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Suggestions for simple Vietnamese dish?

When trying to figure out what to serve my book club next week (one vegetarian, one gluten free), it struck me that a vietnamese dish might make sense (we are reading The Quiet American), and rice noodles are gluten free! After confirming that the vegetarian will eat fish sauce (phew), I got bogged down on internet research. So I thought that I would turn to my wise friends on Chowhound.
I was thinking of something like this:
but wasn't sure. Basically, I want a one-bowl dish with rice noodles that is easy and can largely be prepped ahead. Any suggestions??

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      1. re: ipsedixit

        I stand corrected. But the final cooking takes little time, and the vegetarian and gluten free guests can be served first to preclude any problems of cross contamination.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          The stock/broth is challenging. If you could find a place to sell you some, then the rest would be simple. But the few places here will not sell their stock to me.

          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            the stock used in Pho is not vegetarian

          2. That's a great idea, and that recipe looks all right, but I think you could do better!

            Look at these:


            Just for starters!

            1 Reply
            1. re: sandylc

              Thanks to Sandylc, and everyone for their great ideas!
              I do love Pho, but I've never made it and don't want my first time to be when I have guests.
              I found a lot of great ideas at Fine Cooking as well.

            2. I made these for a work pot luck and they were devoured. I used marinated tofu instead of the shrimp, as the celebrant ant doesn't do seafood. I marinaded the tofu in a bit of the dipping sauce. I've had them both ways, equally yummy.


              I made them the night before, and wrapped each one in plastic wrap. Put them in a sealed container on top of a damp towel, and they stayed soft for several days (there were negotiations over the few remaining after the pot luck for the next day's lunch)

              3 Replies
              1. re: autumm

                Oh, I was going to suggest summer rolls! Perfect for this time of year, if you are northern hemi.

                I prefer a clear dipping sauce, and I like to combine shiso (perilla) and pineapple. I love the tip for marinated tofu, and would like to know what you marinate it in!

                Clear dipping sauce:
                4 TBSP nam pla fish sauce
                4 TBSP vinegar (rice)
                4 TBSP sugar
                180 to 240 ml of water (3/4 to 1 cup, American)
                2 chopped garlic cloves
                1 chopped chili
                black pepper as desired

                Mix and adjust flavors to taste. This sauce just gets better as it sits, so you might like to make it the night before.

                1. re: MickiYam

                  I was running out of time, so I just used some of the dipping sauce from the recipe, so not as much marinaded as "coated".

                  I will have to try your clear dipping sauce some time. We use sun butter due to allergies, and Mr Autumn freaks out about how close to peanut butter I have the dipping sauce taste.

                  1. re: autumm

                    Oh, cool! It sounds like the marinated tofu would make a nice summer snack all by itself. I think I'll try this tonight for tomorrow.

              2. I do lemongrass chicken or pork rice bowls all the time.

                This recipe is awesome!


                2 Replies
                1. re: daislander

                  have you ever actually made the substitutions that would turn that recipe into a vegetarian dish?
                  what exactly did you do?
                  how exactly did it turn out?

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    ah yes I missed the one vegetarian part . Id just do a firm tofu in the same/separate marinade grill on side.

                2. However you choose to make your dish, be sure to include plenty of fresh herbs, peanuts, and scallions - makes it extra yummy.

                  1. How adventurous are they? Can you do something beyond pho, bun, and spring rolls? That looks like a good dish, but I would definitely want fish sauce on it.

                    1. I would suggest a "xao" noodle dish, or noodle stir fry.

                      With rice noodles you could do hu tieu xao chay or hu tieu xao ca ri chay---stir fried vegetable rice noodles, use fine or thick and flat, and optionally use a Vietnamese brand brand of ca ri or curry powder.

                      You could also choose to do mien xao chay, or stir fried cellophane noodles.

                      Here are some recipes to explore:

                      Use tofu instead of shrimp, and water or VN/Chinese veg stock powder for the chicken broth (don't use a Western brand cuz it will have herbal flavors like parsley in it) http://vietplaza.com/recipe/Noodles/B...

                      Here Pham Fatale has used wide fresh noodles, but you can use dried fine bun for this dish:

                      Alter your hu tieu xao by adding a teaspoon of ca ri powder like this: http://wanderingchopsticks.blogspot.c...

                      You can also add 1/4 cup tbs coconut milk to a fine rice vermicelli hu tieu xao curry dish.

                      Soak the noodles, do not cook them first, then allow them to cook in the stir fry liquid. It will happen fast and you will achieve the best texture this way. If you cook the rice noodles before you xao them, they won't absorb the flavor as well and will turn to mush.

                      1. Another idea, a dau hu xao recipe, tofu stir fried with some vegetable. You could be adventurous and use something like ridged gourd/Chinese okra/loofah vegetable (called muop in Vietnamese)...see this recipe:


                        Here is a pic of ridged gourd so you will know what to look for at the grocery store: http://www.padhuskitchen.com/2009/09/...

                        Or use the same recipe but sub a vegetable that you might be more familiar with like zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, whatever.

                        Also, if you use this recipe, you can skip a step by purchasing pre-fried Chinese tofu cubes. Soak them in warm water to remove the oil.

                        Also, you can use the translate feature on your browser and google "mon an chay" (veg food) to get loads of Viet veg recipes and select one and read the translation...translate feature gives very odd translations but at least you can see the ingredients and get the basics of the recipe. Por ejemplo, click on any of these 'xao' recipes and hit "translate" http://monanchayvn.blogspot.com/searc...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          Thanks for the links Luckyfatima! The recipes look fantastic...

                        2. If I was to do this dish id go light on the tofu as even most vegetarians I know don't like tofu. Use napa cabbage, lighter, crisper,fresher for a uncooked salad. When the menu says 'basil' at a Vietnamese place it means thai basil not regular, thai has a much more liquorish type flavour. and use lime over lemon.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: daislander

                            fwiw, even though i'm not a vegetarian at all, i happily eat tofu every other day or so. .

                            if the vegetarians you know are trying to create european-style food with tofu, i can understand why they wouldn't like it, but in asian food, it goes quite well.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              No not european style food. They just don't like it and these are life long vegetarians. I agree in asian food it works the best.

                              The controversy over how good soy is for you over the last 5 yrs has made me a bit of a skeptic on eating regularly. Luckily I'm happy not to eat tofu every other day lol.

                          2. I think the recipe you picked is fine, nice and light and summery. I just wanted to make sure that since people were commenting to make sure alterations were made to recipes they were suggesting for the vegetarian, that you make sure to use tamari instead of soy sauce since soy sauce is wheat based and not g-free. You probably already thought of that, but I find it tends to slip people's minds since it's a condiment and not "obviously" wheat based like noodles might be. It's one of the pitfalls of trying to eat most Asian cuisines and being g-free, so I tend avoid most of it unless cooking myself (save for Indian which seems to be very g-free-friendly).

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: amishangst

                              Ooh.. I did not know that! The friend technically has a wheat allergy rather than gluten intolerance, but in any case, better safe that sorry. I was actually going to use a sauce that another friend has give me the recipe for that uses fish sauce with no soy sauce.. but I will remember that soy sauce is out.
                              Thanks for the tip!