The weather has been unbearably hot and humid in Manila these past few weeks. It poured for the first time in months the other night, and the temporary relief from the blistering heat was followed by an incredibly muggy and humid day as the hot sun tried to reclaim the moisture from the ground. Plants must have felt like it was Christmas in July, and I thought I spied individual blades of carabao grass doing the cha-cha out on the lawn… :) In really hot weather, we try to have no-cook or minimal cook meals, sometimes served at room temperature or cold, as is the case with some salads. Here is a noodle dish that turned out really well and which we enjoyed for dinner last night…
These instructions are for a portion that serves 6 very generously. Take 3/4 kilo of medium sized prawns or shrimp and brine them in a mixture of water and salt for 1-1.5 hours in the fridge. Then boil up some water, drain the prawns, and slip them into the boiling water and let them cook or poach is perhaps a better description for just 2 or so minutes until just cooked through. The water may not even return to a boil in this timeframe. Practice makes perfect on this front. Undercook the shrimp and you’ll know it. Overcook them and they will get tough. Drain and when cool enough to handle, peel the prawns and set aside at room temperature. Do not refrigerate cooked prawns, they tend to get rubbery or toughen up. Next, take several small bunches of good vermicelli or sotanghon and soak in very hot water for 5+ minutes until soft and drain this thoroughly. Stick these in the fridge to cool them down. Meanwhile, julienne one medium sized carrot by hand or using a good mandoline. Do the same for a small Japanese cucumber. Prepare some coriander leaves an chopped chives or small green onions. I also added some blanched pako or fiddlehead ferns, and some small sweet grape tomatoes, sliced.
Prepare a dressing of lime juice (in this case we had a mini-bonanza of dayap or biasong that I purchased in Bohol for PHP5 each), thai patis or fish sauce, brown sugar, chopped chilies and a bit of water. Mix all of the ingredients together and add the salad dressing. Test for a proper balance of saltiness, sweetness and zing from the citrus. Adjust accordingly. Serve immediately. This was wonderful. It had a cool, silky texture punctuated with LOTS of shrimp (don’t you hate it when a restaurant scrimps on key ingredients?) and punches of herbal flavor, sweet tomatoes and lots of spice. Totally delicious, extremely easy to make. Guests gobbled it up, and we did too. :) Oh, here’s one last tip. Chill your salad plates and put them on your place setting just before sitting down to the meal. It will make this salad even more refreshing! :)