This is one of my favorite dishes to order at Vietnamese restaurants, though I typically get it with roast pork. I opted for shrimp for the purposes of this less traditional recipe (it doesn't need marinating time as the pork would), plus it's a little lighter.
Overall, the dish is incredibly quick and easy to make, with most of the active time being devoted to vegetable prep. Nuoc cham is the sauce that's typically served with these kind of noodle bowls and my version is below, but feel free to adjust the spice level and seasoning (Sriracha anyone?) as needed. You can also sub in other vegetables, like bean sprouts or even shredded zucchini. Fresh mint is another excellent addition.
Note: For crushing the peanuts, I generally placed them in a clean dish towels on a stable surface and smash them with a small frying pan (it's really a lot of fun). Feel free to use this method or a more civilized one, if you prefer.
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic, grated with a microplane or made into a paste (about 1 teaspoon)
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sambal or chili-garlic sauce
- 1 (6.75-oz) package rice vermicelli
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound medium or large peeled and deveined shrimp
- 2 tablespoons fresh juice from about 2 limes
- 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
- 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly torn
- Lime wedges, for serving
In a mixing bowl, combine the water and sugar until dissolved, then add the fish sauce, garlic, rice wine vinegar, sambal and mix until combined. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed and set aside.
Prepare the vermicelli according to the package instructions, soaking as necessary. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook, tossing and stirring constantly, until pink and no longer translucent, about 4 minutes. Finish the shrimp with the lime juice and set aside.
Drain the noodles, divide them between two bowls and top with the vegetables, equally dividing those between the bowls. Top with the shrimp and peanuts, if using, and serve the sauce on the side along with the lime wedges.