Flashback one year ago: Noah and I were roaming the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam (see some pictures here & here!) eating bowls of Bún Chà for lunch, after breakfasts of Pho Ga (chicken pho – and yes, it’s breakfast food!). Before traveling to Vietnam, I had only had pho a few times, and hadn’t ever tried Bún.
Typically, Bún Chà is a dish of rice vermicelli noodles topped with herbs and lettuces, grilled pork, spring rolls, and a sweet dish of sauce to pour over the bowl (nước chấm). The sauce is quite pungent (thanks to the fish sauce), but it’s sweet, a bit sour, and delicious. I used this base recipe for the sauce and adjusted it to my taste, subbing zucchini noodles into the mix for a veggie-heavy dish that is light and refreshing during this season of treats.
- 2 medium zucchinis
- 1 large carrot
- Several leaves of romaine lettuce
- ½ cucumber
- 2 sprigs of mint
- 1 handful cilantro
- 10 leaves of basil
- Handful of roasted peanuts
- 1 jalapeño
- Protein of choice: shrimp, tofu, seared beef, chicken
- ½ lime
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ garlic clove
- Using a spiralizer or julienne peeler, cut zucchini into thin zucchini noodles. Set them out on paper towels sprinkled with a bit salt while you prepare the other items.
- To prepare the other vegetable toppings, spiralize the large carrot or cut it into very thin matchsticks. Finely shred romaine lettuce and thinly slice the cucumber after removing the seeds inside.
- Carefully slice up the herbs and chop the peanuts for topping. Slice jalapeño.
- If topping with a protein, cook up your shrimp, tofu, beef, or chicken. I used about 6 shrimp per bowl, but it is also nice to add some fresh sliced tofu.
- Make the Nuoc Cham sauce by squeezing the ½ lime and combining it with the sugar, water, fish sauce, and minced garlic. Whisk the sauce together in a large bowl and add the zucchini noodles, tossing to combine right before serving.
- To serve, prepare the two bowls or set out all the toppings. Divide the zucchini noodles between two bowls, letting extra sauce drip off, and top with carrot, lettuce, cucumber, herbs, jalapeño , peanuts, and the shrimp or other protein. Serve immediately.
I love any recipe that is a ‘bowl’ solely for the reason that I can throw whatever sounds good inside – I topped mine with sautéed shrimp and plenty of peanuts for protein and some salt. The zucchini noodles absorb the sauce and all the veggies will make you feel awesome after eating, instead of the sluggish feeling I usually get after eating a bowl of noodles.
I encourage you to give this Vietnamese Zucchini Noodle Bowl a try amid the leftover Halloween candy and Thanksgiving recipe testing you are doing. It’s the perfect weekend lunch, and you can keep multiple portions in the fridge for the week if you keep the sauce and zoodles separate until serving.