Inspired by a traditional Vietnamese dish called bun xao, this impressive Asian prawn noodle salad is tasty, quick to make and healthy, too.
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COOK. STORE. SAVE.
Use it up: Put the prawn heads and shells in a reusable freezer bag. When you’ve got a bagful, there’s enough to make a batch of prawn stock. They’ll be OK in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can use prawn stock for prawn bisque, a seafood stew or a prawn risotto.
When you’re looking for a quick, healthy dish that can be served at almost any time of day, this Asian prawn salad recipe ticks every box. Serve warm for a midweek dinner, then save the leftovers for lunch. It also fits perfectly onto a summer lunch table for family and friends. It’s so easy to prepare, yet looks and tastes as though you’ve gone the extra mile.
Vietnamese cooking is all about balance. Every dish should have elements that bring sour, spicy, salty, sweet and bitter to the flavour party, and in this dish that can easily be achieved using common ingredients you can buy at the supermarket.
One of the signatures of Vietnamese food is the use of fresh herbs. You’ll see it when you order fresh rice paper rolls (goi cuon) or pho. In this recipe, two of the most common – mint and coriander – are included. If you have access to them, aromatic Thai basil or Vietnamese mint also make excellent additions.
Noodles are another staple. Here, they’re the thin rice vermicelli version, called bun. Keep a couple of packets in the cupboard because they’re very quick to prepare and can be used in soups, stir-fries and salads.
The other essential Vietnamese ingredient is fish sauce (nuoc mam), made by fermenting anchovies in barrels with salt and catching the run-off. It adds a salty, savoury umami to many Vietnamese dishes.
This recipe uses green (uncooked) banana prawns, which, when cooked, have a delicate, sweet flavour that matches well with spicy Asian flavours.
To prepare them for cooking, rinse each prawn under cold water. Grab the base of the prawn head and twist it away from the body. Use a sharp paring knife or kitchen shears to cut the prawn shells along the back from head to tail. Pinch the underbelly to pop the flesh from the shell. Leave the tail intact.
Using the paring knife, remove the vein that runs down the prawn’s back. Pat the prepped prawns dry with paper towel.
Always use the freshest salad ingredients possible to ensure the final dish is crisp. You could also add other ingredients you have, like halved cherry tomatoes or some sliced red onion.
Substitute prawns with some grilled steak or shredded chicken, or try fried firm tofu for a meat-free meal. If you’re cooking for vegetarians or vegans, replace the fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari.
Got a go-to Asian salad recipe? Swap your usual dressing for a Vietnamese one to give the same ingredients a different flavour.
There are lots of incredibly tasty prawn salad recipes that are perfect for summer. Try salt and pepper prawns, where the seafood is gently fried, or prosciutto-wrapped prawn and peach salad, which uses cooked prawns so only takes about 15 minutes to prepare. For something more hearty, take inspiration from Louisiana for gumbo: a spicy stew of chicken, prawn and bacon.