This is a crunchy fresh Vietnamese salad with a knockout dressing to suit any day of the week. Eat it at a BBQ or with a store bought roast chicken. You can’t go wrong with this one.
It’s simple and it is made out of the lettuce that has been dubbed the most unloved.
This recipe will change your mind about Iceberg lettuce. It transforms the green crunchy stuff into a refreshing incredibly versatile side dish you can eat with just about anything.
The secrets in the dressing the herbs and those special pickled carrots.
So you will find not 1, not 2 but 3 big keepers in today’s recipe. So here we go.
I love to eat this with satay sticks, store bought roast chicken, spicy meatballs or any BBQ or grilled meats and it’s extra specially good with crusted silken tofu or Tempeh
Start with fresh herbs that’s what makes it so special
The reason that this iceberg salad works so well is that the lettuce is cool and fresh and crunchy and has no real taste. That’s perfect because the bunches of fresh picked herbs here are what amp the flavour up. Add more rather than less and try to add the two most important ones if you can get them Thai Basil and Coriander. If you can’t get Thai Basil a little extra mint will help out with flavour. You could also add Vietnamese mint but go sparingly its strong.
Pickled Carrot to keep for any time eating.
There is one ingredient in this salad that I have been making now for a really long time in fact an embarrassing amount of years. The Pickled Carrots are a real keeper.They can perk up anything. Try them with Smoked salmon, ham, seafood even cheese! As soon as you have your first jar sitting in the fridge to boost salads and even sandwiches you will wonder what you did without them.
Nuoc Mam Cham Dressing
My special dressing features lemon or lime juice. It’s a bit of a cross between with a Thai style Nam Jim dressing and a more traditional Noc mam cham. I love it and I use it for so many things. No matter the name the dressing is a real keeper too and can be used on BBQ or pan fried meats as well as all kinds of salads and vegetables.
Whether you make it with juice or simply rice wine vinegar it doesn’t matter. It will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge. The important thing is that you make it with the ingredients that you have. That could be juice or vinegar, soy or fish sauce and if it really suits you some kind of sugar substitute.
South East Asian cuisines do feature quite a bit of sugar. The sugar content of this may freak some out but the balance of salty, sweet and sour needs to be in check to get this right.
The sugar used can also be variations on white sugar, caster sugar (fine grained sugar) or palm sugar. Brown sugar is not one to use here. Palm sugar ( or even coconut sugar) are mild flavoured delicate sugars. For everyday ease of dissolving and also availability I use caster or any very fine grained white sugar. Palm or coconut sugar may need to be added to just a little boiling water to dissolve.
Watch the video and see just how easy this Vietnamese Salad is to make
Vietnamese Salad with Pickled Carrot
- 1 head iceberg lettuce
- 250 gm cucumber sliced finely
- 100 gm Spanish onion sliced into fine julienne
- 200 gm Cherry Tomatoes 1/2'd
- 1 bunch coriander leaves picked ( save the stems and roots)
- 1 bunch mint leaves picked
- 1 bunch Thai basil leaves picked
Nuoc mam cham dressing
- 150 ml lime juice
- 50 gm sugar fine white
- 20 ml fish sauce or soy sauce
- 30 gm ginger grated
- 20 gm garlic 5 cloves rough chopped
- 1 bunch coriander roots and stems chopped
- 500 gm carrot peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 2 Tablespoons salt flakes or sea salt
- 250 ml vinegar rice vinegar
- 400 gm sugar white sugar
- 50 gm ginger peeled and sliced very thinly
- Make the pickled carrots first as they are better the day after they are made. Once the carrots are sliced put them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Toss the salt through the carrot and let it drain for at least 30 minutes.
- Wash the carrots very well and drain again.
Put the carrots into a container or a large jar.
- Meantime put the sliced ginger, vinegar and sugar into a pot and bring it just to the point where the sugar melts.
Pour the vinegar liquid over the carrots while it is just warm to the touch. If the liquid is too hot the carrots will cook. One in a jar or container store in the refrigerator.
- Make the dressing in a large jar with a lid. Add the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce ( or soy sauce) garlic, ginger, chilli and chopped coriander roots. Shake well. Test the result. it should be sweet sour and salty. Let this stand in the fridge. It will keep for weeks like this.
- Wash and drain the iceberg lettuce and break up into edible chunks. Sprinkle over all of the sliced onions, tomato, herbs. Drain the carrots a little and add some to the salad before tossing. You will only need 1/2 or even a 1/4 of them. Reserve the rest for another time
- Drain the bits from the dressing and pour over the lettuce salad and toss well to cover the salad leaves in the dressing. Its best to dress just before you serve.