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Vietnamese Shrimp and Fennel Salad

Updated February 23, 2016
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Shrimp and shaved fresh fennel, with its anisey flavor, are a unique combination that is nicely complemented by the sweet and sour fresh lime dressing. If fennel is unavailable, substitute 1 pound blanched snow peas, sliced in half lengthwise.

Fresh fennel is rich with the phytonutrient limonene, which may help prevent certain types of cancer.

Coriander seed and fresh cilantro aid digestion, remove heat from the body, and serve as diuretics.

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course

Dietary Considerationappetizer, main course

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, light, spiced, tangy

Type of Dishfirst course salad, main course salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine or sake (optional)
  • 2 pounds fennel bulbs, stalks and root base trimmed, leaving 1/8 inch of the stem to hold the fennel together
  • 1/3 pound thin rice stick noodles, softened in hot water and drained
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallion greens
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1¼ teaspoons dried chile flakes
  • Juice of 4 to 5 limes or 2½ lemons (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic

Instructions

FIRST Using a sharp knife, slice the shrimp lengthwise along the back in half. Bring 4 cups of water and the rice wine, if using, to a boil, add the shrimp, and cook about 1½ minutes after the water reaches a boil, or until the shrimp are opaque. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain again.

SECOND Holding each fennel bulb securely, cut lengthwise in half, then cut into slices about ¼ inch thick and 1½ inches long.

THIRD In a large stockpot, heat 2 quarts of water until boiling. Add the softened rice stick noodles and swirl in the hot water. Cook for 10 seconds, or until just tender. Remove with a strainer or a slotted spoon and drain thoroughly in a colander. Rinse under cold running water. Drain thoroughly and arrange on a deep serving platter.

FOURTH Bring the water back to a boil. Add the fennel slices and cook about 6 to 7 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain, refresh under cold running water, and drain again thoroughly. Arrange the fennel slices over the noodles and sprinkle the carrots on top, leaving a slight indentation in the center. Arrange the shrimp in the center. Sprinkle the cilantro, scallion greens, and basil on top.

FIFTH Soak the dried chile flakes in the lime juice for 2 to 3 minutes in a medium bowl. Add the remaining Dressing ingredients, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Spoon the dressing onto the salad or serve on the side. Eat at room temperature or chilled.

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