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Vietnamese Shrimp and Noodle Salad

When using lemongrass, be sure to cut off the grassy top and trim the root end of the stalk, then peel away the tough outer layers from the bulblike base. If you are unable to find fresh lemongrass, substitute the finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. dried rice stick noodles
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, pale inner core only, finely minced
  • 2 Tbs. finely grated fresh ginger
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 Tbs. Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 lb. small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, pale inner leaves only, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

Directions:

Soak the noodles and make the dressing
In a large bowl, soak the rice stick noodles in hot water to cover for 15 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together the lemongrass, ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, the 2 tsp. sesame oil and the sugar.

Cook the noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Plunge the reconstituted noodles into the water for 5 seconds and drain immediately. Rinse well under cold running water and drain again. Add to the dressing and toss to coat evenly.

Cook the shrimp and assemble the salad
In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. sesame oil. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, onions and mint to the noodles and toss to combine.

Arrange the lettuce on individual plates and top with the noodle mixture. Sprinkle with the peanuts and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Salad, by Brigit L. Binns (Oxmoor House, 2007).