Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'd Like You to Meet Your Summer Fling

So let me tell you a story about this dish I like to call “Crack Salad.”

One day in late Spring, Roni and I both accidentally stumbled upon a noodle salad recipe that sounded awesome and intriguing, the same salad, actually, just posted on different food blogs, and low and behold, FATE literally came and upsmacked us on the back of our heads.

People… we were meant to meet this salad, fall in love, and never look back. No sirree bob. And, I’m happy to report, the salad and I have gotten along swimmingly well since April, we’re going on five months of hanging out now, and damn if this isn’t my most successful relationship yet. Of course, this love is meant to be shared, and I’m happy to do so.

Let me introduce you to a Vietnamese “Crack” Noodle salad. Because it IS addictive, and you WILL want more, and it gives you a jolt of summer high right in your mouth.

From new year, new food

I even made it in AZ recently, and my G-ma had second helpings, which she never has. Also, don’t hate that it has shrimp in it again (like these tacos we made). Nothing says summer better that shrimp, a cold noodle salad, and the dressing that makes you want to do a little dance.

Basically you shred a napa cabbage (if you aren’t a cabbage person, ignore your instincts and just trust me on this one.) Then you chop up your veggies and herbs, like carrots, spring onions, and I like a combo of basil, mint, and cilantro, but choose what you will.

From new year, new food

You cook up the rice noodles, run them under some cold water, drain them, and set them aside. Sprinkle the herbs and carrots and green onions on top of the cabbage, and finish it off with some sautéed shrimp, more herbs, and some toasted cashews (or peanuts, or whatever nut fits your fancy). Somewhere in the midst of all this, you whir up the dressing in the food processor, which includes garlic, fish sauce, vinegar, water, chili flakes, lime juice, and brown sugar.

So… then you’re done. Because this is a salad, and that’s all there is to it. I like to put a helping of the rice noodles in the bottom of the bowl, a scoop of the salad/shrimp mixture on top, and then slosh on a good dose of the dressing.

From new year, new food

You have to understand, what makes this salad so addictive is its bright flavors and crunchiness of the cabbage and cashews, the way the dressing plays on the noodles and the shrimp just make it a nice hearty meal. The first time I had this I had 4 bowls, I kid you not. YUM. Let me reiterate: yumyumyumyum!

From new year, new food

What’s funny is that I pretty much avoided all foods of the “asian persuasion” throughout most of my life until college because I hated Chinese food and anything that, in my ignorant brain, reminded me of Chinese food. Then, my parents smartly introduced me to Thai food with its alluring coconut curries and peanut sauces and I was a goner. What also helped was my friend Lucy inviting me to her house for dinner in college where her mom made some very simple fish, a clear broth, and a rice pancake.... nothing like the Chinese food served at Panda Express, let me promise you. Now I crave sushi, pho, panang curry, and of course, my favorite vietnamese summer crack salad. Thank the Lord above that our taste buds change every 7 years. Or, I finally got over my aversion to soy sauce ever since that time I was five and ate so much of it in my egg drop soup I made myself sick and couldn’t eat Chinese food without wincing for almost 15 years. Whatevs. My taste buds have made a comeback and have a whole eastern continent of delicious tastes to discover. Joy.

From new year, new food


Liene Stevens said...

pretty sure even I can manage this one. yum.

Erin Skinner Cochran said...

Oh my - so THIS is the famous salad I've been hearing about for months now! It sounds awesome. Can't wait to try it out.

Krista Kay said...

That is just what I need... a "Summer Fling!!" With good luck and a little charm I can hopefully carry it over into the fall, which is when my friends and family will be visiting and a chance to impress. (Although I do steal most of my Fabulous dishes from the best chef in DC). This dish is definitely going to have to find it's way to my kitchen.

Lucy Yung said...

I've been revisiting your blog for this salad ever since I had it at in your apartment in DC! It's been five years now...and I still crave it every summer! Guess what dinner is tonight...