It’s leftover time again, and I found yet another use for turkey. We never buy small ones; there’s too much to gain from the investment of a little time and effort in stripping the carcass after the big meal is over. This Vietnamese-ish noodle salad is a fine change from the wintry heaviness of a traditional winter holiday meal, the sort of thing one craves, fresh and cool and slightly exotic, after several days of even the best of European-tradition festival food.
It’s from Nigella Lawson, a brilliant woman, in her book Feast, and I’ve played around with it some, combining what I could find in my fridge and what a fast trip to Asian Farmer’s Market could offer. The store, at 8041 Olive Blvd. in University City, isn’t really a "farmer’s market" with farmers, but is more of a supermarket, mainly Asian, but with a little Hispanic mixed. Prices for things like cilantro and garlic are very reasonable, too.
Nigella suggests using a Microplane rasp grater for the garlic and ginger, which is a brilliant idea, but they may just be finely minced. I used rice noodles for this, but you may also use bean thread or glass noodles, the kind that requires only a soak in boiling water before using. You may not use all the dressing, but it keeps well, and is fat-free. I used an artificial sweetener in it, which lowered the calories even more. The domestic goddess also points out that this is splendid with shrimp. I am sure it would be, but goodness, whoever has any leftover shrimp?
She used bean sprouts and sugar-snap peas in hers; I subbed cabbage because it’s what I needed to use up. I can also see broccoli cooked until it’s crisp-tender.
For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic, minced or shredded
pinch of crushed red pepper
2 Tbs. finely minced or shredded fresh gingerroot
2 Tbs. fish sauce (I like Squid brand)
juice of 1 lime
4 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. sugar or its equivalent
Combine all the ingredients.
For the salad:
about 1 cup cold turkey in bite-size pieces
5 or 6 oz. rice noodles the size of small spaghetti
about 1 ½ cups shredded red cabbage
4 green onions, cut into shreds
a large handful of cilantro, chopped coarsely
2 Tbs. sesame oil
In a serving bowl, marinate the turkey in some of the dressing while you do the rest of the prep work. Put on a pot of water for the rice noodles. When it comes to a boil, add the noodles. Stir them often, and cook for about 8 minutes. They will retain some resistance to the tooth, which is okay. When ready, drain them in a strainer and run cold tap water over them to cool them to room temperature. Shake off as much of the water as you can.
Put them in the bowl with the turkey, the cabbage, onions and cilantro. Add another 2 tablespoons of the dressing and the sesame oil. Toss everything together and taste. Do you want more dressing? More sesame oil? Maybe just some lime juice. Adjust seasonings accordingly.
This served as a main dish for the two of us with a little left over for breakfast.