'The Lover' Vietnamese Recipes & Photos

by Celeste Heiter, Mar 29, 2006 | Destinations: Vietnam / Ho Chi Minh City


This suite of Vietnamese-inspired dishes is sure to be the perfect aphrodisiac. The menu includes a batch of crisp pickled vegetables, Spicy Shrimp Skewers, Rice Paper Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce, a Lime-Marinated Fish & Mango Salad, Seafood Mousse on Lemongrass Skewers, Braised Ginger Duck with Imperial Rice, and Coconut-Banana Bread Pudding.


Vietnamese Pickles


1 cucumber
2 carrots
1 6" piece daikon radish
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar


Wash and trim all vegetables. Cut into bite-sized chunks and place in a large non-metal bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix thoroughly. Allow to stand for 30 minutes to pickle. Rinse thoroughly.


Transfer pickled vegetables to a large jar with a tight fitting lid. Combine rice vinegar and sugar. Pour over vegetables, cover the jar and shake to mix. Place the jar on its side in the refrigerator overnight, turning the jar occasionally to ensure that pickles marinate evenly. Serve chilled.


Lime-Marinated Fish Salad with Mango


1 pound white fish (halibut, orange roughy, etc.)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4-8 limes)
1 fresh mango, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
4 cups spring salad mix


Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup tropical fruit juice (mango, pineapple, orange, etc.)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce


Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces. Place in a container with a tight-fitting lid and add lime juice. Mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally to ensure that the fish marinates uniformly.


Combine all salad dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously to blend.


Toss spring greens in a salad bowl with dressing and arrange on salad plates. Divide the fish and mango chunks into equal portions and place atop the greens. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.


Spicy Shrimp Skewers


24 large shrimp, deveined, shells & tails intact
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon shao xing or dry sherry
4 bamboo skewers


Combine soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and shao xing or sherry in a non-metal bowl. Add shrimp and mix thoroughly to coat. Marinate for 1 hour. Skewer each stick with 6 shrimp and cut in half with a pair of kitchen shears for easier handling. Cook on a grill pan, electric grill or outdoor barbeque until just pink and tender, about 2 minutes per side. Serve with Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce. Serves 4.


Vietnamese Rice Paper Summer Rolls with Shrimp


12 large shrimp, peeled, steamed and cut in half lengthwise
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 cucumber, peeled, cored and cut into fine strips
1 6" piece daikon radish, cut into fine strips
1 cup mint leaves, cut into fine strips
6 large rice paper wrappers


Divide the shrimp and vegetables into six equal portions.


Fill a large shallow dish with about ½ inch of lukewarm water and soak the rice paper wrappers one at a time until they are soft and flexible. Gently lift the wrapper out of the water, and hold it over the dish to drain off excess water.


Lay the wrapper on a clean plate. Distribute and arrange one portion of the shrimp and vegetables in a narrow layer horizontally across the lower half of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper upwards to cover the filling. Fold the left and right sides inward toward the center, and snugly roll the wrapper and filling toward the upper edge. The rice paper wrapper will stick to itself to form a sealed roll. Try to roll as tightly as possible, taking care not to tear the wrapper.


Repeat the process for the other five wrappers. With a sharp knife, cut each roll in half at a diagonal angle. Arrange on an attractive serving dish, garnish with mint leaves and serve with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. Serves 4.


Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce


¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup nuoc mam (nam pla) Asian fish sauce
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 small fresh chili pepper, finely diced, seeds and membranes removed


Mix all ingredients together and allow to stand for 1 hour (or overnight in the refrigerator) to marry flavors.


Seafood Mousse on Lemongrass Skewers


1/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 pound crabmeat
1/4 pound white fish (snapper, halibut, etc.)
1 teaspoon salt
3 scallions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 egg white
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (divided)
8 thin stalks lemongrass, top 8" only
Vegetable oil for frying
1 bottle sweet chili sauce


Coarsely chop shrimp and fish. Place in a food processor or blender along with the crabmeat and process until it forms a paste. Transfer to a bowl, add salt, scallions, garlic, egg white, and 1/2 cup panko. Mix thoroughly and shape into 16 walnut-sized balls. Skewer 2 pieces on each stalk of lemongrass. Roll in remaining panko bread crumbs.


Heat about 1" of oil in a large skillet. Place lemongrass skewers carefully into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels and serve with sweet chili sauce. Serves 4.


Braised Ginger Duck


1 duck (about 4 - 5 pounds)
1 4" piece ginger root, finely shredded
2 teaspoons salt
8 cups water
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons nuoc mam (Asian fish sauce)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons shao xing or dry sherry
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and cut into fine strips


This recipe takes several hours.


To prepare the duck, using a sharp knife or cleaver, divide the duck in half lengthwise along the breastbone and separate the breast meat from the ribs, leaving skin intact. Remove each whole leg/thigh piece, leaving skin intact. Remove wings. Separate the back from the front ribcage. Place breasts and leg pieces on a plate and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.


Fill a large kettle with 8 cups of water. Add onion, celery, carrot and duck carcass pieces and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, until duck meat is tender. Allow to cool. Remove duck pieces from the stock, separate all remaining meat from the bones and set the meat aside to use in the rice.


Strain the stock into a large jar and place in the refrigerator for several hours. Discard any remaining vegetables and bones. When the duck fat has solidified, skim it into a bowl and set aside.


Rub the duck pieces with half of the shredded ginger and sprinkle with salt. Heat about 2 tablespoons of duck fat in a large wok or heavy skillet. Brown the duck breasts and legs for about 7 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Drain away excess duck fat from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons. Add remaining half of shredded ginger and the jalapeno pepper strips and stir-fry until tender and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add nuoc mam, sugar, and shao xing or sherry and stir to blend.


Add 3 cups of duck stock and bring to a boil. Return browned duck pieces to the pan, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Remove the lid after 30 minutes to allow the stock to thicken. Remove duck from the pan to serving plates with rice. Spoon sauce over duck and rice. Serves 4.


Imperial Rice


6 cups cooked rice (according to package directions)
1 cup cooked duck meat, coarsely chopped
4 scallions, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 cup duck stock (more if needed)
2 tablespoons duck fat


Heat the duck fat in a large wok or skillet, add scallions, garlic and carrots and stir-fry until tender. Add cooked rice and duck stock. Mix thoroughly and continue stir-frying for about 5 minutes. Serves 4


Coconut-Banana Bread Pudding


1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 bananas, peeled and sliced
8 slices of white bread, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup sugar
Vanilla ice cream (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently to mix and transfer to a generously greased 10" baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour, until golden brown. Spoon into individual dessert dishes. Serve warm with ice cream. Makes 4 servings.

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