This refreshing one-dish meal is a great antidote to a sticky summer night. It takes well to variation: Substitute grilled shrimp, pork, or beef for the chicken, if you like. We sometimes add shredded Napa cabbage or thinly sliced white mushrooms.
Serve with a dry riesling from California or Germany.
Make Ahead: The dipping sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- For the noodles
- 8 ounces thin dried rice noodles or angel-hair pasta
- 2 cups shredded lettuce or spring salad mix
- 3 cups shredded roast chicken
- 2 cups peeled and sliced cucumber
- 1 cup small sprigs mint and cilantro, combined
- 2 cups mung bean sprouts (optional)
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/3 cup scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into thin slices
- 3/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
- For the sauce (nuoc cham)
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce or finely chopped hot red chile peppers, or 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 6 tablespoons fish sauce
- 6 tablespoons water
- Freshly squeezed juice from 1 or 2 limes (1/4 cup)
For the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in the noodles, then remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes; use tongs or a slotted spoon and a fork to separate the noodles in the water so they cook evenly. When the noodles are tender, drain, rinse in cold water, then drain again. You’ll have about 6 cups of cooked noodles. Let stand while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
While the noodles are cooling, make the sauce: Combine the garlic, sugar and chili-garlic sauce in the bowl of a mortar and pestle; mash to a paste. Scrape the paste into a medium bowl, then stir in the fish sauce, water and lime juice, so the sugar dissolves. Use right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
To assemble: Set out four big Asian-style noodle bowls or pasta plates or soup bowls. Divide the ingredients evenly among the bowls: lettuce first, topped with 1 1/2 cups of noodles in each bowl. Top the noodles in each portion with chicken on one side, and the cucumber, fresh herbs and any optional ingredients you’re using on the other side.
Sprinkle the scallions and peanuts over the chicken.
Serve immediately, inviting everyone to toss everything together as they begin to eat.
Adapted from "Quick and Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipes," by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle, 2005).
Tested by Domenica Marchetti .
Email questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.