It’s the new year, and for many of us, that means an end to the consumption of butter-infused holiday foods that began at Thanksgiving. I try new salad recipes year-round. This one was born out of my love of fresh rolls and my frustration with rice paper wrappers. I was determined to get all the flavors of a spring roll deconstructed in a salad.
This meal is also a celebration of the sustainable, humane and diverse Gulf of Mexico wild shrimp fishery. The fishery supports many Vietnamese-American shrimping families, as well as historic local fishing families. I hope this recipe honors the diversity of the fishery, using wild American shrimp in a twist on a traditional Vietnamese spring roll, which are appropriately called salad rolls in some parts of Vietnam and nime chow (“nim chow”) in Cambodia.
For a dressing, I like a sweet and sour spring roll dipping sauce topped with Makoto ginger dressing (in the produce section of the grocery store), or a peanut dressing (recipes to follow).
1 pound (fresh or frozen) thawed, peeled and deveined wild Gulf of Mexico shrimp
3 ounces (dry) thin rice noodles, prepared according to instructions and tossed lightly in rice vinegar
1 medium head Napa cabbage, shredded
1 head Boston, butterhead, romaine or iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 medium carrots, julienned or shredded
2 pickling cucumbers (or half of one large Euro cuke), julienned
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups mung bean sprouts, rinsed well
6 scallions, diced
1 bunch Thai basil, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small bunch mint, chopped (use the herbs to taste — the more the better for me)
Optional garnishes: chopped peanuts, 2 thinly sliced fresh serrano chiles and chow mein noodles
Prepare the shrimp however your diet allows: sauté over medium heat in 2-3 tablespoons of butter (2-3 minutes per side), steam or brush with olive oil and grill. The key is to cook until just cooked through. They should be barely translucent at the edges, not solid white and rubbery.
Divide the ingredients evenly, starting with the shredded cabbage and lettuce. Top with the noodles (chopped roughly or left long), vegetables, herbs and your choice of dressing.
Sweet and Sour Dressing
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste (like sambal or sriracha)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
Combine the first two ingredients and stir to dissolve sugar. Add remaining ingredients, stir and chill.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut butter (texture your preference)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons chili paste (like sambal or sriracha)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine ingredients in a small food processor, blender or whisk by hand.