I’m pretty crazy about peanut sauces, basically all of them, which is weird because I’m not the biggest peanut butter fan, as I once told you in this post. To be flat out honest, if you have a dressing/dipping sauce/glaze that has a peanut base, I’ll be right up in there trying to dip anything (fingers included) in to it.
As a kid we really didn’t eat fast food very often (mostly because there wasn’t any fast food places nearby). I never have and probably never will like McDonald’s. Even as a kid, on the very rare occasion we would go there, I would only venture to try the cookies from the happy meal (and of course play with the toy). Taco Bell is now only acceptable after a night of drinking and don’t even get me started on KFC. If we did go out to eat, my parents always wanted to go to a place they would enjoy eating as well. So we were exposed to different foods and cultures at a very young age.
Our favorite restaurant was a Vietnamese restaurant in Denver called New Saigon. It is out of this world delicious. I can, and probably will for the rest of my life, remember my order; 11N with a spring roll. The 11N is a noodle specialty bowl filled with diced cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, mint leaves, bean sprouts, grilled shrimp, pork and beef, and egg rolls. All of this is on top of rice vermicelli noodles and served with the Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham. The egg roll, which is equally as amazing, comes with a peanut dipping sauce, and this, I believe, is where my obsession began.
This recipe comes straight out of the Denver Post from years and years ago. From where or who, I have no idea because it’s a copy of a copy of the original article. When I moved to California, I made sure to copy down all my favorite recipes my mom made for us growing up. That way I could recreate them wherever I go.
The salad portion is pretty easy. Just wash the vegetables, chop to a size of your liking, and be sure to make a ton because this can be whipped up for days at a moment’s notice. The vermicelli noodles are pretty widely available at any grocery store in the Asian aisle. Just follow the directions on the package and then pop them in the fridge to cool. I top my salad with chicken, but you could easily add grilled meat or even go meatless (seriously, it’s really all about the dressing).
The spicy peanut sauce is what makes this salad. I quadruple the original recipe (even my mom did) because this sauce is a mouth full of flavor. It is sweet and spicy, sticky and oh so fragrant. Chocked full of rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, and chopped cilantro and green onions. It will seriously wake those taste buds up!
I like to mix up the peanut sauce and let it sit on the counter for an hour or more so that the sugar can completely dissolve and all those flavors have time to marinate together. Then drizzle on top of your salad, add a couple dots of sirracha, and top with crunchy chow mein noodles. I really can’t say enough good things about this salad, so instead of me rambling on, just make it!
I’m on day three of eating it for lunch if that says anything.
- 1 package vermicelli noodles, prepared according to package
- 1 head lettuce
- 1 bunch green onion
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 4-5 carrots
- 2-3 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- 6 tablespoons peanut butter
- 10 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 8 tablespoons sugar
- 8 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Wash and chop vegetables into large pieces.
- For dressing, whisk together peanut butter and canola oil until combined.
- Add soy sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper until fully incorporated.
- Finely chop about 4 tablespoons of cilantro and green onions and add to sauce.
- Let the sauce set at room temperature for about an hour until sugar has dissolved.
- To plate salad, start with a bed of vermicelli noodles, add romaine lettuce and additional vegetables and cook chicken.
- Drizzle peanut sauce over top.
- You can also add crunchy chow mein noodles and siracha to taste.