One thing I recently discovered that I’ve fallen in love with, is vermicelli bowls. They have them at Vietnamese Pho restaurants, and if you’ve never had them, they’re awesome. They’re also a great alternative to pho in the summer time when you want something a little bit cooler.
If you don’t know what it is, usually you get a bowl of rice vermicelli noodles with some kind of marinated and grilled meat (or tofu) on top, along with lettuce, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, bean sprouts, chopped up peanuts, and often a chopped up egg roll or two. It usually comes with the famous Vietnamese fish dipping sauce, nuoc mam cham. I’ve also fallen in love with this sauce. It’s tangy, salty, spicy, and sweet all at the same time. It’s brilliant. And delicious. You pour the sauce over everything, mix it up a little, and enjoy the taste of heaven in your mouth…
As you can probably tell by now, I like this dish (no, really?). I don’t know how it took me 25 years to discover it. I decided I should try to make my own version at home, and while it may not be quite as wonderful as the vermicelli bowls you get in a restaurant, it’s still pretty dang good!
I adapted my recipe from the recipe I found on The Ravenous Couple, here.
The recipe may seem complicated with all the different parts, but it’s really not. It’s basically just adding the stuff to different bowls and mixing it up. It’s not hard! I promise!
I forgot to add the lettuce before I took these pictures. Doh! Because that’s how I roll…
Shrimp Vermicelli Bowls
(serves 2 – 3)
For the pickles:
- 1 c. carrot matchsticks
- 1 c. daikon matchsticks (or you can use sliced radishes if you couldn’t get your hands on a daikon, like me)
- white distilled vinegar
For the fish dipping sauce, nuoc mam cham:
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 Tbsp. white or rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 chile, diced, or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/8 c. fish sauce (add more or less to taste)
For the marinade:
- 1/4 c. minced lemon grass (you can leave this out if you can’t find it)
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 – 3 green onions, diced
- 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 14 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
- 1/2 c. cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 1 c. fresh bean sprouts (or canned if you can’t find them fresh)
- A few handfuls of leaf lettuce, torn into pieces
- 1/2 c. toasted peanuts, chopped
- A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
- egg rolls (optional)
- First, make the pickles. Add the carrot and daikon matchsticks to a small bowl. Cover with vinegar until the vegetables are just covered. Add salt and sugar gradually, until the desired taste it reached. Note: you’ll need more sugar than salt, as the vinegar solution should be tart, sweet, and only a little salty. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.
- Second, make the marinade. Add all the marinade ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Add the shrimp and mix until all the shrimp are well coated. Cover and refrigerate one or more hours (30 minutes minimum).
- Next, make the fish sauce. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Cover and refrigerate.
- Cook the vermicelli noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Cook the shrimp in a med-hot skillet or on a grill until completely cooked through.
- Divide the noodles into bowls. Place the cooked shrimp on top, along with the strained pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce, peanuts, and cilantro (if desired). Serve with the nuoc mam cham sauce and chopped up egg rolls if desired.