April 22, 2014

Stinky Sweet

Ever since Twin Sista introduced me to Vietnamese Vermicelli Rice Noodles in Houston a few years ago, I've been hooked. The special kicker to the noodles is the sauce, nuoc cham: a cold, sweetened fish sauce that is poured over the dish.
I decided to combine the nuoc cham with a cabbage salad to create a less carb-heavy dish with Vietnamese flavors (I barely fit into my bridesmaid dress that needs to worn in less than two months so I'm going to opt for lighter meals these days).
And since I also like bánh mì sandwiches, I threw in some pickled daikon and carrots into the mix.

Then I decided to cross the flavors of nuoc cham into a bánh mì sandwich since I already had all the fixings to make one (I made this sandwich before I realized my dress barely fit. That baguette was sooo good).
Both were so delicious.

Feel free to use a protein of choice: tofu, pork, or chicken. I tried chicken and tofu. And if you aren't in the mood for a salad or sandwich, try it with rice or the original: vermicelli rice noodles.

It's a lot of steps to get each part made but believe me, it's worth it. Just be patient and enjoy!

Vietnamese Cabbage Salad adapted from Serious Eats and The Kitchn (serves 4)
Ingredients:
for marinade-
3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
2 1/2 tbs fish sauce
1 1/2 tbs sugar
a half a package of tofu or 4 chicken thighs

for daikon pickles-
1 small daikon, julienned or shredded
2 carrots, julienned or shredded
1/4 cup sugar (or less)
1/4 tsp  salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

for nuoc cham-
2 tbs sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbs fish sauce
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane
1 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek)

1 head of cabbage, chopped
small pot of boiling water

canola oil
chopped, fresh cilantro
chopped green onion
Directions:
1. For marinade: combine garlic, fish sauce and sugar together in a small bowl and mix. Then pour into a quart-sized ziploc bag. Add in tofu or chicken, seal bag, shake to coat and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
2. For daikon pickles: Combine all ingredients into a large bowl. Mix and then transfer to a jar or other container. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
3. For nuoc cham, combine all ingredients into a small bowl and mix. Set aside until ready to use.
4. Prepare cabbage. I used this helpful post on how to prepare cabbage for salad. Quarter the head of cabbage and then chop into 1/2 inch slices. Then place into colander and pour boiling water over cabbage. Quickly run cold water over the cabbage to stop it from cooking.
5. When protein is marinaded for an hour or so, heat skillet over medium heat and add in canola oil to coat pan or coat with non-stick cooking spray. Cook until browned on each side.
6. To assemble salad, place chopped cabbage in a large bowl and then top with drained daikon pickles, add cooked tofu/chicken and then sprinkle cilantro and green onion on top. Drizzle in 4 tbs of nuoc cham and toss. Enjoy!

Bánh Mì with Nuoc Cham
  • use the same marinade, daikon pickles and nuoc cham as the above recipe
  • additional ingredients: 1 baguette (sliced into individual portions), 1/4 cup mayonnaise, butter lettuce or arugula, chopped and seeded jalapeño, cilantro
  • combine mayonnaise with 1-2 tbs of nuoc cham. can add in additional sriracha, if desired.
  • to assemble: spread mayonnaise onto prepared bread (both top and bottom), then fill sandwich with cooked tofu/chicken, lettuce, drained daikon pickles, jalapeño and cilantro
  • enjoy! 

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