Scavenging through the pantry is not always my favorite activity, but it can lead to adventurous eating. This time I found a crumpled package of rice noodles, something I don't use very often, probably because they go well in soups and other dishes that require loads of ingredients and long simmering times. So I was a little surprised to find this recipe for Vietnamese rice noodle salad from Epicurious that sounded good and was easy to make.
The fish sauce probably has a lot to do with the dish's success. The wonderful condiment is found at most well-stocked grocery stores and at all Asian markets, and is great to have around for quick meals like this one. Beyond that, the flavor comes from the "mixed herbs," which sounds more confusing than it really is. Since it can get expensive buying three different herbs, just use what you have on hand as long as it all adds up to one cup. However, I can vouch that the combination of cilantro, basil and mint is an inspired trio, so if you feel like splurging, please do. This cool, chunky salad is a great side for the sweltering Chicago summer I'm currently trying to survive in.
- 4 ounces thin rice noodles
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 cup of mixed herbs (cilantro, mint, basil), torn and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, turn off the heat, dump in the rice noodles, and let soak for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and salt until dissolved. Then add the carrot, scallions, herbs, and peanuts. Stir until combined.
When the noodles have soaked for 10 minutes, immediately drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water for a few minutes until very cool. Let drain for a few minutes, then pat with a towel to dry.
Add the noodles to the large bowl. Season with salt if needed, and serve.