Raw ingredients, such as cucumber, carrots, lettuce, mung bean sprouts, and fresh mint leaves, make this refreshing dish ideal for summer. You can substitute pork tenderloin, beef sirloin, or chicken for the shrimp. Simply cut the meat into cubes, marinate for 2 hours, then skewer and grill until done. The sauce, called nuoc cham, is present at every meal in Vietnam and drizzled over grilled meats, plain rice, or noodles. Homemade herbal oil and fried herbs are widely used in Asia. In Vietnam, shallot oil and fried shallots are the most popular and are used to garnish meat, seafood, rice, and noodle dishes.
Cooking Light AUGUST 2004
To prepare shrimp, combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove shrimp from bag; discard marinade.
To prepare sauce, combine the lime juice and next 5 ingredients (through chiles), stirring with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
To prepare shallot oil, heat 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 5 minutes or until golden brown. Strain the shallot mixture through a sieve over a bowl. Reserve oil. Set fried shallots aside.
To prepare remaining ingredients, place rice vermicelli in a large bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes. Drain. Combine the noodles, shallot oil, 1 3/4 cups lettuce, 1 cup sprouts, 1 cup carrot, and 3/4 cup cucumber, tossing well.
To cook shrimp, prepare the grill to medium-high heat.
Place shrimp on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Place 3/4 cup noodle mixture in each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 4 shrimp, about 3 tablespoons of sauce, and about 1 tablespoon fried shallots. Serve with remaining lettuce, bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber, mint, and peanuts.
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