Healthy Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodles (Bun)

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been on a major bun kick. Here’s my first attempt making it myself for the first time and I tried to make it as healthy as possible. I already made various parts of the entree before this, so it didn’t take too long to throw together.

Mung bean vermicelli noodles
Organic lettuce (cut into long strips)
Organic mint leaves
Pickled Carrots & Daikon
Vegetarian Egg rolls, cut into bite size pieces
Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce)

…and mix! Yummy. I use vermicelli noodles made out of mung bean rather than the typical rice flour since it’s lower in glycemic index and it sounds like it’s a least a little more nutritious, although I’m sure it’s still processed.

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Tofu Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)

I didn’t know what to expect since it was my first time making banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) and I was actually a little nervous before I took my first bite. Ultimately, it was good! Tasted like a banh mi.

I omitted the jalapeno pepper since I can’t do spicy (but my hubby would have loved that). Next time, I’ll double the amount of the tofu marinade to bring that flavor out more. For the bread, I ended up using Whole Foods’ organic ciabaguette (made from organic whole wheat flour). Beforehand, I had no idea what “ciabaguette” was, but it’s apparently a hybrid between Italian bread and French bread, which basically the difference between those two to begin with is shape.

(Recipe adapted from My Recipes)

1 (14-ounce) package organic sprouted firm tofu, drained
2 tbs tamari
2 tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup Premade pickled carrot/daikon with pickled juice OR 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup agave, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 cups matchstick-cut carrot/daikon mix
1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 julienne-cut green onion
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12-ounce) loaf organic French baguette
1/2 cup fresh organic cilantro sprigs
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Cut tofu crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Arrange tofu on several layers of paper towels. Top with several more layers of paper towels; top with a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove tofu from paper towels.

2. Combine tamari and ginger in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish. Arrange tofu slices in a single layer in mixture. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning once.

3. Either use the pickled carrot/daikon juice (adding agave to taste) or if none premade, combine vinegar, agave, and salt in a medium bowl. Add carrot, green onion, mushroom, and cucumber; toss well. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain carrot mixture through a sieve; drain thoroughly.

4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu from marinade; discard marinade. Add tofu slices to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden.

5. Preheat broiler.

6. Cut bread in half lengthwise. Open halves, laying bread cut side up on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Place tofu slices on bottom half of bread; top with carrot mixture, cilantro, and jalapeño slices. Top with top half of bread. Cut loaf crosswise into 6 equal pieces.

Vietnamese Garlic Noodles

Thanh Long and Crustacean restaurants in San Francisco are famous for their garlic noodles. I found a blog where they’ve attempted to replicate the restaurant’s recipe. I definitely wanted to try it out with my own healthy ingredients.

(Recipe adapted from Rasamalaysia.com)

Makes ~5 servings

1 package (1 lb) 100% whole wheat spaghetti noodles
4 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic (pounded)
4 tablespoons organic coconut butter
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
2 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce
5 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese (non rBHG treated)
Sea salt

Boil the noodles in the hot water until they are done, drain the water, and set aside to cool down the noodles.

In a pan, saute the garlic with the olive oil in medium heat. The purpose is to infuse the olive oil with garlicky flavor. Then add in 4 tablespoons of butter and turn the heat to low. Add in the chicken bouillon powder, garlic powder, oyster sauce and blend well. Set aside to let it cool.

Once the garlic mixture is cool and the noodles are cool at room temperature, pour the garlic mixture over the noodles and toss them together to blend well. Add in the grated parmesan cheese. Add salt to taste. Toss well, and serve immediately.

My biggest challenge was the large amount of butter that the original recipe called for. To substitute butter, I used coconut butter. Thus, I could taste a mild coconut flavor in the final dish. Health outweighs better flavor for me so I ultimately decided to use coconut butter. The dish still ended up tasting good. I would make it again.

If coconut butter doesn’t seem appealing to you as butter alternative, but still want to be health conscious, other options would be: do half butter and half coconut butter or olive oil. Or you can try organic butter since at least that is a bit healthier.

Pickled Carrots & Daikon

This is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. I’m planning on making more Vietnamese dishes in the future, so I had to make this first. I plan to put this in bun (vermicelli noodle dish), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), and eat it on its own.

Equal parts of organic carrots and organic daikon, thinly sliced
Sprinkled with sea salt
Drizzle with organic raw agave nectar
Organic Apple cider vinegar – pour enough to cover the carrots and daikon, and mix
Let sit for 30 minutes
Pour into mason jar, and fill the remainder of the container with filtered water. Keep refrigerated.

My reason for keeping this ingredient around in my life:

-Daikon: Prior to this, I wasn’t too familiar with daikon radish since I didn’t eat it  much. I found out that it contains some digestive enzymes so it helps with digestion. Also, a website mentioned “At Tokyo’s College of Pharmacy, researchers have discovered that daikon juice actually inhibits the formation of dangerous chemicals in the body. Nitrosamines, a type of carcinogen, can form in the stomach from chemicals present in both natural and processed foods. Daikon juice contains substances identified as “phenolic compounds” that can block this potentially dangerous reaction. Thus, a diet including raw daikon may reduce the risk of cancer.”

-Apple cider vinegar: For recipes listing white or rice vinegar, I’ve been using apple cider vinegar, since this has the most nutrition out of the other vinegars. It has trace minerals and it contains malic acid which is supposedly helpful in fighting fungal and bacterial infections.