Vietnamese Style Chilli Prawn Salad


The hot weather called for something light and easy for dinner.

This “recipe” is flexible and forgiving as regards ingredients.

 Salad (lettuce, cucumber and coriander) is served with blanched rice noodle and asparagus, and topped with a quick stir-fry of chilli & garlic prawns.

I also prepare this kind of salad using thinly sliced beef, chicken or pork. The salad varies, dependant on what’s in the fridge. Shredded iceberg lettuce is a given, and coriander. Sometimes they’ll be mint, sometimes very finely shredded carrot or Chinese cabbage.

The meat, chicken or prawns can be stir-fried, as I did tonight, in a thickish, sweet sauce, or simply sauteed in a pan, with chilli and or garlic.

Here’s what I did tonight:


I washed and shredded iceberg lettuce, coriander and cucumber. I rolled the lettuce leaves up, with the coriander inside. This made the shredding quick and easy.


The asparagus was cut into lengths, and along with a bundle of rice noodles, was put into a bowl and covered with boiling water for about 5 minutes. They were then tipped into a colander and rinsed with cold water. They just sat there draining while I got on with it.


I finely chopped some red chilli, and used my Microplaneto grate some garlic cloves. The Microplane is one of my favourite kitchen aids. It makes very light work of grating cheese, garlic, ginger etc. Not cheap – I think this one was about $40, but I love it. Of course you can always finely the chop the garlic.

Tonight I used Coles frozen tail-on prawns. I think they are excellent value at $12.99 for 500g. I love having them there in the freezer, for when we want to have prawns.

The prawns went into the Circulon, on a lowish heat to drive off some of the water.

While I was waiting for this to happen, I mixed together in a bowl:

2 tbsp tomato sauce – I used Heinz

1 tbsp kecap manis ( thick, sweet soy sauce)

juice of a small lime

2/3 rd’s of a cup of water


When there was no more water left in the pan, I added 1 tbsp of peanut oil and the chopped chilli and garlic.

I stir-fried it until the garlic was soft, but not coloured.

The heat was turned to high and the bowl of seasonings was poured into the pan and stirred about.

The sauce quickly reduced into a lovely thick glaze.

The bowls were assembled in this order:

shredded lettuce, cucumber and coriander

cold noodles and asparagus

chilli garlic prawns on top

Strangely enough, when I toss sauteed prawns, beef or chicken through a herb, lettuce and noodle salad, I call it Thai style. I do usually make a dressing with fish sauce, chilli, garlic, lime juice and sugar when I’m doing it this way.

Both versions are very loose variations on either authentic dish, the Thai and the Vietnamese, but we enjoy the lovely mix of flavours and the lift they can give a jaded appetite in the hot weather 🙂



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