I often go for Middle Eastern or Asian seasonings and inspiration. Sometimes not. There are no rule, just a little balance of veggies, starch and protein. And always extra veggies and sauce or spices. On the day that food stylist Nathan Carrabba got together and make that sunchoke soup and tartine I posted recently, we also made and shot this incredibly satisfying Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp Noodle Bowl (Bun Tom Heo Nuong). He is my partner in crime in anything Asian and pickled. We both love all the flavors of Vietnamese and Thai cooking in particular.
After a long and fun day shooting, nothing made me happier than diving in this lovely bowl bursting with fresh and comforting flavors.
Note: Nathan combined several recipes found on the internet but this one was the closest to what we made. I want to try this one from Rasia Malaysia next.
5 ounces uncooked rice vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
5 teaspoons fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
1 tsp nam prik pao (Thai chili paste)
4 cups shredded romaine or green leaf lettuce
1.5 cups diagonally cut slices seeded hot house cucumber (about 1)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup torn Thai basil leaves
1/4 cup torn mint leaves
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/3 cup (1/4-inch) slices green onions
1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional) (we realized after we wrapped up this shot that we had forgotten them!)
4 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
Pickled carrots (optional)
Fried Shallots (optional)
Cook rice vermicelli noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain again. Combine 1/2 cup lukewarm water and granulated sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, and chiles; set aside.
Mix 2 Tbsp fish sauce and 1 Tbsp brown sugar together. Add shrimp; toss to coat.
Thread shrimp onto bamboo skewers. Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and swirl to coat. Add half of shrimp; cook for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are seared. Remove from grill.
Arrange about 1 cup lettuce in each of 4 large bowls, and top each serving with about 1 cup noodles, cucumber, herbs, and 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts. Divide the shrimp evenly among servings, and serve each with 1/4 cup sauce. Serve with pickled carrots and fried shallots.