Notes: This salad is traditionally made with finely sliced raw banana blossoms or cabbage; we've gotten excellent results with the cabbage. Spicy rau ram, found in Vietnamese markets, adds an aromatic pungency, but fresh mint is a very good alternative. For convenience, use frozen cooked shrimp, thawed, and packaged shredded cabbage (often labeled "angel hair"). Serve the salad for a light lunch or as part of a multicourse meal.
8 ounces (31 to 40 per lb.) shelled, deveined cooked shrimp (see notes)
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh hot red or green chili, such as Thai, serrano, jalapeño, or Fresno
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
6 cups finely shredded cabbage (10 oz.; see notes)
8 ounces bean sprouts (3 to 4 cups), rinsed
3/4 cup fresh rau ram or fresh mint leaves (see notes)
Rinse and drain shrimp; pat dry. Cut each in half lengthwise.
In a large bowl, mix lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon chili, and garlic. Add shrimp, cabbage, bean sprouts, rau ram, carrots, shallots, and 1/4 cup peanuts; mix. Taste, and add more chili if desired.
Pour the salad onto a platter and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup peanuts over the top.