Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vietnamese Rice Noodles with Salmon or Salmon Bun




It was so hot today that you couldn't even sit still outside without melting into a disgusting pile of sweat soup. Of course, I made the mistake of thinking it would be nice to walk down to the beach and do a bit of grocery shopping this morning. Walking down to the beach also means you have to walk back UP FROM the beach, which I did, carrying two heavy bags of food. By the time I arrived back home I knew a couple things for sure. I was NOT going to turn on my oven, boil water for pasta or go for another walk back down to the beach. 


When it gets this hot and humid I always crave a bowl of vietnamese bun. Bun noodles are typically the very thin rice vermicelli noodles that you can find in any asian grocery store. Room temperature noodles, lots of fresh herbs, sweet/sour nuoc cham, raw veggies and a bit of fish - it doesn't get better than this. I am not sure if using salmon in this version of bun is very authentic but it delicious so I don't really care. We often do this with little chicken or pork meatballs or bbq pork and I try to keep the freezer stocked with small bags of the meatballs in the freezer just for this purpose. The traditional way to eat this is called bun cha, made with grilled pork and I do love to order that when I eat out (always with a deep fried spring roll thrown in for good measure) but during the summer, we throw whatever leftover grilled meat or seafood is hanging around over this noodle salad at least once or twice a week. I didn't have any leftovers so I pan fried the salmon and let it cool to room temperature before putting the bowls together. The noodles get a quick soak in boiling water, the fish was quickly pan fried and everything else was raw. No need to heat up the kitchen to enjoy this summery bowl of goodness.

Of course, you can mix this up to suit you. I usually use really finely julienned carrot but didn't have any but you can use whatever veggies you like. Don't like mint? Leave it out. You might be one of those weirdos who think cilantro tastes like soap. No problem, don't put any cilantro in it. Want to make it vegetarian? Use some fried tofu as your protein and forget the fish. It would be great with any colour of bell pepper, really thin asparagus, snow peas, bean sprouts - whatever you like and in whatever combination you like. Consider this recipe a starting place to create your own version of bun. Once you make the nuoc cham and you have the noodles, you can tailor the rest to suit your taste.



look at those beautiful herbs straight from my garden



Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli with Salmon 

serves 2

2 small salmon fillets, skin on or off as you prefer

1 tbls canola oil

kosher salt and pepper

thin rice vermicelli (1/3 of the package for the two of us)

handful of cilantro, chopped

handful of mint, chopped

handful of basil, chopped

1/4 orange pepper, finely julienned 

1/4 cucumber, julienned

1 radish, sliced as thin as possible

small handful of sugar snap peas

nuoc cham

1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped

1 scallion, sliced thin




Nouc Cham



3 tbls lime juice

1 tbls rice vinegar

2 tbls sugar

1/2 cup water

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 tbls fish sauce

(some hot chili pepper or a tiny bit of chili sauce like siracha)


Mix the lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar and water and stir until dissolved. Taste it and make sure it's not too sweet and if it is, you might want to add a bit more lime juice or vinegar. If it tastes like a nice balance of sweet and sour, add the fish sauce and the garlic. If you want some heat, you can add either a bit of finely minced hot chili pepper or a tiny bit of chili sauce. Let it sit for at least a half an hour. I like to make mine in the morning so it sits in a glass jar in the fridge all day.


make nuoc cham earlier in the day if you want assemble all of your elements:


Put your vermicelli in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Depending on how fine your noodles are, it will take anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes to soften it up. I would taste it after 3 minutes and if it seems like it's nicely al dente, drain it right away and rinse with cold water until it's cool and drain. Set aside.

I pan fried my salmon. Heat a non stick pan over med high heat with a tbls of canola oil until the oil is shimmering. Put salmon, skin side down in the pan and sprinkle a bit of kosher salt and a grind of pepper on the top. Cook the fish for about 5 or 6 minutes until it's almost cooked all the way through and the skin is nice and crispy. Carefully flip the fish and cook for another minute on the other side. Remove from the pan and drain on some paper towel while it cools to room temperature.

Put the cold, drained rice noodles in a deep bowl. Add the mint, basil and cilantro and give it a toss. 

Now divide the noodles between two deep bowls. Place the pepper, cucumber , radish and snap peas as well as the salmon on the top of the noodles. I like to try to make it look all pretty but you can just throw it on any which way if that's not your thing.


Pour some nuoc chom over everything. I like to start out with just a bit and then give everything a toss and start eating and I often add more at the table. Lastly, sprinkle some chopped peanuts and scallion over the whole shebang, grab some chopsticks and dig in. 




4 comments:

  1. Uaau This is amazing! I love it:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks! I could eat a variation of this pretty much every day in the summer

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mmmm. Bun is such a great meal, especially for summer when it's not an especially craving hot meals time. Looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Such natural food is necessary for mankind ! Good for health! Good for heart ! Nature gives a lot to man ; But he does not look at ! -
    Dr.S.Soundarapandian
    M.A.(Tamil), M.A.(English), B.Ed.,Dip.(Sanskrit) ,Ph.D
    Chennai - 33

    ReplyDelete

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