Asian Scallion, Radish & Cucumber Salad with Cashews & Vermicelli



  1. 1/4 pound dried thread vermicelli (or glass noodles)
  2. 2 heaping tablespoons unsalted cashew nuts
  3. Salt
  4. A little sunflower oil
  5. 6 radishes, trimmed
  6. 6 scallions, trimmed
  7. 1 cucumber, 7 inches long
  8. Generous handful each of cilantro and mint leaves
  9. 1 or 2 large red chiles, sliced
  10. 1 tablespoon ginger syrup (see below)
  11. 1 tablespoon sesame paste
  12. Juice of 2 limes
  13. 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce or light soy sauce
  14. 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  15. 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  16. 2 cups (scant) granulated sugar
  17. 1 1/2 cups water
  18. Finely pared zest of 1 lemon (use a peeler)
  19. 1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely grated fresh ginger


  1. Snap the vermicelli into shorter lengths, one-third of the original, folded skein.
  2. Soak in cold water for about 30 minutes, or until well softened.
  3. Drain and return to the bowl.
  4. Now cover with boiling water, and fork and lift the noodles around for a few minutes until they have become silky, soft, and tender (eat one).
  5. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
  6. In a small skillet, gently toast the cashews with a little salt in a little oil until golden all over.
  7. Cool, and then crush each cashew lightly with the back of a knife.
  8. Reserve.
  9. Cut the radishes into quarters or rounds, the scallions into diagonal shreds, and the cucumber into thick matchsticks.
  10. Tip the prepared vegetables into a large bowl and add the vermicelli.
  11. Tear the cilantro and mint leaves into smaller pieces and add to the salad with the chili.
  12. Mix together with your hands to distribute everything evenly.
  13. Now whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
  14. Add to the salad and mix together once more with two forks, lifting and dropping the salad so that all is evenly dressed.
  15. Pile onto a shallow serving dish and sprinkle the crushed cashews and sesame seeds over.
  16. Best eaten pleasantly chilled, with warm sake or ice-cold beer.
  17. For the ginger syrup:
  18. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a pan over medium heat, then bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  19. Immediately add the lemon zest and ginger and stir together.
  20. Bring back to a boil for a few seconds and then pour into a bowl.
  21. Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
  22. The following day, add 2 tablespoons water and warm through until liquid and pourable.
  23. Strain through a sieve and press on the solids with the back of a ladle to extract all the ginger and lemon flavors.
  24. Pour the syrup into a screw-top jar and store in the refrigerator until needed, where it will keep for several weeks.