Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons dried shrimp
31/2 ounces vermicelli noodles
3 iceberg lettuce leaves, finely shredded
3 1/2 ounces bean sprouts
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, cut into thin batons
1 handful mixed mint, Vietnamese mint and basil leaves
2 tablespoons roasted, crushed, unsalted peanuts
For the sweet fish sauce dressing:
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chili, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
For the thickened coconut dressing:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 scallion, finely sliced
1/2 cup coconut cream
cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon liquid
palm sugar or
shaved palm sugar
1. To make the sweet fish sauce dressing: Pound the garlic, chili, sugar, and a pinch of sea salt together using a large mortar and pestle. Add the fish sauce and lime juice, mix well, and set aside.
2. To make the thickened coconut dressing, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions, and saute for 30 seconds. Now add the coconut cream, corn starch, palm sugar, and a pinch of sea salt. Stir for 30 seconds, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
3. Soak the dried shrimp in a little boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain. Pound the shrimp using a mortar and pestle until it begins to break down.
4. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, and stand the noodles in the water for 5 minutes. Drain well, rinse under cold water, then drain well again.
5. Divide the lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, and herbs among four individual bowls. Top with the noodles, then the shrimp, then toss the salads separately.
6. Now add 2 tablespoons of the sweet fish sauce dressing and 2 tablespoons of the thickened coconut dressing to each bowl. Garnish with the peanuts, and serve.
Greater Mekong: A Culinary Journey
from China to Vietnam (Hardie Grant)