mysteriously I heart Spring Rolls… the fresh, Vietnamese type that are not fried. These little gems are one of my ever enduring favorites for a hot, summer day. When I think about Vietnamese Spring Rolls, I picture fat, sausage-like rolls stuffed with rice noodles and lettuce, tofu, sliced beef or shrimp, shredded vegetables and herbs…all tightly wrapped like a burrito and then dipped in peanut sauce. So….drum roll…what about making this into a salad and coming up with a tangy, fish sauce-infused dressing? Genius.
This combo really is perfect for my palate. I recently made this salad with my girlfriend Toby. We had a cooking date on a Monday in July and both of us agreed we were craving something salty and rice noodley and refreshing. My upstairs garden pots were bursting with various types of lettuce, mint, basil…and I already had everything in my kitchen to whip up this salad – so it was meant to be. We made this together and divided everything into half. I came home with a bag of rice noodles and grilled shrimp, a bag of lettuce with shredded carrot, daikon, and cucumber, a jar of dressing, a bag of peanuts to garnish. This provided me with a delicious dinner and lunch for two the following day.
I’ll be making this again soon, and suggest you try it this summer while all these ingredients are fresh and bursting with summer flavors. I love this almost as much as I adore chocolate, and that is saying a LOT!
Deconstructed Vietnamese Salad
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (I like Red Boat brand)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ cup water (room temperature)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced by hand
- 4 ounces vermicelli rice noodles, see directions below
- 2 cups mixed greens (or thinly sliced napa cabbage)
- ⅓ cup shredded cucumbers
- ⅓ cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup sliced red bell peppers
- 2 Tbsp each fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves (whole leaves picked off the stem, not chopped. I do tear the basil pieces so they match the mint and cilantro leaf size.)
- 6-8 ounces shredded cooked chicken, shrimp, sliced cooked steak, or marinated tofu, sliced
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts to garnish if you wish (I do!)
In a small jar shake together lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, water and garlic Set aside.
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and cool. Set aside. Note: to cook them I covered the dry noodles in a large bowl with boiling water until they became barely soft (about three minutes) and then rinsed with cold water and dried by shaking the strainer. I then mixed in a teaspoon of olive oil so they wouldn’t stick together in the fridge.
Mix your cabbage or lettuce with the shredded and sliced vegetables. Note about the cucumbers – I peel mine then shred and dry them well by squeezing them in a paper towel so they don’t make the salad soggy. I make thin slices with this peeler – made by Titan – which I HIGHLY recommend. I also use this for the carrots.
When you are ready to eat: divide the salad greens and cooked noodles between three bowls. Arrange chicken, steak, shrimp, pork or tofu, cucumbers, carrots and red pepper slices on top. Garnish with the fresh herb leaves, peanuts and lime wedges. Drizzle to taste with sauce and serve immediately. Eat. Repeat.