Vietnamese-style bun is the quintessential warm weather dish: fresh, light, and full of greens. There’s a lot of chopping involved to make this noodle bowl, but you can save yourself some time by chopping everything ahead of time and assembling the bowls at the last minute.
For the quick pickles:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 3/4 cups peeled and shredded daikon
1 2/3 cups peeled and shredded carrots
For the mushrooms:
3 garlic cloves
2 serrano chiles
2 inches ginger root, peeled
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed
3 teaspoons coconut sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved (or quartered if large)
7 ounces firm tofu, cubed
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons avocado oil
For the noodle bowls:
8 ounces dried thin rice noodles
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cucumber, sliced
Handful each of mint and Thai basil leaves
1 small head lettuce, thinly sliced
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
1. Make the pickles: combine the sugar, salt, and vinegar with 1/2 cup water in a bowl, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the vegetables and set aside for 2 hours. Drain and serve, or chill them for up to 2 weeks.
2. Make the mushrooms: finely chop the garlic, chiles, ginger, and lemongrass in a mini food processor. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the sugar and fish sauce. Remove half of this mixture to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
3. To the original large bowl, add the mushrooms, tofu, and five-spice, gently mixing to coat. Leave for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, add the rice vinegar and the juice of 1 lime to the small bowl of reserved sauce along with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Stir, taste, and adjust with more lime juice, salt, or sugar to taste. Cover and set aside.
5. Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions and drain under cold water. Blanch the bean sprouts in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain again.
6. Divide the bean sprouts, noodles, cucumber, herbs, lettuce, and pickles between 4 large serving bowls, and set aside.
7. Set a large frying pan over high heat and add the oil. Add the tofu and mushroom mixture (leaving the liquid behind the bowl). Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until well browned. Add the liquid and cook until liquid is reduced and mushrooms and tofu are glazed, about 2 or 3 minutes.
8. Divide the tofu and mushroom mixture between the serving bowls. Scatter with the crushed peanuts and serve with the dipping sauce alongside each bowl to add to noodles.