vietnamese Recipes That You’ll Love
Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowl (“Bun”) Recipe
For the Marinade
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless - skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- 1/2 c. finely chopped lemongrass - white and light green parts only
- 1/2 c. shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. fish sauce - or salt
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground Chinese five spice
- 1/4 c. peanut oil - or canola oil
For the Noodle Bowl
- 8 oz. vermicelli rice noodles - cooked according to package directions, drained, and rinsed with cold water
- 1 red bell pepper - sliced into strips
- 1 English cucumber - halved and sliced into half circles
- 1 daikon radish - cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 c. chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 c. chopped roasted peanuts
For the Dressing
- 1/4 c. fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 small green or red chile - seeded and minced
- Place the sliced chicken breasts in a large bowl. Put the chopped lemongrass in the bowl of a food processor and grind into a very fine mince.
- Add the shallots, garlic cloves, fish sauce, brown sugar, and five spices into the food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms.
- Transfer the paste to the bowl with the chicken, add the quarter cup of oil, and toss to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight.
- When ready to cook, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Make the dressing by mixing together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- Place a quarter of the cooked noodles in the bottom of a bowl.
- Top with a quarter of the cooked chicken, red bell peppers, cucumbers, and radishes. Garnish with mint and peanuts, then drizzle a quarter of the dressing over the top. Enjoy!