One of the best cold Vietnamese dishes has to be these Vietnamese beef noodle salad bowls. It has been a go-to meal for my family for years since it is so easy to make. Each bowl is filled with rice vermicelli noodles and tender marinated beef strips. It is then loaded up with as many fresh herbs and vegetables as you want and at the end, tied together by an amazing traditional Vietnamese dressing (nuoc mam cham). This recipe is truly a crowd pleaser and well worth a go!
To be honest with you guys, this recipe was one of those last minute change ups. I had originally planned to make a salad this week but that fell through when Steph said it sucked. Of course her verdict came AFTER she finished a big helping of it for dinner. I personally liked it but when one half of the blog says you’re wrong then maybe… just maybe… the recipe needs a little more work.
Making Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad Bowls
This recipe is on the dinner rotation quite often since it is so tasty, healthy and easy to make. Our fridge is usually stocked with ready made dressing and pickled carrot, so it literally takes us under 20 minutes to get it all on the table.
Use a mid-range cut of beef like flank steak. This recipe requires 5 minutes cooking time so tougher cuts of meat like chuck steak or rump steak are not going to be suitable. More expensive cuts like scotch fillet are overkill for this recipe.
Whatever cut you choose, here are some tips on how to get the best out of the beef:
- Cut into thin strips.
- Cut against the grain.
- Don’t overcook the meat. Go for medium-rare, or medium.
- If you don’t have all the marinating ingredients on hand, just season the beef with salt and pepper. The Vietnamese dressing will do the rest!
The Vietnamese Dressing
The heart and soul of this dish has to be the Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc mam cham) which we use as the dressing. There are so many variations of this recipe that it really comes down to personal preference. My family prefers it to be sweet and tangy for this dish. We also like to drown our noodles in the sauce!
I like to make my dressing earlier in the day since it is very important it has ample time to fuse with the garlic. A fresh batch of the dressing will usually not taste as good as the flavours need time to develop. The nuoc mam sauce will need adjusting depending on the brand of fish sauce. This is because they all differ slightly in flavour and salt content. Always taste test your nuoc mam after infusion and adjust.
Do not be alarmed if you find the sauce too salty on its own. When added to the noodle bowl, it will dilute and mellow out.
The Rice Noodles
The best noodles for this recipe is rice vermicelli noodles (Dong Guan).
These are available at both mainstream and Asian groceries.
Be careful not too overcook the noodles since they are quite fragile. I always like to slightly undercook them since they will continue cook after straining them.
Rinse the noodles after they have been cooked under warm water to remove any residue. This will prevent your noodles sticking together while they are resting / cooling.
I like to serve extra veg and herbs on a platter in the middle of the table so people can add more to their bowls. Also, don’t forget to serve any remaining sauce as well!
If you are super lazy (like me), you can also buy salad mix! I have done it before and works well.
Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon go really well with this dish. It adds colour and a tangy element. You can find a recipe here.
How to Serve Your Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad Bowls
There are a few ways you can serve this.
- Ready Made Bowls – Serve each bowl with noodles, beef and all the toppings. Leave the dressing on the table for people to do themselves.
- Interactive – Serve the bowls with only noodles in them. Plate up the beef, vegetable, herbs and dressing on the table. Allow people to make their own bowls.
Other Noodle Recipes You Might Enjoy
- Quick Rice Noodle Salad with Vietnamese Ham
- Rice Noodle Stir Fry in Egg Gravy (Wat Tan Hor)
- Chicken and Rice Noodle Stir Fry
- Easy Chicken and Hokkien Noodle Stir Fry
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Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad Bowls
- 400 gm beef flank steak or whatever you can afford, cut into thin strips (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 300 gm rice stick / vermicelli (Dong Guan style)
Vietnamese dipping sauce(make a 1.5x just to be safe)
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Vegetable and Herbs
- 5 – 6 lettuce leaves, shredded
- 1 cucumber, roughly chopped in matchsticks
- 250 gm bean sprouts
- 1/4 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
- handful of mint leaves (optional)
Vietnamese pickled carrots
- roasted peanuts, crushed (optional)
- Make the Vietnamese dipping sauce, in advance if possible (e.g. the day before). Cover with cling wrap and set aside until needed.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Mix in the beef strips and set aside.
- Prep the vegetables.
- Cook your rice noodles as directed on the packaging and leave it in a strainer until needed.
- Bring a large fry pan or skillet to high temperature. Add 1 tbsp of oil and flash fry the beef strips until medium/medium-rare.
- In each bowl, place the rice noodles in first and then all the toppings on top. Pour the dressing over the top and finish with crushed peanuts (if using).
- If you’ve got a cheaper cut of beef steak then it’s worth tenderising it first. To do this, add 1/2 tsp of baking soda and rub it into the meat. Cover with cling wrap and leave for 20 minutes. Then wash the meat thoroughly with water and pat dry with paper towels.