Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Vermicelli Noodle Salad

A healthy and delicious Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Vermicelli Noodle Salad (Bun Ga Nuong), full of fresh and bold flavours. The chicken is marinated in a classic Vietnamese marinade and served grilled over a bed of vermicelli noodles, salad, fresh herbs and a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham).

bowl with lemongrass chicken sliced with a noodle salad with a bowl of nuoc cham dipping sauce

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

If I could only eat one dish throughout the summer, it would have to be my mother’s Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Vermicelli Noodle Salad.

Growing up in Queensland, Australia, where the weather is pretty much warm and sunny all year round, salads featured prominently on the dinner menu in our home. And noodle salads in particular were popular because, as a child, the only thing you could count on me eating was noodles.

If you put a bowl of chicken noodle soup or stir-fried noodles in front of me, I was a happy camper. You would not have had much luck with anything involving rice.

sliced grilled chicken on bowl with noodles, salad and herbs

What is a Vermicelli Noodle Salad?

A vermicelli noodle salad is a classic dish in any Vietnamese home or restaurant. It is typically served as a noodle bowl, i.e., it is eaten in a big bowl mixed with salads and herbs, and dressed with a nuoc cham or Vietnamese dipping sauce.

For this dish, it is important that you use rice vermicelli noodles, which are the thin and round variety. Rice vermicelli noodles come in a variety of thickness, and you can use whichever size you like. I usually use either the thin or medium thickness vermicelli noodles for this recipe.

Vietnamese Salads

The salad component is also, of course, changeable depending on what you like and what is available near you. A Vietnamese salad is likely to include the following:

  • green salad leaves
  • shredded or pickled carrots
  • pickled daikon
  • sliced cucumbers
  • bean sprouts
  • crushed, roasted peanuts

Vietnamese salads are typically big on fresh flavours and textures, so you will often find a good number of herbs, including:

  • coriander (cilantro)
  • mint
  • perilla
  • Thai basil

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce – Nuoc Cham

What is essential to this dish is the Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham) which is used here to dress and season the noodles.

Most Vietnamese families will have a large bottle of nuoc cham in the fridge for use in a wide range of dishes, with the added bonus of it keeping well for several weeks. My son loves it so much that he practically drinks it!

large bowl with sliced grilled chicken on rice vermicelli noodles with herbs and salad

How to Make Vermicelli Noodle Salads

This is one of those dishes which should be assembled at the last minute. I usually serve a Vietnamese vermicelli noodle salad as follows:

  • The salad and herbs should be washed and spun dry, and placed in a colander or large salad bowl.
  • I cook the vermicelli noodles ahead of time (about 1 hour) so that it has had time to dry before eating. It will start to stick after some time, but you can separate them again with some tongs or chopsticks. Avoid placing the noodles in the fridge as this will harden the noodles.
  • The chicken should be grilled at the last minute so that it can be served hot. I like to slice and serve the chicken on a large wooden board, but you can also serve the chicken on a large platter.
  • I place a big bowl of the Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham) on the table with a small ladle so that people can help themselves when pouring some sauce over their noodles.
  • I also place small bowls for the Vietnamese dipping sauce as some people (including myself) like to the chicken into the sauce for extra flavour.
  • I also serve finely chopped chillies or some Pickled Chillies for those who want their food spicy. This can be added directly to the noodles and/or the dipping sauce.
  • To assemble, place some salad leaves on the bottom of the plate, top with a handful of noodles, add some meatballs, garnish with herbs, and drizzle over some Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham). Use your chopsticks to bring everything together.
bowl filled with vietnamese noodle salad with sliced grilled chicken on top next to white tea towel

Make-Ahead Tips

Something I love about making Vietnamese lemongrass chicken is that you can easily double or triple the recipe if you are entertaining.

The lemongrass chicken can (and should) be marinated the night before, the Vietnamese dipping sauce can be made well in advance, and the noodles and salad can be prepped at the last minute so they remain as fresh as possible.

For many years, I used to slice the chicken into strips before marinating, but I now find it easier to just marinate and cook the chicken breasts whole, and to slice them thickly before serving. The meat remains more juicy and succulent this way, plus it is easier to cook.

And I use chicken breasts in this recipe because, oddly enough, boneless chicken thighs are not sold in Switzerland.

sliced grilled lemongrass chicken in a bowl filled with noodles, salad and herbs with chopsticks on top

Make it with Beef or Shrimps

I love this recipe with chicken, but it can also often served with beef; simply use rump steak or a similar good-quality cut (I like entrecôte) in place of the chicken in the recipe below.

Grilled shrimps (prawns) are also delicious with this vermicelli noodle salad.

Make it Child-Friendly

I often make a few changes to make this dish so that it is child-friendly.

Unless the children are old enough to have the dexterity to twirl the noodles onto their forks (mine still like to decorate the floor with the sticky noodles), steamed rice goes equally well with this lemongrass chicken, and the salad can be served Western-style in a large bowl with the nuoc cham dipping sauce used as a salad dressing.

vietnamese noodle salad in large bowl with lemongrass chicken sliced on top with red chillies and herbs

More Vietnamese Recipes

If you are looking for more Vietnamese recipes, you might also like the following:

Bun Cha – Vietnamese Pork Meatballs with Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Beef Pho Noodle Soup

Chargrilled Lemongrass Beef with Hoisin Dipping Sauce

Chicken Pho

Crispy Chicken Wings with Fish Sauce

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho)

Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese Meat Pies (Pâté Chaud)

Vietnamese Spaghetti Bolognese

Print

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Vermicelli Noodle Salad

5 from 3 reviews

A healthy and delicious Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Vermicelli Noodle Salad (Bun Ga Nuong), full of fresh and bold flavours. The chicken is marinated in a classic Vietnamese marinade and served grilled over a bed of vermicelli noodles, salad, fresh herbs and a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham).

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Ingredients

For the lemongrass chicken

  • 4 small chicken breast fillets, or 2 large chicken breast fillets sliced in half to produce 4 thin fillets
  • 23 lemongrass stalks, white parts only finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 red chillies
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

For the Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 46 tablespoons water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

To assemble

  • 300 g vermicelli rice noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
  • baby lettuce leaves
  • cucumber, sliced into thin batons
  • carrots, finely shredded
  • coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • mint, finely chopped
  • perilla leaves

Instructions

For the lemongrass chicken

  1. Place the chicken into a large zip-lock freezer bag.
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor and whizz until everything is finely chopped and blended.
  3. Pour the marinade into the freezer bag and make sure all of the chicken is well-coated in the marinade.
  4. Leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.
  5. Take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking so it can come to room temperature.
  6. Heat a large cast-iron grill pan, non-stick pan, or even a barbecue, to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches until they are golden and caramelised on the outside.
  7. Remove the chicken to a board, and use a sharp knife to cut into thick slices.

To make the Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

  1. Place the sugar into a medium-sized bowl and dissolve it in the lemon juice.
  2. Add the fish sauce and water, and stir.
  3. Add the garlic and chillies, and leave the dipping sauce to settle for about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Taste for seasoning. You might need to add more lemon juice or sugar, depending on how big or small your lemon is.

To assemble

  1. Place some salad leaves at the bottom of a large bowl (such as a large soup bowl or pasta bowl).
  2. Top with a good handful of vermicelli noodles.
  3. Add the cucumbers and carrots (or other vegetables of your choice), as well as the herbs.
  4. Place the sliced chicken on top, and dress with a good 1-2 tablespoons of the Vietnamese Dipping Sauce before serving.

Kitchen Notes

Make sure the noodles you are using are vermicelli rice noodles (which are white) and NOT bean thread noodles (which are clear). Vermicelli rice noodles come in various thickness (like spaghetti), and I like to use medium thick noodles for this dish.

COOKING FOR CHILDREN
When I am cooking for children, I omit the chillies from the marinade and the dipping sauce. You can serve chopped chillies, or even Pickled Chillies, on the side for those who like their food spicy. However, lately, I have started to add a bit of spice to the childrens’ food so that they can slowly get used to the taste. For the marinade above, I sometimes add half or 1 small Thai red chilli, and my children have not yet made any complaints …

FREEZER TIPS
Once you have mixed the chicken with the marinade in the freezer bag, you can freeze the chicken to use at a later time. Simply defrost the chicken in the fridge overnight. For this reason, it’s worth doubling the recipe and freezing one batch for future use.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 581
  • Sugar: 15g
  • Sodium: 1896.8mg
  • Fat: 19g
  • Carbohydrates: 80.3g
  • Fiber: 3.3g
  • Protein: 23g
  • Cholesterol: 51.7mg

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16 comments

  1. Raksha Kamat 19 May 2017

    the recipe and the pictures are superb.

    Reply
  2. Daniela Anderson 19 May 2017

    I hear you about picky eaters, l have one too, my fussy toddler, and l always run out of ideas what to give her. She does seem to enjoy noodles tough. Your dish looks lovely, colourful and flavourful, l don’t really use lemon grass in my cooking, but l love the flavour. A great dinner idea!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 19 May 2017

      Someone once told me that children tend to eat what they need, so we shouldn’t spend too much energy worrying about whether they are eating enough, getting enough nutrients, etc. Also, when they are young, it’s best to look at what they eat over a week, rather than on a day to day basis. Once I took on this advice, I stopped worrying so much about my son’s fussy eating habits, and now I couldn’t be more proud of what he eats each day! I’m sure your daughter’s fussiness will go away soon too 🙂

      Reply
  3. Silvia 19 May 2017

    Well, that has to be like the perfect bowl for lunch. It looks so delicious and healthy. I just love it!!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 19 May 2017

      Thanks, Silvia! It’s a very popular Vietnamese dish, and you can see why 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lisa Bryan 19 May 2017

    I love going to the farmer’s market each week as well – always the best, freshest ingredients!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 19 May 2017

      I agree! I always find it very inspiring to shop at the farmers’ market, even if it means having to carry a very heavy shopping basket home afterwards 😉

      Reply
  5. Oh how I envy you your farmer’s market! It must be so amazing to cook such fresh produce at home… no wonder your meals look so fabulous!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 19 May 2017

      Oh thanks, Tina 🙂 It’s always inspiring to cook with good ingredients 🙂

      Reply
  6. chefxchange 24 May 2017

    Such a great recipe – and the photos are colourful and gorgeous. A lovely post, thank you for sharing

    Reply
  7. Julia 16 April 2018

    very very delicious! Thank you for this great idea!

    Reply
  8. Cal 19 February 2019

    First attempt at this was tonight, amazing! My mouth is watering just writing this, thinking of it. Will triple quantities to ensure there will be leftovers

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 19 February 2019

      Hi Cal,
      That’s great to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! Leftovers are never a bad idea 😉

      Reply
  9. […] Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Chicken […]

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