Bun Chay (Vegetarian Vietnamese Vermicelli Herb Noodle Salad)

by on March 24, 2013

I love how fresh and light vegetarian Vietnamese food is. Vietnamese dishes don’t tend to be very vegan friendly because many items have chicken stock or fish sauce in them, so you may not always be able to find something that is truly vegan at a Vietnamese restaurant. Bun Chay is a vegetarian vermicelli noodle salad seasoned with fresh herbs, bean sprouts and Nuac Chom (a fish based sauce.)

So I wanted to show you how you can make Bun Chay totally vegan at home. This is a really fun and impressive recipe to make for one, or even a dinner party. If you can slice some veggies and toss them together to make a regular salad, trust me you can make this! It’s super easy and fresh and you can customize it with your favorite vegetables or proteins like tofu or tempeh as well.

This salad also keeps well and can be taken to work for a healthy lunch (just make sure to keep the dressing separate).ย If you’re longing for a recipe to mix up your salad routine, this is it! It’s very low in fat, as well as filling. I hope you like it!

Bun Chay (Vegetarian Vietnamese Vermicelli Herb Salad)

Serves 4


250 g/8.8 oz package of rice vermicelli noodles (thin)
1 carrot, peeled and shredded or spiralized
2 Persian/small seedless cucumbers, julienned
1-2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped and/orย 1 cup Thai basil leaves, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup peanuts, crushed *optional

Vegan Nuac Cham (Sauce for Bun Chay):

1/4 cup lime juice (1 1/2 large limes)
1/4 cup vegetarian fish sauce (see recipe here)
1/3 cup hot water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 -4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 – 1 thai chili, finely chopped *optional
2 tbsp shredded carrot *optional


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, turn off the heat and add the noodles and stir to break up.

2. Let noodles sit for 2 minutes.

3. Drain noodles and run in cold water to shock them. Drain in a colander.

4. Prep veggies.

5. Arrange noodles in serving bowls. Garnish with carrots, cucumber, chopped herbs, mung beans and peanuts.

6. Combine ingredients for Nuac Cham sauce in a bowl and whisk until sugar dissolves. (You want it to be strong tasting as the noodles are bland and will soak up the flavor.)

7. Serve Bun Chay with a side of Nuac Cham. Pour sauce over it and toss well to combine.

Additional Tips:

Please note that Thai basil has a very different taste than regular Italian basil, so if you cannot find it, please use mint and cilantro (coriander) instead. Thai basil has green and purple tipped leaves and has a very exotic flavor.

I used a Japanese turning slicer to spiralize my carrots. I find them prettier this way instead of just shredding them. This is what I used.

If you can’t find Persian/Iranian (mini seedless cucumbers) use English cucumbers.

Make sure to put lots of herbs in this salad as it will be very mild tasting, you get most of the flavor from the Nuoc Cham sauce and the herbs. Otherwise it will mostly be rice noodles, carrots and bean sprouts.

If desired you can serve it with some hoison sauce (I tend to avoid as it has msg) or Sriracha hot sauce. You can find these at Asian stores and sometimes regular grocery stores as well.

Have you ever had Vermicelli salad or “Bun” before? What did you think of it?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Georgie July 10, 2015 at 10:25 PM

I had a similar version recently in a vegan restaurant in Tasmania, it was incredible and I’ve been craving it since (crazy pregnant lady) it also had some strips of fried tofu and vegan spring rolls (which were chopped into 2cm chunks) and it was so incredible! I’m making it tonight for friends! Thanks for the recipe!!


2 Christopher D. June 16, 2014 at 12:11 AM

I enjoy this quite often at a few Vietnamese restaurants around the south and east bay areas in Ca. I have never had it with the fish sauce, on purpose. But I do love it with a bit of soy and rice vinegar, and of course sriracha.
Great pictures to go along with! I was happy to find this recipe, and will certainly use it at home.
I found your site by trying to figure out what vegetarian vermicelli was called in vietnamese . Hoping to determine what the traditional ingredients were , I wanted to know what I was ordering if a kitchen didn’t have it on the menu.

I will have to explore your other recipes. And maybe get some IT pointers ๐Ÿ˜‰


3 denise March 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

I tried this today and it was delicious. I only used 1 T. of sugar in the sauce because we tend to like things less sweet. It was perfect and so easy! Thanks for this great post.


4 Su Cacaci May 16, 2013 at 7:14 AM

I tried this twice and loved it each time. I know this has probably very low calories but I was just wondering how much calories the sauce has ? I need to imput this on my calorie counter. Thanks I could live on this ๐Ÿ™‚


5 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica May 16, 2013 at 5:02 PM

You can enter in the ingredients of the sauce individually into your calorie counter. It depends on how much sugar/sweetener you put into it, but if there’s none it’s almost zero calories as soy sauce and vinegar are almost calorie free.


6 Su May 28, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Ok did that. I used 2tbsp maple instead of sugar total 155 calories. It was more than enough sauce for a big bowl !


7 Bryna Gesson April 16, 2013 at 7:49 AM

I made this sunday night and it was Awesome!! thank you so much for the recipe! I love Vietnamese food and this was great to make!


8 Kim March 30, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Thank you Veronica for all your hard work and giving us such wonderful choices. This looks so yummy.


9 Deb March 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Looks great so I printed it out to try. .
You might want to remove all the pictures from your Print option, I didn’t realise it would have them all in there and now have 7 pages including big colour photos using up SO much ink! Most print options on recipe websites just have one small one at the top!


10 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica March 25, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Hi Deb,

In the print button plugin (At the top of every recipe there is a blue print icon) you CAN choose to remove all of the photos. It defaults to having photos, if you check it, the box that says “remove photos” it will remove them and then you can print it without any.


11 Jennifer March 25, 2013 at 9:26 AM

This is one of my favorite. Can’t wait to make this!!!


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