Christine Ha's favourite way to eat this salad is with shrimp crackers; the idea is to pile a little salad on top of the cracker and pop the whole thing in your mouth. As in all Vietnamese food, it's all about the perfect balance of textures and flavours.
For the dressing1/2 tsp shrimp paste
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp light olive oil
Juice of two limes
1 tbsp honey
For the Salad1 carrot, peeled and sliced on the thinnest setting on a mandolin
1 jicama, peeled and sliced on the thinnest setting on a mandolin
1/2 green papaya, peeled and sliced on the thinnest setting on a mandolin
1 daikon radish, peeled
2 cucumbers, peeled
2 red chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped (wear plastic gloves while handling)
For the Candied Peanuts1/2 cup peanuts
2 tbsp palm sugar
To Make the Dressing
In a small bowl, whisk together the shrimp paste, fish sauce, olive oil, lime juice and honey. Cover and refrigerate.
To Make the Salad
In a strainer, set the carrot, jicama, and papaya to drain off excess water. Run the radish and cucumbers through a Japanese spiral turner. Alternatively, slice them on the thinnest setting on the mandolin. Drain any excess water.
To Make the Candied Peanuts
In a small skillet over high heat, combine the peanuts and palm sugar. When the sugar has melted, shake the skillet to coat the peanuts all over. Remove from the heat and set aside to let the sugar harden. When cool, place the peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 2-3 times to coarsely chop. Set aside.
In a large bowl or rimmed serving platter, combine the carrots, jicama, papaya, radish and cucumbers. Add the chile peppers and toss to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to thoroughly coat. Scatter the peanuts over the salad and serve.
From Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food, by Christine Ha.
Yield: Serves 6