Yum Woon Sen, or Cellophane Noodle Salad, is the “requested menu” this week! I’m surprised, because I thought instead it would be a complicated dish that you can’t figure out how to make, not one so basic to me. I normally don’t even take a picture of this dish and post it on Facebook or Instagram if I make it. It’s like taking a picture of a house salad, you know. Zero excitement for the viewer…OK, ok, maybe the Thai viewer!
When we’re talking about Thai Salad, I can think of four different Thai names for the creation: Larb, Yum, Tam and Phla. I already blogged about Larb in my previous post “Larb : Spicy Meat Salad“. This time will be the “Yam”. Do you know which ingredient that you can’t not put in these dishes? The hint is: the ingredient is from a plant, and I can’t eat them. Chili, that is. As a Thai girl, I’m ashamed to let the world know that I’m allergic to chili, especially Bird Chili, Bird’s Eye Chili, Thai pepper or the Thai pronunciation is “Prik Kee Nhoo”, meaning Rat’s feces chili (Prik=Chili, Kee=feces, Nhoo=rat) Such an unpleasant name, but not as unpleasant as actually eating it, for me.
“Yum” is a common name used with most salads that contain more vegetables than meat and do not contain lemongrass. Thai salads with lemongrass are usually called “Phla”. Other than that you have freedom of ingredients for the Yum. The taste of all Thai salads (other than spicy hot from chili) will lead with sourness, follow with saltiness–mostly with fish sauce not salt–and finish with sweetness. Yes, you don’t make a salad all sweet. We eat dessert at the end of the meal too, you know.
The main ingredient this time is the Cellophane noodle made from mung bean starch. You are very welcome to use other kinds too. I show you my ingredients but you do not need to stick to them. It’s just an example. If you don’t eat pork, substitute with beef, chicken, lamb or duck. You won’t hurt my feelings or change the course of history in Thailand, so go ahead. Same with shrimp. You can use them or substitute them with other meat, or just completely omit them.
Most “Yum Woon Sen” recipes would tell you to add peanuts. I normally do too, but not this time. I just remembered them when I walked back in to the kitchen after we finished eating the salad and saw the peanut container sitting there on the counter. It would be too late to add them after everyone was full, right.? Also, my husband confessed that he already lined his stomach with some peanuts before the meal, so he was fine.
The amount of each ingredient is just approximate. You can add or subtract as you prefer.
Cellophane noodles 2 small bunch soak in water
Shrimp 1/2 cup cut lengthwise (see picture in Pad Thai)
Ground pork 1/4 cup
Roasted peanuts 1/2 cup
Tomatoes cut in to small pieces 1/2 cup
Mushrooms 1 pack of fresh Mitake mushrooms 8oz. (You can use a different type of mushroom. The Thai would use Jew’s ear mushrooms.)
Vietnamese Sausage 1/4 cup cut into 1”x3/8”x3/8” pieces (optional)
Firm Tofu 1/4 cup cut into small pieces 1/2”x1/4”x1/4”, fried in oil until crispy
Shredded carrots 1/4 cup
Onion, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons
Cilantro, pick only the leaves 1/2 cup (save the stems)
2 Green onions cut to 1/4”-1/2” long
Fresh Chili (I didn’t use this but you can) as much as you prefer
Ingredients for the dressing
Garlic 2 cloves
Cilantro root 1 root (you can substitute with a bunch of cilantro stems)
Pickled Garlic 1 small head, cut all the cloves out (optional)
Fish sauce 1/4 cup
White vinegar 1/4 cup
Brown Sugar 1/4 cup
(You can also add chili here too)
1) Make the dressing first. You can either use a mortar and pestle like I did or chop up the ingredients using a knife or use the blender; all up to you. The goal is to make all the ingredients blend as much as possible. Then you boil it over medium heat on the stove to eliminate all the vinegar stink. Let it cool down before you toss it into the salad.
2) Boil water in a pot and cook the ground pork. Use a small, fine-mesh strainer to hold the ground pork and dip it in the boiling water to cook. This way you can control how long it cooks and can break the ground pork in small pieces.
Cook the shrimp in the same boiling water, then cook the Vietnamese sausage
Let everything stand to cool.
3) Cook the cellophane noodles in the same pot of boiling water. This way the noodles will absorb all the yummy flavors of the other ingredients . Cook until the noodles are clear. Rinse them under cold water.
4) Mix everything together and taste it first before adjusting to taste to your preference. You can use lime juice instead of vinegar here.
Note: You can use lime juice for sour taste for most “Yum” salads, including this dish.
More Notes : If you have the leftover, wrap them in the rice paper and make the fresh spring roll or wrap them in the egg roll wrapper and fried them. You will have the delicious fried spring rolls appetizer for the next meal.