Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad 2.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Dinner in Minutes May 7, 2014

In the same seamless vein – and opposite spectrum, marriage-wise -- of Nora Ephron’s 1983 autobiographical novel “Heartburn,” Molly Wizenberg weaves recipes into her new book, "Delancey." It chronicles the startup of her relationship with husband Brandon Pettit and Delancey, their Seattle pizza restaurant. Of course, her readers' appetites were primed by Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, and her 2010 book with recipes, "A Homemade Life."

This dish was inspired by the takeout food the couple ate as Delancey took shape. We saved time by shopping the salad bar for the prepped carrots, cabbage and cucumber and pieces of store-roasted turkey breast. She calls for adding a minced bird's-eye chili pepper to the dressing, but those aren't always easy to come by. Crushed red pepper flakes will do.

Wizenberg offers great suggestions for add-ins: blanched snow peas, sliced thin; fresh mung bean sprouts; fried shallots or store-bought fried shallots/onions. Freshly cooked rice can be used instead of the noodles; ribbons of baby bok choy leaves can take the place of the cabbage; leftover pork chop or grilled shrimp or extra-firm tofu can stand in as proteins.

2 - 3

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-3 servings

  • For the salad
  • 8 ounces dried rice noodles (pad Thai/linguine width)
  • Handful mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro and mint
  • 6 to 8 ounces cooked meat (see headnote)
  • 2 ounces shredded/matchstick-cut carrot (see headnote; may substitute 1 medium carrot, scrubbed and shredded)
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage, preferably Napa (see headnote; may substitute 3 or 4 napa cabbage leaves, very thinly sliced)
  • 4 ounces sliced cucumber (see headnote; may substitute 1/2 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, for garnish
  • For the dressing
  • 1 or 2 limes
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons water
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes


For the salad: Lay a clean dish towel on the counter.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and wait for 1 minute before stirring to separate them. Cook for about 3 minutes; the noodles need to be just tender but not mushy. Drain in a colander, then immediately dump the noodles onto the dish towel, separating them from each other as much as possible

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Squeeze the juice of the lime(s) -- enough to yield 3 tablespoons -- into a small bowl. Mince the garlic and add it to the bowl, along with the fish sauce, brown sugar (to taste), water (as needed) and crushed red pepper flakes.

Coarsely chop or tear the herb leaves. Tear the cooked meat into bite-size pieces and arrange on a platter, along with the herbs, carrot, cabbage and cucumber. Arrange the noodles on the platter; drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the dressing.

Coarsely chop the peanuts, then scatter them over the salad components.

Seat the bowl of dressing in or alongside the platter. Let everyone at the table help themselves.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from Wizenberg’s “Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage” (Simon and Schuster, 2014).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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