Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grilled Spot Prawns with Sea Bean Carrot Salad, Fresh Herbs and Nuoc Cham

This is a classic interactive Vietnamese meal with few separate fresh and flavorful components that make a delicious whole. Using our northwest local bounty- spot prawns and seabeans- makes it even better. Though not found in Vietnam, sea beans aren’t out of place with Vietnamese foods’ briny undercurrents.

Regular prawns can be used in place of spot prawns but spots are worth seeking out at local fish markets; I think they are superior to lobster. The spot prawn season goes through the summer.

Eat components together in a rice paper leaf or toss over chilled rice noodles. Serves 4- 6 people.

4-5 scallions, green part only, sliced
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ pound sea beans
½ pound carrots, julienne
½ cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 pounds prawns, peeled
Fresh herbs- such as basil(any type), shiso, dill, mint, cilantro, Vietnamese cilantro(rau ram), fennel, lemon balm
Nuoc cham- recipe follows
Cooked rice vermicelli noodles or dried rice paper wrappers
½ cup crushed peanuts

Make scallion oil- In a small pan heat oil over medium, add scallions a pinch of salt and turn down to low, cook for a few minutes, remove from heat and let cool.

Sea bean carrot salad- blanch sea beans in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, remove and shock in ice water bath; drain and toss with carrots and rice vinegar. Chill until serving.

Toss prawns in a little scallion oil and salt, skewer and grill. After removing from grill pour over the rest of the scallion oil.

Serve all components together for guests to assemble themselves. Tip for using dried rice paper wraps- dip dried paper in warm water for a moment to get wet, set on plate, top with fillings. By the time filling is added rice paper should be pliable enough to roll. Roll into cylinder and dip in sauce to eat. The moisture in sauce should be enough to finish softening the wrapper with out the insides breaking through.

Nuoc Cham

This is the all purpose Vietnamese sauce. Use as a table condiment, salad dressing or marinade. This version is tangy, salty and sweet though some prefer it sweeter, more sour or saltier - adjust to your desire.

¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup fish sauce- nuoc mam
1/3 cup sugar
¾ cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 chilis, minced, optional

Mix all ingredients together until sugar dissolves.

1 comment:

  1. It has been a tough morel year. I heard CA was decent for burn morels earlier. Good reminder about elderberry.