Vietnamese Beef and Rice Noodle Salad – Bo Bun

Vietnamese cuisine is a festival of colors, flavors and perfumes. It’s in the South of Vietnam, in Saïgon, that we ate these Bo Bun salads with fried spring rolls. This salad will usually be eaten lukewarm, which is great on a hot summer day.

Not the best fare if you need to lose weight, but it’s definitely rich in nutrients and it makes a wonderful comfort food.


You can make this recipe with a few Asian ingredients, and there are many variations: you can replace the beef with shrimp or chicken, and you can add fried spring rolls if you wish.

And here is a small dictionary if you are going to the Vietnamese restaurant:

  • bun means rice vermicelli
  • bo means beef
  • nem, or cha gio, means fried spring rolls
  • ga means chicken
  • tom means shrimp

There are many different recipes for bo bun salad; mine does not contain carrots nor cucumbers, but you can add some if you wish. And I use curry powder, which makes it a gali bo bun, but it’s optional, so you can perfectly do without.

I also like to add a few fried shallots on top. You won’t see any soy sprouts on the picture above, because I just can’t find any where I live, but if you can have access to them, go ahead, as they are definitely part of the traditional recipe.

Serves 4 – Prep. time 40 min
For the beef:
1.5 lb (700 g) beef (a tender cut)
1/2 tbsp mild curry powder
1 clove garlic, minced and crushed
1.5 tbsp oyster sauce
1.5 tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
1 package rice vermicelli for bo bun (400g)

Other ingredients for the salad:
lettuce leaves, cut into bite-size chunks
0.6 lb (300 g) soy sprouts
1/2 bunch mint leaves
1/2 bunch coriander leaves
a few unsalted, grilled peanuts, pounded
sauce for bo bun and spring rolls (recipe here)

Cut the beef into thin strips, and leave to marinate in the fridge together with curry powder, garlic, and sauces, for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can prepare the sauce if you don’t have any on hand. I always make about a quart of sauce and I keep it in the fridge.

To cook the rice noodles, bring a large pan of water to a boil. Don’t add any salt to the water. Add the vermicelli and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Drain immediately and let cold water run on the noddles until they are almost cold. Press the noodles with your hand to squeeze out any remaining water. Set aside. I like to add a few drops a sesame oil to prevent the vermicelli from sticking together.

Sauté the beef in 1/2 tbsp coconut or olive oil on high heat, very briefly. The beef should still be tender and rare, unless you like it cooked well.

In large bowls, one for each person, add a few lettuce leaves, a few soy sprouts, then the noodles, the beef, the mint and coriander leaves, and the peanuts.

Pour the sauce on the beef noodles, as much as you want, according to your taste.


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