January 20, 2011

Vietnamese Prawn and Herb Salad

This recipe was inspired by a Spring night in Melbourne. I'd consider Melbourne the "San Francisco"of Australia. More than a handful of separate districts known for different cultures and people from all over the world. A clean China Town(!), a huge Italian population with restaurateurs calling you in with free glasses of wine, lots of new age fancy shmancy places and heaps of Vietnamese cafes scattered throughout. 
This came about at a sort of dinner party at a friend's house(Hi Ryan and Caro, if you're reading!). I loved the combination of fresh herbs with the tangy/salty dressing and sweet shrimp. I've also got an addiction to fish sauce apparently. When we first had it, there were crunchy fried noodles at the bottom but if you're looking for a more health conscious version(although my grocer was fresh out at the time) I suggest adding crispy bean sprouts.

Vietnamese Prawn and Herb Salad
For Dressing:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 small red chili, Minced
juice of 2 limes (about 2 tablespoons)

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let the flavors merry while you are getting the rest of the salad together. Taste to see if it's to your liking. Some may want to add a bit more water to mellow it out but I like the strong sour/salty mixture.
For Herb Salad:
1/2 Lb. medium cooked shrimp
1/2 cup pineapple, cut into small cubes
1 bag mixed salad greens
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 small bunch fresh mint (make sure it's tender and not rough)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into strips
2 green onions, sliced-green tops only

Optional for more crunch:
1/2 cup bean sprouts(for the healthy folks) or fried wonton strips

Pull off all of the cilantro and mint leaves and combine with salad greens. Try to keep just the leaves and the thin upper stems. Throw in the sliced red and green onions, pineapple chunks, bean sprouts(if using), and shrimp. Pour on the dressing and toss to coat everything evenly. Garnish with fried wonton strips. 
If you're opposed to raw onions try this trick to soften the taste. Slice thinly then soak them in a bowl of water with a dash of vinegar for about 30 minutes. Drain them and use as needed. Sweet, sour, salty, and herbal... This is my kind of salad. Hope you enjoy!


  1. I looove Vietnamese food and this is totally my kind of salad too, I'm going to make it this weekend.

  2. Pineapple! I should have guessed. Sure looks delicious!