Top Chef judge Gail Simmons’ Lemongrass-Scented Rice Noodle Salad with Mint Cilantro
The crisp morning hustle-bustle is familiar as farmers/growers and customers reconnect after a long winters sleep.
Browsing Seattle’s energetic Pike Place Market on a busy weekend morning is exhilarating, the city feels as if it moves through you. It’s a great place to connect with local vendors to ask questions about where your food comes from, growing practices and best methods of preparation.
Colors and fragrance are delightfully overwhelming and it’s difficult not to purchase everything you see. Arming yourself with a recipe or two that calls for fresh, local ingredients is a great way to minimize “over” purchasing and ensure you don’t have excess that will go to waste.
Gail Simmons, a trained culinary expert and judge on Bravo’s Emmy-winning series Top Chef, as well as head critic on Top Chef Masters, has created two recipes that complement each other well for such an occasion. It’s a delicious way to end a busy day.
Lemongrass-Scented Rice Noodle Salad with Mint and Cilantro by Gail Simmons
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 8 oz vermicelli rice noodles
- 4 1/4 cups Pure Leaf Unsweetened Iced Tea, divided
- 4 cups water
- 1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and trimmed into two 2–3 inch pieces, one half of pieces bruised using the back of a knife, one half finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 10 stems reserved
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, half sliced, half finely chopped
- 2 small Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped or 1Ž2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 hothouse cucumber, cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
- 6 radishes, cut into matchsticks or shredded on a mandoline
- 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
- 1 pound cooked shrimp or shredded rotisserie chicken, optional
Heat canola oil in a medium sauté pan until just before smoking. In a shallow bowl, toss shallots with flour, shaking off any excess. Fry shallots in oil, stirring gently until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season immediately with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups Iced Tea, water, bruised lemongrass, sliced ginger, 10 cilantro stems and remaining teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water until chilled. Shake out any excess water and spread noodles on a paper towel-lined tray.
For dressing, combine reserved lemongrass, reserved ginger, chiles, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup Iced Tea in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
Place noodles, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, mint, cilantro leaves and chicken or shrimp (if desired) in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss well. Garnish with fried shallots and crushed peanuts before serving.
Note: Any remaining dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and used on meat, fish and salads.
Charred Pomelo Twist by Gail Simmons
- Canola oil for grill
- 1 pink grapefruit, quartered
- 1/2 cup Pure Leaf Sweet Tea
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fine smoked salt
Heat a grill pan to medium high heat and brush with canola oil. Add quartered grapefruit, flesh side down, and grill until well charred, 2–3 minutes per cut side. Remove from grill and allow to cool.
Juice grapefruit, straining seeds and reserving one juiced wedge. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together charred grapefruit juice and cilantro. Add Sweet Tea and plenty of ice and shake until well chilled.
Rub the rim of two rocks glasses with the reserved grapefruit wedge. Spread the smoked salt on a plate and swirl the rims of each glass through the salt to coat. Add ice to glasses.
Strain the grapefruit/tea mixture into the glasses. Garnish each with a few cilantro leaves and serve immediately.
Optional: Add 2 ounces mezcal to mixture before shaking.