I took Brett to his first Vietnamese restaurant in 2003, and he was hooked. Our favorite menu item is “bun” which is a noodle bowl, nothing involving a bun. This seems fairly straightforward – some kind of grilled meat or tofu on rice noodles, but the magic is in the sauce. Sweet, tangy, spicy.
A few years ago, I was able to track down a good recipe from an unexpected source. Emeril Lagasse – BAM – apparently makes a lot of Vietnamese food. So I’ve been making his sauce for years with a couple alterations. This link is to his sauce on the Food Network, here’s my version:
Nuoc Cham Sauce
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
- 1/4 c. rice vinegar (or whatever you have on hand)
- 1/4 c. fish sauce
- 1/4 c. water
- 1/4 c. shredded carrot
Combine all ingredients in a glass container and mix until sugar is dissolved.
The noodle bowls are good with meat, but I usually just do tofu because it’s a great blank canvas for the yumminess of the sauce. I get vermicelli noodles from the Asian foods section (also where you can find the fish sauce).
I topped the cooked noodles with some stir-fried tofu, cilantro and green onions, and plenty of the magic sauce. For Hannah, I just mixed some noodles with shredded carrots and topped with tofu. She ate half the tofu and liked playing with the noodles, then we gave her the leftover cheeseburger from lunch.
This is fun to do for a “homemade take-out” night or just something to mix up the menu plan. And it was a great, light dinner after stuffing myself with a double cheeseburger and french fries for lunch.