This light and refreshing Thai Noodle Salad is quickly and easily made, requiring just a few minutes’ cooking time. It is perfect for a fresh-flavoured summer lunch, a starter, or part of a Thai-inspired banquet.
Why we love this recipe:
If the weather is hot and you have no desire to turn on your oven, this recipe is ideal. This light and refreshing noodle salad is quick and easy to make, requiring just a few minutes’ cooking time and all of it is stove-top.
This is a light, healthy meal which won’t weigh you down. The flavours are bright and refreshing, slightly spicy, ideal to tempt a jaded appetite. It is naturally gluten-free and there is no added fat.
You can customise this recipe to suit yourself. If you don’t like prawns, use more chicken. If you would like a vegetarian dish, use tofu and increase the vegetables, perhaps add some red capsicum and snow peas. You would also need to use a vegan “fish” sauce or tamari if you would like to keep the salad vegan.
This healthy salad is extremely portable. It is ideal to bring to a pot luck, great to take to a barbecue, a picnic or as a flavoursome lunch for work.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Mung bean vermicelli – also known as bean thread, cellophane or glass noodles. Not to be confused with rice vermicelli.
Prawns/shrimp – they can be used interchangeably in recipes as they are similar in taste and texture.
Minced/ground chicken – you can also finely chop some raw chicken for this recipe.
Fish sauce – it has a powerful aroma but don’t be deterred. It is an essential element and when used judiciously adds salty, umami flavour. It will not make a dish taste “fishy” unless too much is used. The flavour of the fish sauce is balanced by the lime juice, palm sugar and coriander.
Palm sugar – this is referred to as an unrefined sugar as there is minimal processing involved in its production. It is from the sap of several varieties of palm flower. The sugar has complex flavour, mostly with notes of caramel. It is readily available in Asian groceries or in some supermarkets. It is often sold in cakes, large or small. Check that it is 100% palm sugar as it is sometimes mixed with refined white sugar.
Lime juice – for the best flavour, always use freshly squeezed.
Red onion – I use red onions as they are sweeter than other varieties and their colour is lovely in a salad.
Spring onion/scallion/green onion – I use the white part and some of the green.
Tomato – I have used a medium-size tomato but you could cut several cherry tomatoes in halves if you prefer.
Roasted peanuts – add textural contrast and flavour to the salad.
Chilli flakes – the dried flakes add medium heat to the salad.
Red chilli – I like to garnish with some thinly sliced fresh red chilli. If you prefer, you could serve some separately for people to add as they wish.
Coriander/cilantro – the stems and leaves are sliced finely; they add a fresh, citrus-like flavour to the salad.
Step by Step Instructions:
- To begin, add the mung bean vermicelli to a bowl of cold water and soak about 5 minutes until the noodles have softened.
- Add some water to a medium-size saucepan and bring the water to a simmer. Add the prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes, turning them occasionally, until the flesh becomes white, tinged with reddish-pink. Using a pair of tongs, remove the prawns to a plate and set aside.
- Add the minced/ground chicken to the same pan. Stir occasionally until the chicken is cooked. It’s not necessary to completely break up the mince. When cooked, lift the chicken onto the plate with the prawns and set aside.
- Drain the noodles soaking in cold water. Using the same saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to the boil, add the noodles and cook for about 2 minutes until the noodles are soft, pliable and translucent. Drain the noodles from the saucepan and put them on a chopping board. Use a sharp knife to cut them roughly.
- Add the noodles to a bowl. Add the prawns and chicken mince, along with the fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice. Mix them together well.
- Then add the red onion, spring onion/scallion, dried chilli flakes, coriander and tomato. Mix well. Check that the balance of flavour is to your taste and adjust accordingly if necessary. Tip onto a serving dish, sprinkle with the peanuts. Add additional coriander leaves and fresh chilli slices if using.
Tips for Success and FAQs:
The success of many dishes depends on their seasoning. Be sure to check the balance of flavours and adjust them to your palate. The Thai Noodle Salad should have a combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.
For this salad, I have use mung bean vermicelli, also called bean thread noodles or cellophane or glass noodles because of their transparent appearance. They are made from mung bean flour and when cooked, they are clear like glass. The noodles are fine, wiry and tough and come in bundles. Be warned; when you open the package, they tend to spring all over the place! They appear white in the package. However, when soaked in water and then cooked they become translucent or glass-like. They have a pleasant, slightly gelatinous, chewy texture and they absorb flavours beautifully. They are sometimes confused with rice vermicelli. Although interchangeable in some recipes I prefer to use mung bean vermicelli in this salad. If you are not sure whether they are rice or mung bean noodles, just check the ingredients. The noodles are readily available in supermarkets.
The noodles are first soaked in cold water to soften them and then briefly cooked in boiling water. To make them manageable to eat, they are cut into short lengths before assembling the salad.
It is important to always remove the intestinal tract. To do this, run a small, sharp knife along the back of each prawn to expose the dark vein. Remove the intestinal tract which runs along the back. If left in, it will add a gritty texture to your salad. This is called de-veining.
Prawns/shrimp cook very quickly. When cooked the prawn flesh will no longer appear glassy, it will become white, tinged with reddish-pink.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
We love Thai flavours, and here are some more of our favourite recipes:
- Thai Inspired Prawn Salad
- Chicken Larb
- Thai Style Chicken and Noodle Meatballs with Sweet Chilli Sauce
Enjoy this refreshing, slightly spicy, Thai Noodle Salad. The bright, fresh flavours are also welcome throughout the year.
This post was originally published in February 2019. It has been updated with new photos and more information. The recipe remains the same.
Thai Noodle Salad
- 100 g (3.5 ounces) mung bean vermicelli See Note 1
- 100 g (3.5 ounces) uncooked large prawns – de-veined and halved length-ways See Note 2
- 100 g (3.5 ounces) minced/ground chicken See Note 3
- 2 tbsp (40 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice See Note 4
- 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce See Notes 4 and 5
- 2 tsp grated palm sugar – firmly packed See Note 6
- 1 small red onion – cut in half, and sliced thinly
- 1 spring onion/scallion – white part and some green, cut into 1cm pieces
- 1 medium tomato – cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts – roughly chopped
- 1 tsp chilli/red pepper flakes
- 4 stems coriander/cilantro stems and leaves – sliced finely
- additional coriander/cilantro leaves
- finely sliced red chilli
- wedges of fresh lime
- Add the mung bean vermicelli to a bowl of cold water. Soak the vermicelli until the noodles have become soft and lost their brittleness; about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add ¼ cup of water to a medium-size saucepan and bring to a simmer. Over low heat, add the halved prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of the prawn, turning them occasionally. When cooked the prawn flesh will no longer be glassy, it becomes white, tinged with reddish-pink. Using a pair of tongs, remove the prawns to a plate and set aside.
- Add the minced/ground chicken to the same pan. With a silicone spatula, stir occasionally until the chicken is cooked. It’s not necessary to completely break up the mince. In fact, it’s preferable to have some pieces. When cooked, lift it out onto the plate with the prawns. Set aside. Discard the liquid which is left.
- Drain the noodles from the bowl of water. Using the same saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to the boil and add the noodles. Cook for about 2 minutes until the noodles are soft, pliable and translucent. Drain the noodles in a colander, then put them on a chopping board. They will be sticky, in one gelatinous mound. Don’t be concerned, that’s fine. Using a sharp knife cut across the mound about 4 cm (1 ½”) apart.
- Add the noodles to a medium-size bowl. Add the prawns and chicken mince, along with the fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice. Mix them together well.
- Then add the red onion, scallion, dried chilli flakes, coriander and tomato. Mix well.
- Check that the balance of flavour is to your taste and adjust accordingly if necessary. You should be able to detect sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours.
- Tip onto a serving dish, sprinkle with the peanuts and serve. Add additional coriander leaves and fresh chilli slices if using. – see Note 7
- Mung bean vermicelli is made from mung bean starch and water, therefore they are naturally gluten-free. These are not to be confused with rice vermicelli; just check the label to be sure.
- If only cooked prawns are available, this is fine also. Just add them as you are assembling the salad.
- You could also finely chop some leftover roast chicken.
- The Australian tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons so you may have to adjust your measurements accordingly.
- Thai fish sauce is available from supermarkets or Asian grocers. It is one of the basic ingredients in Thai food. Do not be deterred by the “fishy” smell; it is pungent but adds umami flavour and is counteracted by the lime juice and herbs.
- Palm sugar is produced from the sap of several different varieties of palms. It has a mild caramel flavour and is not as “sickly” sweet as regular cane sugar. It is available in supermarkets and Asian grocers.
- Serves two people as a main course, but also makes a fabulous side dish or starter. If by chance you have some of the salad leftover, it is an ideal filling for rice paper summer rolls.
- Please note, the nutritional information is based on this being enjoyed by two people as a main course. The nutritional information is an estimate only.