Vietnamese Rice Noodles With Lemongrass Shrimp
Nearly every little shop in Vietnam serves some version of this satisfying, simple dish. Bowls of room-temperature rice noodles are festooned with wok-fried or grilled shrimp (or beef, pork or chicken), scented with lemongrass, splashed with a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce, and then served with pickled vegetables and tender, aromatic herbs.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1cup finely julienned carrot
- 1cup finely julienned daikon
- 2teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½teaspoon salt
- 1tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4tablespoons lime juice
- 3tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, like Red Boat
- 3garlic cloves, minced
- 1tablespoon minced or grated ginger
- 1medium-hot red chile pepper, such as Fresno, finely chopped
- 1red or green bird chile pepper, thinly sliced, or substitute half a thinly sliced serrano pepper
- 1 ½pounds shrimp, preferably wild, peeled and deveined
- 2tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
- 1tablespoon light brown sugar
- 3garlic cloves, minced
- 3tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, pale tender center part only
- 1pound rice noodles, preferably rice vermicelli
- 1or 2 small lettuce heads, with the leaves separated, rinsed and patted dry
- 3cups mixed herb sprigs, such as cilantro, mint, basil, watercress and tender celery leaves
- 2tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4scallions, slivered
- 4tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
- Handful of bean sprouts (optional)
Step 1Make the pickled vegetables: Put carrot and daikon in a small bowl and sprinkle with sugar and salt. Add rice vinegar, toss well and set aside.
Step 2Make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and chiles. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water and let mixture sit for 15 minutes. (Leftover sauce will keep up to 3 days, refrigerated.)
Step 3Marinate the shrimp: Put shrimp in a shallow dish. Add fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic and lemongrass. Mix well to coat.
Step 4Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Turn off heat and add rice noodles. Soak noodles, stirring occasionally, until softened, usually about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Leave in colander at room temperature.
Step 5Prepare a platter of lettuce leaves and herb sprigs for the table. Keep cool, covered with a damp towel.
Step 6Put oil in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add shrimp without crowding (work in batches if necessary). Cook for about 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned.
Step 7To serve, divide noodles among 4 large soup bowls, then top each with hot shrimp, pickled vegetables and a tablespoon or so of dipping sauce. Sprinkle with scallions and peanuts (and beans sprouts if using). Pass herb platter and remaining dipping sauce at the table, and encourage guests to customize bowls as desired.