The idea for this recipe developed from traditional Thai salads, which make use of bean sprouts, noodles, mint and cilantro, chillies, onions, peanuts, and strips of other vegetables. It is a cooling salad to eat, though the herbs and chilli give it aromatic punch. To achieve the thinnest slices possible of carrot and cucumber, use a potato peeler.
Yield: Serves 4
1 small package rice noodles, cooked as per instructions, drained, rinsed, and cooled
8 oz bean sprouts
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half length ways, seeded, and thinly sliced lengthways
two 1-inch pieces of fresh root ginger, peeled, sliced, and cut into thin strips
a small bunch of cilantro, leaves only
6 mint sprigs, leaves only
3 large mild red chillies, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
for the dressing
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp oriental fish sauce, such as nam pla
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
6 tbsp peanut oil
Mix the sesame seeds, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and garlic together in a bowl. Whisk in the oils.
In another large bowl, mix together all the salad ingredients thoroughly with your hands. Pour over the dressing, toss lightly, and leave to wilt slightly before serving.
This could be a light first course or, alternatively, an accompaniment to a dish such as Slow-Braised Belly Pork with Soy, Ginger, and Garlic . You could also turn it into a light lunch dish by topping the salad with thin strips of grilled duck breast, cold roast chicken, pork, or rare beef. Deep-fried whole shrimp in breadcrumbs would be very sassy.