The Rich Variety of Vietnam - Vietnamese Salad

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Serves 4

Ric Orlando, chef-owner of New World Home Cooking Co. in Woodstock, New York, serves his interpretation of the classic Vietnamese table salad with chopsticks thrust in, ready for use. He says it’s popular topped with grilled shrimp.

· 2 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (iceberg lettuce can substitute)
· 1/2 cup carrot, grated
· 1/2 cup daikon radish, grated
· 1/2 cup scallion greens, cut on a long, narrow bias
· 2 cups mung bean sprouts
· 1 cup pea, broccoli or radish sprouts
· 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, unsalted and roasted
· 12 medium-size anise basil leaves, torn into pieces
· 6 tender spearmint tops, torn into pieces
· 4 medium cilantro sprigs, torn into pieces
· Vinaigrette
· 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
· 2 tablespoons warm water
· 1 tablespoon sugar
· 2 tablespoons tamarind paste*
· 1/2 cup peanut oil
· 1/4 cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce**
· 1/2 cup white sesame seeds

Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl and keep the mixture cold.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar with the warm water. Dissolve the sugar and tamarind paste in the vinegar-water mixture. Whisk in the oil, fish sauce and sesame seeds.

Shortly before serving, pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently. Let the mixture stand in a nonreactive bowl for 5 to 10 minutes.

*Note: Tamarind concentrate paste is available at many Asian markets. Tamarind pulp, which contains seeds and skins, cannot be substituted for tamarind paste without considerable preparation.

**Note: Fish sauce, or nuoc mam, is the most important ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. Made from fermented anchovies and salt, the clear brownish liquid is used to season food and make dipping sauces. It is available in Asian markets and many grocery stores.

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