I’ve spent a lot of my late twenties/ early thirties eating Vietnamese food. Heck, if we were tallying up take-aways and meals out, I would put a bet on pho being the front runner. I love it, it is my ultimate healthy eating comfort food (as long as it isn’t laden with MSG, I’m too old to deal with MSG hangovers now).
We live Shoreditch, a part of London with brilliant authentic Vietnamese eateries and shops; I honestly never tire of their offerings. We love it so much in fact that we went to Vietnam about 3 years ago, purely because of how much we love the food. (We now love the country too. What a place). My order will usually be along the lines of salt and pepper squid/ banh xeo and a pho. However occasionally I’ll mix it up a bit and order a bun cha. Perfect for warmer days, lighter meals and very easy to make at home (unlike pho where you need hours to get a good stock). Traditionally you’re looking at pork, prawns etc for your protein, but for this particular lunch I went tofu. It’s perfect for me during the day, a meal for one, easy to do, nutritious and delicious (albeit high in salt) and really quick.
TOFU AND PEANUT BUN CHA
Serves 1 (multiply as needed)
You could use crushed, roasted (unsalted) peanuts on here instead of the peanut butter. But I like the creaminess it gave the tofu, and think it works well once dressed.
- Handful of iceburg lettuce, washed and spun dry
- 1 small or 1/2 a large carrot, peeled
- A spring onion, washed
- 4 sprigs of coriander, washed
- 40g rice or sweet potato noodles
- 4cm piece of cucumber
- 75g fried/ firm tofu
- Half a lime
- A heaped teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter
- A large clove of garlic, peeled
- Groundnut oil
- A tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1/4 – 1/2 a red chilli
- A teaspoon of golden caster sugar
- A tablespoon of rice wine or white wine vinegar
- A tablespoon of fish sauce
- 2cm piece of ginger, peeled
Start by prepping the veg. Shred the lettuce, finely slice the spring onion, julienne the carrot and cucumber and roughly chop the coriander. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions and leave to one side. Make the dressing by mixing together the caster sugar, vinegar, fish sauce and 50ml of boiling water. Finely grate in the ginger and whisk.
Place a small non-stick pan on a medium heat and add a lug of groundnut oil. Finely slice the garlic, finely chop the chilli and chop the tofu into 2-3cm chunks. Add everything to the pan and fry until lightly golden all over. Add the soy sauce and peanut butter and coat the tofu, frying for a further 1 – 2 minutes.
Pour the dressing into a large bowl. Top with the noodles and then arrange the chopped veg and coriander all around it. Spoon the tofu into the middle and then toss everything together, with the squeezed lime half.