Have you been watching Luke Nguyen's Vietnam Season 2? I have. Loving it sick to be quite honest. Vietnam fascinates me and although I've never been, I feel like I love the place already.
Perhaps I should hop on a plane and just live in Vietnam for a while? Seems like the sort of place you would be able to do that and end up truly in love. The markets with fresh food are amazing, and the street food always looks like something worth dying (or at least running across several lanes of Viet traffic and defying death) for.
Whilst I'm holidaying in The Sticks, it's unfortunate that I have to announce that we do not have any Vietnamese dining options within about 5 hours of here. Sigh.. However, with Luke on the Teevee and Dad's new Luke book offering some tasty options, I've been trying to create my own little slice of Vietnam.
The two dishes I have cooked come from Indochine, Luke's new book which is 'Finding France in Vietnam'. - The recipes have a little bit of a French twist (said in French accent to accentuate just how French.)
The Banh Mi looked absolutely scrummy and are a personal fave, so they were the first dish. Apologies for my grammar- my comp does not seem to have Viet characters available to make it legit..
The Banh Mi were absolutely a hit- something a little bit different to serve at a BBQ or similar if you're trying to be a little bit more fancy that the usual snags. The beef and watercress salad was really fresh and fab- loved the flavours from vinaigrette and the nuoc mam cham (dipping fish sauce). Unfortunately in The Sticks, we only had access to some discounted crappy, watercress - but hopefully yours is much better.
Banh Mi Thit Nuong- Chargrilled Pork Skewers in Vietnamese Baguette
500 g pork neck
6 Spring onions
4 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
6 Vietnamese baguettes, split
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into batons
2 large handfuls of coriander sprigs
sriracha hot chilli sauce to serve
hoisin sauce to serve
Thinly slice the pork neck across the grain into 3 mm thick slices, then set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the spring onion into a paste.
Combine the fish sauce, honey, sugar, and pepper in a large mixing bowl, stirring to disolve the sugar. Add the pork, spring onion paste, and garlic. Toss to coat the pork in the marinade and then marinate for 2 hours, or overnight for a better result.
Soak 12 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent them burning. Thread the pork onto the skewers. Heat a barbecue grill or chargrill pan to medium-high heat and brush with some oil. Add the skewers in two batches and chargrill for 2 minutes on each side, or until browned and cook through.
Place two pork skewers into a baguette, pull out the bamboo skewers, then add some cucumber, coriander, chilli sauce and hoisin sauce to taste. Repeat with the remaining pork skewers.
Now as you may or may not know- my computer and images have been destroyed- eek- so the photos are even crappier than usual (is that even possible I hear you ask!) - so I've also provided a shot from the book so that you know what you are aspiring to.
And of course- the beautiful version from the book ...
Bo Xao Lach Soong- Warm Beef and Watercress Salad
Serves 4-6 as part of a shared meal
1 bunch of watercress, picked
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300 g beef sirloin, trimmed and thinly sliced
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons dipping fish sauce (nuoc mam cham) *will provide recipe below
1 bird's eye chilli, sliced
2 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon of garlic oil ** will pop this recipe below too
2 teaspoons of sugar
To make the vinaigrette dressing, place all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Put the watercress, onion and tomato in a mixing bowl, and dress the salad wih the vinaigrette. Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium heat, then add the oil and cook the garlic until fragrant. Increase the heat to high, then add the beef in two batches and stirfry for 1-2 minutes until browned. Season with the salt and pepper.
Add the beef to the salad bowl, then dress with the dipping fish sauce. Mix well, then transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the chilli.
Ok so my version looks hideous comparatively, but it was delish all the same.
And again, beautiful version from the book:
* Nuoc Mam Cham- Dipping fish sauce
Makes about 250 ml
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bird's eye chilli, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of lime juice
Combine 125 ml of water, the fish sauce, rice vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir well and cook until just before boiling point is reached, then remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
To serve, add the garlic and chilli, then stir in the lime juice. Store, tightly served in a jar in the fridge, for up to 5 days.
** Garlic oil
Makes 250 ml garlic oil and 2 tablespoons of fried garlic
250 ml vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Pour the oil into a wok and heat to 180 degrees, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Add the garlic to the oil and fry for 45-60 seconds, or until the garlic is golden, then strain through a metal sieve and place on kitchen paper to dry. Be careful not to overcook the farlic in the oil, as it continues to cook once it is removed from the wok. Reserve the garlic oil. Store the fried garlic in an airtight container for up to 4 days. The garlic oil will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.