Friday, August 2, 2013

Desktop lunch: Vietnamese-style vermicelli salad

Currently I'm in a phase of having Vietnamese-style vermicelli salads for my lunch.  Last week, I made traditional-style nuoc cham (dipping sauce) to use as my dressing (thanks to cheap limes) but yesterday I substituted fish sauce and lime for soy sauce and lemon and it worked alright too.

For the salad base:

Vermicelli, quantity depends on how hungry you are - for me, what fits loosely when dry within my thumb and forefinger making an 'o' works nicely.  (This is the only element that requires cooking so while you prepare the below, cover dry vermicelli in boiled water and drain well when it's become white/almost opaque. Alternatively, test for bite.)
Mesclun leaves, small handful of
Cucumber, as much as you like, sliced diagonally and then in half
Carrot, an inch and a 1/2 worth cut into matchsticks
Green onions, two inches worth sliced, I like a mix of white and green
Chinese BBQ pork, again, sliced (or any cooked meat you wish, leftovers are perfect, e.g. Shredded chicken, steak, roast pork, prawns, etc)

For the dressing (which should only be added just before eating)

The juice of 1 juicy lime (around 3 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar (or, to taste)
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)
1 Thai chilli, finely chopped (optional and to taste)

There are many variations on nuoc cham but at its heart, it's all about balance.  I like to use the sugar element as the tipping scale so after adding one tablespoon, I'll test and add more if necessary.  I'm also a big fan of the garlic, but understandably maybe not all would be keen to eat this for an office workday lunch! Each to their own.


Pour dressing lovingly over salad and combine so the vermicelli manages to intertwine itself with the carrots, and the carrots with the leaves.

Eat and enjoy!

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