Georgia Dixon

Food & Wine

Prawn and vermicelli salad with coconut cream, kaffir lime and betel leaves

Prawn and vermicelli salad with coconut cream, kaffir lime and betel leaves

This Thai dish eats beautifully as a stand-alone salad or component of a feast, or you can wrap the salad in the betel leaves (you'll just need a few extra) and eat as hand-held morsels - perfect for entertaining, and the recipe can be easily multiplied to fit your needs.

Serves: 6


  • 100g mung bean vermicelli noodles
  • 50ml coconut cream
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • 12 green king prawn cutlets, butterflied and blanched in boiling salted water for 90 seconds
  • 6 betel leaves
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, very finely julienned
  • 1 tbsp. fried shallots, ground to a powder

  • ½ bunch coriander, picked and roughly chopped (reserve 2 roots for the dressing)
  • 2 red eschalots, finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 long red chillies, finely julienned
  • 2 limes, peeled and segmented
  • 1 lemongrass stem, white part only, very finely sliced
  • 50g toasted peanuts, crushed
  • 3 bird's eye chillies, chopped
  • 2 coriander roots, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ tbsp. dried shrimp, chopped
  • 50g palm sugar, grated (pick a pale Thai sugar)
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice

  1. For the dressing, grind the chilli, coriander root, garlic, shrimp and palm sugar as finely as possible using a mortar and pestle, then mix in the fish sauce and lime juice until combined. Adjust the balance with more fish, sauce or sugar if necessary.
  2. Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for four minutes, then drain and cut into short lengths.
  3. Dress the noodles with the coconut cream and season to taste with a splash of fish sauce.
  4. For the salad, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the prawns and dressing and toss gently but thoroughly.
  5. Arrange the betel leaves on a serving platter, followed by the noodles and prawn salad mix. Scatter over the shredded lime leaves and shallot powder and serve.

  1. Seek out a quality fish sauce, they're not that expensive and the difference is amazing.
  2. Cooked crabmeat would work well instead of prawns.
  3. If you can't find betel leaves (generally available from Asian grocers) and want to serve individual portions, lettuce cups would be a good substitute.
Tell us in the comments below, how do you like your prawns? In a salad? Or a soup? Or something else entirely?

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