Friday, November 27, 2009

Very Vietnamese

Michael and I are in the midst of planning a trip to Vietnam (and Cambodia) in February 2010 and I must admit that the last few days of reading about the place, talking about it and looking at pictures of it has inspired me to post today's recipe. I am fortunate enough to live in a place that has a large Vietnamese population, which means I am very spoilt for Vietnamese restaurants, butchers, fishmongers, coffee houses and markets. Ingredients are very cheap and accessable and I eat Vietnamese food regularly. It is by far my favourite Asian cuisine- light, full of flavour and beautiful textures. I'm very excited about the prospect of eating Vietnamese food in Vietnam and seeing how different (or not) it is from what is made here by the Vietnamese in my own neighbourhood.

In warm weather, there is nothing nicer than a fresh Vietnamese salad, full of fresh herbs, chilli and the tang of lime and fish sauce (Nam Pla) My recipe today also includes prawns, baby calamari and lean pork with lightly pickled vegetables. The dressing is based on Nuoc Cham, which is a common Vietnamese dipping sauce served with a whole range of dishes, spring rolls, fried chicken and salads. Today's dish would make a lovely addition to a BBQ, plated individually as an entree or even as something different for your Christmas lunch table. You can prepare all of the components a few hours ahead and then cook the pork and seafood at the last minute and just assemble and dress the dish at the last minute. As always, go as light or as heavy on the chilli as you wish. I love this salad - hope you do too.

Vietnamese pork and seafood salad

You will need: (For the salad) 2 pork chops trimmed and boned, 6 raw king prawns peeled and cleaned,1 medium or 2 small Calamari cleaned and cut into rings, 20cm piece lemongrass cut into thin slices, 3 chopped cloves garlic, 2 teaspoons vegetable/peanut oil, 1 teaspoon chilli oil, salt, pepper, A handful each of fresh coriander, mint, snowpea/bean sprouts, 1 small cucumber, 1 small carrot, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon roasted unsalted peanuts, lime wedges to serve.

(For the dressing) 2 tablespoons each of fish sauce (Nam Pla), rice vinegar and palm or coconut sugar. 1 - 2 redchillies finely chopped, juice of 1 lime.

Method: In a food processor or mortar and pestle (I use the latter - less hassle) combine the lemongrass and garlic with a generous pinch of salt. The mixture does not have to be fine - this is a rustic dish, so it can be quite coarse. Add the vegetable and chilli oil. Divide the mixture in half and combine with the pork and the seafood in seperate bowls. Cover and allow to marinate for at least half an hour (or overnight)

Whisk together the dressing ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

De-seed the cucumber and chop into juliennes along with the carrot. Combine with the rice vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside to pickle for half an hour.

When you are ready to serve, pan fry or BBQ the pork and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips. In a very hot pan, hotplate or wok, cook the seafood - this will only take a couple of minutes. Be careful not to overcook it.

Drain the excess rice vinegar from the vegetables. Combine all of the ingredients together, add the dressing and serve immediately with wedges of lime, peanuts and extra chilli.


No comments:

Post a Comment