Discovering Vietnamese Noodle Bowls
When we lived in northern Virginia, my husband and I loved going out to a local Vietnamese restaurant. We thought we were being so adventurous! The first time we went we ordered an item called Bun Thit Ga (Vietnamese Noodle Bowls) which are vermicelli noodles with chicken. It is so light and fresh and the flavors just pop and meld together perfectly. It was SO GOOD that every time we went we ordered the same thing. We had three very young children so date nights were rare. We didn’t want to risk getting something we didn’t enjoy!
After our move to North Carolina, we were so sad to realize that the closest Vietnamese restaurant was nearly an hour away. I began trying to replicate our favorite meal about 8 years ago and have finally gotten it close to the “real” stuff! I had to make a few minor tweaks after starting Trim Healthy Mama in 2016:
- Switched the honey in the marinade to an on-plan sweetener
- Switched the noodles from angel hair pasta to konjac noodles (my favorite are these from Trim Healthy Mama!) which are actually closer in consistency to the ones at the Vietnamese restaurants!
These Vietnamese noodle bowls are SO SIMPLE to make! Marinate your chicken thighs. Chop up your toppings. Boil your noodles. Voila! That’s it. Seriously simple.
[scroll to bottom for a printable recipe]
To make your marinade you’ll need:
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (or liquid aminos if you are on a gluten-free diet)
- 3 Tablespoons Pyure granulated sweetener (or your favorite low-carb sweetener)
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 4 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (the zest from one medium lemon)
I like marinating meat in a ziploc-style bag. I mix my marinade in the bag to reduce my dishes that need to be washed. Add all your ingredients to the bag and seal it then smoosh it and shake it to get it mixed. Make sure it’s sealed before shaking it. Trust me on this one…
Then add 2 – 2.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs to the bag. Seal the bag again and work the marinade throughout the meat. You can substitute chicken breasts, but the flavor is so much better with the chicken thighs!
This is the long part. Put the bag in a mixing bowl and then put the mixing bowl in your fridge. Don’t skip the mixing bowl! If for some reason your bag has a hole in it, that mixing bowl will save you HOURS of clean-up. You’ll have to trust me on this one too… 😉
Now go prepare the dressing while you have most of the ingredients already on your counter. Leave the meat in the fridge for the next 24 hours. Every 4-6 hours flip the bag over to redistribute the marinade. I know that seems like a long time, but I’ve tried marinating less and it’s just not as flavorful.
Prepare the dressing
I make my nuac cham dressing in a Good Seasons salad dressing bottle because it’s easy to mix and serve from the same container. I like to make it the same day I begin marinating my chicken so that the flavors get a chance to meld.
To make the dressing you will need:
- 1/4 cup lime juice (fresh squeezed is best!)
- 2 Tablespoons extra light olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoon Pyure (or your favorite low carb sweetener equivalent to 2 T of sugar)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if your family likes things spicier)
Add all the ingredients to your shaker bottle and then shake until well-blended. Refrigerate until ready to use. I usually make a double batch of the dressing because I like to use it on salads too!
Prepare your Toppings
One of my favorite parts of the Vietnamese Noodle Bowls is that each person creates their own bowl with as much or as little of the different toppings as they like. This is wonderful with kids! They feel like they’re in control of what they’re eating and you aren’t having to play short order cook. Depending on how efficient you are at chopping you can either do this before you begin grilling your meat or while the meat is grilling.
Traditional toppings include:
- chopped cucumber
- bean sprouts
- shredded carrots
- chopped peanuts
- chopped fresh cilantro
Grill your meat and prepare konjac noodles
Grill your chicken thighs at about 375-400 F. Be sure to spread them out flat onto the grate for more even grilling time. Every grill is a little different with its timing. Mine returns to the grilling temperature very quickly after I have it opened to flip the meat so it takes me about 17-20 minutes to grill the thighs depending on how thick they are. I turn them every 4-5 minutes. You want the thickest part of the meat to be 165 F.
I promise you that this smells like pure heaven right here! While your meat is doing its thing on the grill you can prepare your konjac noodles according to their package directions.
I’ve used angel hair Miracle Noodles but my favorite are the new ones from Trim Healthy Mama. They’re great for all sorts of noodle dishes! I plan on one bag per person because everyone in my family eats adult-sized portions now. They come in a bag with liquid and have a funky smell at first. Don’t let that put you off! [true confession: I bought and threw away a lot of bags of these noodles before I worked up the nerve to actually try them… LOL] Cut open the bag in your sink and dump the contents into a strainer. Rinse the noodles for a minute or two under cool water. Then add the noodles to boiling water for 5 minutes and drain them again. The funky smell is gone and they are ready for your noodle bowls!
Remove the chicken to a plate and then bring inside to chop it into bite-sized pieces. Try not to eat too many pieces while you’re chopping. You can totally ruin your appetite that way. Not that I would know anything about that…
Each person then gets to assemble their own bowl! Start with noodles in the bottom, then add the vegetable toppings you like (bean sprouts, carrots, and cucumbers). Then your chicken. And then garnish with the chopped peanuts and cilantro. Give the whole thing a nice drizzle of nuac cham and then enjoy!
Let me know when you try this recipe and what you think of it!
Vietnamese Noodle Bowls | THM-S
- 2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1/4 cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce or Liquid Aminos
- 3 Tbsp Pyure
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 4 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest (zest from one medium lemon)
- 2 - 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup lime juice fresh squeezed is best!
- 2 Tbsp extra light olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp Pyure
- 1 tsp Minced Garlic
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or more if you prefer spicier food)
For Your Bowls
- 1 large English cucumber, chopped
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 cups shredded carrots can purchase pre-cut matchstick carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped, salted peanuts
- 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
- 6 7-oz package Angel Hair Miracle Noodles
- Combine all ingredients for marinade in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Add chicken and seal bag. Distribute marinade throughout the meat. Place bag in a mixing bowl and put in refrigerator for 24 hours. Turn the bag over every 4-6 hours to redistribute the marinade.
- Combine all ingredients for dressing in a small mixing bowl or shakeable carafe at the same time you prepare the marinade. Place dressing in refrigerator overnight.
- Grill chicken thighs over medium heat (375-400 F) for approximately 17-20 minutes, turning every 4-5 minutes. Cook until meat reaches 165 F in thickest section. Once meat is finished cooking, chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Prepare Miracle Noodles while meat is grilling according to package instructions. First drain and rinse the noodles from the package then boil for 5 minutes. Drain noodles.
- Assemble noodle bowls: Noodles first Top with bean sprouts, cucumbers and carrots Add chicken Garnish with peanuts and cilantro Drizzle with Dressing