I love making fresh Vietnamese salad rolls but they can be rather demanding to prepare. Not only do you have to prep all the vegetables, but you have to soak the rice noodle wrappers which can be tricky. Not to mention creating all those little bundles without having the wrappers tear – because they always, always tear. That's why I love this salad - there's no tearing, no crying. It's similar in that it contains many of the same ingredients, but it stands up as a wonderful main dish salad on its own. And it's pretty delicious!
I like to use medium rice noodles here instead of the very thin rice vermicelli noodles because they have a nice hearty bite. The vegetables are fresh and crisp and you can vary the ingredients to what you've got on hand. I think some raw sliced baby bok choy or thinly sliced red cabbage would add a nice crunch here. If fresh basil or mint is available, throw it in! But please keep the carrots and cucumbers - they make this salad, in my opinion. If you have leftover chicken, sub that instead of the shrimp or use grilled tofu for a vegetarian meal. The dressing is sharp and salty in the best possible way and the sesame oil lends a wonderful nuttiness.
I made this for dinner and ate it warm that evening, but the leftovers tasted great the next day cold from the fridge.
Vegetable and Shrimp Rice Noodle Salad
1/2 package of medium rice noodles (about 3 oz.)
8-10 medium raw shrimp
2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
2 carrots, julienned or sliced into ribbons
1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
a few sprinkles of roasted sesame oil
a few good shakes of sriracha
a handful of roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add in the rice noodles. Remove from heat and let the rice noodles soak in the hot water until al dente. Drain and add to a large serving bowl.
2. While noodles are soaking, add the shrimp to a small pot of boiling water and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until pink. Drain and rinse with cold water. Let dry on a clean tea towel.
3. Add the green onions, carrots and cucumber to the rice noodles and top with the shrimp. Mix together the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Pour dressing over salad and toss with the roasted almonds. Serve warm or cold. Makes 4 servings.