Vietnamese Shrimp Cabbage Salad Recipe
200 g Chinese cabbage
8 large cherry tomatoes
8 cooked king shrimps, peeled, de-veined, tails intact
1/2 cup raw peanuts, roasted, lightly crushed
1 cup mixed Asian herb leaves (Thai basil, cilantro and mint)
Nuoc cham dressing*:
4 long red chilies
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons castor sugar
1/3 cup lime (calamansi) juice from about 3 limes
3/4 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
Finely chopped green or red small chilies, to taste
(available at Asian food shops and selected greengrocers)
For the Vietnamese nuoc cham dressing, split the long red chilies, remove and discard the seeds, then slice. Pound the garlic with a pinch of salt using a large mortar and pestle. Add the sliced red chilies and continue to pound the mixture to a fine paste. Alternatively, pulse garlic and chili briefly in a food processor to finely chop. Add castor sugar and stir to blend. Squeeze in the lime juice, then slowly stir in the fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and 1 cup water until completely incorporated. Add chopped small chilies to taste. To assemble the salad, finely slice the cabbage leaves and place in a mixing bowl. Peel the carrots and cut into thin matchsticks. Halve the cherry tomatoes, then add to the bowl with the carrots, shrimps, peanuts and mixed herbs. Add enough of the nuoc cham dressing to generously coat the salad (leftover dressing will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge). Toss well to combine, then divide among serving plates.
Nuoc cham dressing*
The classic Vietnamese Nuoc cham dressing is also great as a dipping sauce, or to serve with barbecued chicken, grilled meat and roasted or grilled fish. You can even use it just to dress an iceberg salad, or a salad of shredded green mango or papaya.
Small chilies (also known as bird’s-eye chilies) give a fantastic flavor as well as extra heat – they are more citrusy than regular chilies.