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Thai Crystal Noodle Salad

This is an easy version of a traditional Thai dish called Yum Woon Sen. It's a combination of cellophane (mung bean) noodles, shrimp and ground chicken, flavored with a Thai-style lime dressing and fresh cilantro. The pungent flavors and quick cooking times make it a good choice for a light weeknight meal. Mung bean noodles are one of our favorite ingredients to have on hand. They're quick and easy to prepare, have a wonderful texture and make a perfect match for all kinds of sauces and stir fry combinations.

Thai Crystal Noodle Salad

Thai Crystal Noodle Salad

  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 4 ounces dried cellophane (mung bean) noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium head tender leaf lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, crushed
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Sriracha (Asian hot sauce) or crushed red pepper to taste

Preparation:
Bring a pot of water to a simmer, remove from the heat and add the cellophane noodles. Soak just until the noodles are clear and tender, anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes depending on the brand ~ check frequently. Drain, rinse with cool water, drain again and set aside. While in the strainer you can snip them here and there with a pair of kitchen shears so they'll be a little easier to portion out.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground chicken and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it cooks. Add the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss to combine, then add the shrimp. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until the shrimp turn pink and opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the green onions, remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Add the noodles and toss to combine thoroughly. Add the cilantro leaves and toss again.

Place a portion of lettuce on each of 4 serving plates. Top with a portion of noodles and arrange slices of tomato and cucumber around the edges. Mound a portion of the meat and shrimp mixture in the center, top with crushed peanuts and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe Notes:
Although not part of the classic recipe, feel free to add Thai basil and/or mint along with the cilantro for extra flavor.

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