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Main Course Salads: Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

I am back on the 'Main Course Salads' series. All thanks to the ultra hot weather these days.

This recipe came from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2009 annual which I have long ear-marked for making but never did get around to it.

There are 3 components to this salad: the fragrant salty pork slices, spicy tangy dressing and salad veggies. All of which could be prep separately in advance and assembled just before eating.

I have never added pork to my salad before simply because I have no idea how to prepare the pork so that it will be able to stand out in the salad. This recipe not only makes the pork the star of the dish, it gave me a new template for pork stir-fries. The pork slices are first marinated in a mixture of fish sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and cooking oil. Just before eating, I did a quick pan fry until the slices began to brown and the edges get slightly crunchy. I couldn't stop nibbling on it once it was out of the pan. Our little princess came to swipe a few pieces too.

When it comes to Vietnamese dressing, I am very happy with the recipe I found at Bon Appetit, that dipping sauce has become my universal Vietnamese-anything sauce. But this recipe calls for slightly less ingredients, so I thought maybe give it a chance. Although the sauce taste brighter with its lime juice only ensemble, it lacks the herby-ness from the minced cilantro in it. I guess this makes a good shortcut but not exactly the real deal for me.

As far as salad veggies goes, I still adopt the whatever-you-fancy stance. However, a word of caution: any self-respecting Vietnamese salad ought to have mint, cilantro and cucumbers. That's in my rule book. Okay, so with that said, go ahead and drop in whatever that is in your fridge. I had a few stalks of giant asparagus which I boiled it for a few minutes before adding to my salad mix.

By the way, that was my lunch for today. I love eating big giant salads. A great way to tuck into lots of vegetables with minimal standing in front of the stove.


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