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Easy Thai Noodle Salad

A friend first told me about this salad. She had it at a local-ish restaurant. She showed me iPhone photos and a list of ingredients. You have to try it, she said. Then we went to the actual restaurant to taste the salad. And, yes, it was every bit as good as she said.
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A friend first told me about this salad. She had it at a local-ish restaurant. She showed me iPhone photos and a list of ingredients. You have to try it, she said. Then we went to the actual restaurant to taste the salad. And, yes, it was every bit as good as she said. Completely delicious, in fact. Since I began work on copying that salad I've been back to the restaurant several times, taking photos, grabbing a take-away menu and maybe snuck in a couple glasses of wine while I was at it. I have since made this salad so many times that I couldn't tell you if it tastes like the original anymore. But I can tell you that I've served it to a handful of friends and family members and they were like, who cares if it tastes like the original...it's delicious. True story.

I have a couple of favorite things that I've learned about this salad. First, it really is a matter of what vegetables you have on hand and what ones you like. I've made it with shaved ribbons of carrots, thinly sliced purple cabbage, thinly sliced napa cabbage, with scrambled egg in there (as Asian noodle dishes tend to have), red peppers, yellow peppers, purple onion...you name it, I've shoved it in there. I'm going to give you the core recipe, of what I think should be in there, and then you can amend according to your taste. Slap it around a bit and make it your own.

Before we get started:
  • This makes a ton of dressing. Assume your going to have leftovers. I really like (need) leftover salad dressing if I'm going to the trouble of making salad dressing. Which really isn't much trouble... but I think you get the gist. I like to have extra on hand.

  • I mean it with the mix and match veggies... go crazy.
  • At the restaurant they serve this with steak. So good. Every time I made this I made it with leftover chicken. From a rotisserie (yup, I buy them), my own roasted, or that turmeric chicken I made last week. It all worked perfect. I think it would be delicious with shrimp...and also with tofu. I found it worked its way best into my life when it was minimal fuss...so chicken it was. Grab a rotisserie chicken on your way home from work to make your life easy, or hop over to an older recipe that has instructions to quick-roast chicken breasts here.
  • I have made this with ramen noodles, chow mein noodles, zucchini noodles and just as a salad sans anything noodle-esque. My preference is the ramen noodles. Unless you have an Asian market nearby, the easiest way to get ramen noodles is to buy a pack of Top Ramen, throw out the seasoning packet and you're in business.
  • Let's get healthy betches.

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    Serves 4
    INGREDIENTS
    For the Dressing
    • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
    • ¼ cup sunflower seed oil, or other neutral oil
    • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
    • 1 tablespoons honey
    • 2 teaspoon chili garlic paste (you could also use Sriracha)
    • 1 teaspoon fresh peeled and grated ginger
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
    For the Salad
    • 2 packages ramen noodles (I'm talking Top Ramen people...throw away the seasoning and just use the noodles)
    • 8 cups baby arugula or other green of your choice, washed and dried
    • 2 cups napa cabbage, washed, dried and thinly sliced
    • 2 cups roasted chicken, shredded (either buy rotisserie or follow the roasting directions in this post)
    • 1 cup mango, diced
    • 1 cup avocado, diced
    • 1/2 cup basil leaves, washed and dried
    • 1/2 cup mint leaves, washed and dried
    • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, washed and dried
    • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped
    • Lime wedges to squeeze over the top (optional)
    Optional ingredients: thinly sliced purple cabbage, sesame seeds to sprinkle on top, carrot ribbons (use your veggie peeler to cut long, thin strands of carrot...looks really pretty in the salad), red pepper, mung beans or any other veggie your heart desires.
    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. Put all of the dressing ingredients, vinegar through the fish sauce, in a blender and mix until it is fully blended together. Taste. I like the lime kick it has. However, if you'd like to tame it a bit, add 1 tablespoon more of honey. Put the dressing in a glass bottle and throw it in the fridge.
    2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Set a colander in your sink. Once the water is boiling, throw the ramen noodles in and cook for 3 minutes. Drain the noodles in the colander when done and rinse with cold water to stop the noodles from cooking anymore. Make sure they are 100% cool before adding them to the salad or they will start to wilt the arugula.
    3. In a large bowl, add your noodles, arugula, cabbage, shredded chicken, mango, avocado and fresh herbs. Put about 1/4 of the salad dressing over the salad and toss. Taste it. Is it just the right amount of dressing? A little more? Follow your taste buds and error on the side of less as you can always add more.
    4. Aesthetically, I like to pull out little bits of the salad so you can see pieces of everything you're going to taste. I make sure that there are chunks of chicken, mango and avocado on the top of the salad and peeking out form under the leaves.
    5. Finally, sprinkle with the chopped cashews and give the salad one more squeeze of lime (if you're feeling it) and you're done.
    6. This was easy, right?
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    • Instagram is changing the way we see photos. They're putting together an algorithm that will assume what photos we want to see and when. I don't like this. Not one bit. If this program is as crappy as Facebook's, it's the end of the social media world as we know it. And Instagram's going to hell in a handbasket. Please please please take two seconds and sign the petition to stop this here.
    *All Photos: Rebecca Firth
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