Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles because of its genuinely happy and welcoming people. Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, and that is where I called home for 8 years of my childhood.
One of my favorite Thai dishes is Yum Woon Sen. It is a beloved Thai salad dish. The word Yum literary translates to “mix,” and it refers to a type of Thai salad. The words Woon Sen means glass noodles. Therefore, Yum Woon Sen is Glass Noodle Salad.
I remember eating Yum Woon Sen in Thailand all the time. It is a dish that every home cook knows how to cook by heart. I had eaten it in school, over street food stalls, and in luxurious restaurants.
Although they all made with similar ingredients, the tastes can be slightly different from one place to another. And one of my favorites was at a food stall in front of a giant shopping center, The Mall Bang Kapi.
After coming to the United States, Yum Woon Sen became a dish that I must order in every Thai restaurant that I visited, and yet I never found one that’s perfect to my palate, like the one in front of The Mall Bang Kapi.
I told my husband about my quest to find the perfect Yum Woon Sen. One day, he piled up all the ingredients for the dish on our kitchen counter. He was determined to make the perfect Yum Woon Sen for me. And for the next 30 minutes, he cast his charm and magic over the dish. Although he looked calm, sweat was dripping down from his forehead.
Surprisingly, he presented me with a taste that is so familiar and yet I have not eaten for the longest time. It is the taste that I missed dearly.
To me, it is the taste of Thailand, the taste of smiles. It is so refreshing and has a perfect balance of savory, citrusy, sweet, and spicy. I believe Yum Woon Sen will also become your family’s favorite salad dish and brighten up everyone.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 people
6 ounces glass noodles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup peanuts
3 tablespoons dried shrimp
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 small onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup of Chinese celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup of Chinese celery leaves, chopped
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
A handful of cilantro, chopped
For the dressing:
6 tablespoons lime juice
5 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon palm sugar
2 bird eye chili peppers, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
For the minced pork:
1/4 pound minced pork
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Soak the glass noodles in water for 5 minutes. Drain the water. Set aside.
To make the dressing, mix together all the seasonings, bird eye chili peppers, and minced garlic.
In a small pan, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and stir fry the peanuts in low heat for about 2 minutes until lightly browned. Drain the oil and set aside.
In the same pan, add the dried shrimp and stir fry in low heat until crispy for about 2 minutes. This is going to add a lot of umami flavor to the salad. Drain and put aside.
In a pot, add about 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil, cook the noodles until al dente for about 30 seconds. Rinse in cold water to stop the noodles from cooking any further. Put aside.
In the same pot, boil the shrimp over medium-high heat until they turn pink for about 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
In the same pan, throw away most of the water. Leave about 5 tablespoons of water left. Transfer in the minced pork. Cook on high heat for about 3 minutes until well done. Drain and aside.
To assemble the salad, in a large mixing bowl, add the onion, Chinese celery, grape tomatoes, cilantro, glass noodles, dried shrimp, shrimp, minced pork, and dressing. Toss together.
Serve on a plate and top with the peanuts.