This is how my whole life goes. And Vietnamese Salad.

May 7, 2010

I canNOT believe that it has been almost 2 months since I last posted. Outrageously unacceptable! Remember how I said before that I procrastinate? Until the point that even I am annoyed with how irresponsible I am? Well, proof. I even avoided looking at other cooking blogs, so that I didn’t have to feel shame in my heart for my shortcomings. BUT, today is a lovely day outside, and lovely days always make me want to take care of my business. It’s a mystery. So, along with this blog update, I will also be doing dishes, packing for a weekend at home, and studying. Minus studying. Plus tv watching.

Truth be told, I took these pics ages ago. I wish you would give me the tiniest bit of slack though… I have been working 80 hour weeks. Well, “working” is kind of a stretch. I mean, I have been paying tens of thousands of dollars to do free labor/”learn”. It’s very glamorous.

FINALLY on to the FOOD.

I love this salad. I mean, I LOVE this salad. When I make it, it will literally be the only thing I eat for days. Is that weird? It probably is. This salad is simple to make, but the flavors are very complex. The dressing has a fish sauce base to it– but don’t be scared away by that. It’s not fishy! You add lots of lime juice, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, etc and it blends wonderfully. I like to load up the fresh mint and cilantro (seriously, it’s not possible for me to put on too much) and top it with some sauteed shrimp. I’m practically drooling just thinking about it. If you like asian flavors.. make this. Tomorrow. This salad is absolutely perfect for hot weather, because it is 1)served cold and 2) guilt-free and chock-full of vegetables.

Because this is just a salad, I think a step-by-step would be overkill. Let’s switch it up, and start with the recipe! We crazy.
I got this from one of my mom’s cookbooks. Can’t remember which one. So I’m just going to take credit for it.

The Dressing..aka Nuoc Cham.  Here is what you will need:

4 T rice vinegar

6 T fresh lime juice

½ cup fish sauce  (buy it at an asian grocery..much cheaper)

½ cup water

4 T sugar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 t red pepper flakes

2 T long fine carrot shreds

Combine rice vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, water and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add garlic, pepper, carrots. Stir. Cover and let stand at least 1 hour.

Photographic illustration of my well-crafted nuoc cham:

It is essential for you to include rice noodles in this salad. You will just have to take my word on that.  If they are dry noodles, I soak them in warm water until they are flexible (10-20 minutes) and then add them to boiling water (just has to be enough to cover them). When the water starts to boil again, they are done! Drain them, and then rinse with cold water.

This is the brand I always grab from the store–

So once they have been totally cooled down from the rinsing, and you have drained off the excess water, you should toss them with a little oil. This keeps them from sticking together. My favorite favorite type to use is this sesame flavored chili oil. I sprinkle it on liberally (probably too liberally), and then I drink it from the bottle.

OK. Ready for the bones of the salad?

You start with a leafy green. I prefer napa cabbage for this salad, but I already had some romaine. And it was still great. I generally slice it into 1/2 inch shreds. Put a little bed of noodles on top. Now add your additional accoutrements in any order you like. I’m very flexible that way.

Carrots (pre-shredded), cucumbers, bean sprouts, obscene amounts of chopped cilantro and mint, and chopped peanuts are non-negotiables for me. DO NOT skip the cilantro and mint. Or the peanuts. Ok or anything!! Don’t even make the salad if you are going to skip them. I’m very inflexible that way.

Shrimp is optional.

Now, pour on whatever amount of dressing you find to be reasonable and call me to tell me how crazy you are about this salad.

Heaven in a bowl.



  1. Well this looks delicious! Have you made it for me yet? There’s still time… let’s do it this weekend! Also, here’s what I like about how you write: (1) you take months to post, so you have plenty of time to edit; (2) you are hilarious; (3) any time I look at the post and then think about it later and have questions, you always answered them in the post! For example, how much oil am I supposed to use on the noodles and how do I cook noodles? Answered.

    Sidenote: I laughed out loud when I read this AT WORK, which is probably pretty unprofessional. Oh well, you get what you pay for!

    Btw, do you know who else says things like, “Truth be told, I took these pics ages ago”? Blanche Devereaux. Try saying it with her accent and just see if it isn’t true!

  2. The next time I see you….God only knows when that’ll be….THIS is the food we’ll eat….K? I agree with Cara, you have a way with words…I especially like it that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Very healthy all around! Good, tasty fun….

  3. Okay, we made this and it was AMAAAAZING! You are an excellent chef/blogger! Everyone should make this recipe, seriously.

  4. Okay. So, the recipes look mighty mouth-watering and that comes from someone who is currently staying in the city of fancy French foodies! (See what I did there? Called alliteration and you have my permission to sprinkle a little throughout your next blog entry.) I especially liked the looks of the beet recipe since I was formerly one of those beet naysayers and only recently came onboard the beet fan train. By the way –you have a granny who loves beets prepared just the way you describe…possible homemade Christmas present this year? My only gripe about your blog–overall–is:WHY HASN’T THERE BEEN A NEW ENTRY IN 5 MONTHS??? With your permission I am going to advertise your blog to my friends, but I warn you: they are an insatiable bunch and will be pestering you for new entries before the holidays are upon us!! Good Job!

    • I’m so glad you like it! Are you really being serious about bringing grandma beets for christmas?? That feels like giving her a popsicle stick box, “full of love”. Plus, think of how heartbroken I will be when I come up in the summer and find them in the back of the fridge under all the desserts she doesn’t eat and jugs of Vitamin D milk

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