A Savory Salad

13 Jan

This recipe comes from Cooking the Vietnamese Way (1985), another Lerner Publications easy menu ethnic cookbook. This one is written by Judy Monroe and Chi Nguyen. (Note, I have 10 total of these ethnic cookbooks so expect to see more unusual recipes in the weeks ahead!)

I was anxious to try this one because it sounds like the vermicelli noodle salad we have enjoyed eating at the Lotus Restaurant in Minneapolis. We still miss their original location in Uptown. This recipe did not disappoint – and it was really easy to prep and assemble!

Note special ingredients: rice noodles and fish sauce can be found in the Asian food aisle in most grocery stores. You’ll find lemon grass in Asian grocery stores and specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Rice Noodle Salad (Bun bo sao)

1 7-ounce package rice noodles

½ cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and shredded

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1-pound pork loin or beef sirloin tip, thinly sliced

1 stem lemongrass*, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried lemongrass, soaked

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons fish sauce

½ medium head lettuce, shredded (about 2 cups)

½ cup chopped roasted peanuts

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Add rice noodles and return water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook noodles uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes or until soft. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse in cold water. With a sharp knife or scissors, cut noodles into shorter lengths. Divide rice noodles between 4 small bowls (or less).

In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat for 1 minute. Add onions and cook stirring frequently for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Add meat and stir. Add lemon grass, garlic, sugar and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked. Add fish sauce and stir well.

Divide lettuce, cucumber into each bowl. Divide cooked meat mixture between the four bowls (or less) and sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts over each. Serve with Nuoc cham – recipe follows.

Nuoc cham

“The Vietnamese use Nuoc cham the way we use salt.”

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice or 4 tablespoons white vinegar

4 tablespoons fish sauce

1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. (If sauce is too salty or strong, add another tablespoon of water and stir. (Nuoc cham will keep up to 2 weeks refrigerated in a tightly covered glass container).

Makes 1½ cups

Note, don’t be intimidated by lemongrass. While you can prepare the dish sans lemongrass – it adds a lot!

Copies of this cookbook are available online!

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