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Posts Tagged ‘Vietnamese’

Crusty French bread, spicy/salty pork meatballs and tangy, crisp grated carrot and diakon — the essential ingredients for an incredible bánh mì, or popular type of Vietnamese sandwich.  This recipe caught my attention back in January, but I waited until this summer to give it a try so I could take advantage of all that my local farmers’ market has to offer.   Since so much Vietnamese cooking features natural herbs and root vegetables, fresh produce is essential. (e.g. the ground pork in this case came from a small, family-owned farm in Virginia that showed me a photo of the pig before I bought it!)

The meatballs are oven-roasted and incredibly tasty, defined by savory garlic, spicy hot chili paste and a dash of salty fish sauce.  And as a cool and crunchy counterpoint, the grated carrot, diakon and cucumber are lightly pickled in rice vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Top it all off with a handful of fresh cilantro sprigs.

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Chewy on the outside and fresh, crisp and crunchy on the inside. Fresh spring rolls are a light and refreshing appetizer packed with flavor.

Turns out, they’re pretty easy to make at home! Preparing the rolls’ numerous elements is the hardest part; wrapping and rolling is all the fun.

These shrimp spring rolls included cilantro, seeded cucumber, carrots, green onion, mint leaves, cellophane noodles, and chopped peanuts.  You could also swap in basil for the mint or add lettuce or spinach to the mix. Some people like fresh bean sprouts in there as well. It’s up to you.

Start the assembly process by soaking a sheet of rice paper in a bowl of water until it gets limp.  Then pull it out and lay it on a damp cloth. Starting with the mint leaves or lettuce, top the wrapper with all the ingredients. Then, roll it up tight like you would a burrito.

I recommend two dipping sauces to dunk your rolls into: a spicy peanut sauce and a sweet garlic chili sauce. Both can be prepared in advance, and leftovers can be kept and used as a marinade or condiment.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup crushed peanuts

1 tablespoon peanut butter

*Bring all of the above ingredients to simmer over low heat, whisking to combine the peanut butter. Let it cool before serving.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

4 tablespoons fish sauce

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce, or to taste

*Combine at least one hour before serving.

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Nha Trang, on New York’s lower east side, may not stand-out among the myriad Asian shopfronts and restaurants off Canal Street. But inside this lower level Vietnamese eatery, you will find an extensive menu of delicious, traditional Vietnamese fare at bargain prices.

The pan-fried salt and pepper shrimp come atop a bed of salad, dressed with cilantro and a garlic vinegar sauce. The crispy squid is tossed lightly in garlic sauce and piled high. The tender beef cubes are marinated with Vietnamese spices and served with onions and tomatoes. And the chili-lemongrass chicken has a tangy kick. I highly recommend all of them.

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