Spring forward with this bright and cheery Vietnamese rice noodle salad that’s bursting with a rainbow of fresh flavours and textures. Room temperature rice noodles are topped with a handful of roughly-torn fresh herbs, quick homemade pickled carrots and cucumbers, roasted peanuts, a squeeze of lime and a dousing of “nuoc cham”, a Vietnamese umami dipping sauce that wraps the whole thing up in a delicious bow.

Here I made it with savoury lemongrass pork, which is both citrusy and fresh, but feel free to substitute pork for a vegetarian protein (tofu would be great) made with a generous helping of fried shallots and roasted peanuts. And please, don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list. This must-have noodle bowl is actually a cinch to assemble.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serving Size: 4

Vietnamese Noodles Lemongrass Chicken

Ingredients:
8 ounces Vietnamese rice noodles, cooked and refrigerated
1/2 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
Cilantro
Mint
Thai basil

Lemongrass Pork
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons lemongrass, finely minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers
2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
1 large cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Seasoned Fish Sauce
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 red Thai chilies, stems removed and minced

Vietnamese Noodles with Shallots

For the shallots:
– Peel shallots and thinly slice. Lightly dust with flower and fry until golden brown. Drain on pa-per towels and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

For the pickled carrots and cucumbers:
– Toss the julienned carrots and cucumber in a medium bowl. Add enough rice wine vinegar to cover. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the seasoned fish sauce:
– In a medium bowl, whisk together fish sauce, water, sugar, and vinegar until sugar dissolves. Whisk in garlic and chilies.

For the pork:
– Combine soy sauce, fish sauce and honey in a bowl, set aside.

Vietnamese Bun with Chicken

Directions:

1. In large skillet, heat sesame oil and stir fry lemongrass and garlic until golden brown. Add pork and sauté with sugar, salt and pepper for about 10 minutes or until meat is no longer red. Stir in soy sauce mixture and cook for another minute.
2. Assemble by dividing cooked rice noodles among serving bowls. Top with lettuce, cilantro and bean sprouts, then carrots/cucumber and grilled pork. Sprinkle with peanuts, douse with seasoned fish sauce and serve immediately.

BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s 1 Dish, 2 Ways column. She’s also a contributing editor over at slice.ca. For more recipe ideas, visit bonniemo.ca, or catch her on Instagram @bonniemo