Sunday, 21 August 2011

Vietnamese style noodle salad with crab and candied star anise peanuts

It certainly doesn't feel like the summer's over round my gaff. At 24 degrees it's just delightful in the garden this afternoon. Perfect place for a lunch that allows me to indulge my love of Vietnamese food.

As a hardcore noodle addict I use to worry about the summer and my noodle eating - what would I do when it got too hot to indulge in broth based slinky noodle creations? How would I get my much needed fix? Well, the Vietnamese do it with aplomb, and their bun salad (no baked goods included) allows me to enjoy my much loved noodles nice and chilled and super tasty.

This isn't a strictly authentic version but it is very close, and if you're into all things oriental then you'll hopefully love it all the same.

The candied nuts are really delicious. I'm off chilies still but using the star anise powder (or five spice if you can't find it) really does bring the Asian vibe to them deliciously. The quantities in this recipe will make more than you need for the dish, but they make a great snack to enjoy with a beer so won't go to waste.

For two:
As many medium thickness rice noodles as you'll eat (I use one broad sheet for two here) made up as per the pack instructions and sat waiting in cold water
200g white crab meat
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and finely grated
A handful of mint leaves
A handful of coriander leaves
3 tablespoons palm sugar - grated
1 large knob of ginger, finely grated or minced
Juice of two limes
150g salted peanuts
Half a teaspoon ground star anise powder (and if you cant get it from your Asian supermarket then use 5 spice instead)
A generous scrunch of sea salt
30mls water
75g white sugar

- Start with the peanuts, place the nuts, sugar and water into a small pan and cook on a lowish heat. The process takes around 15 minutes - basically cook the peanuts keeping stirring them until the sugar water reduces right down and you get a granular sandy texture (as in the pic) this is normal and keep going, stirring all the time, basically they'll get darker and darker and go from being dry and sandy back to being golden and liquid. When you've got a good dark caramel colour over them add your scrunch of salt (I like salt so the double helping from the nuts and this is good, balances well with the sugar) and your star anise or five spice powder, stir through and then pour out of the pan onto a baking sheet - leave there to cool
- In a large bowl place the grated carrot, then the noodles - now combine them with your hands, pulling the noodles up and mixing the carrot through it - this salad really does need to be done by hand, much easier
- Into a bowl place the grated ginger, lime juice and palm sugar and mix with a fork. Now using your hands flake the crab meat into this mix - its also a good idea to do this because if you feel any shell you can get rid of it before eating
- Pour the crab and dressing mix over the noodles, then add the mint, coriander and spring onion and same as before, mix the ingredients together with your hands until its all combined
- Place into bowls ready for eating, top with the candied nuts and top with some extra fresh mint leaves. Devour


  1. Now I'm not usually a fan of star anise but this recipe does make me want to get in the car and visit my local Chinese supermarket.

  2. Secret Diary of a Foodie21 August 2011 at 19:59

    You'd really love these candied nuts holly - pinch of chilli would go a treat in them too x

  3. I love candied nuts :) I am gonna try that :)

  4. They're really addicitive Tess! I can see me making a batch of these on a regular basis and munching my way through them - worth some flavour experimentation too x