A while ago I promised you some Vietnamese themed recipes following my return from Vietnam. That was perhaps a bold move given the fact I’d also managed to get food poisoning from some unidentified Vietnamese street food at the end of my trip and let’s be frank: once you’ve been poisoned by something it’s pretty tricky to start craving that something for a while. And so it was with most of Vietnam’s cuisine for me for the past couple of months. Once bitten twice shy and all that.
BUT, I am now fully recovered and my taste for Vietnamese food has returned with a bang. So to celebrate, here’s a recipe for a wonderfully fresh, summery noodle salad for your delectation today.
I have Mr Lebovitz to thank for this wonderful concoction as it is taken from his Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad Bowl recipe with a few pedantic alterations from me.
It’s a relatively easy mid week meal but also makes a bit of a show stopping starter or main for a dinner party. Just pile everything up on a big platter in the centre of the table, serve with some prawn crackers, and you have a colourful mouth watering feast that everyone can dig into. It’s also healthy meaning you can go big with the dessert…black forest brownie gateau, anyone??
Vietnamese Noodle Salad
Adapted from David Lebovitz’ Vietnamese Rice Noodle Bowl
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons lime juice (I just used 2 limes)
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) water
1 Thai birdseye chilli, minced or 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed/minced
For the salad:
225g flat rice noodles
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks (use a mandolin if you have one)
1/2 a large cucumber, peeled, halved length-ways, seeded and cut into thin half moon slices
Handful each of mint and coriander, roughly chopped
125g peeled and cooked king prawns
125g char sui pork*
50g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Handful fried shallots (available from oriental grocers – don’t worry if you can’t find them though)
4-5 fried spring rolls, chopped into bite-size pieces (optional)
1. Make the sauce by mixing 2 tablespoons of fish sauce with the other sauce ingredients. Taste and add more fish sauce if needed – it should be sweet, sour, sharp, and spicy all at the same time. The sauce can be made a day ahead and left at room temperature.
2. To make the salad, bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the rice noodles. Cook for 3-4 minutes until just tender. Drain in a colander and immediately rinse very well under cold water. Shake the colander to remove excess water the spread then noodles out on a clean kitchen towel to cool.
3. Assemble the salad by mixing the noodles, carrot, cucumber, herbs, prawns, and pork together. Top with the peanuts and shallots and, if using, arrange the spring rolls around the dish. Serve with the sauce on the side or poured over just prior to serving.
As above, the sauce can be made a day ahead and the salad can be assembled earlier in the day and left covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve – just don’t add the dressing/sauce until you’re ready to serve otherwise things will get soggy!
* I made my char sui pork by marinading pork loin in jarred char sui sauce for a day and then cooking it on a griddle pan. If you can’t be bothered to do this, left over roast pork or chicken would be delicious or you could just use prawns and no meat.