“Gỏi, or nộm in northern Vietnam, defines a salad of sorts in Vietnamese cuisine,” says recipe developer and food stylist Tyna Hoang. “It is typically a combination of ingredients accompanied by various toppings and a protein (in this case, bắp cải, or cabbage, serves as the base).
The dressing can vary, but more often than not it’s nước chấm, a garlicky fish sauce lime condiment that is essential to Vietnamese cooking.
Gỏi is often served as a starter or alongside a heartier dish as a palate cleanser. For as long as I can remember, there has never been a family gathering or Viet wedding without gỏi.
The combination of crisp cabbage, shredded carrots, and fresh herbs tossed with tangy nước chấm and topped with crunchy peanuts makes this salad as refreshing as it is exciting.
This recipe is a simplified version of one that I grew up on, but upgraded with shrimp poached in coconut milk for a subtle richness.”
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 red or green Thai chiles, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely grated
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup fish sauce
1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
8 oz. large shrimp, peeled, deveined
½ head small green cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled, shaved
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup coarsely torn cilantro
¼ cup coarsely torn mint
¼ cup store-bought fried shallots
¼ cup crushed dry-roasted peanuts
Combine sugar and 7 Tbsp. warm water in a small bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Stir in chiles, garlic, lime juice, and fish sauce. Set nuóc cham aside.
Bring coconut milk, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add shrimp. Cover and let sit until shrimp are opaque and pink, about 4 minutes. Drain and chill until ready to use.
Toss cabbage, carrots, onion, cilantro, and mint in a large bowl. Pour half of reserved nuóc cham over and gently massage into vegetables until evenly distributed. Top with chilled shrimp, fried shallots, and peanuts. Serve with remaining nuóc cham alongside.
Do ahead: Nuóc cham can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.