Vietnamese Bún Chay

A Vietnamese salad traditionally made with tofu and rice noodles, Bún Chay is vibrant, fresh and healthy, and a great option for a late-summer meal.

As tofu is preserved in water, it’s important to press it before using to remove the liquid. This means the tofu will absorb the other flavours more easily, and will also be easier to work with. If you want to get ahead with the dish you can make the dressing a day in advance – the tofu can be pressed a few hours before you need it, too.

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Ingredients (serves 3):
For the dressing:
– 2 tsp palm sugar
– 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
– 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
– ½ red Thai chilli, finely chopped
– 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
– 1 tbsp rice vinegar
– 1 tbsp sesame oil
– juice of 1 lime

For the salad:
– 400g pack tofu (not silken)
– 120g vermicelli rice noodles
– 1 carrot, spiralized or julienned
– ½ cucumber, spiralized or julienned
– 1 little gem lettuce, finely sliced
– handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
– 3 handfuls beansprouts

For the toppings:
– 30g roasted peanuts, crushed
– 3 spring onions, finely chopped
– few coriander leaves

1. Begin by making the dressing, at least an hour before you want to use it. Dissolve the palm sugar in 2 tbsp boiling water, then add the other ingredients and stir together. Set aside.

2. To prepare the tofu, drain away the water, then wrap the tofu in a clean tea towel or a few sheets of kitchen towel. Place between two chopping boards and put a saucepan or a few tins of beans on top to help press out the water; leave like this for an hour.

3. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, then drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. Slice the pressed tofu into 10 thick slices.

4. Heat a glug of sesame oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the tofu slices for a couple of minutes, until golden and crisp, then gently flip over and repeat. Once cooked, transfer to a sheet of kitchen towel.

5. Once the tofu is cooked, toss the beansprouts into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until beginning to crisp.

6. To assemble the bún chay, toss together the noodles, carrot, cucumber, lettuce and coriander. Spoon the beansprouts and tofu on top, then sprinkle with the peanuts, spring onions and extra coriander. Drizzle over the dressing just before serving.

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