Even in 2016, I still get asked “if you don’t eat meat, what DO you eat?” Seriously. And as much as I would love to just reply with “raw tofu and carrot sticks”, there are some benefits to not always being a sass monster.

Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

Having a food blog, I can address this question head-on. I can show people recipes like this, ones with some vegetables, protein, and grains so that they can see for themselves what vegetarians eat.

Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

And I most certainly do not eat tofu every day, but we do eat it about once a week. Over the years, I’ve perfected cooking tofu so that it tastes exactly how I like it. I like it baked. I also like it sweet and fried with nut butter, or spicy and fried with sriracha. Marinating tofu with fun, tasty ingredients is your friend.

Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

In stir-frys or in bowls like this, I like to fry up extra firm tofu with a coat of cornstarch to crisp it up. In this particular recipe, I soaked the tofu in a mixture of soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup and then fried everything up in a hot skillet with cornstarch. The crispy exterior of the tofu takes it to a whole other level.

This bowl is sweet, spicy and complex with both crunchy vegetables and soft vermicelli noodles. A total keeper!!

Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

Have a great weekend everyone! xo

Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 2-4 servings


    For the tofu:
  • 1 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (I used canola), for frying
  • For the vermicelli bowl:
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 1 English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 8 oz. dry vermicelli noodles
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Peanuts, chopped
  • Scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • Fresh mint
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  1. Wrap tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top to wick away moisture. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the cabbage and julienne the red pepper, cucumber and carrot. Toss together in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Add vermicelli noodles to a large bowl and cover completely with boiling water. Let the noodles sit and cook in the water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  4. In the meantime, unwrap tofu and cut into even pieces, about 3/4-inch cubes. Add tofu to a shallow mixing bowl and top with the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup. Toss to combine. Let rest for 2 minutes minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a large freezer bag. Add cornstarch, 1 tablespoon at a time, and toss to coat. Continue adding more cornstarch and tossing until tofu is coated in a gummy, white layer.
  6. In a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, add 2 tbsp of oil and let warm for 30 seconds. Then use a slotted spoon to add the tofu to the pan (leaving any excess cornstarch behind). Cook on all sides for 1 minute, or until light golden brown. Remove tofu from pan as it’s finished browning. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Drain the vermicelli noodles and set aside.
  8. In a small bowl or mason jar, combine the sweet chili sauce and rice vinegar. Set aside.
  9. To serve, divide the vermicelli into 2 bowls. Top with julienned vegetables, fried tofu, chopped peanuts, sliced green onions, fresh mint and lime wedges. Drizzle the dressing on top and enjoy!


Recipe adapted from Flourishing Foodie and Minimalist Baker

MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: use tamari instead of soy sauce


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11 Responses to Sweet Chili Vermicelli Tofu Bowl

  1. The “what do you eat” question can be so frustrating! But these bowls are definitely a good answer to that. They look delicious and perfect for a chilly spring evening 🙂

  2. What a fun way to eat tofu! Love!

  3. I know, isn’t it infuriating?! Well this looks wonderful, I love anything sweet chili 🙂

  4. Medha says:

    I’ve never had meat, because I was raised vegetarian, and that seems to be even more of a contentious fact than just my own vegetarianism. People seem to think there’s some sort of weird life experience I’m missing out on by not eating an animal, but I say, bring on the tofu! 🙂

  5. So pretty Katrina and great inspiration for me when cooking for my (vegetarian) daughter 🙂

  6. Carrie says:

    This looks amazing, who needs meat with a dish like this?!

    Honestly I’m amazed that so many people are still in awe of vegetarianism.

  7. Vermicelli noodles are my go-to order at Vietnamese restaurants!! Love this vermicelli tofu bowl.

  8. This tofu bowl looks Ah-MAZ-ING! I have never tried to marinate tofu, this is the recipe to start!

  9. Looove vietnamese food! And to be honest, before I moved out I kind of assumed you should eat meat every night ( because that is what we did – mainly because I have three younger brothers and a Dad who insisted haha!) but now living with three girls we generally eat meat 2-3 times a week and just try to use some other forms of protein. Like hummus! Haven’t tried tofu yet but love the look of this recipe – the marinade looks amazing 🙂

  10. Joanne Bruno says:

    Lately I’ve started getting asked questions about how my child is going to possibly survive as a vegetarian, so I feel your pain! I try to remind everyone that almost all of India is vegetarian and they’ve managed to survive as a people for THOUSANDS of years. Lol. We eat tofu about once a week also and this sounds like the perfect noodle bowl to add into the rotation!

  11. Yum! Even meat eaters would gobble this dish up! 🙂

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