Instant noodles wind up practically everywhere regular noodles do, and even occasionally where they don’t. For instance, I’ve seen people crunch into them straight from the bag. It’s no shocker, then, that the beloved product—called MAMA in Thai, in reference to the best-known brand—makes great fodder for yam. Yam is often translated as “salad,” and while the English word does the trick, it doesn’t do much justice in describing the room-temperature jumbles of vegetables, herbs, and proteins dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, and chiles. When MAMA enters the fray, yam becomes a hearty snack to share while you booze, the heat and salt compelling another swig, and then another.
- Fill a large, tall pot with enough water to submerge a long-handled noodle basket and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, pound the garlic and chiles in a mortar to a very coarse paste, about 1 minute. Transfer 12 g / 1 tbsp of the mixture (or more to taste) to a medium saucepan, add the lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar simple syrup and stir well.
- When the water comes to a boil, put the instant ramen, shrimp, and pork roll in the noodle basket and submerge the contents in the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally with chopsticks to separate the noodles, until the shrimp are cooked and the noodles are fully tender (not al dente), about 2 minutes. Firmly shake the basket to drain well and set aside.
- Set the saucepan with the garlic-chile mixture over medium heat and heat until the mixture is just warm to the touch, 15 seconds or so. Turn off the heat and add the noodles, shrimp, and pork roll to the saucepan, then the yellow onion, tomato, mint, green onion, Chinese celery, and cilantro. Toss well and transfer the salad (including all of the dressing) to a plate in a low heap. Serve right away.
Reprinted with permission from POK POK Noodles, copyright © 2019 by Andy Ricker and JJ Goode. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Austin Bush