Here's a Vietnamese-inspired salad that's tart and crunchy. The original recipe called for Maine shrimp, which are difficult to come by in Washington. They're meaty and sweet, and usually are sold peeled and deveined because their shells are so tough. We used rock shrimp, which come peeled, deveined and frozen. They are available at Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's and at some Giant stores.
Serve with corn bread.
- For the salad
- 1 pound peeled and deveined rock shrimp (may substitute defrosted cooked large Gulf shrimp, cut horizontally in half)
- 2 medium heads or 1 large head napa or Chinese cabbage
- 1 bunch cilantro (about 4 ounces)
- 2 heads Boston or butter lettuce
- 2 medium carrots
- 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
- For the dressing
- 1-inch piece ginger root
- 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons Asian chili paste, such as sambal oelek
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the salad: Place the shrimp in a medium skillet and cover with water by a half-inch. Heat over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp are just opaque. Drain and transfer to a bowl; refrigerate while you prep the remaining salad ingredients.
Discard any torn or discolored outer leaves of the cabbage, then cut it crosswise into very thin strips and place in a large wooden salad bowl. Trim off and discard the tough ends of the cilantro stems, then coarsely chop all but 4 of the remaining stems, reserving those for garnish. Add the chopped cilantro to the bowl. Wash and spin-dry the leaves of lettuce; divide them among individual plates to form a kind of bowl for the salad. Peel and grate the carrots; add to the bowl. Toss the ingredients and refrigerate while you make the dressing.
For the dressing: Peel and finely grate or mince the ginger; place in a liquid measuring cup, along with the rice vinegar, fish sauce, peanut oil, chili paste and sugar. Whisk to incorporate.
To assemble: Coarsely chop the peanuts. Drain the chilled shrimp if needed, then add to the salad bowl, along with two-thirds of the peanuts. Toss to combine, then divide among individual plates, piling the mixture on top of the lettuce leaves.
Divide the remaining peanuts among the portions, sprinkling them over the individual salads. Garnish with the leaves from the remaining cilantro stems.
Adapted from "The Summer Shack Cookbook," by Jasper White (paperback, W.W. Norton, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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