What underground dives inspire

There used to be a set of Asian food stalls underground on Kearny St. many, many years ago. You know, the kind with a central dining area and a bunch of 10 x 10 stalls bordering it? The tables were wobbly and often sticky but the food was great. It might still be there. I might go check to see if it is. But I digress…

In this particular set of restaurants, there were stalls dishing out Vietnamese food, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and I think I remember Indian food stuffs. Anyway, it was a perfect place to go when everyone in the lunch group wanted something different.

I would always get the Vietnamese Noodle salad. The best part about the salad were the “add ons”. Kind of like Jamba Juice power boosts, you could “power boost” your salad with egg rolls, bbq meats, tofu, etc. I chose fried, of course…Egg Rolls. Since we’re no longer in SF, I make the salad at home and its delicious!

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Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Serves 4

  • 6 handfuls of lettuce (I like to use a combo of butter lettuce and mixed baby greens)
  • 3 persian cucumbers (or 1 hot house cucumber) sliced into 1/8″ medallions
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 10 basil sprigs leaves removed and julienned
  • 10 mint sprigs leaves removed and julienned
  • 4 oz maifun rice noodles
  • 4 TBS Tiger Tiger Sweet Chilli dipping sauce or any other sweet chili dipping sauce or make your own
  • 2 TBS hot water (reserved from the noodle water)
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1 package of egg rolls (small ones are best)

Cook the egg rolls per the packaged instructions. While those are cooking:

Boil water and cook the rice noodles per the instructions on the package. Pull out the noodles and put them into a bowl.

Put the sweet chili sauce into a small bowl and thin with the reserved noodle water. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the noodles and mix with chopsticks or tongs. Put the dressed noodles into the freezer to cool.

Place the lettuce at the bottom of a large bowl. Then the cucumbers. Dress with 1/2 the remaining dressing. Once the noodles are no longer warm, put those on top of the salad.

Serve with the accoutrements on the side: basil, mint, cilantro, lime wedges, remaining dressing and egg rolls that have been cut into 2″ pieces.

Enjoy with some BBQ pork slices and rice. Scrumptious!

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