A couple of days ago, John and I attended a Vietnamese cooking class. We purposely chose some simple recipes that would be easy to make at home. Any of these would be a quick, easy dinner. Cook away —
Fresh Spring Roll
Meat of your choice (prawn, port, chicken, beef, etc.)
5 pieces thin, hard rice paper
1 cucumber grated in long strips
1/2 carrot grated in long strips
2 tablespoons of fresh mint
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Spring onions for garnish
Mix cucumber, carrot, salt, sugar, and vinegar, then place in a cloth (cotton, such as a tea towel) and squeeze well to drain all excess juice. Soften rice paper in cold water for one second and place on plate. Add small bunch of the cucumber/carrot mixture at one end of the rice paper, roll over, then fold in the sides. Add two pieces of the spring onion so they look like a tail, then roll once again. Add meat, then finish rolling. Repeat for as many spring rolls as you want.
Dipping sauce: 1 crushed fresh chili, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce. Combine ingredients and mix well.
Chili and lemon grass with prawn, chicken, or fish (serves four)
400 grams of prawns, peeled (or other meat of your choice)
2 stems lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 stem of lemongrass lightly crushed for flavor visual appeal
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
To make the sauce, blend lemongrass and garlic in food processor. Place in bowl and add oyster sauce and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and mix (tip: if you fry this mixture for five minutes you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks). Marinate the meat of your choice in the vegetable stock, sugar, sesame oil, and chunky lemongrass for a minimum of 30 minutes, but overnight is even better. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to medium heat. Add the marinated meat and cook for one minute. Then add lemongrass paste, chili paste, and water, and cook for two more minutes. Serve with steamed rice.
Sorry, my photos of this didn’t turn out, but you don’t need them.
Aubergine (Eggplant) in Clay Pot (serves four)
200 grams Aubergine (eggplant), peeled
1/2 liter of vegetable oil (for deep frying; you can use a wok)
1/2 liter of boiling water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon pepper
50 grams spring onion, finely chopped
Cut aubergine into 3 inch sticks (about 1-2 cm in width — see pictures) and fry in hot oil until lightly browned. Drain oil. Place aubergine back into frying pan and add boiling water. Boil for ten seconds. Drain water (this makes the aubergine less oily and bitter). Marinate the aubergine in a clay pot with paprika, spring onion, pepper, sugar, and soy sauce for a minimum of thirty minutes. Cook in clay pot on stove for five minutes, stirring once when it starts to bubble. Serve with rice. Teacher’s orders — if you don’t have a clay pot, get one.