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This morning, my husband’s cousin invited us over for a barbecue in the afternoon.  Since we couldn’t make it, I thought it would be a nice gesture to drop off a dish for them to share.  I wanted to prepare a dish that doesn’t require too much time and  save me a trip to the store as my daughter also requested me to cook Bún Bò Huế for her lunch when she comes home from preschool.  So I went through my pantry and found a bag of spaghetti, a bottle of sweet chili sauce.  I got plenty of cilantro and spring onion in my vegetable garden and lots of dried shrimps which I always stock up in my fridge.

Cilantro Noodle with Ground Shrimp Flakes  is simple to prepare and deliciously seasoned.  It would make a nice dish for a spring or summer party.  I’m fond of the toasted dried shrimp aroma; the scent of sesame seed oil, the freshness and earthy fragrance of cilantro, the tartness of lime juice and the smeltly fish sauce that can’t be missed in Vietnamese cuisine all fused well together; We will need the sweetness of palm sugar to balances out the salty flavor of fish sauce.  In the end all of these ingredients blend to make this dish  simply irresitible.  This can be served as a cold dish. 

But if dried shrimp is not your cup of tea, you can substitute it with fresh shrimps or cubes or slices of seared tuna. 

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RECIPE: Mì Trộn Ngò và Tôm Khô Cháy

1  bag, about 2 lbs Spaghetti or Dried Thin Wheat Noodle
1 cup Dried Shrimps or 2 cups Fresh Shrimps
3 cups finely chopped fresh Cilantro
1 cup finely chopped Spring Onion
1 Lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
For the Sauce
8 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup good Fish Sauce
1/2 cup Sweeten Chili Sauce
1/2 cup  Lime Juice
6 tablespoons  grated Palm Sugar
2 tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
Preparing Spaghetti
Bring a large pot of water to boil with a lid on to allow the water to heat up more quickly.  When water comes to a rolling boil, remove lid and add about half of  tablespoon salt to the water.  Add the spaghetti to the boiling water.  Let the spaghetti to cook for approximately 10 minutes, occasionally stirring it to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Occasionally check the spaghetti to see if it’s done. When the pasta reaches al dente, it will be firm in the middle but chewy.  Pour the spaghetti pot into the colander to drain the liquid.  Add about a tablespoon of sesame oil to the spaghetti and toss.  Set it aside.
Preparing Sauce
Mix all the sauce ingredients until palm sugar dissovled.  Set it aside.
Prepare Dried Shrimp Flake
Soak dried shrimps in warm or hot water for about 10 minutes.  Wash and drain. Place it in a food processor and process it until finely ground.  If used fresh shrimps, peel and devein shrimps, steam then process it until finely ground.  Transfer shrimp to a pan and toast it for a few minutes until the fragnance is released . Set it aside.
Put aside  some dried shrimp flakes, spring onion and cilantro to garnish it.  Toss spaghetti with the remaining of sauce, dried shrimp flakes, spring onion, cilantro together.  Garnish with dried shrimp flakes, spring onion and cilantro.  Served with  lime wedges on the side for those who prefer a little more tart. Now you have a noodle dish that pairs well with a glass of chardonnay or a glass of milk oolong on a hot summer day!

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