Synopses & Reviews
Pleasures of the Vietnamese TableGrilled LemonGrass Shirmp(tom nuong xa)
Serves 4 as an Appetizer
A land of vibrant cultures and vivid contrasts, Vietnam is also home to some of the most delicious and intriguing food in the world. Chef and restaurateur Mai Pham brings to life this diverse and exciting cusine.Ingredients1/4 cup minced lemongrass
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground chili paste
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound medium raw shrimp peeled and deveined
4 (10-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and drained.
What can be more enticing than the aroma of sweet, plump, shrimp with lemongrass on the grill? It's a fragrance I often encounter at the market stalls in Vietnam, and it's always hard to walk by without surrendering to a plateful. Fortunately, this delicious dish is easily prepared at home and gets rave reviews from everyone, including children. Just make sure that the shrimp is of high quality and the lemongrass is really fresh. Serve this as an appetizer or as a main dish with the shrimp as the topping for Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs.Instructions: Combine the lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, salt, sugar, and oil in a bowl. Add the shrimp and marinate for 15 minutes. Thread the shrimp on the skewers and set them aside.Start a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to moderate heat. Just before serving, grill the shrimp, turning the skewers, until just done, about 2 or 3 minutes total, depending on the size. If you don't have a grill, trim the skewers and cook in a pan with a little oil on thestovetop. Beef Wrapped in Pepper Leaves
(bo nuong la lot)
"La lot (pepper leaf) is used extensively in Vitetnam, as an aromatic leaf in stir-fries and soups and as a wrapper. A member of the wild betel family, it has shiny, dark green heart-shaped leaves. In the United States, these leaves have been showing up more frequently at Asian markets. If you can't find them, substitute red perilla or "shiso or grape leaves.
This dish is part of "bo bay mon (Beef in Seven Ways), a popular special meal, featuring multiple beef courses. To enjoy this dish, serve it as an appetizer or as a topping for Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs.
These rolls are typically grilled over hot coals. However, I prefer to cook them in a pan because the "la lot leaves available in the United States are too mature and burn more easily when cooked on a grill.Ingredients: 4 tablespoons vegetable oilHeat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and onion and stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the lemongrass, peanuts, turmeric, sugar, fish sauce, salt and ground beef. Mix with a fork until well blended and sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside for 30 minutes.To makethe rolls, place 1 heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center of a pepper leaf. Using your fingers, shape the meat into a cylinder about 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Wrap the leaf around the meat but leave the sides open. (If necessary, use 2 leaves.) When done, place the roll seam side down. Make the remaining rolls in the same way.Thread 5 rolls onto each bamboo skewer, positioning the rolls so they touch one another at the seams. Set aside until ready to cook.Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick frying pan over low heat. (Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate the skewers. If not, shorten the skewers.) Add the beef rolls and cook until the meat is done, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Do not overcrowd the pan. Reduce the heat as necessary to keep the leaves from charring.Transfer the skewers to a platter. Remove the skewers and serve the rolls with Table Salad and Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 yellow onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
3 tablespoons chopped Roasted Peanuts
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound coarsely ground beef
30 large "la lot (pepper leaves) or red perilla or grape leaves
4 (6- or 8-inch) bamboo skewers
Table Salad for serving
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce for serving
A land of vibrant cultures and vivid contrasts, Vietnam is also home to some of the most delicious and intriguing food in the world. While its cooking traditions have been influenced by those of China, France, and even India, Vietnam has created a cuisine with a spirit and a flavor all its own.
Chef and restaurateur Mai Pham brings to life this diverse and exciting cooking in Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table. Born and raised in Saigon before emigrating to the United States, Mai has often returned to her native land to learn the secrets of authentic Vietnamese cooking, from family, friends, home cooks, street vendors, and master chefs. Traveling from region to region, she has gathered the simple, classic recipes that define Vietnamese food today: Green Mango Salad with Grilled Beef, Stir-Fried Chicken with Lemongrass and Chilies, Caramelized Garlic Shrimp, and especially pho, the country's beloved beef-and-noodle soup. With more than 100 recipes in all, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table offers home cooks the chance to create and savor the traditional flavors of Vietnam in their own kitchen.
Filled with enchanting stories and stirring black-and-white photos of life in Vietnam, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table provides a captivating taste of an enduring culture and its irresistible cuisine.
From Vietnamese markets, noodle shops, and home kitchens, chef and restaurateur Mai Pham assembles delicious recipes, all capturing the fresh, exotic flavors of this vibrant land. Photos throughout.
About the Author
Mai Pham was born in Vietnam and raised in both Vietnam and Thailand. Now chef and owner of the acclaimed Lemon Grass Restaurant in Sacramento, California, Mai is a food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, and a regular guest chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. She is also an owner of the popular La Bou Bakery and Cafe group in Northern California. Her first book, The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking, was published in 1996.