Although we have been grateful for weeks of almost-every-other-day rain, the constant moisture created a hazard that we didn't think about. I guess four years of drought gets one out of the habits needed to weather rainy years well. A few days ago Sweetie was going down the back steps towards the room he uses for making train and ship models and he slipped on the wet, slightly slimy steps. His feet flew out from under him and he landed on the edge of the bottom step and then finished up on the landing. In the process he got some world class bruises, especially on his bum, but, fortunately, nothing more serious as far as injuries. His back has been pretty sore but he has been careful to ice his injuries and to rest, so he is doing much better. I am so thankful that he didn't break anything!
Usually we take turns making dinner, but I've been doing it since the fall, so last night I decided to make something that I enjoy ordering when we eat out. The dish is Vietnamese Bun salad, with shredded lettuce on the bottom of the bowl, cooked rice noodles on top of that, a scattering of matchstick carrots, cucumber chunks, minced cilantro and minced mint, and warm cooked chicken pieces. The dressing was fun to make. It has lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, water and ginger. Once the salad is dribbled with the dressing, chopped peanuts are scatter on top and it's ready to serve.
I used instructions and recipes from a number of places and put bits of them together, so I don't have a place to send you to. I read of various ways to prepare the rice noodles and finally ended up doing a blend of two of them. The dressing was based on one found on David Liebowitz's blog, but I added garlic and fresh ginger and used more lime juice and less water, so I guess it's my own dressing.
This is a light, refreshing meal with plenty of crunch from the lettuce and peanuts and cucumber and carrots. David uses fried shallots and red onion and I've seen the salad with bean sprouts, too, so feel free to adjust the salad fixin's, too.
I'm still going to order Bun when I eat at Vietnamese restaurants, but it's nice to know that I can make it at home, too.
Vietnamese Bun Rice Noodle Salad
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- a few drops hot sauce, or Sriracha sauce to taste
- 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
- 8 oz. dried thin rice noodles
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into bite sized matchstick pieces
- 1/2 a cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 large chicken thigh, cooked, skin removed, and cut or torn into bite sized pieces
(you can also use other protein like barbecued pork, barbecued shrimp, or small, cooked spring rolls, or tofu)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts (I like unsalted)
For the dressing
In a small jar combine the lime juice, fish sauce (more if you really like fish sauce), brown sugar, water, hot sauce, garlic and ginger. Shake to combine well and set aside.
For the salad
Heat water in a large pot big enough to hold the rice noodles. There should be enough water to cover the noodles. Bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat and add the noodles, breaking the mass if necessary to fit it into the pot. Stir gently. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Return pot to stove.
In two or three or four large bowls place the iceburg lettuce. Gather all of the rest of the ingredients and heat the protein part. Turn on the heat under the noodles and bring back to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain the noodles in a colander, rinse thoroughly with cold water, then spread noodles on a clean kitchen towel to drain.
Place some noodles over the iceberg lettuce. Scatter carrot, cucumber and warm protein (chicken in my case) evenly over the portions of noodles. Scatter the mint and cilantro evenly over the portions.
Drizzle some of the dressing over each salad and top with peanuts. Serve additional dressing at the table for those who want more dressing. Serve at once. Makes 2-4 servings, with some noodles and dressing left over for another time.