Asian noodle bowls are an excellent option for a balanced, nutrient-dense lunch or dinner. Many times these bowls can be assembled from items you already have in your pantry and taste just as good as the local take-out option. This vegetarian noodle bowl is inspired by a traditional Vietnamese sandwich – the Bánh Mì.
In Vietnamese, the word bánh mì is derived from bánh (translates to “cake” or “bread” and refers to foods eaten with hands or chopsticks) and mì (wheat). Essentially, bánh mì means any kind of bread, but it could refer to the Vietnamese baguette, or the sandwich made from it. The Bánh Mì sandwich starts with a French baguette with a crisp crust and light airy texture. The baguette is split lengthwise and is typically filled with a fusion of meat and pickled vegetables common in Vietnamese cuisine with condiments from French cuisine such as pâté, along with red chili and mayonnaise.
The Vietnamese sandwich reflects the influence of the French colonists who had occupied the country prior to the Vietnam War. During this time of colonialism, the French introduced Vietnam to the baguette, along with other baked goods such as pâté chaud, in the 1860s, at the start of their imperialism in Vietnam. The baguette became a huge part of the Vietnamese diet. For a long time, the Vietnamese ate baguettes in much the same way as the French: served alongside a platter of meats, cheeses, and butter; typically eaten at breakfast or as a snack.
Our lip-smacking, vegetarian noodle bowl deconstructs the Bánh Mì retaining the pickled vegetables and mayonnaise-based spread, while trading crispy tofu for pork/sausage and noodles for the baguette. The bowl includes crisp purple cabbage, spicy jalapeño slices, and refreshing fresh mint and is topped with spicy creamy dressing made with vegan mayo and sriracha hot sauce.
Forgo the dinner dance, and opt to travel around the world from the comfort of your kitchen with this Vietnamese-inspired noodle bowl. Enjoy!
Tofu + Marinade
- 14 oz extra firm tofu drained, cut into 1” cubes
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp maple syrup Grade A
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 ½ c rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ c water
- ¾ c raw sugar or agave or maple syrup
- 2 tsp salt divided
- 1 ½ c carrots shredded
- 2 bunches radishes thinly sliced (approx 1 ½ cups)
- 8 oz rice noodles
- 1 medium cucumber thinly sliced into ribbons (approx 2 cups)
- ¾ c mayonaise vegan
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sriracha
- ½ tsp salt
- fresh mint
- lime wedges
- jalapeno pepper sliced; seeds removed
- Pickle the Veggies. Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a saucepan over medium heat to create the brine. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt. Place ¾ c each carrots and radishes into two 16 oz mason jars and top it with red pepper flakes. Add the brine to the vegetables and make sure they are fully submerged. Seal the container and shake to combine. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Marinate the Tofu. Drain tofu and wrap in a dishtowel. Place a weighted object on top to press excess liquid from the tofu. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes, pat dry with a paper towel and place in a medium bowl. Measure soy sauce, maple syrup and soy sauce into the bowl with tofu; gently stir to coat. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Prepare the Noodles. Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions.
- Cook the Tofu. Preheat the oven to 385’F. Place the marinated tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 25 minutes and make sure to flip them halfway through to cook both sides evenly.
- Assemble the Bowl. Add a layer of noodles to a bowl. Layer in sriracha tofu, cucumbers, red cabbage, and pickled veggies. Top with cilantro or mint leaves and drizzle with creamy Sriracha sauce. Optional garnish with jalapeno peppers. Serve with lime wedges on the side for squeezing over top. Squeeze the lime wedge for a brighter taste!