Monday, February 1, 2010

A Taste of Vietnam with a Touch of Thai

If you are new to Vietnamese/Thai food, I suggest that you start with the soup. It makes a gorgeous simple dinner with the addition of a salad. And it takes no time at all to fix. The Shrimp and Black Rice Salad is also a great dinner to which you can add a simple salad. But there is a little more fuss to it. The Cauliflower with Garlic and Pepper can be a vegetable side dish with any dinner, Vietnamese or not. We had it with cracked crab and it was delicious.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

I made this for my daughter-in-law when she was healing from surgery. I think that it hastened her recovery.

1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
6 quarter-sized slices fresh ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, sliced thinly
7 ounces tofu, sliced, optional
1-3 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons Thai chili paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopper fresh cilantro

1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the coconut milk, broth, ginger and lemongrass. Bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Add the chicken, optional tofu, mushrooms, lime juice, and fish sauce, salt, sugar and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked. Check for salt, adding if necessary. Remove the lemongrass pieces as best you can.
3. Pour into bowls and garnish with basil and cilantro.

You can make a vegetarian version by substituting 7-14 ounces of tofu for the chicken, vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and soy sauce for the fish sauce.

4 servings
Adapted from Jiranooch Shapiro’s version in December 2008 Sunset Magazine

Shrimp and Black Rice Salad with Vietnamese Vinaigrette
I was eating some leftovers of this dish on a plane ride from SFO to NYC. A friend, who was seated across the aisle from me, leaned over and said “Watch out. There are lots of people on this plane who would do anything for a bite of your lunch.” I think that included my friend.

For the Vietnamese dipping sauce/vinaigrette:
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 red or green jalapeno or serano fresh pepper, seeded and minced
1½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoon lime juice (about 1 lime)
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the salad:
1 cup black rice
Note: The brand I get at the supermarket is Lotus Foods A World of Rice Forbidden Rice: The Emperor’s Exclusive Grain Imported from China
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled
Juice of ½ lemon

1. To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients together.
2. Cook the rice by bringing 1 2/3 cup water to a boil, add the rice, and cook for 40-45 minutes. You can also follow the instructions on the package.
3. Poach the peeled shrimp in simmering water to which you have added the juice of ½ lemon.
4. Let both the rice and the shrimp cool somewhat. Place the rice is a shallow serving bowl. Stir some of the sauce into the rice. Arrange the shrimp on top and spoon more sauce onto them. Serve at the table with additional sauce in a bowl on the side.

2-3 dinner servings
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer

Cauliflower with Garlic and Pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 tablespoons fish sauce
6-8 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tablespoons coarsely shopped fresh cilantro, dill or mint

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower to the pan and cook for 1 minute, toss well, exposing all sides to the hot pan. Once the cauliflower is nicely browned, add the garlic and stir well to combine.
2. Add the fish sauce, water, sugar, pepper, and green onions to the pan. Cook, tossing often until the cauliflower is tender, but not mushy, about 5 or more minutes.
3. Just before serving, stir in the fresh herbs, transfer to a shallow serving bowl and serve hot or warm.

4 servings
Adapted from Nancie McDermott’s Quick and Easy Vietnamese


Anonymous said...

The soup (Tom kha ghai in Thailand) is considered medicinal and is served to people with head-colds. (I make a version that's almost identical. It's good with seafood, too.)

Looking forward to trying the shrimp w/ black rice. I'd bet it's even better with grilled shrimp!

-Bill C.

Tinky said...

All the new recipes are fascinating, and the photos are gorgeous. For some reason I'm most struck by the cauliflower just because I'm always looking for new ways to use it. Thanks.......

Anonymous said...

The shrimp w/ black rice is really good! Next time, though, I'll do more garnishing, with either cilantro or scallion. I roasted the shrimp rather than poach. Just a personal prejudice...

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine,
I LOVE Tom Kha Ghai, and sort of want to try this recipe, but trying to eat less fat...wonder how much of a loss it is to use "light" Coconut milk? Are some brands better than others, or do you think it's best (like with so many things) to just cook with the real thing and eat less of it!?