This delicious Thai salad is a great recipe for preparing in advance if you have people over – keep the noodles, herbs, prawn and crab mixture separately and assemble at the last minute.
vegetable oil, for deep fat frying
125g/4½oz vermicelli or thin rice noodles
1 small thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger
3 garlic cloves, grated or crushed
thumb-sized piece galangal, finely grated
at least 3 spring onions, cut lengthways and thinly sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
200g/7oz freshly picked white crab meat
handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
handful picked mint leaves (do not chop or the leaves will go brown)
1 long red chilli, sliced on the diagonal for garnish
2 limes, cut into wedges
For the dressing, add the palm sugar and fish sauce to a small bowl and mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the lime juice and set aside.
For the crispy noodles, heat the oil for deep-fat frying in a deep fryer, wok or large saucepan to 180-190C/250F-375F. When it is ready, a small cube of bread should become crisp and golden-brown and float to the top in a few seconds. Cook the vermicelli - do this in batches. Fry until puffed up and turning a pale golden-brown colour. Carefully remove using a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Add three tablespoons of vegetable oil to a wok or saucepan. Fry the Thai shallots (or banana shallot) until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
Add another tablespoon of vegetable oil to the wok. When hot, add the prawns and stir or toss until slightly opaque.
Add the ginger, garlic, and galangal and fry for a couple of minutes. Stir until the prawns are cooked – no longer than a minute. Transfer into a large bowl with the crisp shallots.
Add the spring onions, bean sprouts, lime leaves, and crabmeat. Pour in the dressing and the herbs. Mix well, but gently as you do not want to bruise the herbs - use your hands for this.
Layer the salad up in a large serving bowl, by putting a layer of crisp noodles on the bottom and a layer of prawn and crab mixture on top, then repeat until you have used up all the ingredients. Garnish with slithers of chilli and lime wedges and serve straight away.
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