Asian Scallion, Radish & Cucumber Salad with Cashews & Vermicelli
- 1/4 pound dried thread vermicelli (or glass noodles)
- 2 heaping tablespoons unsalted cashew nuts
- A little sunflower oil
- 6 radishes, trimmed
- 6 scallions, trimmed
- 1 cucumber, 7 inches long
- Generous handful each of cilantro and mint leaves
- 1 or 2 large red chiles, sliced
- 1 tablespoon ginger syrup (see below)
- 1 tablespoon sesame paste
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce or light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 cups (scant) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Finely pared zest of 1 lemon (use a peeler)
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely grated fresh ginger
- Snap the vermicelli into shorter lengths, one-third of the original, folded skein.
- Soak in cold water for about 30 minutes, or until well softened.
- Drain and return to the bowl.
- 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).
- Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
- In a small skillet, gently toast the cashews with a little salt in a little oil until golden all over.
- Cool, and then crush each cashew lightly with the back of a knife.
- Cut the radishes into quarters or rounds, the scallions into diagonal shreds, and the cucumber into thick matchsticks.
- Tip the prepared vegetables into a large bowl and add the vermicelli.
- Tear the cilantro and mint leaves into smaller pieces and add to the salad with the chili.
- Mix together with your hands to distribute everything evenly.
- Now whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Add to the salad and mix together once more with two forks, lifting and dropping the salad so that all is evenly dressed.
- Pile onto a shallow serving dish and sprinkle the crushed cashews and sesame seeds over.
- Best eaten pleasantly chilled, with warm sake or ice-cold beer.
- For the ginger syrup:
- Dissolve the sugar in the water in a pan over medium heat, then bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
- Immediately add the lemon zest and ginger and stir together.
- Bring back to a boil for a few seconds and then pour into a bowl.
- Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
- The following day, add 2 tablespoons water and warm through until liquid and pourable.
- Strain through a sieve and press on the solids with the back of a ladle to extract all the ginger and lemon flavors.
- Pour the syrup into a screw-top jar and store in the refrigerator until needed, where it will keep for several weeks.