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Vietnamese Salt and Pepper Shrimp Rice Noodle Bowl (Bun Tom Xao)

Photo: Marcus Nilsson; Styling: Tiziana Agnello
Hands-on time 45 mins
Total time 45 mins

Serves 4

Expect the noodles to clump and stick after they're cooked. Recipe author ­Andrea Nguyen devised a great trick to prevent them from sticking too much: Put an inverted small bowl in the bottom of the colander for the noodles to drape over.


  • 5 ounces uncooked rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 5 teaspoons fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)
  • 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups (1/4-inch) slices green leaf lettuce
  • 3 cups diagonally cut slices seeded Kirby (pickling) cucumber (about 2)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup torn Thai basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup torn mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup (1/4-inch) slices green onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Nutrition Information

  • calories 462
  • fat 17.6 g
  • satfat 1.9 g
  • monofat 9 g
  • polyfat 5.1 g
  • protein 24.6 g
  • carbohydrate 52.9 g
  • fiber 4.4 g
  • cholesterol 143 mg
  • iron 3.2 mg
  • sodium 802 mg
  • calcium 146 mg

How to Make It

  1. Cook rice vermicelli noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

  2. Combine 1/2 cup lukewarm water and granulated sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, and chiles; set aside.

  3. Combine lettuce, cucumber, and herbs; set aside.

  4. Combine cornstarch, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir until well combined. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and swirl to coat. Add half of shrimp; cook for 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are seared. Remove from pan. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to wok; repeat procedure with remaining shrimp. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to wok; swirl to coat. Add onions and garlic; stir-fry 30 seconds. Return shrimp to pan; stir-fry 1 minute.

  5. Arrange about 1 cup lettuce mixture in each of 4 large bowls, and top each serving with about 1 cup noodles and 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts. Divide the shrimp evenly among servings, and serve each with 1/4 cup sauce.