Proof that something light and refreshing doesn’t have to be wimpy on the flavor front. To make this classic Vietnamese salad, you marinate shrimp with lemongrass, Sriracha, fish sauce, garlic, and brown sugar, then cook in a grill pan. Serve them on a bed of rice vermicelli, with lettuce leaves, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber, aromatic herbs, and sprinkling of chopped peanuts.
Game plan: The shrimp has to marinate for at least 1 hour (longer is better), so plan accordingly.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 50 mins, plus at least 1 hr marinating time
- Active: 30 mins
For the shrimp:
- 1/2 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 8 to 10 basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
For the salad:
- 8 ounces rice vermicelli
- Kosher salt
- Leaves from 1 head of red- or green-leaf lettuce
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 large handful of mung bean sprouts
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and small stems)
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
- Sriracha, for drizzling (optional)
- 1 recipe Nuoc Cham
To marinate and cook the shrimp:
- In a blender, combine the lemongrass, Sriracha, fish sauce, garlic, basil, brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and vegetable oil and purée until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape into a medium bowl, add the shrimp, and toss to combine. Cover and set aside to marinate, at least 1 hour and as long as overnight.
- Grill the shrimp just before serving. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the shrimp until just done, about 2 minutes per side.
To make the salad:
- Cook the vermicelli according to the directions on the package, or boil in lightly salted water until just soft, about 30 to 45 seconds. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large serving platter, followed by the vermicelli, carrot, bean sprouts, and cucumber.
- Place the grilled shrimp on top of the vermicelli and garnish with the mint, cilantro, and chopped peanuts. Drizzle with the optional Sriracha, and serve with bowls of Nuoc Cham.