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Pad Thai noodles (Recipe: rice noodle salad with shrimp and scallions)


There are noodles that tell you what to do with them, and there are noodles that leave much to the imagination.

Pad Thai noodles -- banh pho -- tell you exactly what they want to become.

Banh pho translates to rice noodle or rice stick or chantaboon, and describes anything from large sheets to flat noodles, ranging from one millimeter to nearly one-third of an inch wide. On most packages in the grocery store or Asian market, they're also conveniently marked "pad Thai noodles".

The dry noodles, made of rice flour and water, are translucent, brittle and fragile. Soak in warm (not boiling) water for 15-20 minutes, until they are pliable and al dente. Cook for 3-5 minutes, and the noodles become milky white and slithery. They're basically flavorless, and happily absorb the seasonings of any sauce or soup that surrounds them.

Pad Thai noodles are a key ingredient in two familiar dishes -- pho, the famous Vietnamese soup, and pad Thai, the most popular Thai noodle dish served in Western restaurants -- but also work well in yellow chicken curry, Singapore street noodles, pad se-ew, green beans and tofu sticks, bun rieu cua, and sesame noodles. Rice noodles can substitute for wheat or egg noodles in many Asian dishes, making them perfect for gluten-free eating.

In Noodle, one of my favorite reference books and an all-around visual treat, author Terry Durack describes pad Thai noodles as "rice vermicelli that have left home, seen the world, and grown up a bit."

I'm so glad they did.


Rice noodle salad with shrimp and scallions

An easily improvised salad for any time of year. In summer, I add fresh mint and Thai basil from my garden. Keep some nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) in your fridge, and this salad will come together in minutes. Serves 2; can be doubled.


1/2 lb banh pho noodles
1 tsp vegetable or peanut oil
8 large (31-40 size) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 head thinly shredded iceberg lettuce
1/4 cup shredded cucumber (I like the European seedless cucumbers, shredded on the largest holes of a box grater)
Handful of mint leaves and/or Thai basil, if you have it
A few strips of shredded carrot, if you have it
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
Nuoc cham, 3 Tbsp or more, to taste
2 tsp chopped dry roasted, unsalted peanuts


Fill a bowl with hot tap water. Soak the noodles for 15 minutes, until flexible. Drain. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the noodles, and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

In a small frying pan (not nonstick), heat 1 tsp oil over high heat until almost smoking. Sauté the shrimp for 1 minute on each side, until shrimp are curled, no longer translucent, and have a bit of brown color. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Assemble the salad: To a serving bowl or platter, add -- in this order -- lettuce, cucumber, mint leaves (if using), carrot (if using), scallions, and the cooked noodles. Top with shrimp. Pour on the nuoc cham and toss, then sprinkle chopped peanuts on top.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Fresh Vietnamese salad rolls (nime chow/goi cuon)
Pho bo (beef noodle soup)
Faux pho
Grilled tofu with soba noodles
Rice stick salad with caramelized shrimp

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


That looks delicious! And I LOVE pad tai! yum!

This looks so healthful and wonderful. I love these type of noodles...just perfect with a beautifully appetizing photo.

Very lovely picture, Lydia. I do like rice noodles. The kind you reconstitute are good, but my heart belongs to thicker, chewier, fresh rice noodles which, of course, aren't available here.

Stunning picture. I so wanted to make a Thai rice noodle salad the other day, but couldn't find any rice noodles here...:0(!
Love the salad!!

Pad Thai is one of my favourite Thai dishes. Yours look great!

a lovely description os the noodles! love this comforting dish!

Yummy - I can't wait to make this!

As if I wasn't missing my Vietnamese noodles already.... This looks great (and I actually have all the ingredients in my pantry today!)

I like to use this to replace the rotini in your Rotini with Spicy Meat Sauce recipe. Yum!

What a lovely photo and accompanying recipe. This makes me want to try banh pho noodles right away, as they are new to me!

Mmmm, I'm not much of a seafood guy, but that looks delicious. I love cooking with rice noodles. So easy to work with.

Congrats on your WFN nomination :) Very well deserved, my friend!

I voted for you and these Pad Thai Noodles sound good!

Whoa that photo made my tummy rumble! Love, love Pad Thai.
Congrats on your nomination...(psst, I'm in the Family/Kids category, wink wink!)

Laurie, I'm partial to the fresh rice noodles too, but only ever see them in the Asian supermarket. The advantage to dried noodles is that they'll last forever in the pantry.

Edwin, this dish is equally good with chicken or even tofu -- or without a protein at all. It's the noodles and nuoc cham dressing that really make the dish.

Oh lordy that looks good! Pad Thai is one of my favourite dishes ever.
I voted for you, congrats on your nomination!

This is one fantastic looking noodle dish. So fresh and lovely.

Congrats on your nomination! Well deserved!

How do these noodles compare to others for calories, carbs, glycemic index, etc? Just curious ... sounds and looks just lovely!

Alanna, great question, but because there are hundreds of types of noodles, I'm going to refer you (and everyone who's interested in comparing nutrition values) to this very informative site: http://www.nutritiondata.com.

Congrats on your nomination - I voted for you and put a link back to this post on my blog. I don't have alot of readers but hoepfully all of them will come on over and vote for you!

HB, thank you so much -- so sweet of you to do this. And many thanks to all readers who are taking the time to go and vote for the Food Blog Awards.

Lydia, pad thai was one of my truly ethnic and mostt delicious food discoveries. My that was the 80's and I still enjoy it!

I voted for you. I love pad thai and I'm going to try...this recipe.
Happy New Year.

I had something very similar to this for lunch today, but with fried pork springrolls. Mom brought it to work for me!
But your plump shrimps are making me crave another big bowl of these rice noodle salads. It looks so good. Extra Nuoc cham, please!

This shrimp and noodle salad sounds good.

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