Bun cha gio is a Vietnamese rice noodle bowl loaded with fresh herbs and vegetables, nuoc mam dressing then topped with spring rolls. It is a fresh and satisfying meal made up of a number of components that can be made in advance.
How Steph and I Nearly Starved
One of the harsh realities one faces when leaving the family home is food no longer magically appears on the dinner table. Some days when my willpower is at absolute zero, like all good children I head back home for dinner! However, I know nothing is ever free. My payment comes in the form of being nagged by mum, and hearing dad sing Vietnamese opera into a microphone! Sounds a little crazy, huh? But believe it or not, it is just another day in a Vietnamese household.
So, when I first moved out of home, what did I do every time the fridge was completely bare? Well, I’ll tell you I was a particularly slow learner. For the first six months I just panicked then worked myself into a meltdown. But after repeating the same mistake again and again, I began to think of safeguards.
How Steph and I Got Organised In the End
Our first safeguard was to stock up on 2 minute noodles. We had the spicy Korean noodles, the Chinese noodles Steph grew up on, the migoreng ones everyone else grew up on, and a whole bunch of other ones we found at our local Asian grocery shop. They were for days where we had no other food, but they were so convenient we ended up eating them every day then feeling guilty afterwards. Over time, Steph and I got smarter (and fatter) and realised we needed a better system.
We started to stock items that were versatile and would keep well. This included the obvious staples like eggs, beans and pasta, but also what we call components. Components are things you make in advance then mix and match with other ingredients to make a complete meal.
Bun Cha Gio!
Spring rolls are one of our staple components. We make a big batch every few months, then store them in a plastic ziplock bag in the freezer. They are great on their own as a snack or as an entree for a dinner party.
However, if we are after a complete meal, then we rarely go past bun cha gio. Think rice noodles, loaded up with fresh herbs and vegetables, tossed through with nuoc mam dressing then topped with crispy spring rolls. These bowls are packed full of flavour, color and texture while also being reasonably healthy. It is particularly refreshing on a hot day where great tasting cold dishes help take your mind off the heat.
I’d be lying if I said we still don’t eat 2 minute noodles, or that we cook dinner every night. We have however learnt a thing or two about managing our food, and this recipe captures the main lessons. It uses key pantry items (noodles), components (spring rolls and nuoc mam dressing) and leftovers (herbs and vegetables). So, for everyone who is no longer seeing food magically appear on the dinner table, just keep calm, get yourself organised, and make bun cha gio.
Recipes Similar to Bun Cha Gio…
- Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad Bowls (Bun Bo Xao)
- Quick Rice Noodle Salad with Vietnamese Ham
- Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork Chops in Air Fryer
- Simple Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Dressing
Spring Roll Noodle Bowls – Bun Cha Gio
- 1 packet bean sprouts
- 1 bunch Thai basil
- 1 bunch coriander
- 1 bunch Vietnamese perilla / tia to optional
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce shredded
- 1 continental cucumber sliced
- water for boiling
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- 20 spring rolls fresh or frozen
- 350 gm dongguan rice vermicelli
- 1/2 cup crushed peanuts
Nuoc Mam Dressing – Nuoc Mam Cham
- 1 qty nuoc mam cham recipe here
Fried Spring Rolls – Cha Gio
- 1 qty fried spring rolls recipe here
Pickled Carrot and Daikon – Do Chua (optional)
- 1 qty pickled carrot and daikon recipe here
- Wash all herbs and vegetables then spin dry. Set aside.
- Make the nuoc mam cham. Set aside to infuse.
- In a large pot, boil plenty of water and cook the rice vermicelli as instructed on the packet.
- Strain the rice vermicelli and set aside to cool. Do not rinse (Note 1).
- In a saucepan, heatup the vegetable oil to 175 C – 180 C.
- Add the spring rolls and cook for 3 – 4 mins or until golden.
- Allow the spring rolls to drain on a cooling rack.
- Serve the components individually on the table and allow everyone to make their own noodle bowls (Note 2).
- Do not rinse the rice vermicelli with cold water after straining or it will go soggy and mushy.
- If you want to serve warm noodle bowls, then heat up the noodles and the nuoc mam dressing in the microwave before serving.