Vietnamese Couscous Salad

Total Time:
40 min
20 min
20 min

4 to 6 servings

  • Dressing:
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced gingerroot
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons nuoc mam (Southeast Asian fish sauce, available at Asian markets)
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • Salad:
  • 1 1/3 cups boiling water
  • 1 extra-large fish bouillon cubes (available at Asian markets)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 20 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 30 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) salted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and shredded
  • 6 green onions, green tops included, finely sliced
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
  • 8 ounces medium shrimp, cooked and coarsely chopped, see note*
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • To make dressing: In a pint jar, combine the garlic, gingerroot, lime juice, sugar, peanut oil, nuoc mam, and hot pepper flakes, if using. Shake well. Set aside.

  • To make the salad: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, bouillon cube, and peanut oil to a boil. Add the couscous in a stream. Remove from the heat. Stir once. Cover and let stand until the couscous is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Mix with half of the cilantro, half of the mint, and half of the peanuts.

  • In a large bowl, combine the carrots, cucumber, onions, cabbage, and remaining cilantro and mint. Add the dressing and toss thoroughly.

  • Spoon equal portions of couscous onto 6 dinner plates. Top with the vegetable mixture and the shrimp. Garnish with remaining peanuts, cilantro, and mint leaves. Serve at room temperature.

  • Cook's Note: To cook the shrimp, rinse them under running water. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water and 2 bay leaves to a boil. Add the shrimp, and cook until they are just pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and let cool. Discard the cooking liquid and bay leaves. Shell and devein the shrimp.

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