This is a true summer recipe based on fresh Asian inspired flavours, crunchy textures and vibrant colours. The salads you get in Thailand and Vietnam have a fresh, light, but yet fully satisfying quality to them and are full of aromatic herbs like coriander and mint. The real key to this type of salad is the magic combination of Thai fish sauce, lime juice and sugar, three really is the magic number. This simple dressing gives the salad an amazing zip across the palate – sweet, sour and savoury all at once. The crunch comes from all the raw vegetables and lightly toasted cashew nuts, with a few rice noodles thrown in. And you can feel a little smug as you eat this salad as it’s got sprouted seeds added which are probably one of the healthiest things you could eat.
Thai fish sauce is one of my favourite ingredients to use and I never fail to be amazed at its ability to give dishes that extra depth of flavour. Considering that it’s made from fermented anchovies and it has a pungent aroma when you add it to a hot wok, but the flavour of ‘umami’ it brings is unmatched. Umami, the fifth flavour, that roundness in the mouth, a flavour experience hard to put your finger on, but you know it’s an element all on its own when you taste it.
The recipe for the salad is from the Observer Food Monthly, by Nigel Slater. You could eat this salad on its own as a light meal, but I like to add some fish and this time I decided to go for some wild Alaskan salmon, which I treated to a bath of soy sauce and honey and then roasted really quickly in a hot oven. This gives the salmon a sticky sweet salty glaze, a bit like Teriyaki sauce.
Asian noodle salad with glazed salmon
For the salad
60g rice noodles
1 large handful of sprouted seeds
1 hot red chilli
1 red pepper
125g cherry tomatoes
100g cashew nuts
small bunch of coriander
4 sprigs of mint
For the dressing
3tbsp of lime juice
3tbsp of fish sauce
1tsp caster sugar
For the salmon
4 fillets of salmon
3tbsp clear honey
3tbsp Soy sauce
Put the noodles into a heatproof bowl, then pour boiling water from the kettle over them and leave for two minutes. Drain the noodles and let them cool in a colander under cold running water. Drain thoroughly.
Rinse the sprouted seeds under cold running water, drain them, then tip into a mixing bowl. Finely chop the chilli and thinly slice the pepper then add them to the sprouted seeds. Peel, core and cut the cucumber into small dice, then add to the seeds with the raw peas. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl with the salted cashews and roughly chopped coriander and mint leaves, gently tossing the ingredients together with the drained noodles.
Make the dressing, mix together the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Add the dressing to the noodle salad, toss well and chill for 30 minutes before serving.
To cook the salmon, mix three tablespoons of honey with three tablespoons of soy sauce and spread all over the flesh side of the salmon fillets. Place in a baking tray, in a hot oven and cook for about 12 minutes.
To serve place a spoonful of the noodle salad in the middle of a plate, with a piece of salmon on top, drizzle over some of the salad dressing and serve with a wedge of lime.