Monday, 23 July 2012

Zingy Vietnamese Prawn Salad

Rachel, Dublin

Summer is happening in very short, sharp bursts this year and, as it's pelting rain the other 98% of the time, can catch you by surprise when you suddenly find yourself wanting a light, summery dish.  Those potatoes and carrots that were purchased for making Shepherd's Pie can suddenly seem a bit redundant.

Yesterday was one of those rare days of glorious sunshine and it made me crave a dish that would encapsulate all the flavours and colours of summer.   In this type of situation I think Vietnamese style salads often hit the spot with their mix of sweet, sour and spicy dressing alongside the freshness of herbs, like mint and coriander.  I included some Mango and Pink Grapefruit that I had in my fruit bowl as I thought they would be well complemented by the lime in the dressing.  The combination of the fruit with the other salad ingredients made for a fantastically zingy dish that was refreshing and satisfying all at once.

The recipe for the dressing is one that I learnt at a Vietnamese workshop at the Cooks Academy (a course I would highly recommend); I've used it many times over with different combinations of salad ingredients and it gives that perfect hit of sweet, sour, and spice everytime.

Zingy Vietnamese Prawn Salad (Serves 2)

60ml lime juice (approx 2 limes)
60ml fish sauce
2tbsp rice vinegar
1tbsp sugar
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 shallots or half a small red onion, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients and stir until the sugar is all dissolved.  The dressing is best if you can leave it for at least an hour to let the flavour develop (At the very least, make the dressing before the rest of the salad).  This is enough dressing for at least double the salad recipe.  It will last for quite a while in your fridge in a sealed container

This is what I used on the day - feel free to substitute for whatever suits the ingredients you have.
200g cooked, shelled, frozen prawns, defrosted and drained on kitchen paper
1 ripe mango, cut into chunks*
1 ruby grapefruit, cut into segments
1 baby gem lettuce, shredded
Half a red pepper, cut into chunks
Quarter of a cucumber, cut into thin batons
Handful of fresh mint, stems removed, julienned
Handful of fresh coriander, stems removed, julienned
100g of cooked noodles, refreshed under cold water and drained (I used 'glass noodles', also known as mung bean vermicelli, as I like how they look in a salad.  Rice noodles would also work well but you can use any you have.)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently to ensure even distribution.  Place portions of the salad onto plates and drizzle generously with the dressing.  Enjoy!

*If you are unsure of how best to prepare some of the fruits and vegetables above then this is a great post from The Kitchn that I saw recently on the best way to tackle these tasks with step-by-step photo guides.


  1. Totally unrelated to the above post, but came across this and thought you'd enjoy it. Ive attached below a link to Gwyneth Paltrow's blog on her website - some very nice recipes and thought you'd appreciate this entry -

  2. Oooh, thanks for the link Claire, I haven't come across that site before. That cocktail sounds like just the thing himself would like although I'm not 100% sure he'd approve of his cognac being adulterated with fruit juice and the like! He's a bit old school about some things! R

  3. Did you see that link to pdt (please don't tell bar), that GP recommends? Would almost fly to NYC just to enter via the phone booth into an old style speakeasy. I think i've been born in the wrong era - sigh! C

  4. I hadn't seen that - looks so fab! I often think himself would like to live in a different era too, the '50s maybe, though he'd still want to bring his iPad with him!!