By Gail Simmons
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 8 oz vermicelli rice noodles
- 4 1/4 cups unsweetened iced tea, divided
- 4 cups water
- 1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and trimmed into two 2–3 inch pieces, one half of pieces bruised using the back of a knife, one half finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 10 stems reserved
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, half sliced, half finely chopped
- 2 small Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped or 1Ž2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 hothouse cucumber, cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
- 6 radishes, cut into matchsticks or shredded on a mandoline
- 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
- 1 pound cooked shrimp or shredded rotisserie chicken, optional
Heat canola oil in a medium sauté pan until just before smoking. In a shallow bowl, toss shallots with flour, shaking off any excess. Fry shallots in oil, stirring gently until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season immediately with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups Iced Tea, water, bruised lemongrass, sliced ginger, 10 cilantro stems and remaining teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water until chilled. Shake out any excess water and spread noodles on a paper towel-lined tray.
For dressing, combine reserved lemongrass, reserved ginger, chiles, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup Iced Tea in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
Place noodles, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, mint, cilantro leaves and chicken or shrimp (if desired) in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss well. Garnish with fried shallots and crushed peanuts before serving.
Note: Any remaining dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and used on meat, fish and salads.
Recipe provided by Gail Simmons