Make your own restaurant-style Vietnamese Shrimp or Prawn Noodle Bowl and customize it with your choice of crisp veggies, fresh herbs and a traditional Vietnamese dressing. Like Nuoc Cham dipping sauce? Find out how to make it here! This healthy power bowl recipe makes an easy 30-minute meal!
❤️Why you'll like this recipe
If you're missing dining out on Vietnamese food, this Vietnamese Prawn Noodle Bowl puts pining for a bowl of Bún a thing of the past.
It's a shrimp noodle bowl, packed with fresh herbs and veggies and flavoured with the most delicious dipping sauce made with a splash of fish sauce and a little fiery red chili pepper.
This homemade version that I've adapted from the classic gets its bold flavour from nuoc cham, a traditional dressing or dipping sauce you'll find on every menu in Viet Nam. Like many Vietnamese or Thai foods, it's sweet, sour, salty, hot, and savoury all at once.
A 30-minute dinner bowl
Creating dinner bowls is a great way to eat at any time of year. When gardens and farmers' markets are overflowing with fresh produce in the summer, putting together a quick healthy bowl with some protein, fresh fruit and veggies is my favourite way to eat dinner.
For example, Greek Chicken Bowl with Watermelon and Chicken Avocado Watermelon Salad are two favourites we devour in the summertime. And when we have fresh shrimp or prawns and an abundance of zucchini, I make Fresh Veggie and Grilled Shrimp Zoodle Bowl.
But today, Vietnamese flavours won and this Shrimp Noodle Bowl with vermicelli was the delicious result!
Let's get started. Here's what you'll need to make this easy 30-minute prawn noodle bowl. I've also included some suggestions for substitutions.
prawns or shrimp: I used local spot prawns, but you can use any prawns or wild-caught shrimp that's available where you live. You can also change the protein and substitute grilled or shredded chicken or beef, pork or tofu for the prawns. Wondering how to buy shrimp? See A Complete Guide to Cooking Shrimp and Prawns.
noodles: Thin rice vermicelli noodles cook in one minute and make this a quick recipe.
veggies: I used garden sugar snap peas, carrots and avocado. You can also use snow peas or other naturally sweet edible pea pods. Spiralized or very thinly sliced carrots add lots of crunchy texture. Feel free to add sliced cucumbers or bean sprouts instead.
herbs: fresh mint and cilantro add lots of fresh flavour and are traditional herbs in Vietnamese cuisine. Add a few Thai basil leaves if you have them.
Nuoc Cham dipping sauce or dressing: traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce, Nuoc Cham is made with water, lime juice, fish sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, sweetener and Thai red bird chili.
Before making the components of this shrimp bowl, make the the Nuoc Cham dressing to allow the flavours to blend. Whisk these Vietnamese dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake in a small Mason jar and set aside.
- The Noodles: Place the vermicelli noodles in a large glass bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to stand for one minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water to stop them from softening and becoming mushy.
- The Veggies: Slice the pea pods thinly. Use a spiralizer, a julienne tool, or a sharp knife to thinly slice carrots. Wash and dry herbs, chop if you like, and set aside.
- The Fruit: Slice the mango into thin strips and cube the avocado flesh. Toss the avocado with a little lemon or lime juice to prevent browning if you're making this noodle bowl ahead of time.
- The Shrimp or Prawns: Heat a grill or large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush lightly with oil, then cook the prawns for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, just until they're no longer transparent. Keep an eye on them as it's easy to overcook shrimp. Remove from the heat promptly.
5. Arrange the bowls. Start with a bed of noodles, then arrange the prawns, peas, carrots, mango, avocado and chopped herbs on top. Sprinkle with chopped roasted cashews or peanuts. Serve with Vietnamese Nuoc Cham dressing and dig in!
👍🏼 Helpful tips
- You can prevent the rice vermicelli noodles from sticking together by tossing them with a teaspoon of sesame oil.
- If you don't have a spiralizer, use a vegetable peeler to cut carrots into ribbons and then slice into strips.
- Traditional Nuoc Cham sauce or dressing recipes call for sugar. You can easily substitute honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, or 0-calorie sweeteners like Monkfruit.
- Once you make a basic Nuoc Cham sauce, you may find you want to experiment with the flavours a little. Some like it sweeter, some like it with more lime juice, and others like less (or more) heat from chili peppers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Nuoc Cham is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine. It's a versatile sauce used for dipping items like spring rolls or summer rolls, for a marinade for grilled meats, and for a dressing for rice noodle salads.
Water: Nuoc Cham is a much thinner dipping sauce than you may be used to. Water helps to mellow the strong flavours in this sauce.
Lime juice: freshly squeezed is a must in this recipe. Bottled lime juice does not have the same fresh flavour.
Fish sauce: Made from fermented fish (often anchovies), the odor of fish sauce can be offensive. But don't worry: you won't smell it in the dipping sauce.
Unseasoned rice vinegar: sometimes called Japanese rice vinegar. It's less acidic than other vinegars and is a staple in Vietnamese cooking.
Garlic: use fresh cloves
Sugar: or other sweetener. You can substitute your favourite sweetener.
Thai red chili: While Thai chili is traditional, if you can't find one, you can substitute a serrano pepper.
All these ingredients are available in your local grocery store, sometimes in the International Foods section.
It sounds like noo chum.
⏰ Make ahead of time
This Vietnamese Prawn or Shrimp Noodle Bowl is fabulous either warm or cold. It's an ideal recipe if you're meal prepping for easy dinners or lunches.
Make it early in the day, cover and refrigerate until dinner time. Alternatively, prepare the dressing and veggies ahead and refrigerate. Then all you'll have to do is quickly soften the vermicelli noodles and grill the prawns.
Nuoc Cham dipping sauce will last in the fridge for a week or two.
📖 Recipe Card
Vietnamese Prawn (or Shrimp) Noodle Bowl
- 1 lb prawns or large shrimp
- 14 oz (400 gm) vermicelli rice noodles
- 8 oz sugar snap peas, or other edible pea pods
- 2 med carrots
- 2 mangoes
- 1 large avocado
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts, or cashews, coarsely chopped
Nuoc Cham (Traditional Vietnamese Dressing and Dipping Sauce)
- ¼ cup water
- 2- 3 tablespoon sweetener (or more, depending on your taste) Use honey, maple syrup, Monkfruit or coconut sugar
- ¼ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Thai red bird chili
- Begin by making the Nuoc Cham (dressing) to allow the flavours to blend. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake in a small Mason jar and set aside.
- Place the vermicelli noodles in a large glass bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to stand for one minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water to stop them from softening and becoming overcooked.
- Slice the sugar snap peas thinly. Use a spiralizer, a julienne tool, or a sharp knife to thinly slice carrots. Wash and dry herbs, chop if you like, and set aside.
- Slice the mango into thin strips and cube the avocado flesh. Toss the avocado with a little lemon or lime juice to prevent browning if you're making this noodle bowl ahead of time.
- Heat a grill or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the prawns for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, just until cooked through. Do not overcook or they will become rubbery. Remove from the heat promptly.
- Start with a bed of noodles, then arrange the prawns, peas, carrots, mango, avocado and chopped herbs on top. Sprinkle with chopped roasted cashews or peanuts. Serve with Vietnamese dressing.