Fresh noodle salads

Make one dish or a buffet with bright combinations from Southern California's Little Saigon

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SMART SALAD STRATEGIES

Follow these tips to make serving the salad with all the toppings and condiments even easier.

Prep foods together.
Certain ingredients show up in more than one recipe; prepping the total amount will save time.

•  Black pepper, freshly ground: 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp.

•  Cilantro sprigs: 1¼ cups plus 2 tbsp.

•  Garlic: ½ cup minced (14 to 16 large cloves)

•  Lemon grass: 5 tbsp. minced (from inner core of 2 or 3 stalks)

•  Lime juice, freshly squeezed: ¼ cup

•  Mint: 1/3 cups loosely packed leaves

Do some work ahead.
The day before, make the fried garlic and the dipping sauce. Prepare some or all of the ingredients: Rinse, peel, and chop, then refrigerate the perishables (store the garlic at room temperature). You can even make the Sautéed Tofu ahead (reheat gently). When you're ready to make the toppings, start with the beef, since it takes awhile to marinate.

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