Vietnamese beef noodle salad (bun bo xao) is packed with fresh herbs, flavorful beef, and refreshing lime fish sauce dressing. It takes only 30 minutes to make, and you can enjoy it either as a main or side dish.
Overview of Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad (Bun Bo Xao)
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad goes by “bun bo xao” or “bun bo Nam Bo” in Vietnamese. A bowl of this tasty noodle salad is usually substantial enough to be a full meal by itself. I think this dish says quite a lot about Vietnamese cuisine which values a fresh, pure and clean taste.
If you visit Hanoi, it is quite easy to find a street food shop selling this dish. Bun Bo Xao and Bun Cha (Vietnamese grilled pork meatballs with noodles) are two popular noodle street food dishes in Hanoi.
It is super easy to replicate this noodle salad at home. Stir-fried beef and colorful vegetables and herbs are placed on a bed of soft vermicelli noodles. To make it even more delicious, we sprinkle it with crunchy fried shallots and roasted peanuts.
We then drizzle Vietnamese signature fish sauce dressing over the salad and give it a good mix before eating. Simple as it may sound, it is a feast to the eyes and stomach.
Cooking Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad (Bun Bo Xao)
The main ingredients for this dish are beef, rice vermicelli noodles (bun), your choice of vegetables and fresh herbs.
Fried shallots and roasted peanuts are somewhat optional, but their crunchiness and nuttiness do increase the deliciousness. You can buy fried shallots packed in a jar at Asian grocery stores.
My favorite beef cut for stir-frying is flank steak which is very flavorful. It becomes tender when marinated long enough. I recommend using flank steak, slice it against the grain as thinly as you can and marinate for about 25-30 minutes.
You can certainly choose another cut you like. The key here is to slice it against the grain thinly, marinate, and stir-fry in small batches.
In terms of vegetables, there is an array from which you can choose. I usually use at least two types of vegetables from this list:
- micro greens,
- bean sprouts,
As for herbs, I often choose mint and cilantro for their refreshing flavor and not too strong aroma.
If you cook Vietnamese food frequently, it is always a good idea to have a pack of rice vermicelli noodles in the pantry. My favorite brand is Bamboo Tree (Ba cay tre). After trying several brands, I can conclude that their vermicelli noodles are the best.
If your local Asian grocery stores don’t carry Bamboo tree vermicelli noodles, the second best brand to try is Three Ladies Brand Rice Vermicelli.
Some Products I Used to Make this Dish
- Bamboo Tree vermicelli noodles, the best vermicelli noodle brand. If you cannot find it, get Three Ladies brand.
- Red Boat fish sauce, which contains just anchovies and salt. It doesn’t contain sugar or any weird ingredients.
- Oyster sauce
- Scanpan nonstick skillet: I like my stainless steel and cast iron skillets a lot, however Scanpan is my go-to skillet when I need to stir-fry thinly-sliced meat. Hand wash it and don’t use metal utensils and it will last for a while.
It may be a matter of preference, but I like to eat my Vietnamese beef noodle salad warm. To do that, everything else must be ready before stir-frying the beef.
The noodles can be warmed up by running them through hot water very briefly or microwaving them quickly. To warm up the dressing, you can microwave it for about 30 seconds.
Put the noodles, veggies and herbs in the serving bowls, and then stir-fry the beef. Add the beef to the bowls, sprinkle peanuts and fried shallots, then serve immediately with the dressing.
This Lemongrass Pork Noodle Salad (Bun Thit Xao) is also delicious and the cooking method and many of the ingredients are similar. You may want to check it out since I made a video showing how to make it as well as how to slice cucumbers quickly for noodle salad.
Other classic dishes of Hanoi:
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here. I add new recipes every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates.
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad (Bun Bo Xao)
For the beef
For the lime fish sauce dressing
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 juicy lime)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- rice vermicelli noodles
- lettuce or micro greens
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 cucumber, julienned
- bean sprouts
- Cilantro, roughly chopped
- fried shallots
- roasted peanuts
- Slice beef thinly against the grain and marinate with oyster sauce, black pepper, garlic, ginger for 20-25 minutes.
- Whisk together all ingredients to make the dressing and set aside. Adjust to taste.
- Prepare vermicelli noodles according to package instruction.
- Prepare all the veggies: wash lettuce, micro greens and bean sprouts. Wash, peel and julienne carrot and cucumber. Prepare all the herbs.
- Place noodles in serving bowls and top with veggies and herbs.
- Place a pan over medium high heat. When pan is hot, add oil, add beef in one single layer and let it cook undisturbed for 20-30 seconds. Add fish sauce and stir-fry until just cooked through. Work in small batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan.
- Place the cooked beef over noodles, drizzle dressing and serve. It’s often good to start with a small amount of dressing and taste to see if you want to add more.
- To enjoy the beef noodle salad warm, prepare everything else before stir-frying the beef. The noodles can be warmed up by running them through hot water very briefly. To warm up the dressing, you can microwave it for about 30 seconds. Put the noodles, veggies and herbs in the serving bowls, and then stir-fry the beef.
- Work in small batches when stir-frying the beef if needed. I stir-fry 1 lb of beef in 3 batches.
- The recipe is enough for 2 people eating it as a main dish. If you serve it as a side dish, it is enough for 4 people.
- Here are some other ingredients you can marinate with the beef: minced lemongrass and a small amount of five-spice powder.