Here in southern Alberta, the week has been a hot one. Not that I need excuses, but when the weather is this sunshiny (yes that's a word), I like to make this salad. I think in our house, this Vietnamese-flavoured noodle salad could be consumed once a week and it would be fine. One has to meter these goodies out, so that they are still celebrations and as loved as they should when you pull them out of your sleeve!
This morning, when I was thinking of this salad, I had this image in mind. Vietnam is a place I have longed to visit for over three decades. It is a place I will see one day. A big part of the attraction of course for me is the food. I just imagine hanging out in a spot like this, waiting for the flavour punch to hit me square in the face. You?
This is the kind of salad that is a good fit for bigger groups, especially families. At our house, we have one eater who is more particular about the flavours and textures than the other two, and so this is a way to encourage her to eat more vegetables. I chop all the fresh veg I have in the house that will work, put them in little piles on the table, and she gets to pick at least 3 from the bunch, 3 different colours. That's the deal. And she gladly obliges!
You aren't limited to those veggies presented here: think outside the box! Grated beets, sliced cucumbers, ribbons of lettuce, small shreds of cabbage, barely-steamed green beans, peas, bean sprouts, broccoli sprouts, fermented carrots and daikon with garlic and ginger; variety and colour is key. The nice thing with this is that everyone can personalize their own noodle bowl; a sure-fire winner when there is a crowd. Don't forget crunchy toppings, as this element is essential. At this house, we like chopped up toasted coconut slices, and roasted peanuts. You could try crumbled up kale chips, or the traditional deep-fried shallots you can buy at your favourite local Asian-food grocer.
The quintessential ingredient to making this a Vietnamese-inspired noodle bowl is to include the famous Dipping Fish Sauce. It's an easy thing, doesn't really need a recipe. But for those who do, put 3 tbsp of fish sauce, 3 tbsp of rice vinegar, 2 tbsp of coconut sugar with about a half cup of water in a pan, and heat til it's nice and melded together, not boiling. Let it cool. Just before you serve, add a few garlic cloves, minced, and if you're game, some heat via jalapeño or bird's eye chili, whatever you got, and a few tbsp of lime juice to liven it up. Tweak to taste.
We cooked some pumpkin/ginger/brown rice soba noodles until al dente, (you could easily shave ribbons of carrots to use instead of noodles if you're going GAPS or AIP or grain-free styles) rinsed through cold water, topped with the veggies on the platter and a few medallions of just-BBQ'd bison spicy sausage (thanks to Olson's Highcountry Bison) and some roasted peanuts and shredded coconut. The adults opted for the Dipping Fish Sauce; the youngest among us aimed for the sweet chili plum sauce in a bottle. Can't win em all folks.
As I was busily preparing two different kinds of kimchi for next week's Fermenting Kimchi class (there are spots left! Check it out here!), I over-estimated ingredients and had a bit left over. I decided to mash the extra veg along with flavours much like one of the kimchi samplers for the class next week (Thank you Dolly + Oatmeal!) and came up with a fairly quick and simple salad to top our noodle bowls with:
BRUSSELS SPROUTS A LA KIMCHI STYLES SALAD
2 cups Brussels Sprouts, shredded
1/4 cup shredded daikon radish (or red radish if you can't find daikon)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
green onion, sliced
one apple, cored and diced
1" ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" of turmeric root, minced (optional)
1 tsp fish sauce (optional, but really delicious)
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
grind of pepper
2 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp seaweed (like this kind from Harmonic Arts)
1 tsp Korean hot pepper spice (or any kind of hot peppers you have, or omit if you're sans-nightshades or AIP)
Toss it all together a few hours before you plan to eat it, in order to have the flavours meld. Eat up! Lovely on a noodle bowl, or in a wrap, or on rice, or wherever you need good food.
Thanks to Olson's Highcountry Bison for their fine sausages, and to Dolly + Oatmeal for the scrumptious Brussels Sprouts Kimchi recipe (an absolute obsession) and to west coasters Harmonic Arts for all the love and goodness they put into their foods and offerings. Let me know if you're game to join on Tuesday morning to make some kimchi! I'd love to see your sweet face there.