There’s a classic (and very refreshing) dish in Thai cuisine called khanom chin sao nam that includes, but is not limited to, the following: birds’ nests of thin rice noodles, a savory coconut sauce, a second syrupy sauce built on pineapple juice and fish sauce, and then toppings (lots of toppings).
The toppings include everything from pineapple, mango, and apple to garlic, ginger, pickled vegetables and chiles — and even seafood meatballs, shrimp, seaweed, fried shallots, and more. No matter the exact toppings, the goal is always the same: Strike a balance of sweet and savory, crunchy and tender.
This rice noodle salad streamlines that premise by using just five key ingredients: noodles, shrimp, coconut milk, mango, and chile peppers (although the toppings mentioned above are all viable swaps). The coconut milk’s sugar is balanced with a heavy dose of salt, which might seem like too much as you’re adding it, but it’s just right with the starchy noodles, sweet fruit, and fiery hot chiles. We’re using mango here for its unabashed creaminess and honey taste. If your mango isn’t especially ripe, that’s okay — green mango has a delightful crunch and is often used in Thai cooking.
If you’re nervous about the heat of the chiles, know that they are like lightning bolts of fresh spiciness: each bowl won’t have enough to propel sweats, but rather little shocks here and there. However, you can also swap in red pepper flakes, and add just enough to your liking.
Cold Coconut Rice Noodles with Poached Shrimp, Mango, and Thai Chile
- 1 pound
large cleaned and deveined raw shrimp
- 1 (13 to 14-ounce)
can full-fat coconut milk
- 3/4 teaspoon
- 20 ounces
dried thin vermicelli noodles
fresh Thai chiles, or red pepper flakes
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound peeled and cleaned shrimp and remove from the heat. Cover and let sit until pink and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 1 (13 to 14-ounce) coconut milk in the can until smooth, then add 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and stir until combined (the dressing will taste salty, but it will be tempered by the other salad ingredients).
Transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath until cooled, then drain. Bring the pot of water back to a boil, then add 20 ounces dried thin vermicelli noodles and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, dice 2 large mangoes (about 2 cups) and thinly slice 4 Thai chiles if using.
When the noodles are ready, drain, rinse with cold water, then drain again. Divide the noodles among serving bowls, then pour the coconut dressing over the noodles. Top with the shrimp, mango, and Thai chiles or red pepper flakes.
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