I was simply blown away by the food in Vietnam. The freshness of everything was amazing. I spent 5 weeks backpacking through Vietnamin 2006 and I must say its one of the best experiences of my life thus far. I must say I was reluctant to experiment to begin with, choosing to eat a vegetarian diet of stir fries and tofu for most meals. But once I saw what was on offer, I was quickly converted to the Vietnamese cuisine. Hands down you cannot get spring rolls as good as you get them in Vietnam. We tried to experiment as much as we could, though we didn’t go down the road of eating dog as the more adventurous travellers did. But wild boar and stir fry frog, and fresh water prawns were some of the highlights, and Alan did drink the potent snake wine. All in all Vietnam was both a culinary adventure and education!! You can taste the freshness of the food in every bite. They use a lot of herbs in their cooking, more so that Chinese and Thai. It’s all about the freshest of ingredients, combined with fresh herbs and the bold salty flavour of fish sauce that gives the Vietnamese cuisine that wow factor. Below is a simply recipe for a Vietnamese Salad. It’s low in fat, tasty and filling, making it an ideal packed lunch or starter to a dinner party.
Serves 2 (well)
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 carrot , peeled and then peeled into strips using the vegetable peeler
- ¼ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into half moons
- ½ red pepper, thinly sliced
- Chinese leaf, finely shredded (or spinach/wild rocket)
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 1 tbsp chopped basil
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander
- 1 portion rice noodles
- Optional (handful chopped peanuts)
- (2 tbsp of beanspouts, though until the E-coli scare is lifted, omit them)
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 grated garlic clove
- ½ an onion, finely diced
- ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped.
- Firstly, pour boiled water from a kettle over the noodles and soak for 7-8 minutes. The drain and rinse in cold water. And set aside.
- Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and put into a pan of cold water, put on a medium heat, bring the liquid up to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer the chicken in the water for 6 or 7 minutes. This really makes the chicken less stringy and more succulent.
- Combine all the dressing ingredients well and set aside.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the water and allow to cool.
- Combine the remaining ingredients and add the chicken and the noodles. Pour in the dressing and toss the salad well to combine.
- For an optional extra, for a crunch, sprinkle over so ready salted peanuts that have been lighted chopped.