Crispy Tofu Bún
Nothing beats a crispy, crunchy, tangy, refreshing salad for lunches at work (or working from home). Check out this vegetarian twist on the classic Vietnamese rice noodle salad.
I am always looking for light, quick, easy, cheap, and delicious recipes to make at home. As much as we love checking out new restaurants, it's not always the best choice for our bodies or wallets. This crispy tofu bún is tangy, flavorful and great for lunch or meal prep - plus, it's vegetarian and gluten free!
Start by preparing your tofu. You'll need to drain any extra liquid from the tofu before breading and cooking. I typically place the block of tofu between two plates and add weight (cook books or more dishes work well). You can also use a tofu press if you have one. Once the tofu has drained for at least 10 minutes, cut it into 1 inch cubes. Prepare a breading station by mixing the corn starch, garlic, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish to your taste and coating the tofu cubes on all sides. This is probably the most simple breading ever, but the result is very crispy on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside.
I love preparing my crispy tofu in the air fryer. It results in a nice even cook, without having to use lots of oil. It is also a "set it and forget it" type of appliance which frees up my attention for other tasks. I use the Ninja Foodi, but any air fryer will work great. Place the tofu cubes in the air fryer basket and spray lightly with a bit of cooking spray. Set the temperature to 400 F/ 205 C and the timer for 15 minutes. About half way through the cooking time, stir the tofu cubes with a spatula to make sure that all sides get equally crispy. When the 15 minutes are up, you'll have delicious, crispy tofu, ready to enjoy! You can also bake the tofu in a conventional oven if you don't have an air fryer. Place the cubes on a lined baking sheet and bake at 350 F/ 175 C until crispy.
Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles to the package instructions - mine required boiling for approximately 8 minutes until they were soft and pliable. I was able to get my rice noodles from Lam's Seafood, a local Vietnamese grocery store in Seattle, but most major grocery stores also stock rice noodles in their Asian foods section. Once the noodles have cooked, immediately drain and rinse the them under cold water so that they don't become too sticky. You can use kitchen scissors to cut the noodles into smaller pieces if needed.
Next, prepare all the veggies for the salad. My favorite thing about bún is the variety of vegetables and how they each provide a different flavor and texture. My staples for this salad are green leaf lettuce (tear it into bite-sized pieces), bean sprouts, grated carrot, sliced cucumber, and lots of fresh mint and basil. It is also traditional to include picked daikon - if your local Vietnamese supermarket or sandwich shop has picked daikon available, definitely try adding it for more tang and crunch!
Finally, prepare the nước chấm (dressing). You'll need to add the lemon juice, fish sauce, and sambal chili paste and whisk everything until well combined. As a heads up, this sauce may separate, so stir right before serving so chili is well incorporated. You can skip the fish sauce and keep this recipe totally vegan.
Add the tofu, veggies, and noodles to a large bowl and top with the dressing. Top with fresh herbs for extra brightness and flavor.
Recipe Details // Ingredients & Steps
1 package of extra firm tofu, cubed
2 tbsp corn starch
Salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to taste
1/2 package of thin rice noodles/vermicelli
1 cucumber, sliced
1 carrot, grated
Green leaf lettuce
Fresh basil and mint leaves
Nước Chấm (fish sauce dressing)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fish sauce (can be omitted to keep this recipe vegan)
1 tsp sambal chili sauce (to taste depending on your preference)
Prepare the tofu: drain and press the block of tofu for at least 10 minutes then cube and bread the tofu in the cornstarch, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper.
Cook the tofu in an air fryer at 400 F/ 205 C for approximately 15 minutes, stirring half way through the cook time.
Cook the rice noodles to package directions. Immediately drain and rinse the cooked noodles so that they remain pliable but not sticky.
Whisk together the lemon juice, fish sauce, and sambal to create the nước chấm (dressing)
Prepare the vegetables by chopping the cucumber and grating the carrot.
Once all the tofu, noodles, and veggies are ready, assemble the salad. If you are using this recipe for meal prep, top with lettuce on the day of service, if possible, to prevent it form wilting.
Top with fresh herbs and the nước chấm dressing and ENJOY!
What are your favorite Vietnamese recipes? Do you have a favorite type of bún (I love the eggroll bún too!) What recipes should we share next?