Ermighad team. This Rice Noodle Salad is deeee-lish. It’s jam-packed with flavour and the perfect combination of freshness, heat, aromatics and the crunch factor along with delicious vermicelli noodles and marinated tofu. It’s quick enough to prepare for the perfect ‘take-away at home’ lunch or dinner, or you can make everyone at work jealous for a great office lunch. This substantial Vietnamese inspired rice noodle salad is gluten free, nut free and dairy free.
I don’t know if you are like me, but I sort of get addicted to certain meals. I find myself being able to eat the same meal over and over again forever…until I find a new favourite. Just ask my colleagues who, for the past 18 months, have witnessed my ability to eat a chicken and cheese toastie most Wednesdays when I am in office.
And in addition to the toastie, for quite some time I have been loving a delicious cold noodle salad or bún (pronounced boon) from one of my fav Vietnamese takeaways. My bún noodle salad flavour of choice is vegetarian spring rolls and tofu and honestly I think I could eat one every day. It’s that good. And so I decided to develop my own recipe so I can further indulge my craving.
This rice noodle salad recipe is full of so many delicious ingredients, fresh lettuce, carrot, cucumber and aromatic herbs with delicious marinated firm tofu and it’s all tied together with zesty, flavourful dressing. And it is not just me that enjoys this rice noodle recipe, my husband and Miss 6 love it too. I just modify the chilli for my daughter.
Ingredients and substitutions
This rice noodle recipe uses easy to source ingredients you will be able to get from most supermarkets.
- Rice Vermicelli Noodles – I use a thin (1mm) rice noodle and my favourite brand is Roll’d. You can purchase rice vermicelli from most supermarkets. I do not enjoy the texture of the mung bean or sweet potato vermicelli noodles and in my opinion rice noodles are far superior.
- Firm Tofu – I marinate in Soy Sauce to add more flavour then fry for a delicious plant based protein in this salad. You will also need some sesame oil or olive oil to fry the tofu. You can replace this with another protein such as chicken, pork belly or beef strips.
- Cos Lettuce – you can use iceberg lettuce or any other crunchy lettuce variety. You could also substitute with more carrot or cucumber if you do not have any lettuce on hand.
- Carrot – a great source of carotenes and vitamin A. You could use more cucumber if you do not have carrot or replace with thinly sliced capsicum.
- Cucumber – a great source of vitamin k. You can use any variety of cucumber in this salad.
- Spring Onions – I only use the green parts in this rice noodle salad as they are fresher and milder. You can omit if you do not have any but they do add great flavour to the recipe.
- Coriander – essential to a good Vietnamese salad are aromatic herbs. Fresh coriander is also known as cilantro and it’s delicious in this salad. If you do not enjoy coriander you can substitute with more mint. You could also use Thai Basil instead.
- Mint – adds a delicious flavour and aroma to the salad. I recommend using but if you don’t have mint you can add more coriander or use Thai basil for a different flavour profile.
- Chilli – this is optional but adds delicious heat to the salad.
- Fried Shallots – this is an optional garnish but I do love the flavour and crunch. You can get fried shallots from most supermarkets and Asian specialty food markets.
- Rice Wine Vinegar – is a mild, slightly sweet vinegar that forms the base of the dressing.
- Fish Sauce – adds a salty depth of flavour. You could substitute with soy sauce or a vegan fish sauce for a vegetarian or vegan option.
- Lime juice – adds a zesty kick to the dressing. You could also use lemon juice.
- Brown Sugar – balances the dressing. You could use white or caster sugar.
- Garlic – adds flavour to the rice noodle salad.
- Fresh Ginger – provides heat and sweetness to the dressing.
You could also purchase a Nuoc Mam dressing for the salad if you do not want to make your own dressing. I would not recommend serving without a dressing as the dressing truly pulls the salad together and elevates all the flavours.
What are vermicelli noodles?
OK so I wanted to write in a little more detail about the vermicelli. When making a rice noodle salad you need to use rice vermicelli noodles or bún. I am bolding the word ‘rice’, because rice noodles are a must for cold noodle salads you actually want to eat (in my opinion).
Rice noodles are sometimes referred to as rice sticks and for this salad you need a thin (around 1mm) slightly-smaller-than-spaghetti-size not a thick fettuccini-size that you’d eat with Pad Thai.
Importantly, AVOID CELLOPHANE NOODLES which are made from sweet potato or mung beans. They are also known as vermicelli noodles but the texture is much firmer and, in my opinion, a far inferior noodle. So make sure to grab the right noodles to get the perfect cold noodle salad.
Vermicelli noodles do not contain gluten (always check the packaging) and I look for noodles that contain two ingredients – rice and water.
Where can you buy rice vermicelli noodles?
You generally can grab dried thin rice vermicelli noodles at major supermarkets…but be warned… a lot of the cellophane/mung bean based noodles are also on the shelves so read the ingredients carefully. You can also grab rice stick noodles from specialty Asian supermarkets too.
My favourites are the actually the ones from Roll’d. You can buy these at Coles in Australia or direct from Roll’d. Apparently you can also buy ready made and chilled vermicelli noodles in the dairy/chiller section too but I have not come across these yet.
How do you cook rice vermicelli noodles?
Cooking the rice noodles will be largely dependant on your packet instructions, so you should always follow these for the best results.
The brand I use requires you to add noddles to hot boiling water on the stove top, and cook for a minute or two while stirring. Then you need to turn the heat off and stand the noodles in the hot water for 5 minutes before draining and rinsing under cold water for a minute to stop the cooking process. Next, stand the noodles to cool for a further 15 minutes and then they’re ready to use.
Can you freeze vermicelli noodles?
I was curious to try freezing the noodles as I saw a lot of people recommend that you can. So the last time I made this rice noodle salad, I froze the leftover noodles in a ziplock bag with all the air squeezed out. However, I did not get great results. I found the noodles had hardened and were too dry and far too hard to be enjoyable in a salad.
The good news though is that rice noodles do store really well in the fridge for around 4 days. Just make sure they are cooled completely, drained well and stored in an airtight container. What I tend to do is use the leftovers for more rice noodle salads or us for rice paper rolls. Make sure you are refrigerating the noodles as soon as possible as these should not be left at room temperature for too long.
How to make rice noodle salad
Begin by preparing the vermicelli noodles according to the packet instructions (see above for the instructions for the brand I prefer). With the brand I use, this process takes around 20 minutes so I have plenty of time to prepare the other ingredients for this cold noodle salad.
Dice the tofu and in a bowl marinate for 5 minutes with some soy sauce and set aside. Then prepare the dressing by adding the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic and ginger and mix well until the sugar has dissolved. Test and adjust to your taste and then set aside.
Prepare the salad vegetables and herbs and chop the chilli if you are using. Next heat a small fry pan and add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil or olive oil and fry the tofu over a medium heat until nicely browned.
Meanwhile, begin to assemble the salad. Add the cold noodles to the bottom of two noodle bowls or large sized dinner bowls. Then top with the lettuce, carrot, cucumber and the cooked tofu.
Garnish with the herbs, spring onions, chilli (if using) and sprinkle with the fried shallots. Then, season with your desired amount of the prepared dressing and enjoy immediately.
Storing rice noodle salad
As mentioned rice noodles store well in the fridge in an airtight container for around 4 days. You can prepare the noodles, dressing and tofu ahead of time and assemble along with the salad vegetables and garnishes just before serving. I recommend to dress the salad as you serve it.
What can I use vermicelli noodles for?
Apart from rice noodle salads you can also use vermicelli noodles in rice paper rolls and I will often make enough rice noodles so I have leftovers for these. You can also use rice noodles in soups or in stir fry.
Hungry for more? You may also love these delicious ideas for your lunches:
- Homemade sushi is really not that hard to make, and you will be a pro in no time following my delicious recipe for Tuna Avocado and Cucumber Sushi
- Or if you love salads for lunch this deliciously impressive Roasted Carrot and Goats Cheese Salad is so easy to prepare
- Or this Hot Smoked Salmon and Broccoli Rice Salad is a winner
- And if you love noodles you cannot go past my Vegetarian Noodle Soup – it is the business!
Do you love this recipe? Remember to rate it ★★★★★Print
This Rice Noodle Salad is delicious, so full of flavour and the perfect combination of freshness, heat, aromatics and the crunch factor. It’s quick enough to prepare for the perfect ‘take-away at home’ lunch and substantial enough for dinner. This Vietnamese inspired cold rice noodle salad is gluten free, nut free and dairy free.
For the Salad
- 100g (uncooked) rice vermicelli noodles
- 200g tofu diced into 1–2 cm squares
- olive oil or sesame oil for frying the tofu
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce for marinating the tofu
- 50g cos lettuce finely chopped
- 100g carrot (one medium) grated
- 100g cucumber (1/3 large) grated
- 2 spring onions (green parts only) finely sliced
- a small handful of coriander leaves (to taste), chopped if desired
- a small handful of mint leaves (to taste), chopped if desired
- finely sliced chilli to taste
- 1 tablespoon of fried shallots
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (substitute for soy sauce for vegetarian option)
- juice of one lime
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/2 clove garlic crushed
- 1 cm square ginger finely grated
- Prepare the rice vermicelli noodles according to their packet instructions and marinate the tofu.
- Meanwhile prepare the dressing by adding the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, lime, sugar, garlic and ginger in a small bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- Cook the tofu in a small frypan over a medium heat until browned, this will take around 5 minutes.
- While the tofu is cooking prepare the salad vegetables, herbs and chilli and then begin to assemble the salad.
- Portion the cooked noodles between 2 salad bowls – I use about 1.5 cups of noodles per bowl so you may have some noodles left over which can be used for rice paper rolls. Then top with the lettuce, carrot, cucumber and the cooked tofu.
- Then add the spring onions, herbs, chilli and fried shallots and dress the salad to taste.
- Serve immediately.
If you are not eating immediately you can prepare the noodles, tofu and dressing ahead of time and assemble the salad when needed. If taking to work, make sure the tofu has cooled completely before assembling the salad and send the dressing in a separate container and dress just before eating.
Keywords: Rice Noodle Salad, Bún Salad, Rice Bún Salad, Tofu Salad, Cold Noodle Salad, Noodle Salad.
I hope you love this salad as much as I do. Remember if you do love this rice noodle recipe, please rate it and share your pics with me on Instagram or Facebook! I love to see you enjoying my recipes.