This is a salad-type dish of shredded cold vegetables and glass noodles, topped by a spicy peanut sauce and a healthy sprinkling of fresh coriander. It is delicious on its own as a zesty refresher in most any setting, but it has an extra practical beauty at a mandarin pancake party—with the pancakes and this cold filling done in advance, you are free to turn your attention to producing the perfect mu-shu pork.
Soak the bean threads until soft and silken. Cut into 5-inch lengths, then cut and discard the rubber bands or strings binding the skein. Drain under cool water and shake dry. Once softened, the noodles may be bagged airtight and refrigerated overnight.
Blanch the bean sprouts in plain boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and rush under cold running water until chilled. Refrigerate covered with cold water until use, overnight if desired. Shortly before using, swish to dislodge and remove any green husks, drain, and spread on a dry kitchen towel.
Shred the carrots, toss with the salt and sugar, then let stand for 10–20 minutes at room temperature. Drain off excess liquid. If you are working in advance, the carrots may be sealed and refrigerated 1–2 hours. Toss and drain before using.
Core, seed and derib the bell pepper, then shred lengthwise into neat slivers ⅛-inch wide. To hold 1–2 hours, bag airtight and refrigerate in water-misted plastic.
Cut off and discard the lower third of the coriander stems, retaining the upper stems and leaves. Wash, then spin or pat dry. Once cleaned, the coriander may be refrigerated overnight in a water-misted plastic bag. Pat dry before chopping.
Shortly before serving, pour the sauce into one or two small serving bowls. Arrange the vegetables prettily in rings or mounds of alternating color on a large platter. Chop the coriander coarsely or finely to taste. Sprinkle it lightly over the salad, use a bit to garnish the sauce bowls, then put what remains in a small serving bowl to be passed with the sauce.
Pass the sauce and salad separately, letting each guest choose and toss his or her own portion. Traditionally, the sauce gets rolled up in the pancake with the salad, but there are some confirmed dunkers who are best not thwarted.
Leftover sauce keeps indefinitely. Leftover salad looks jumbled but tastes fine, sealed airtight and refrigerated 1–2 days.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.