I’m a big fan of fast cooking during the weekday, I have a regimental order post-5.30pm that must be followed otherwise we’re heading for a meltdown (mine, not my son). I learned this Vietnamese salad as part of a cookery lesson at Recipease a couple of months back and realised its a great little ‘go to’ dish when you need something quick and super healthy to make you feel good. Most of it is just prep work with a final flourish at the end to pull it all together.
You can also prep the salad and wrap it in soaked rice paper and then use the dressing as a dipping sauce – Vietnamese Rolls – this is quite a nice ‘fancy’ starter when you have friends round.
If you’re not big on prawns, leave it out or replace with chicken, mackerel or beef strips just make sure they’re cool before you add to the salad/rolls.
Packet of cooked prawns
Vegetable stir fry packet including bean sprouts
10cm piece of Mooli (if you can get it)
10cm piece of cucumber
3 spring onions
Good handful of nuts – cashews or peanuts
For the salad dressing/dipping sauce
1/4 cup of Fish Sauce
1/3 cup of either Rice wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar (I tend to use whatever I have in the cupboard)
Approx 4 tbsp Honey – depends on your taste
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 cloves of garlic
2cm piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
At least 2 fresh chillies split lengthways
Pack of Rice Paper Sheets
Extra chopped chillies in the salad
Put all the ingredients for the salad dressing (or dipping sauce) in a saucepan and heat gently for 5-6 minutes then take off the heat and leave to cool. Taste it with a bit of salad from your bowl – its meant to be quite strong – add more of the fish sauce, vinegar, lime or honey depending on what you think it needs. Go for less sweetness than you think it needs.
Put the stir fry packet in a large bowl. Peel the skin off the carrot and then proceed to use your peeler to peel the carrot into the salad bowl so you end up with nice thin ribbons of carrot. Do the same with the mooli and the cucumber. Alternatively you can cut them up into matchsticks if you prefer. Boil the soba/buckwheat noodles in water for 3-4 minutes and drain, leave to cool then add to your salad bowl.
Slice the prawns lengthways and slice the spring onions finely at an angle and add to the bowl. Chop up your nuts and leave to one side.
Once your dressing/sauce has cooled, pour 4-5 tablespoons of it over your salad, toss and taste to see if it needs more of anything. Add a final squeeze of lime juice then throw on your nuts and munch away!
If you’re turning these into rolls then just soak a paper sheet in warm water, as per packet instructions, put it on a clean kitchen towel and then put 1-2 tablespoons of the salad into the middle. Wrap it up and put any left over salad on the side or save it for lunch the next day. Keep the dipping sauce on the side otherwise the sheets will go too mushy.
Let me know how it goes!