Having already shouted from the rooftops that this Thai salad tops my list of favourite things to eat, I think I’ve established that bold, zingy flavours are my thing. This vermicelli noodle version, although called a salad, was dinner last night (I know – this is the fastest I’ve cooked, shot, and posted a recipe on the blog). Vermicelli gives it bulk and takes it from salad territory into something a little more substantial. Another good way to add bulk/change things up is to toss some cooked prawns or chicken through.
This speedy, summery salad makes for the perfect weeknight meal: it uses most ingredients you’ll probably already have in your pantry, and takes literally minutes to make (I clocked about fifteen minutes from start to finish, but that’s mostly because I’m kind of rubbish at julienning vegetables. If you own one of those fancy gadgets that would do the chopping for you, seven minutes tops start to finish. No kidding).
I was reluctant to call this a Thai salad because Sambal Oelek, the spicy ground chilli paste from Indonesia (and neighbouring areas) forms the base of this dressing. If you’re not able to find some, any sweet-chilli sauce would work but just make sure to adjust the sweetness accordingly. Speaking of sweetness, I prefer to use jaggery instead of sugar here. Slightly less sweet than sugar, it has a deep molasses-y kick to it which works really well to balance out all the other flavours. Can’t find any? Brown sugar would be your best bet.
- 200 grams vermicelli noodles
- 1 raw green mango, julienned
- 3/4 cup julienned purple cabbage
- 3/4 cup carrots, julienned
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup fried onions (optional)
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- A small handful of coriander leaves, roughly torn
- A small handful of mint leaves, roughly torn
- Lime wedges, to serve
- 2 tbsp sambal oelek paste (or any sweet-chilli sauce)*
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
- 1 1/2 tbsp jaggery (or brown sugar)
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 1 1/2 tsp lime juice
- Salt, to taste
For the dressing:
- Pour boiling water over the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl. Make sure the noodles are completely submerged. Cover and let it sit for 5-7 minutes until translucent and cooked. Run the noodles under cold water and drain in a colander, making sure to toss them in your hand to remove any excess water.
- Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl or screw-top jar and mix/shake well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Roughly bash the peanuts in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
- Add the noodles, vegetables and herbs to a large bowl and toss together with the dressing (Note: if you plan to make the salad in advance, keep the dressing refrigerated and toss through just before serving). Taste and adjust seasoning. You might have to add more lime juice or sugar to balance out the flavours.
- To serve, divide between bowls and top with a few sesame seeds, crushed peanuts and fried onions with wedges of lime on the side.
*If you’re using sweet-chilli sauce instead of sambal oelek, cut down on the jaggery or sugar by half; taste and add more if necessary.
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