Sunday, February 19, 2006

An Ode to the Verdant

I was desperate, aching to have something that was not only NOT brown, but light and flavourful to boot. Since DucCat usually had his poker games on Wednesdays, I saved for that night some leftover roasted chicken. Happy, green, and vibrant thoughts of Vietnamese Bun Ga flooded every pore.

I first spotted this recipe on eGullet's Dinner Thread . Specifically, fantastic photographer and gorgeous eater pcarpen made this meal one night. I found the simplicity of the ingredients intriguing, easy enough to understand, yet different enough to captivate. I bought my first ever bottle of fish sauce, and got to work.

Since then, this has remained a favourite on warm days. Light, flavourful, and filling, it was the perfect dish to remedy a season of relentlessly brown and heavy foods.

As I sat down to enjoy this meal, I wasn't the only one eyeing a bowl full of greens.

No, perhaps my lovely little vegan wasn't interested in the bowl full o'chicken after all- that lass has quite the inquisitive nose for wine.


Mum and Dad are so proud.

Vietnamese Bun Ga

(recipe adapted from pcarpen from eGullet. I typically use leftover, roasted chicken for this recipe, instead of having the forethought of poaching it my own self.)

1 package rice stick or cellophane noodles
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
handful of sliced scallions
handful of chopped fresh mint
handful of chopped fresh cilantro
handful of peanuts, roughly chopped
4 carrots, finely julienned
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
handful of bean sprouts
handful of mixed field greens

for the sauce:
2 tspn. Vietnamese fish sauce
4-5 limes, juiced
4-5 teaspoons sugar, to taste

Prepare noodles according to package. When done, drain in a strainer and rinse in cold water.

Chicken breasts can be cooked in a number of ways, the traditional way is to grill them in a teriyaki-type marinade, but in this case we just dropped them in a pot of salted boiling water and poached them for about 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through, removing from water, and shred. Since the chicken is hot this is done with two pairs of kitchen tongs acting as hands. You could also cook them ahead of time and let them cool before you shred them, but we rarely have the foresight or the time to do this.

The sauce is the tricky part. In a small bowl, you want to add 1 tspn. sugar for every lime that you use. For a batch that serves four, we use about 5 of each. Then, slowly add the fish sauce to taste. The sauce is powerful, so adding too much can overwhelm everything. It helps to have tasted the sauce in a restaurant to know what it should taste like, but if not, just add it until you like the taste of the mixture.

Assembly: Put a pile of noodles in the bottom of the bowl, add the lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, herbs and scallions. Add the shredded chicken on top, top with peanuts, spoon over sauce, and add Sriracha hot sauce for a little kick.

Mix it all up, and eat!

***s'kat's notes: First of all, I typically skip the noodles in this salad. I'm sure it's great, but I love the intense, raw taste sans noodles.

Secondly, I pretty much skip the peanuts, as well. I'm sure they'd be awesome, but I never seem to have them 'round when I'm making this.

As far as the herbs, I add what is suggested, but I also really like adding Thai basil. Yum.

This recipe is really just a blueprint. The sauce, especially, is not constrained to any sort measurements. Sometimes, I can follow the guidelines, and its great. Frequently, I'm just tasting and adjusting as I go. Eventually, you get to where you want to be.

Oh, and the Srircha... not optional, in my opinon. Enjoy.


Blogger Kalyn said...

This sounds just amazing.

February 19, 2006 11:47 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Now THAT'S a beautiful salad and soooo NOT brown!!!

Thanks for sharing

February 21, 2006 8:17 AM  
Blogger MeBeth said...

I agree - sriracha is NEVER optional!

February 21, 2006 11:52 PM  

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