Friday, July 2, 2010

Recipe Fridays: Summery and light noodle salad

One of my favorite things to eat over the summer is the Vietnamese noodle salad Bun.  It's cold rice noodles with a tangy sauce (called nuoc cham) and fresh herbs.  I usually order it as take-out, but recently realized I could make it myself.  Don't laugh at me, but Gwyneth Paltrow has a pretty good recipe for Bun on GOOP (snicker snicker), although hers left out the noodles:
Vietnamese Salad (serves 4)
  • 4 large bok choy leaves, rough bottoms discarded, stems cut into ¼" bias and leaves shredded
  • 4 big leaves Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch watercress (discard thick stems), roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • the leaves from about 8 stems each basil, mint, cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ½ small cucumber, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 red Thai chili (or more…or less), thinly sliced
  • ½ cup roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • Vietnamese Dressing (see recipe below)
  • grilled fish, shrimp, tuna, chicken, or tofu for serving (optional)
Vietnamese Dressing
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion or shallot
I tried this recipe out, but instead of the nappa cabbage and watercress, I put in the rice noodles, of course.  The noodles you need for this are usually called "rice stick" or rice vermicelli, and need to be boiled just briefly to become tender.   You just want the thinnest dry rice noodles you can find.  I also simplified the dressing by omitting the salt, hot pepper oil, and red onion and just mixing in the other seasonings until it tasted right.  The herbs are key, but basil and mint are the two essential ones.  Cilantro is nice if you have it.

I then tossed all the ingredients with the dressing, and topped it off with more chopped peanuts and a sliced Japanese-style egg omelet.   Soooo delicious, and refreshing.

This site has more info on making proper Bun.

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