Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl is a meal-worthy salad in a bowl with lots of Vietnamese inspired flavors. Most everything can be prepared ahead of time and assembled right before serving. The recipe is naturally gluten-free! 

Things have been pretty quiet around here lately. I don't have any excuses except the fact that I am slammed with non-bloggy things at the moment. I also haven't been cooking much or I should say cooking exciting, new things to share with you guys. It feels like freaking 100 degrees all the time these days and the last thing I want to do is be near the oven. I have been making a lot of gazpacho and on a mission to clear out my freezer. But a couple of weeks ago, I made Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl - a perfect meal worthy dish with very little cooking. It's like a hearty salad with lots of different textures & flavors and the best part is you can have everything prepared ahead of time. 

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl is built with layers of flavors and textures from different sauces, fresh & pickled veggies, and the caramelized chicken. I made some of the components ahead of time in bulk to last me for future meals and I suggest you do that too. I made Nuoc Cham, it's like a Vietnamese ketchup, dipping sauce, dressing all in one and should not be skipped for this noodle bowl to come together.  Vietnamese pickles with carrot and daikon radish (Đồ Chua) is another staple that goes with noodle bowl, bahn mi sandwich, or just a side dish. And last but not least, Vietnamese caramel for the chicken (or other meat or tofu if you prefer). 

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese caramel (nuoc mau) is a deep, rich, almost bitter caramel sauce that transforms  savory braised and grilled dishes into a beautiful color and adds a nice depth of flavor. It calls for just 2 ingredients - water and sugar and little patience. 

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl

Pickled veggies and Nuoc Cham can be stored in the fridge and Vietnamese caramel sauce in your pantry indefinitely. Once you have these done, rest is a breeze.

I had a dish very similar to Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl few months ago and I loved the combination of flavors and textures so much, I searched on the internet for various sources to put together this bowl. You can adjust the ratios and flavor profile per taste but these are the sources I referred to: 
- Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) : https://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2008/11/basic-vietnamese-dipping-sauce-nuoc-cham.html

- Vietnamese Caramel Sauce :  https://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2007/10/caramel-sauce.html

- Vietnamese Pickled Carrots & Daikon (Do Chua) : http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/vietnamese-pickled-carrots-daikon/

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese caramel chicken is a fairly simple recipe and what makes it unique is the Vietnamese caramel. The caramel is used for basting the chicken while it's on the grill - it gives a sweet, savory taste and adds that rich, amber color to the chicken. The chicken is served cold/room temperature so you can make a large batch of Vietnamese caramel chicken and use it later. 

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl

Please use the recipe as more of a guideline & inspiration to make your own version of Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl. 


Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl

Serves : 3-4

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1.5 chicken boneless, skinless breast or thigh cut into medium size cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves , finely chopped or minced
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (reduced sodium is fine or use tamari for GF)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4-3/4 cup Vietnamese caramel sauce for basting (do not mix with the chicken)

For the noodle bowl:

  • 7 oz dried vermicelli noodles, cooked per instructions
  • 3 cups shredded napa cabbage
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup pickled veggies
  • handful mint, cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges 
  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup Nuoc cham 

Directions

  • Prepare Nuoc cham, Vietnamese caramel sauce, and pickled veggies ahead of time. 
  • Marinade the chicken with 3 garlic cloves , finely chopped or minced, 2 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp fish sauce , 1 tbsp soy sauce (reduced sodium is fine or use tamari for GF), 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp vegetable oil for 4 hours up to overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Skewer the chicken pieces leaving little space between the skewers. 
  • Heat the grill to medium-high and place chicken skewers on the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes on each side. Alternatively, you can probably use your grill pan or oven at 450F to grill the chicken although I haven't tried it yet. 
  • Use a pastry or silicon brush to baste Vietnamese caramel sauce on chicken and rotate chicken skewers every few minutes until it is evenly cooked on all sides. 
  • Meanwhile, you can cook your noodles and prep other toppings on a tray. 
  • Remove chicken from the grill and let it cool for few minutes. Remove chicken pieces from the skewers and set side. 
  • To serve, add noodles in a bowl as a base then top it with other veggies, herbs, and chicken. Drizzle about 1/4 cup Nuoc cham on top and serve with sliced jalapeno & lime wedges. 

This is a great recipe for weeknights and for large crowds as you can have everything prepared and set up DIY-style so your friends and families can choose whatever they desire. I am working on a tofu recipe so it is vegetarian friendly! If you make this Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Noodle Bowl, please share your creation by tagging @foodpleasurehealth on instagram. 

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