This Asian salad can stand on it’s own, perhaps with a smattering of chopped peanuts, or as a compliment to a heftier stir-fry such as the SpicyBeef with Peanuts and Chiles that we paired it with. To amp up the flavor, we increased the amount of grated ginger to 1 tablespoon, added 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, and lots of chopped fresh basil.
You can use Southeast Asian rice sticks or Chinese cellophane noodles (made from bean starch) for this Thai salad. It makes a satisfying lunch, or serve it as a starter or side dish (it will serve up to 6 as a side).
1 Tbsp. finely minced ginger (more or less to taste)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes, or a pinch of cayenne
2 Tbsp. Asian sesame oil
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
For the Salad
3 oz. dried rice noodles (rice sticks) or cellophane noodles
½ small Napa cabbage or 1 romaine heart
3 scallions, cleaned and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 cup coarsely chopped basil
1 medium carrot, grated or cut in fine julienne
Lettuce leaves for the bowl or platter (if not plating with the Rice Noodle Salad)
Mix together the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Place the rice or cellophane noodles in a bowl and cover with warm water. Soak for 20 minutes, and drain.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook about 1 minute, or until tender (ours took about 3 minutes). Drain well and coarsely chop using scissors or knife. Toss with all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
Cut the halved Napa cabbage in half again, cut out the core, then slice crosswise into thin strips. If using romaine, cut in half, then slice crosswise into thin strips. Toss with the noodles, along with the scallions, cilantro, and carrot.
Pile the salad on a serving platter. Spoon on the remaining dressing, if any. Sprinkle with more basil and/or cilantro and serve.
Cambodia is famous for its Kampot pepper—here a generous measure of ground black pepper plus a fresh chili are used to add multilayered spiciness to the savory-sweet dressing. The salad is best with a combination of cilantro, mint and basil—which we used—but it’s still delicious made with only one herb.
This noodle salad is a version of one that Milk Street staff tasted in Cambodia. Vegetables, herbs and chopped peanuts add tons of color and texture to tender rice vermicelli noodles. And if you like, omit the shrimp altogether or substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken.
Don’t bypass the step of rinsing the noodles. It prevents them from sticking together and overcooking. It also cools them down quickly for the salad. If your noodles are long, use scissors to cut them down to a manageable size.
The Hubs compared this salad to an inside-out Asian spring vegetable roll. It was absolutely delicious both as a dinner, and for lunches the next day. It would make a welcome option for a hot, humid summer’s eve when the last thing you want to do is cook.
Cambodian-Style Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp, Cucumber and Herbs