Vietnamese Noodle Salad pairs perfectly with Smith-Madrone’s dry riesling

Smith-Madrone, 2017 Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley Riesling ($34), our Wine of the Week, is absolutely gorgeous. Aromas are delicate and evocative of spring flowers, including rose and jasmine.

On the palate, the wine is bright, refreshing, delicate and engaging, with flavors of honeysuckle, white grapefruit, Meyer lemon, lime, peach, cantaloupe, white pineapple, sweet orange zest and hints of minerality suggestive of celery. It is a beautiful expression of this varietal and how it blossoms into its full self in rocky mountain vineyards.

This dry riesling has broad appeal at the table. It is excellent with mild curries and an excellent pairing with Asian-style chicken salad. You’ll enjoy it with Caesar salad or Caesar salad pasta with sautéed chicken thighs. It is a great match with carrots, too, as in carrot fritters, carrot risotto and carrot salads. Petrale sole with sautéed celery and pan-roasted grapes makes a stellar match, as does teriyaki chicken.

The wine also engages well with cabbage, which suggests you can enjoy it with Hawaiian kalua pig served over a bed of sautéed cabbage. Alsatian cabbage dishes make great matches, too.

For today’s recipe, I’m revisiting a favorite dish, a Vietnamese noodle salad. I’ve adjusted the dressing a bit so it engages perfectly with the wine. If your serrano is extremely hot, you’ll want to remove the seeds and the inner fibers before mincing it, as too much spicy heat can turn the wine bitter, though a bit of heat enhances it.

Bün (Vietnamese Noodle Salad)

Makes 4 servings

For dressing:

2 large garlic cloves, crushed and minced

1 small serrano, stemmed and minced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons sugar, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste

For salad:

8 ounces thin rice noodles (rice vermicelli)

Hot water

3 cups Savoy cabbage, cut into very thin, crosswise ribbons

1 cup pea shoots

6 scallions, trimmed and cut into very thin diagonal slices

½ cup julienned cucumber

½ cup peeled and julienned carrots

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup very small fresh spearmint leaves

¼ cup very small Thai basil leaves, optional (use only when in season)

Protein of choice (see note below)

½ cup crushed dry-roasted peanuts

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Put the garlic, serrano, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and a tablespoon of water into a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and correct for acid and sugar balance. Cover and set aside for at least an hour and as long as several hours.

Put the noodles into a large bowl, cover with hot water and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

When the noodles are tender, in about 15 minutes, drain them thoroughly and set aside.

Put the cabbage, pea shoots, scallions, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, spearmint and basil, if using, into a large bowl and toss gently. Divide among four large soup bowls.

Divide the noodles among the servings, mounding them on top of the vegetables. Top with your protein of choice and garnish with the peanuts and cilantro springs.

Drizzle dressing over each portion and enjoy right away.

Note: If you have leftover barbecued pork, slice it and add it to the salad. You’ll need about a pound, though there is no reason to measure. Other options include leftover teriyaki chicken, fried tofu, sautéed shrimp, thinly sliced beef seared rare and flash-sautéed squid.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at

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