This vegan Vietnamese vermicelli noodle salad called bún chay is the perfect colourful meal to enjoy when you feel like eating a healthy and tasty dish. Packed full of fresh vegetables, herbs, vermicelli noodles, and lemongrass tofu, finished with a sweet chilli garlic sauce and topped with peanuts.
Bún chay translates to “vegetarian vermicelli” in Vietnamese, and it’s known as a cold rice noodle salad.
So if you’re looking for a big bowl of healthy goodness that is satisfying and packed with flavour, colour, and texture, you’ve come to the right place!
What’s in this vegan bún chay recipe?
Like most of my recipes, I try and use everyday ingredients that are easy to find, and this vermicelli noodle salad is no exception. Rather than using ingredients you can only find in specialty stores or online, this dish is my take on a popular Vietnamese cold noodle salad. Here’s what’s inside:
- Bell pepper / capsicum
- Vietnamese mint (or regular mint)
- Cilantro / coriander
- Vermicelli noodles
- Lemongrass tofu
- Sweet chilli garlic sauce
- Red chilli
If there are certain ingredients that you don’t have on hand or you’d prefer a different flavour, here are a few substitutes that can be made.
Lemongrass tofu for tamari tofu
If you’re short on time or can’t find lemongrass, you can substitute the lemongrass tofu by simply pan-frying the tofu until crispy on the outside, then add a couple of tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce and toss them gently to cover each piece in the sauce. Place a lid on the pan and cook for a further minute. This is the method I also use for my laksa recipe.
Tofu for spring rolls
On the topic of tofu, you can swap it out altogether for veggie spring rolls. This is how I remember having a Vietnamese rice noodle salad in the past. They’re easy to find in the freezer aisle of supermarkets. Double-check that it says vegan on the packet, and you’re good to go! Slice them up once baked or fried, and enjoy the crispiness that spring rolls give this salad.
To keep it simple, I’ve used two herbs in this dish – cilantro and Vietnamese mint. If you can’t find Vietnamese mint or want a fresher flavour, substitute it with regular mint. You can also add Thai basil for a fuller and fresher taste to the bowl.
Sweet chilli garlic sauce for Vietnamese dipping sauce or peanut sauce
I like the sweet and punchy flavours that the sweet chilli garlic sauce brings to this salad, but a pre-made (or homemade) Vietnamese dipping sauce will work great as well. Make sure it’s vegan, as many of them will use fish sauce. The dipping sauce is a great substitute if you swap the tofu for spring rolls.
If you love peanuts, you can use my peanut sauce instead for a creamier dressing.
I didn’t suggest veggie swaps because they’re the best for this salad. You can add pickled veggies (like radish, daikon, and carrot) and fresh mung bean sprouts to the bowl if you have them on hand. Otherwise, keep the rest the same.
I hope you love this fresh and delicious bowl of goodness as much as I do!
Other recipes you’ll love:
- Vegan Noodle Bowl (Gluten-Free)
- Summer Kelp Noodle Salad
- 20-Minute Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Bowl
- Vegan Gado Gado (Indonesian Salad with Peanut Sauce)
- Vegan Laksa
- 30-Minute Vegan Buddha Bowls (Three Ways)
- Vegan Yaki Udon
- Healthy Vegan Congee (Savoury Rice Porridge)