You know that friend who always knows what the best item on the menu is? Thanks to my menu-savvy friend, Kristy, I became acquainted with the best darn Thai salad in the whole wide world: Yum Woon Sen.
This bright and flavorful salad is essentially a bed of Thai glass noodles (aka mung bean noodles) surrounded by cucumber, tomato, onion and carrot and tossed in a tart, spicy fish sauce dressing. It’s no coincidence that the word “YUM” is in the very title of the dish! Or maybe it is. I don’t speak Thai. I just order it. And cook it. A lot.
Here is how Yum Woon Sen looks before it is attacked by a Smith-zilla:
And here is how the peaceful noodle town of Yum Woon Sen looks during the attack. CHOMP!
The beauty of this dish is that you can customize it to your taste buds. Prefer more heat? Add more red pepper flakes! Hate onions? Leave ’em out! Need meat? Add it!
No matter how you prefer it, Yum Woon Sen is definitely a recipe you’ll want in your summer salad repertoire!
Spicy Thai Glass Noodle Salad (Yum Woon Sen)
To start, prep all your veggies. You will need:
- 1/2 of a small,white onion, sliced paper-thin
- 1 cucumber, peeled or zested and sliced into 1/4″ slices
- 1 large, ripe tomato cut into thin wedges
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 small bunch of cilantro, rinsed and patted dry
WANT MEAT IN YOUR SALAD?
Chicken, shrimp and pork are great in this salad. I like to add thin slices of sauteed chicken breast, but if I’m running short on time, I just toss in some chopped rotisserie chicken breast. Use this time to prepare and cook whichever meat you prefer to add.
Next, prepare the noodles:
- Place 4 small bundles* of glass noodles in a 3-quart saucepan.
- Cover noodles with boiling water.
- Place the lid on the pan and let noodles soak for 5-7 minutes until soft like al-dente pasta, not mushy.
- Dump noodles into a sieve and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
- Drain noodles completely.
*Amount of softened noodles equals roughly 4 cups.
To make the dressing, whisk the following together until combined:
- Scant 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce
- 5 long cilantro stems, minced
- 1 teaspoon of sriracha or red pepper flakes, optional if you prefer more heat
Cook’s Note: If you do not have chili-garlic sauce on hand, you can substitute it with 2 teaspoons minced, fresh garlic + 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
To assemble, place a heaping cup of noodles in the center of a bowl. Add some of the meat you prepared along with desired amount of veggies around and on top of the noodles.
Pour desired amount of dressing over the top and toss to combine. Top with cilantro leaves (and more red pepper flakes if you like things hot).
I prefer my Yum Woon Sen extra spicy and swimming in dressing. The soft texture of the glass noodles together with the crisp veggies and tart, hot dressing is like summer in a bowl. With a combination this smashing, it’s hard going back to lettuce and ranch. 🙂
In the event that there are leftovers, I find that the best way to store them is to pour the dressing in a jar and place the noodles and veggies in an airtight container. Place any meat in a separate container. Refrigerate all.
In case you, too, are a Thai-food fan, here are some other Thai dishes you might enjoy (click on photo for link):
What’s your favorite summer salad?
- 2 cups cooked chicken, shrimp or pork
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ thin slices
- 1 large ripe tomato, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 half small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 4 small bundles of dry mung bean/glass noodles (roughly 4 cups)
- Scant 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup Thai fish sauce (like Lucky brand)
- 1 Tablespoon Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce (like Huy Fong)
- 1 heaping teaspoon sriracha
- 5 cilantro stems, finely chopped
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- Red pepper flakes
- If you prefer meat in this salad, prepare it as desired and set aside. I like to saute up a large chicken breast. If I don’t have time for that, I will use the breast from a rotisserie chicken.
- Cut up all of your veggies and set aside.
- Place the bundles of noodles in a large sauce pan. Cover completely with boiling water. Place lid on pan and let noodles soak for 5-7 minutes until softened but not mushy.
- Meanwhile prepare the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce, sriracha and cilantro stems together until combined.
- Drain noodles and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Place a heaping cup of noodles in a bowl. Add meat on top along with desired amount of tomato, onion, cucumber and carrot. Pour 1/3-1/2 cup of the dressing over the salad and toss well. Top with cilantro leaves and red pepper flakes for an extra punch of flavor and heat.