This fresh salad uses leftover prime rib, rice noodles, and crisp lettuce and sprouts. A great light and nutritious dinner.
About 5 years ago, when I lived in Houston, TX, I lived right next door to a great Vietnamese restaurant. At least weekly (or maybe more often) my husband and I would have lunch there. Almost every time I ordered the char siu (or barbeque pork) vermicelli. It was a delicious rice noodle salad with lettuce, sprouts and carrots topped with char siu and an amazing fish sauce based sauce to pour over it. Since leaving Houston I have tried desperately to remake this at home. While my recipe may not be the same, it is very satisfying.
One part I have not mastered is making the barbeque pork. I have a few recipes I want to try but usually I buy char siu ready made from Chinatown. This time I topped my salad with leftover prime rib. Any meat or tofu is good.
I get all of the ingredients ready and in individual containers so when ready to eat everyone can make their own salad. This could be fun for a dinner party just set everything up as a salad bar and let friends just walk through and make their own salad just the way they like it. You could even have different types of meat or meatless options. Here is what I use.
Meat (leftover prime rib), sliced
Lettuce, any type you prefer
Rice noodles, cooked
Mint leaves, torn
Thai basil leaves, torn
In a bowl, (the wider and deeper the better) add a handful of lettuce and a handful of sprouts. Next, top this with the cooked rice noodles (for most noodles boil enough water to cover, then add the noodles and turn off the heat. Let the noodles sit for 10 minutes in the hot water until soft. Then, drain and rinse with cold water) I use a handful. Last, add the meat, pour on about 2 Tbsp of the Nuoc Cham, make sure to add plenty of carrots (the carrots absorb the flavors of the sauce and taste so good. My favorite part) and sprinkle on some mint and basil. Stir to mix everything together and eat.
An important component that makes the vermicelli so good is the sauce. I have tried all kinds of recipes and the closest I have found so far is Nuoc Cham from finecooking.com (I made a few tweaks of my own). It has a good balance of salty, sweet, spicy and sour.
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 limes (2 Tbsp lime juice)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2-3 bird chilies, sliced small
1 tsp sriracha (a chili and garlic sauce)
1 carrot, julienned (about 1 cup)
Heat the water in the microwave for about 1 minute and add the brown sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Then, squeeze in the juice from 2 limes (you could also just use bottled lime juice although, I think fresh tastes better). Next, add the minced garlic, chilies, and sriracha (you could just use the srircha and use more or less based on your own preference, but I find it missing with out the separate garlic and chilies too. I did not have any chillies so I just used more sriracha this time). Finally stir in the carrots (you can also use cilantro or green onions and these lend their own flavors, but carrots are my favorite. I actually bought a food processor just to julienne carrots. It makes the process much easier and I use them for a lot of recipes. I use the processor for many other things, but this was the main justification for the purchase). The sauce is best if made ahead of time and allowed to sit for a few hours or even overnight.
This is just a basic guideline. You can use any meat you want or no meat at all. You can use any vegetable you like sometimes I add cucumbers, dikon and even some crushed peanuts for crunch. The variations are endless and it is a quick meal to prepare.