To the surprise of many, Rueda pairs deliciously with global flavors. This Vietnamese Noodle Salad is a great combo of fresh herbs, zesty lime and seafood that’ll bring out the best in a Verdejo. The shrimp in this dish is usually grilled but cooking it in the same pot as the noodles is easier and gives the dish a lightness that is perfect for warm-weather dining. The rice noodles and fish sauce are easy to find in any large supermarket, making this a convenient but fun alternative to familiar pasta salads.
1 English cucumber
2 large carrots peeled
6 ounces rice vermicelli
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Nuoc Cham Dressing (recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, cut cucumber and carrots into fine julienne strips. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to assemble salad. Before using, use your hands to squeeze out all liquid from the softened vegetables.
In a large pot over high heat, bring six cups of salted water to a boil. Turn off heat and add noodles. As noodles soften, break them up with a fork so they don’t all clump together. Add shrimp, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain well and add to the bowl with the cucumber and carrots.
Using your fingers or two forks, pull the noodles apart so the shrimp, vegetables and noodles are evenly distributed. Mix in dressing and let sit for 10 minutes. Gently mix in herbs and peanuts, reserving about 1 tablespoon of each for garnish. Transfer to a platter and garnish with reserved herbs and peanuts.
Nuoc Cham Dressing
1 clove garlic
1 fresh chile, such as Thai, serrano, or jalapeño
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
Mince the garlic and chile together with a pinch of sugar until it becomes a paste. Add to a small bowl with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir until sugar dissolves.
WINE PAIRING: Rueda wines are always a refreshing choice with seafood (including dishes made with fish sauce) and the lime and herbs in this dish echo flavors often found in Verdejo. Try a crisp and aromatic Verdejo like “Cuarenta Vendimias,” Verdejo, or “Viña Mayor” Verdejo.
Recipe by Nils Bernstein, Wine Enthusiast food editor and Ribera y Rueda explorer & wine lover.