I greatly enjoy eating all types of Asian cuisine: stir fry, Thai curries, Vietnamese pho, Korean BBQ, soupy dumplings, sushi, the list goes on… However, I’ve never really attempted to make any Asian dishes myself. The delicious and complex flavor combinations often seem to use techniques and ingredients I’m not familiar with. Part of this Strip District cooking adventure was to challenge myself to experiment more with my cooking. I didn’t want to take on something too complicated for my first attempt at Asian cuisine, so I tried to keep it simple. An iconic Strip District treat is Andy’s sushi from Wholey’s, and one of my favorite things to order from Andy are his summer rolls. Not quite ready to take on fussy rice-paper wrappers, I came up with the idea to turn Andy’s summer roll into a salad. Below is my take – very similar flavors, but also very easy for even a beginner to execute. I used frozen shrimp from Wholey’s – I like to buy the big bags of wild caught U.S. shrimp that are right across from Andy’s sushi bar. I picked up the Asian ingredients and vegetables from Lotus Foods – this is a fantastic place to check out if you haven’t been there before: all kinds of specialty Asian sauces and spices, as well as a very large selection of fresh produce, fresh tofu, and lots of frozen fish and seafood. I will definitely be making more trips there, especially since they stay open til 6pm on weeknights, which is much later than most of the other shops in the Strip.
The recipe below serves 2-3.
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1 cup vermicelli rice noodles
8-10 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small jicama* (or 1/2 of a larger jicama), peeled and cut into thin matchsticks 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
A handful of bean sprouts
1 scallion (green onion), thinly sliced
A couple sprigs of fresh basil, chiffonade
A few lime wedges
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
*Jicama is a round, starchy root vegetable that tastes like a cross between a potato and an apple. It’s popular in Mexican and Asian cuisine. It can be eaten raw or cooked. In raw form it is very crispy and doesn’t discolor. When cooked, it’s similar to a water chestnut.
1. Whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, fish sauce, honey, ginger and sriracha to make the dressing. You may want to start with just one teaspoon of sriracha and add more to taste. Sriracha is a combination of ground chiles and garlic and can be pretty spicy. If your dressing is a little too thick, add a bit of water. Set this in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Cook the vermicelli noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove and wash with very cold water for 1 minute. Drain them, and toss them in some sesame oil to keep them from sticking together. Cover and set these in the refrigerator.
3. Warm a bit of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Season the shrimp with a bit of salt and pepper, add them to the pan, and cook until pink, about 4-5 minutes. Remove them from the heat and set aside.
4. Toss the cool noodles with the carrot, cucumber, jicama, celery and bean sprouts. Add a bit more oil if the noodles are too sticky.
5. Arrange the noodles and vegetables on a plate. Place the cooked shrimp on top, drizzle with the spicy peanut dressing. Garnish with the basil and scallion. Serve with fresh lime wedges.
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[singlepic id=283 w=190 h=110 float=left] Aimee is a proud resident of Pittsburgh’s Strip District with a serious passion for home cooking. She returned to Pittsburgh after stints in Ohio, Italy, New York, and New Jersey. She created her foodie blog to showcase Pittsburgh’s cultural diversity, as well as to challenge herself, and hopefully others, to try new recipes – everything from classic Italian, to spicy Korean food to delicious desserts. She believes that the best food is made from scratch, and is made even better when enjoyed with those you care about.
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