'Twas a grey, rainy, fried shallot and fried garlic kind of afternoon...
Rice Noodle Salad with Fennel and Herbs
Nota bene: As far as I'm concerned, this dish solely exists as a vehicle for fried garlic and shallots. But if it's just absolutely not possible to make these magical golden crisps, add toasted cashews and/or peanuts instead (to give it some savory crunch).
Garlic, shaved/thinly sliced
Shallots, shaved/thinly sliced
Rice vermicelli, cooked
Loads o' herbs (cilantro, basil and mint), roughly chopped
Fried garlic and fried shallots*
Make the fried garlic and shallots: In two saucepans or frying pans, heat 3/4 inch of oil over medium heat. Test the oil by dropping in a sliver of garlic and shallot -- if it immediately sizzles, you're ready to roll. Add garlic to one pan and shallots to the other, give both a stir, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle sizzle, until the alliums turn golden-brown -- 3-4 minutes for the garlic and 15-20 minutes for the shallot. Drain through a strainer (save the oil -- it's full of flava!) and immediately turn onto a paper towel, spreading into a single layer, to dry.
In a small bowl, stir together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and Sriracha. In a large bowl, toss the vermicelli with the fennel and oodles of herbs. Dress the vermicelli with the vinaigrette and a handful of fried garlic and shallot, and toss to combine. Sprinkle more crispy bits on top, grab yer chopsticks, and go!
*Store whatever you don't use in an airtight container in a cool, dry place (not the fridge!); they'll keep for two or three days.