Around the World in Twelve Plates – Vietnam

Has it been a month already, since last we’ve chatted? It’s definitely been a month since I have published a post. It’s shameful, really. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating…I’ve been quite busy in that respect. There’s been a lot going on in Calgary, so many openings and fun events to go to, so much great food to eat. On the nights when I am at home, I keep a more relaxing pace and eat more simply. That usually means barbecuing some kind of protein (which I’m not organized enough to marinate) with sauce such as my Rhubarb BBQ Sauce, or mostly just plain with salt and pepper. Exciting, I know. Then we round out the meal with a salad or two.

Cooking for ATW12P forces me to think ahead, snap some photos, and do it up right! I pick a block of days when there’s nothing else going on to find or think of a recipe/meal I want to try, shop for all the ingredients, then spend the time to take photos. This month’s theme was my favourite so far! I love heading out for a bowl of noodles with charbroiled chicken (Bún thịt nướng) or a steaming hot bowl of Vietnamese soup (Pho). Strangely enough, all the restaurants here in Calgary serve their Bún thịt nướng hot even though the dish is commonly served cold in Vietnam. I learned this little factoid when we lived in Australia and the few Vietnamese places that I could find around Perth always served it cold. Traditional or not, I like mine served warm. 

Lemongrass marinade ingredients

Another dish that you’ll always see on the menu is Thit Heo Nuong Xa or Vietnamese Pork Chops. Since I always go for noodles or pho, I thought I would try to make the lemongrass based marinade and add this dish to my barbecue repertoire. The marinade is quite a bit of work, but I think it would be easy to make up a huge batch at once and freeze some for a later date. Also, since I’ve made this recipe, I’ve bought a Vitamix which I’m sure would make short work of all that lemongrass!

I think we’ve all cooked meats with a high sugar marinade, right? We’ve all been there. Everything is going great until BAM! It isn’t. The heat from the barbecue begins to caramelize (yum) then quickly begins to burn (not yum). The first thing I did was rinse all the marinade off so there was less sugar on the surface of the pork chop…then I just watched them like a hawk. They got spotty, but otherwise turned out okay and with no major flare ups.  I served them with some simple steamed rice and some Vietnamese Salad Rolls (Gỏi cuốn) with Spicy Peanut Sauce. This dinner is perfect for those hot summery nights when all you want to do is grill. The salad rolls take a bit more fore thought and a bit of know-how. Once you have all the fresh ingredients that you want to use as filling prepped (pickled carrots, lettuce, bean sprouts, shrimp, Thai basil (mint), spring onions, rice noodles), the only thing you need to worry about is soaking the rice paper wrappers for the right amount of time. I started out with boiling water which is unnecessary, you can just use warm water. Soak the wrappers only until they have softened then lay flat on a surface that has been slightly moistened, like a granite or marble counter top.  I tried to roll them on my wooden cutting board but they stuck to it like crazy.  Arrange your shrimp halves and basil leaves near the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper, then cover with lettuce (I used butter lettuce, it acts as a ‘shield’ or a second wrapper so the ingredients don’t poke through). Pile the other ingredients in a line over top of the lettuce. Begin wrapping by folding the edge nearest your body upward, then fold in the sides. Continue rolling in an upright manner. Serve with Hoisin Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce.

A huge part of the fun of ATW12P (besides finding out what the next country will be) is reading the posts from the other participating bloggers. Will they make the other recipes that I was looking over…will they go for a full meal or keep it to one simple and tasty dish? To read the other blogger’s ATW12P Vietnamese posts, simple click on one of the links below:

Korena’s Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls at Korena in the Kitchen

Gabby at The Food Girl in Town

Nicoletta and Loreto’s Crispy Shrimp and Bean Sprout Vietnamese Pancake at Sugar Love Spices

Lemongrass Chili Grilled Pork Chops

A tasty Vietnamese-inspired Pork Chop recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 shallot; finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic; finely minced
  • 1 red Thai chili pepper; de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 4 bone-in pork chops

Method

  1. Cut off the top half of the lemongrass and save for use at a later date. Slice the bottom in half lengthwise, then peel away layers that seem woody keeping the tender inner layers. Finely mince the tender lemongrass portions (you should have at least ¼ cup of minced lemongrass).
  2. Combine all ingredients together in a large Ziploc bag or glass bowl. Add pork chops and seal, releasing as much air as you can from the bag.
  3. Marinate pork chops in refrigerator at least overnight and up to 2 days.
  4. Before grilling remove pork chops from the refrigerator and rinse off marinade. Grill on a pre-heated grill until the meat reaches 160 °F (71°C). Serve with rice.

Shrimp Salad Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 package rice paper round rolls.
  • 6-8 large shrimp; cooked and split in half
  • 6-8 fresh Thai basil (mint) leaves
  • 6 butter lettuce leaves
  • ½ package vermicelli noodles; cooked to package direction and drained
  • 1 cup fresh sprouts
  • Spring onions
  • 4 carrots or other root vegetable such as daikon (these taste best when pickled in advance)

Method

  1. For the carrots, peel them then cut into matchsticks.  Place in a small bowl or jar with 2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons white sugar, ¼ cup rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon lime juice, ¾ cup boiling water. Allow salt and sugar to dissolve. Let carrots pickle for at least an hour, preferably overnight and up to one week.
  2. Prep all your ingredients BEFORE you start assembling your salad rolls.
  3. To assemble salad rolls begin by filling a shallow tray with warm water. Carefully dip one rice paper round in the water until it is just softened. Focus on keeping the rice paper from crumpling or tearing and lay on a slightly moistened counter top or smooth surface.
  4. Place shrimp halves and basil in a pattern on the lower half of the rice paper, then lay a lettuce leaf over top. Ensure there is enough rice paper peeking out so that you can fold it over the fresh fillings.
  5. Place a small amount of vermicelli noodles, sprouts, pickled carrots and a spring onion over top the lettuce leaf.
  6. Curl the bottom of the rice paper round over the lettuce leaf, tuck the sides over and roll in an upward direction until the entire rice paper round has been rolled over the fillings.
  7. Place on a platter and repeat until the rest are rolled. If not eating immediately, cover tightly with cling wrap before refrigeration.
  8. Serve with Hoisin Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce.

Hoisin Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Add chili sauce (or chili flakes) to taste.

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This entry was posted by dishnthekitchen.

15 thoughts on “Around the World in Twelve Plates – Vietnam

  1. Pingback: Vietnamese-Style Crispy Pancake with Shrimp and Bean Sprouts - SugarLoveSpices

  2. Pingback: Around the World in 12 Plates: Vietnam | The Food Girl in Town

  3. I don’t know which of these recipes sounds better! I adore Vietnamese food, and while I have all the pantry staples on hand to make it, I don’t do it often enough. Perhaps because there’s a great (and cheap) restaurant that always calls to me instead…. Regardless, I love what you’ve done here! I rarely buy pork chops, but I’ve always loved how pork works with Vietnamese ingredients, so I think I’m going to have to keep this one in mind the next time I do buy some local heirloom pork. Gotta treat that cut of meat right! 😀

    • That’s so very true. It is easier to go to a great Vietnamese restaurant instead of running all over trying to find the freshest bean sprouts, etc. I always have such a difficult time with the quality here. The thing is, once you have all the ingredients, the dishes really are a snap to put together. I’m pretty excited because we just had a really good pork-centric butcher open up near us so I can get great humanely treated pork on a regular basis now!

  4. I don’t have much experience with Vietnamese food but your photos and recipes make me want to give it a try! Thanks for sharing, and if it makes you feel any better Ive only been bloggingt once a month lately. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

    • It does for sure…I always find it more difficult in summer, which sucks because I am wasting all that gorgeous light!
      Once you have all the right ingredients assembled, the recipes are pretty straight forward and tasty!

  5. Ok, these pork chops will be happening very soon! That marinade looks tasty as hell! The first time I made fresh rolls, I used my wooden cutting board and had the same issue as you – stuck like crazy. You live and you learn, right?

  6. Oh my, Bernice, what a wonderful display of food you have here! I would devour the shrimp salad rolls while Loreto would attack the pork chops. You made us both happy 🙂 . The pictures are gorgeous, but I bet the flavors are even better. We are really enjoying this monthly challenge 🙂 .

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