Thursday, March 4, 2010

Welcome back to Gourmet Goddess after my South East Asian odyssey....

Hi everyone - Well, I'm back after what was a very memorable trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. I saw lots of beautiful and sometimes confronting sights and also did lots of things I never thought I would do (including finding myself underground in the pitch black, crawling on my stomach in an old Viet Cong fighting tunnel and shooting rounds off an AK47 gun !!) I also ate some fantastic local food in both places, including some of the more exotic options, including frog's legs, river snake on a stick (why does everything taste better on a stick??), fried crickets and fermented fish. I also became addicted to the delicious Vietnamese coffee.

One of my favourite food memories of the trip was a lady who sold the most incredible pork from a small cart at the intersection near where we were staying. Every night she would be there, cooking thin slivers of succulent pork belly, that was threaded onto split bamboo and cooked over coals, until it was melty and caramelised. The flavour was sweet and smoky and sexy. Needless to say that we kept going back for more! The lady on the corner became affectionately known as "The pork lady". Every neighbourhood should have one!

The pork lady and her cart

I thought I would get back into the swing of things with a recipe inspired by my time in Vietnam - a simple to put together salad that is fresh and full of flavour. I made this for friends who came to dinner on Saturday night and they really enjoyed it. You could serve this on individual plates as an entree, but I just tossed it all in a bowl and let everyone help themselves. I have used a combination of pork and prawns in my salad, but you could just use one of these if you want to. It would also work well with cooked squid, duck or chicken.

Pork and prawn salad with green mango

You will need:
(for the dressing) 5 tablespoons fish sauce (Nam Pla), Juice of 1 lime, 1-2 finely chopped red chillis (more or less depending on your taste), 1 heaped tablespoon palm sugar.

(for the salad) 1 green mango sliced thinly, 1 bunch coriander chopped, 1/2 cup chopped mint, 1/2 cup finely sliced spring onion, 1 cup fresh bean sprouts, 1 lebanese cucumber cut into juliennes, 12 cooked cold king prawns (I stir fried mine in a little oil with some salt and pepper), 400g cooked cold pork sliced into small pieces (I used cooked pork belly with the crackling left on, but you could use cooked pork chops or fillets), extra sliced red chilli to serve (I like lots!)

Method: First, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add more lime or palm sugar if you need to. The dressing should have a nice balance of sweetness, saltiness and hotness from the chilli.

Toss together all of the salad ingredients. Drizzle over the dressing and serve right away.
How easy was that ?!!!


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