Bowl of Tangy Vietnamese Noodles backpacking meal recipe.

Backpacking Recipe: Tangy Vietnamese Noodles

Sometimes, finding recipes fit for multiple days on the trail can be difficult and time consuming. While some backpackers approach their meals with only nutrients and calorie to weight ratio in mind, others see time at camp as an opportunity to test new cuisine.

Backpacker holding backpacking cup full of sliced bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers and other ingredients.

This recipe using rice noodles, a make-before sauce and nuts is simple and quick to make on the trail, and the result is a flavorful punch of sweet, sour and a touch of spice.

With a few adjustments, this low-maintenance recipe can be made gluten-free or as a fun, more time consuming version for serious camp chefs. Check the bottom of the article for easy adjustments to fit your camp cooking style and trip requirements.

Gather these easy ingredients, and let’s get started!

  • 100 grams of rice noodles (rice vermicelli)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP sweet chili sauce
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce (adjust  to taste)
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice (adjust to taste)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 handful of cashews

Before the Trail

To begin, mix the olive oil, soy sauce, sweet chile, and fresh lime juice. Once the oil has been fully integrated, add the garlic and ginger powders. Mix well and seal in a leak-proof container.

Crush the cashews. In another container or bag, toss the crushed cashews and basil.

On the Trail

Rice noodles cooking in a backpacking pot.

Set up your camp stove and bring two liters of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and turn the heat to low. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until tender. Strain.

Take your homemade sauce and add it to the strained noodles. Lightly toss this mixture in the pot over low heat until the sauce is evenly spread and warm.

To serve, top the noodles with your cashews and basil.

Optional Adjustments

Cutting board sitting on log with knife and freshly cut veggies.

To make this meal gluten-free, simply swap regular soy sauce for a gluten-free variety. True rice vermicelli is gluten-free, making it especially good for backpackers with diet restrictions. This meal is also meat-free, dairy free and egg free.

For serious camp chefs, here are a few easy adjustments to elevate this simple dish to a meal you will soon be making at home as well as on the trail.

Additional items needed for this version:

  • Pan
  • Spatula
  • Vegetables (I like carrots, cucumbers and bean sprouts in this.)
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Sub ginger and garlic powders for fresh cloves
  • Fresh basil to garnish

In this adaptation, sub the powdered spices for fresh alternatives and chop.

Make the sauce and garnish beforehand as in the original recipe, and pack with the rice noodles, vegetables, and additional kitchen tools.

On the trail, julienne the vegetables and divide evenly. Set aside. Chop the fresh basil and set aside.

After you have cooked the noodles, transfer to the pan and add your sauce. Lightly cook in the uncovered pan over low-medium heat for 5 minutes, allowing the rice noodles to become slightly sticky. Serve with the vegetables on the rice, and with the full bowl topped with cashews and basil.

Bon Appetit!

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