One of the best cold Vietnamese dishes has to be these beef noodle 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 nuoc mam sauce. This recipe is truly a crowd pleaser and well worth giving 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 your wrong then maybe… just maybe… the recipe needs a little more work.
This beef noodle bowl recipe is on the dinner rotation quite often since it is so tasty, healthy and easy to make. Our fridge is usually stocked with nuoc mam sauce and pickled carrot , so it literally takes us under 20 minutes to get it all on the table.
The heart and soul of this dish has to be the nuoc mam sauce. There are so many variations of this recipe that it really comes down to personal preference. My family prefers nuoc mam to be less tangy and powerful for this dish since we like to drown our noodles in the sauce. If you would like a link to both the sweet and tangy version of nuoc mam then you can find it here.
My Tips for Success
- It is very important that the nuoc mam sauce has ample time to fuse with the garlic. A fresh batch of nuoc mam sauce will usually not taste as good until it allowed time to develop.
- Do not be alarmed if you find the sauce a little too salty on its own. When added to the noodle bowl, it will dilute and mellow out.
- You can use any rice stick / vermicelli noodle you like but the dong guan type is our favourite.
- My mother likes to rinse the noodles after they have been cooked under warm water to remove the residue. This will prevent your noodles sticking together while they are resting / cooling.
- Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon goes really well with this dish. You can find the recipe for this here.
- I like to serve all the leftover veg and herbs on a platter and place it on the table so people can add more to their bowls. Also, don’t forget to serve the remaining sauce as well!
- If you are super lazy (like me), you can buy salad mix! I have done it before and it does work well.
- If you don’t have all the marinating ingredients on hand, then just season the beef strips with salt and pepper. The nuoc mam sauce will do the rest!
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Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowls
- 400 gm beef flank steak or whatever you can afford, cut into thin strips (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 240 gm rice stick / vermicelli (Dong Guan style) or 4 portions
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 garlic clove, finely chopped
Nuoc Mam Sauce
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp of white sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- 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)
- pickled carrot and daikon or 1 shredded carrot, (optional and the link for this recipe is in the tips section)
- crushed peanuts (optional)
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Mix in the beef strips and leave aside.
Combine all the nuoc mam sauce ingredients. Cover with cling wrap and leave aside until needed.
Prep all you vegetables.
Cook your rice noodles as directed on the packaging and leave it in strainer until needed.
In a large fry pan or skillet on high, add 1 tbsp of oil and cook the the beef strips until done.
Taste test your nuoc mam sauce and adjust it to your liking. (Do this only after the garlic has had time to infuse)
In each bowl, place the rice noodles in first and then all the toppings on top. Pour the nuoc mam sauce over the top and finish with crushed peanuts.
- 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.