Vietnamese meat recipes in this section encompass pork, beef, chicken and seafood – accompanied with rice or noodle dishes, plus soup recipes.
PREPARATIONS FOR ASSEMBLING
ACCOMPANIMENTS FOR SERVING
Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Cut a round rice paper sheet into quarters. Place the cut rice paper on a flat surface. With a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg over the entire surface of each of the pieces. Before filling, wait for the egg mixture to take effect, softening the wrappers; this takes about 2 minutes. When you become adept at this, you can work on several wrappers at a time.
When the wrapper looks soft and transparent, place about 1 teaspoon of filling near the curved side, in the shape of a rectangle. Fold the sides over to enclose the filling and continue to roll.
After filling all the wrappers, pour the oil into a large frying pan, put the spring rolls into the cold oil, turn the heat to moderate, and fry for 20 to 30 minutes, until a lovely golden brown. (This is Bach’s special method of keeping spring rolls crisp).
To serve the spring rolls, proceed as follows:
Arrange the ingredients for the vegetable platter (lettuce, mint leaves, coriander, and the cucumber slices) according to the directions preceding. Have ready the carrot salad and a bowl of nuoc cham. Each person has a bowl into which he places a bit of lettuce, 2 or 3 mint leaves, some coriander, and 2 cucumber slices. Each person then adds 1 or 2 spring rolls to his bowl, sprinkles with the nuoc cham, and eats the spring rolls and vegetables together, using chopsticks or a fork.
Additional carrot salad may be added to taste.
Another very popular serving method calls for placing the vegetables on a lettuce leaf, adding the spring roll, and rolling it into a cylinder. Holding the cylinder with his fingers, each diner then dips it into his own small bowl of nuoc cham.
NOTE: We have found that frying the spring rolls in peanut oil keeps them crisper than frying in any other oil.
From “The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam”, Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman, Barron’s, 1979.
Prepare the dipping sauce; set aside.
FOR FILLING: Place the noodles in a bowl, and add boiling water to cover. Let stand for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and set aside.
Place the pork in a saucepan, add water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until opaque throughout, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut across the grain into very thin slices about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Set aside.
Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add salt to taste and the shrimp. Boil until they curl slightly and are opaque throughout, 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise, pat dry and set aside.
FOR RICE PAPERS: Dampen several clean kitchen towels with water. Fill a pie plate with cold water. Spread a damp towel on a flat work surface. Dip 1 rice paper round at a time into the water and spread it flat on the towel. Continue dipping and laying the rice papers in a single layer. When you run out of room, lay a damp towel on top of the rounds and continue, always alternating a layer of rice papers with a damp towel. Let the rice papers stand until pliable, about 1 minute or longer.
TO ASSEMBLE: Place 1 pliable rice paper round on the work surface and position a lettuce leaf on the lower third of it, tearing the leaf as needed to make it fit and leaving uncovered a 1-inch border on the right and left edges. Take a small amount (about one-twelfth) of the rice stick noodles and spread in a line across the width of the leaf. Arrange one-twelfth each of the pork slices, carrot and cucumber, and 1 sprig of mint on the noodles. Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper over to cover the ingredients, then roll up tightly one complete turn. Fold in the left and right edges to enclose the filling. Across the top length of the roll, place 1 sprig of cilantro and 2 pieces of shrimp, end to end and cut side down. Finish rolling up the rice paper to contain the shrimp and form a taut spring roll. Set seam-side down on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel. Make the remaining rolls in the same way. The rolls may be made several hours in advance; cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Divide the sauce among individual dipping saucers and then divide the peanuts evenly among the saucers. Serve the rolls with the sauce.
Although this dish can be baked in an oven, I strongly suggest you grill it over charcoal, for the result is far superior. The dish may be prepared over 2 consecutive days. On day one, prepare the dipping sauce and condiments.
The Vegetable Platter and shrimp paste can be assembled the following day. Fresh sugar cane may be obtained at Caribbean markets; canned sugar cane is available at Asian grocery stores. Prepare the roasted rice powder, scallion oil, crisp-fried shallots and roasted peanuts. Set aside. Shell and devein the shrimp. Sprinkle the salt over the shrimp and let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly with cold water. Drain and squeeze between your hands to remove excess water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. Coarsely chop the shrimp.
Boil the pork fat for 10 minutes. Drain and finely dice. In a food processor, combine the shrimp, garlic, shallots and sugar. Process until the shrimp paste pulls away from the sides of the container, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides. The paste should be very fine and sticky. Add the pork fat, roasted rice powder, fish sauce and black pepper to taste to the processor. Pulse briefly, only enough to blend all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, prepare the Peanut Sauce and Vegetable Platter. Cover the rice papers with a damp towel and a sheet of plastic wrap; keep at room temperature until needed.
Peel the fresh sugar cane; cut crosswise into 4-inch sections. Split each section lengthwise into quarters. (if using canned sugar cane, split each section lengthwise in half only, then thread 2 pieces lengthwise onto a skewer.) Pour about 1/4 cup of oil into a small bowl. Oil your fingers. Pick up and mold about 2 tablespoons of the shrimp paste around and halfway down a piece of fresh sugar cane. Leave about 1 1/2 inches of the sugar cane exposed to serve as a handle. (If using canned sugar cane, there is no need to leave a handle. The skewers will serve as handles.) Press firmly so that the paste adheres to the cane. Proceed until you have used all the shrimp paste.
Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat the oven to broil. Meanwhile, steam the noodles, then garnish with the scallion oil, crisp-fried shallots and ground roasted peanuts. Keep warm. Pour the peanut sauce into individual bowls and place the Vegetable Platter and rice papers on the table. Grill the shrimp paste on the sugar cane over medium coals, turning frequently. Or Broil, on a baking sheet lined with foil, under the broiler, about 6 inches from the heat, for 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Transfer to a warm platter.
To serve, each diner dips a rice paper round in a bowl of warm water to make it pliable, then places the paper on a dinner plate. Different ingredients from the Vegetable Platter, some noodles and a piece of the shrimp paste, which has been removed from the sugar cane, are added. The rice paper is then roiled up to form a neat package. The roll is dipped in the Peanut Sauce and eaten out of hand. The remaining sugar cane may be chewed.
Note: If both types of sugar cane are unavailable, use skewers. Shape the shrimp paste into meatballs and thread 3 or 4 on each skewer. Yield: 4 to 6 servings. From “The Foods of Vietnam” by Nicole Rauthie
This is a real Vietnamese curry. Although adapted from the Indian, which is always made with white potatoes, the Vietnamese version has the option of using white or sweet potatoes, the latter being greatly favored by the Vietnamese. The Indian in- fluence is greatest in the South, where curried dishes are more popular than elsewhere in Vietnam.
This is usually served with noodles as a party dish. When it is part of a family meal, it is eaten with rice. Bach serves this to her children for breakfast, when it is served with French bread–another influence on the cuisine of Vietnam.
If you are using fresh lemon grass, simply remove the outer leaves and upper two-thirds of the stalks, then cut the remainder into 2-inch lengths. If you are, using, it must be soaked in warm water for 2 hours, then drained and chopped fine.
Combine the curry powder, black pepper, sugar, add salt and marinate the chicken in the mixture for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil and fry the potatoes over high heat until brown. (It is not necessary to completely cook potatoes at this point, only to brown them.) When well browned, remove from the pan and set aside until ready to cook the curry. Pour off most of the oil from the pan, leaving 2 tablespoons for cooking the chicken.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high flame. Fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add the bay leaves, onion, and lemon grass; stir briefly and add the marinated chicken, stirring long enough to sear the meat slightly. Add the 2 cups of water and carrot, then cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes; uncover and stir, then cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover and add the prefried potatoes, the coconut milk, and the milk. Cover again and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve with rice, Rice Sticks, or Japanese Alimentary Paste Noodles.
From “The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam“, Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerma
This aromatic barbecued game hen can be easily served West- ern style with rice, cole slaw or a green salad. [But it would be better with Thai cucumber salad or Vietnamese carrot salad. Mmmm… S.C.]
Halve the hens through the breast. Flatten with the palm of your hand.
In a mortar or food processor, pound or mince garlic, shallots and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture over hens; marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight in refrigerator.
Set hens, skin-side down, on grill and barbecue over medium coals for 15 minutes. Turn and barbecue 15 minutes longer or until they are thoroughly cooked. Serve with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.
(Com Chien Thap Cam)
Day before – prepare rice. Bring 6 quarts of unsalted water to a boil over high heat in a large, heavy pot. Stirring constantly, slowly pour in the rice in a thin stream. Reduce the heat to moderate and let the rice boil uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until the grains are somewhat tender but are still slightly firm to the bite. Drain the rice in a large sieve, fluffing it with a fork. Transfer rice to a large bowl and set it aside to cool to room temperature. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate overnight or for at least 12 hours.
Day of – Place MUSHROOMS in a small bowl containing 1 1/2 cups hot water. Soak for at least 30 minutes until soft. Remove mushrooms. Discard water. Rinse mushrooms of any remaining grit and cut off and discard any stems. Slice each cap crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. – Cut ONION in half lengthwise and slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. – Wash and trim SCALLIONS, keeping most of the green tops. Cut scallions into 1-inch pieces and slice pieces lengthwise into 1/4-inch side strips. – Shell the SHRIMP. Devein. Chop into 1/4 inch bits and set aside. – Cut SAUSAGE into 1-1/8 inch slices. Fry the sausages in a wok over moderate heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, or until the slices are delicately browned on both sides and the edges are crisp. Drain on absorbent paper. – Heat 1/4 cup oil in wok. Drop in the ONIONS and stirring constantly, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are soft. Regulate heat to prevent browning. – Add MUSHROOMS, then the chilled rice and stirring constantly with a fork, cook for about 3 minutes, or until the rice ie heated through. – Stir in the FISH SAUCE. – Push the rice to the edge of the wok to make a well in the center. Pour in the remaining oil and drop the SHRIMP into it. Without stirring rice, cook the shrimp, for about 2 minutes, turning as they become firm and pink. – Mix the shrimp into the rice and still stirring, cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Do not let the rice brown. Stir in the CRAB meat and the SAUSAGE and cook for 2 minutes. Break EGGS, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. – Mix in the SCALLIONS and taste for seasoning; add salt or more fish sauce if rice seems too bland. Serve the fried rice mounded on a large heated platter or bowl.
Here’s a Vietnamese version of beef “jerky” made with red chilies and honey or sugar that sounds like it’s off in the direction of your Chinese Dried Fried Beef recipe.
This Vietnamese-style “beef Jerky” is delicious served with drinks. The Vietnamese enjoy eating it as a snack with glutinous rice. It is also an ingredient in Green Papaya Salad.
Cut the beef across the grain onto very thin 3 by 3 inch slices. If you are using fresh lemon grass, discard the outer leaves and upper half of the stalk. Cut into thin slices and finely chop. If you are using dried lemon grass, soak in warm water for 1 hour. Drain and finely chop.
Combine the chiles and sugar in a mortar and pestle and pound to a fine paste. Add the chopped lemon grass, fish sauce and soy sauce and stir to blend. (If using a blender, combine all of these and blend to a very fine paste.) Spread the paste over the beef pieces to coat both sides. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
Spread out each slice of marinated beef on a large, flat wire rack or baking sheet. Let stand in the sun until both sides are completely dried, about 12 hours. (You can also place a rack on a jelly roll pan and let the beef dry in the refrigerator for 2 days.)
Grill the beef over a medium charcoal fire or transfer the rack from the refrigerator to the middle of a preheated 400F oven and bake until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
Serve with glutinous rice.
NOTE: After cooking, the meat may be kept for up to 1 week in a covered jar at room temperature.
Makes 4 servings.
From “The Foods of Vietnam” by Nicole Rauthier.
Some Asian markets now carry bags of pak chee farang leaves. If you can’t get them, omit, or add a little more cilantro. In some markets they are labled with their Vietnamese name, ngo gal. Place water in 3-quart saucepan. Add lemon grass, line leaves and shallot and bring to boil. Add chiles and shrimp. Cook 2 minutes. Add straw mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce and salt. Add tomato and cook just until heated, not soft. Turn unstrained soup into serving bowl. (Do not eat lemon grass and lime leaves.) Top with pak chee farang and cilantro leaves.
Each serving contains about: 91 calories; 892 milligrams sodium; 86 milligrams cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 0.77 grams fiber.
My favorite Vietnamese restaurant, “Little Saigon”, serves Bun Bo Hue as a weekend special, starting on Thursday night. Since I can’t move in for the weekend, it is natural that I learn to prepare to make this delicious dish for myself. Now you, too, can enjoy it, without going far from your kitchen!
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