no-cook vietnamese cellophane noodle salad

It’s hot & you don’t want to cook but you want something nutritious that’s also quick & easy, that isn’t take-out…enter this simple, crunchy, healthy, easy, yummy noodle salad. Yes, it’s all of those things. If you can boil water then you can whip-up this salad. That’s about as hard as it gets – boiling water to soak & soften the noodles. Mung bean noodles to be exact. Also known as, cellophane, bean thread & glass noodles. Mung bean noodles are made from, yes, you guessed it – mung bean starch. And they have several great benefits: You don’t have to cook them (I don’t count soaking noodles in water as ‘cooking’); they’re gluten free; they’re cheap to buy; they still have a bit of a crunch to them when softened & they’re completely make-ahead. I think I’m in love.

cellophane noodle salad

 The noodles happily soak in boiling water for 20 minutes & while they’re busy doing that, you can make the nuoc cham – the Vietnamese sauce/condiment, that dresses the salad & makes it come alive. The name might sound like something complicated to make but it’s not. It is as easy as tossing everything into a bowl & stirring until the palm sugar dissolves. Look, you didn’t even break a sweat & dinner is almost done. 

overhead platter noodle salad

The veggies add the perfect crunch, crispness & freshness. For ease, I like to keep those fairly simple & seasonal. You can serve the salad on a platter as I’ve shown in the pic above & let people help themselves or arrange it ever-so-artfully into individual bowls. Serve with chopsticks because they’re fun to use. Unlike their close neighbors of Thailand, Vietnamese use chopsticks. And I love to use chopsticks. Food just tastes better when you have to maneuver two skinny, little sticks to get it to your mouth. 

vietnamese noodle salad

I make extra of this salad for dinner so there’s leftovers for lunch the next day (I’ve allowed for this in the recipe). If you want to do the same then I suggest keeping aside some of the veggies & noodles without the dressing. Pop the dressing into a little jar or tupperware dish. Squish the noodles, veggies & the jar with the nuoc cham into some sort of cool lunchbox. Then when those hunger pangs strike around midday, you’ll be all excited because you have this rather exotic lunch & you can happily sit & munch on it, with chopsticks of course, as your colleagues choke-down their same old, same old boring sandwich.   

lunchbox salad


no-cook vietnamese noodle salad
Serves 3
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Prep Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
  1. NUOC CHAM (Vietnamese dipping sauce/condiment)
  2. 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  3. 1/3 cup grated palm sugar
  4. 1/4 cup fish sauce
  5. 1/4 cup water
  6. 1 garlic clove, minced
  7. 1 small red chili, chopped
  8. SALAD
  9. 4 oz (113g) bean thread noodles (mung bean noodles)
  10. 2 small cucumbers, sliced
  11. 12 radishes, sliced
  12. 2 large carrots, peeled & julienned
  13. 12 grape tomatoes, halved
  14. 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  15. 1/3 cup chopped toasted cashews
  16. lime wedges & chopped small red chili to garnish
  1. To make the nuoc cham: Combine juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, water, garlic & chili in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. To make the salad: Put noodles in medium heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water; let stand 20 minutes. Drain & refresh under cold water; drain thoroughly.
  3. Arrange noodles on serving platter or in individual bowls. Top with cucumber, radish, carrot, tomato & onion. Drizzle with nuoc cham.
  4. Sprinkle with cashews. Serve with lime wedges & chili if desired.
The Fresh Aussie
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