This low-carb version of Vietnamese Noodle Bowls is light, fresh and bursting with flavor. This noodle salad is a perfect summer meal.
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. by eating somewhere new!
The very first time we went we ordered something called Bun Thit Ga (Vietnamese Noodle Bowls) which are vermicelli noodles with chicken.
You would have laughed so hard at how we picked out what to order!
Neither one of us had ever eaten Vietnamese food before.
It went down kinda like this:
Him: Well, we like grilled chicken, so that should be safe, right?
Me: I guess? I mean, probably? The “bun” stuff is supposed to be vermicelli. That’s probably just like spaghetti, right?
Him: I guess?
Me: Is it okay if we get the same thing? Because I’m not sure about anything else on this menu!
When our matching plates arrived, we were in heaven!
It was so light and fresh and the flavors just popped and work together perfectly.
It was so good, that every time we went we ordered the same thing.
Every. Single. Time.
We had three very young children then, so date nights were rare. We didn’t want to risk ordering something we didn’t love!
How I Learned to (sorta) Cook Vietnamese Noodle Bowls
After our move to North Carolina, we were so sad to find out the closest Vietnamese restaurant was nearly an hour away.
Babysitters are pricey!
Does anyone else remember being paid $20 for an entire night of babysitting three kids?
And babysitting meant you played with them, cooked them dinner, bathed them, put them to bed, did the dishes, and cleaned up the house before finally sitting down to watch The Love Boat and Fantasy Island?
Now babysitters want that much per hour!
And you’re lucky if they manage to put dishes in the sink.
But I digress…
So, we moved to North Carolina and I began trying to replicate our favorite meal with recipes I found online.
About 8 years ago, after some tweaking, I’d gotten it close to the “real” stuff!
Then after starting Trim Healthy Mama in 2016 I made a few more changes to my recipe to make them into Low Carb Vietnamese Noodle Bowls.
A happy discovery was that low carb konjac or shirataki noodles are actually more like the rice noodles at our favorite Vietnamese restaurants!
The best part?
Vietnamese noodle bowls are so simple to make at home!
Marinate some chicken thighs.
Chop up some toppings.
Rinse the noodles (that’s right, you don’t even need to cook them!).
Low Carb Vietnamese Noodle Bowls are on your table.
Ingredients for Low Carb Vietnamese Marinade:
- Minced garlic
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce (or liquid aminos if you are on a gluten-free diet)
- Pyure granulated sweetener (or your favorite low-carb sweetener)
- Fish sauce
- Lime juice
- Sesame oil
- Crushed red pepper
- Lemon zest (the zest from one medium lemon)
Helpful Tips to Make Keto Vietnamese Noodle Salad Bowls
I like marinating meat in a Ziploc-style bag.
Just mix up the marinade right in the bag. There’s one less dish to wash later!
Seal the bag, add the chicken thighs, then smoosh it and shake it to get it mixed.
Just be sure it’s sealed before shaking it.
Trust me on this one…
Make sure you work the marinade over all the meat.
Yes, you can substitute chicken breasts, but the flavor is so much better with the chicken thighs!
Then pop the bag in a mixing bowl or inside another bag and put it in the fridge.
Don’t skip the mixing bowl or extra bag part… You’ll be so glad you used them if the marinade bag has a little hole in it!
To save some time, mix up the dressing while you have most of the ingredients already on your counter!
Be sure to marinate the meat in the fridge overnight. You can do it for less time, but it won’t taste as good.
Flip the bag over every 4-8 hours to redistribute the marinade.
How to Make Keto Nuoc Cham (aka the Dressing)
The dressing you use on your noodle bowls is called nuoc cham.
It’s a light dressing that’s a little sweet.
A little spicy.
A little savory.
And a lot of good!
I make my nuoc cham in a salad dressing bottle because it’s easy to mix and serve from the same container.
If you make it the same day you make the chicken marinade the flavors really meld and it tastes even better.
Ingredients For The Dressing:
- Lime juice (fresh squeezed is best!)
- Extra light olive oil
- Fish sauce
- Pyure (or your favorite low carb sweetener equivalent)
- Minced garlic
- Crushed red pepper
Add all the ingredients to your shaker bottle and then shake until well-blended.
You do need to refrigerate it because of the fish sauce.
I usually make a double batch of the dressing because I like to use it on salads too!
What Toppings Do You Add to Vietnamese Noodle Salad?
One of my favorite tricks when feeding kids is the “bar” concept.
No, not the “open bar” concept (although there are days when I want a glass of wine or three).
I’m talking about something more like a “salad bar.”
Basically all the different ingredients are put out on the counter in bowls. Then each person gets to choose the things they like. And you don’t have to hear “but I don’t like (fill in the blank)” from anyone!
Serving food this way makes kids (and husbands) feel like they’re in control of what they’re eating.
And you aren’t having to play the role of a short-order cook.
Just before I start grilling the meat, I start chopping.
Traditional toppings include:
- chopped cucumber (I cut in 1/2-inch slices and then quarter them)
- bean sprouts (just open the bag and rinse)
- shredded carrots (just open the bag and serve)
- chopped peanuts (chop them kind of coarse)
- chopped fresh cilantro (make this kind of fine)
- thinly sliced fresh mint
How to Get Perfectly Grilled Chicken Thighs
I’ve learned a few things about how to get the perfect grilled chicken thigh. It’s taken some trial and error, so like a good friend I’m gonna help you out!
Be sure to spread the thighs out flat on the grate.
Turn the heat down a little lower so they don’t burn up.
Flip them over every 4-5 minutes. You want the thickest part of the meat to be 165 F.
Every grill is a little different and every chicken thigh is too! So the amount of time will vary, but for me, it takes 15-20 minutes over medium heat to grill thighs perfectly.
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.
How to Prepare Konjac (or Shiritaki) Noodles
I love these noodles so much! I usually order them a case at a time to get the best price. They’re great for all sorts of noodle dishes!
I plan on one little bag of noodles per person because everyone in my family eats adult-sized portions now.
Word of warning: konjac noodles come in a plastic bag with liquid inside. The first time you open one of these bags, the smell is funky!
I couldn’t imagine that they would be edible, let alone taste good.
But don’t let the smell stop you!
[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]
They’re super easy to make, though! And the smell does not translate to a flavor.
They just taste like whatever you put on top of them.
Cut open the bag in your sink and dump the noodles in a strainer.
Then rinse the noodles for a few minutes under cool water.
If you want (and I did this the first few times), add the noodles to boiling water for about 5 minutes and drain them again.
The funky smell is gone!
Now I just give them a rinse, cut them into smaller pieces (these noodles are crazy long!) and put them in a serving bowl.
How to Serve Keto Vietnamese Noodle Bowls
Once the chicken is done grilling, 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…
Then each person gets to assemble their own bowl!
Start with noodles in the bottom. You can add lettuce too if you want.
Throw on the other toppings you like (bean sprouts, carrots, and cucumbers).
Next, add in some chicken.
Finally garnish with the chopped peanuts, cilantro, and mint.
Give the whole thing a nice drizzle of nuoc cham and then enjoy!
Be sure to leave a star rating and review after you make the recipe. This helps other people to find and enjoy it too.
If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!