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Yum woon sen is a classic Thai dish- a quick noodle salad, traditionally made with bean thread noodles (also called glass noodles) and tossed with other ingredients in a fairly simple sauce. The sauce is salty, a little sweet and spicy, but primarily sour from the fresh lime juice- like all Thai food it puts everyone of your taste buds to work. I made this recipe for the first time when I was pondering the best recipe to try with my new spiralizer I had been given for Christmas (thanks Lurena!). I was actually looking at some turnips I had when a memory hit me- thin noodles, bright sauce, cold, snappy vegetables and rich, nutty peanuts. I spiralized my turnips, whipped up a salad and it was delicious. There was only one thing I wanted to improve- the turnips. Turnips have a slightly sweet and earthy flavor but they weren’t as well suited to this dish as their cousin, the radish, was. The second time I switched out the turnip for a daikon radish, and I was 100% sold.
One of the benefits to this radish Thai noodle salad is that it is extremely low in calories, fat and carbs. It contains no refined sugar (although it does use agave nectar) and no oil. It has a whole lot of fiber, and micro-nutrients from the veggies. One of the disadvantages this dish has is that it is very low in calories. For most of us, that’s not really a problem- we easily get more than enough calories in our diets, so that having lower calorie meals every now and then isn’t a problem. That being said, remember that food isn’t a calorie-counting competition, it’s actually needed to fuel your body and balance is key. Try this Yum Woon Sen as a light dinner after a heavy lunch, or accompany it with some spring rolls- make sure your body has the energy it needs to keep on making beautiful, filling meals (or whatever else it is you do).
When I say radish, I don’t mean the cute little red-pink golfball-sized things you find in the store. There are actually many different types of radish– small, large; red, white, black, purple; round, oblong… When I use radishes, however, I tend to use the larger, white daikon radishes, along with their close cousins. These radishes tend to weigh a couple pounds, are elongated and definitely not as cute as the common, little red variety. They are, in my opinion, much tastier and easier to work with.
This Yum Woon Sen is a pretty simple recipe. First, wash and spiralize the radish. I chopped mine into a couple pieces before spiralizing it, just so the resulting radish noodles are a little shorter. Next you toss the radish noodles in a bowl with salt and allow it to sit- I call this process “sweating” the radishes, because you are using the salt and the wonders of osmosis to draw moisture out of the plant cells. This causes the radishes to loose some of their rigidity, and are now softer and more flexible (much like a noodle). Once you’ve let your radishes sweat for a while, quickly rinse them in cold water and use your hands to wring out as much of the excess liquid as possible. Next you can chop the veggies for the salad, and make the sauce.
The sauce is made up of lime juice (3 TBSP., which was between 2-3 limes for me), vegan fish sauce, agave necter and chili powder. Vegan fish sauce is decidedly the least common ingredient in this recipe- I actually make my own fish sauce in larger batches, using this recipe, and leave it in the fridge until I need it (although I have heard you can buy it in some stores). If you are unable to locate or make any of your own vegan fish sauce, you could use soy sauce instead. I also used a chili powder I had made myself, when I was developing my vegan TVP larb recipe- it’s a little spicier, and more flavorful than traditional chili powder, and I highly recommend it- it’s easy to make, and once you make a batch it will stick around for a long time.
The last step for this Thai noodle salad is to toss all the ingredients together. If you’re hungry now, tuck in and enjoy! If you’re making this for a future time, refrigerate until you’re ready to serve- just make sure you give it a final toss to get the dressing spread out before putting it on the table.
Radish Thai Noodle Salad (Yum Woon Sen)
- 2 lbs. daikon radish
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 carrot
- 2 stalks celery
- ¼ onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ tsp. Thai chili powder (substitute any other type if you need)
- 3 TBSP. lime juice
- 2 TBSP. vegan fish sauce (this can be bought some places, or you can use this recipe. If you are unable to do either, substitute with soy sauce).
- 1 TBSP. agave
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
1. Wash the radish and cut into 4 chunks. Use a spiralizer to turn each chunk into spaghetti-sized “noodles”. Place your radish noodles in a bowl and mix in 2 tsp. salt, toss and set aside. As you wait, the radishes will release water and become more flexible- in about 5 minutes toss and set aside again.
2. While you wait on your radishes, prep the other elements of the dish. Cut the carrots and celery into small strips, about the size and shape of a matchstick. Cut the quarter onion into thin slices and the pepper into thin half-moons. Mince the garlic, and roughly chop the peanuts. In a small bowl, whisk the chili powder, lime juice and agave together.
3. Place the radishes in a colander and quickly run under cold water to remove some of the salt. Taking a handful at a time, squeeze as much water as possible from the radishes before returning to the dry bowl. Add all the ingredients and toss together. Enjoy at room temperature or chilled.