Vegetarian Vietnamese Cau Lau

I went to Vietnam for the first time this week for a few days with my best girl friends. I hadn’t had a girl’s trip for over 5 years. There is always an excuse; leaving kids during school is hard and leaving teenagers during a weekend is even harder. We can hardly manage getting together for a quick dinner out, much less 4 days away, but we pulled it off. We had the most amazing and beautiful few days. Long, uninterrupted, outdoor breakfasts with amazing scenery, calming infinity pools, crashing waves, and the serene happiness of the Vietnamese staff at our hotel, were enough for me to be in a completely zen mood.

My girlfriends and I had it all planned out (well, right there was our problem) and even spared some time to play tennis. We had planned how many tennis outfits to bring, who was going to pack the rackets in their suitcase, and who was going to bring wine. We even managed to borrow a mahjong set from a friend.

Our first day started by heading to the airport at 5:30am. We were having breakfast at the hotel by 10am and were poolside before noon. Later in the afternoon we decided to play tennis. We got on our bikes and happily peddled like schoolgirls to the tennis courts (not 1 but 4 courts). We already had visions of a second annual tournament and we hadn’t even hit the courts yet. Hit the courts is exactly what happened 20 minutes into our match. One of my friends was going for a shot, rolled her ankle, and was on the ground in excruciating pain. Her hands were shaking, her shoe was off, and her ankle was swelling like a balloon in seconds. Laughter turned to panic in our minds (of course we didn’t let on) at the possibility of a broken bone in a foreign country.

We can all hold our own fairly well on the tennis court so immediately we knew RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Ice and compression came from the staff, then a wheelchair to get her back to our room, and elevation ensued. I won’t bore you with all the other details, but let’s just say trying to go to dinner the next night with crutches, her club foot, having to ride on a small motor bike from one end of the street to our restaurant, and the stares from all the patrons upon our entry didn’t help things at all (you would have thought they had never seen anyone on crutches before). The next day, after a visit to an emergency care room, she was in a cast!

The point to this story is after all that planning, and I mean months of planning, God had another idea. Of course we analyzed why this happened. Was it to learn mahjong and for our friend to meet new people playing this very popular game once back in Hong Kong? Or maybe it was to teach her to let others serve her, since she is always serving others? Or simply to slow down and just enjoy a quiet day at home? She is going to be homebound for several weeks (it’s her right foot, so no driving). We don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but we do know God’s plan is perfect and our plans clearly have a lot of flaws!

This week when you are trying to plan, plan, plan take a moment and practice being closer to God by:

1.  Accepting the limitations of living one day at a time

2.  Asking God, “Is this (whatever comes your way each day) part of his agenda?”

These two simple steps will help you to let go of what isn’t right for you today and let God worry about it. This will also remind you that there is a time for everything and everything happens in its own time.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope–Jeremiah 29:11

God Bless,


Vegetarian Vietnamese Cau Lau

It will be hard to duplicate the fresh, smoky flavor you will find in Vietnam, but this is close and tastes pretty yummy. This comes together in minutes once all the ingredients are assembled.

1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1/2 tsp chili sauce (Tuong Ot, preferably)
1/2 T garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock

Soup bowl ingredients
4 C bean sprouts, blanched briefly
4 C cau lau noodles, udon noodles, or ho fan noodles cooked according to package
2 C butter lettuce
2 C basil
2 C cilantro
2 C chrysanthemum leaves


It is about impossible to replicate the yummy crispy bits served in traditional Cau Lau in Hoi An

Tofu, fried (In Hong Kong we can buy fried pieces and then I cut them in half and refry until crisp.  If you are buying soft tofu, fry once, cool and then fry again to make crispy before garnishing soup)
Red chilies, sliced

For dressing
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce


1.  Combine sauce ingredients, gently heat,  and set aside

2.  Add sprouts and noodles to bowls, top with lettuce and herbs.

3.   Drizzle about 1/2 C of the sauce over the top

4.  Top with crispy fried tofu pieces, sliced chilies and lime and serve with dressing on the side.


2 thoughts on “Vegetarian Vietnamese Cau Lau

  1. Live you, Karen Hartman Brown!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    Can not WAIT to try this. I’ll try with some Korean noodles and see how that works out 😄

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