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Banh Mi Noodle Bowls are the ultimate comfort food. These Vietnamese sandwiches take an airy, chewy baguette and stuff it with a hybrid of French and Vietnamese ingredients: first, the bread is slathered in pâte and mayonnaise, then it is loaded with fresh coriander, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon – and maybe some jalapeños, if you can handle a little spice! Of course, no banh mi is complete without the main event: pork belly, Vietnamese sausage or tofu are all classic fillings.
When you’re seeking the reassurance of moreish carbs and heaps of fresh flavour, there’s no better option than banh mi. However, if you’re looking to keep things light and low-carb, you can still enjoy the vibrant flavours of banh mi – simply swap the bread for a bowl, add some rice noodles as a base and you’ve got a recipe for healthy deliciousness.
You’re not likely to find a Banh Mi Noodle Bowl at your typical Vietnamese restaurant in Angel – but you might have tried a similar dish, bun bo. In fact, you can think of these Banh Mi Noodle Bowls as a riff on the healthy, light Bun Bo Meaty Salad Bowl at Banana Tree. Banana Tree’s salad bowl combines rice vermicelli, lots of fresh herbs and greens, crushed nuts, crispy shallots and grilled chicken, meatballs or chilli beef for a meal that is nourishing and flavourful. Take this concept, apply it to your favourite Vietnamese sandwich, and you’ve got all the flavours of banh mi, without the carb coma.
Banh Mi Noodle Bowls, inspired by Banana Tree
For the dressing
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. soya sauce
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Knob of ginger, minced
For the bowls
8 oz. vermicelli rice noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
Paté, grilled chicken, roasted pork belly or pan-seared tofu
Jalapeño pepper, sliced
Spicy mayo (mix mayo with a bit of sriracha)
Make the dressing: in a bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Toss the cooked noodles in some of the dressing until coated.
Assemble the bowls: arrange the noodles, cucumber, carrots and your choice of protein in each bowl. Top with the fresh coriander, jalapeño and a drizzle of spicy mayo. Serve with lime wedges and the rest of the dressing alongside.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean skimping on flavour. Simply by making a few sensible substitutions, you can enjoy the glorious symphony of spice, crunch and meatiness that is banh mi. Plus, these bowls are highly customisable. If you prefer an even lighter meal, switch out the noodles for salad; plop a fried egg on top if you’d like a bit of extra protein; you can even make some lemongrass meatballs and add them to the bowl if you’re really in the mood to cook.
Of course, if all this chopping and assembling sounds a bit too labour intensive, you can get your low-carb noodle bowl fix at Banana Tree – just drop by and enjoy a Bun Bo Meaty Salad Bowl. All of the flavour, none of the work!
Have you tried Banh Mi Noodle Bowls?