Salads are a great no-heat dinner option during these oh so hot evenings we’ve been having lately. Noodle bowls are one of my favorite warm-weather Vietnamese foods (the other being a banh mi sandwich) and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to recreate one at home.
Nuoc cham is Vietnamese fish dipping sauce. It usually comes on the side when you order a noodle bowl or spring rolls. It’s got the salty, sour, spicy and slightly sweet thing going on and it packs a giant umami punch. It’s also one of those condiments that you can easily adjust for your tastebuds: add more of any of the ingredients to make it just right!
1-2 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Sriracha
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup water
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 pound dried rice (vermicelli) noodles
4 handfuls of salad greens (or chopped lettuce)
3/4 pound julienned cucumber
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
1/2 pound carrots, grated
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
Make the nuoc cham sauce by combining the garlic, Sriracha, lime juice, sugar, vinegar, fish sauce and water in a small bowl. Set aside. Marinate the shrimp in 1-2 tablespoons of the nuoc cham while preparing the remaining ingredients. Cook the noodles according to package instructions. The best way to keep them from sticking after cooking is to run them in cold water and then leave soaked in cold water. Drain right before serving. Grill the shrimp over medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side until opaque throughout. (You can also saute in a pan over medium-high heat). Divide the cooked noodles into four bowls and assemble by topping with shrimp, greens, cucumbers, mint, carrots, and scallions. Toss with as much nuoc cham sauce as desired.