Some friends introduced me to Vietnamese cooking a few years ago, at the restaurant Great Saigon on Virginia Beach Blvd. in Janaf Mall. One of my favorite meals to get there is bun, or meat served over salad and rice noodles with a hot, sweet, salty and sour sauce or dressing.
I decided to try making it at home by combining a recipe I found at myrecipes.com with one from the cookbook The Best International Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. It’s a bit more work than I want to do on a weeknight, but next time, I’ll mix up the dressing ahead of time and maybe skip the shallots.
This is my contribution to the food blogging event Grow Your Own, originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, which celebrates raising and cooking our own fresh food. The lemongrass, mint and chiles in this recipe came from my garden. We had a huge crop of hot chiles last year, and I still have some in the freezer.
Here’s a tip: To preserve whole hot chiles, place them on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. Freeze until fully frozen, then remove to a zipper-lock bag and keep in the freezer. When ready to use, remove the number of chiles needed from the bag and let thaw on a plate on the counter. This will take about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the chile. Trust me, they maintain their hotness
Shrimp Bun – Korean-style Rice Noodle Salad
Ingredients – serves 4
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. canola or peanut oil
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. peeled and deveined large or extra-large shrimp
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and crushed with the side of a knife
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 fresh hot chiles, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup canola or peanut oil
1/2 shallot, julienned
salt to taste
2 carrots, or 6 baby carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cucumber, peeled and julienned (cut into matchstick shapes)
4 oz. dried rice noodles
2 cups lettuce, any kind, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1/4 cup fresh mint, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup chopped peanuts
SHRIMP: Combine shrimp with marinade ingredients; seal in a zipper-lock bag, place in a leak-proof container, and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning occasionally.
DRESSING: Whisk dressing ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
SHALLOTS: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Strain shallots through a sieve into a small bowl; reserve oil. Place fried shallots on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain, and set aside.
SALAD: Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes, then drain. Combine the noodles with the shallot oil, 1/4 of the lettuce, and 1/2 of the bean sprouts, carrots and cucumber, tossing well.
Pre-heat grill or grill pan. Remove shrimp from bag and discard marinade. Grill shrimp 2-1/2 minutes per side, till completely opaque. Place 1/4 of the noodle mixture in each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 of the shrimp and 2 tbsp. of the dressing. Pile 1/4 of each of the remaining ingredients around the rim of the bowls and top with 1/4 of the fried shallots. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve.