Thursday, July 18, 2013

Vietnamese Vermicelli with Chicken and Green Papaya Salad

It's hot. It's been about 40ºC with the humidex for over a week and not surprisingly, a heavy, hearty meal isn't what I'm looking for nowadays. I still love love love noodles, though, so here is a recipe for something I get pretty often in Vietnamese restaurants.

Vietnamese Chicken and Vermicelli

    • 2 Chicken thighs
    • 1/2 tsp five spice powder
    • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 servings vermicelli (I buy the kind that comes knotted in single servings. Easier that way)
    • 1 large lemon
    • 1/4 cup fish sauce
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • fresh chilis
    • bit of water
    • Optional: shredded lettuce, cucumber, or other raw veggies

                        Let's Do It!

                          1. For the chicken, simply marinate in the five spice powder and soy sauce for a little while. Then fry it on the stove (or grill it on the bbq) until it's done. Maybe 4 minutes a side. I'm not the best at cooking things to completion and have on more than a few occasions eaten raw chicken. But my stomach can take it. Don't risk salmonella. If you're not sure if a chicken is cooked, pierce it with a knife and see if the juices run clear. If they do, you're good.
                          2. Let the chicken cool then rip the meat off with your hands. Save the bones in the freezer for soup. This makes it easier to eat at work.
                          3. For the nước chấm (sauce), juice and seed 1 whole lemon and mix with the fish sauce, honey, garlic, chopped chilis (as much or as little as you want) and a bit of water. I didn't really measure it anything, but rather added stuff and tasted often until I got the flavour balance as I like it (just a little sweet, very sour, a little salty, very spicy).
                          4. Cook the vermicelli according to the package directions, making sure to rinse well in cold water and strain after.
                          5. Whenever I go to the restaurants, they also serve the dish with shredded veggies to mix with the noodles. I made a salad instead.

                          Lunch it up!
                          I had the fish sauce in a little screw top jar, the chicken in its own container and the vermicelli in its own container. To eat, heat the chicken up (if you want), swish the vermicelli in some boiling water and drain well. Put the noodles and chicken together and pour the sauce over it all.

                                  Green Papaya Salad

                                  My friend Keith once said "lettuce isn't a vegetable. It's a carrier for salad dressing." That's how I feel about this salad. I love fish sauce and limes. I could drink nước chấm instead of water. The first time I had this was in Thailand, and it was the spiciest thing I had ever had. You.. you don't need to do that.
                                  • 1 green papaya
                                  • fish sauce
                                  • limes
                                  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
                                  • fresh chilis

                                  Let's do it!

                                  1. Cut the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds and soft pith with a spoon. Careful, the little white seeds will get EVERYWHERE. Maybe do it in a bag or something.
                                  2. Peel the papaya.
                                  3. If you have a food processor with a grater, use it. If not... happy grating.
                                  4. At this point, I squeezed the grated papaya with my hands just to soften it a bit. Don't know if that helps.
                                  5. Add fish sauce and the juice of a lime (or two) to your taste preference. Mix in the garlic.
                                  6. Add fresh chilis to your taste.

                                  Just realized that although I couldn't find any recipes for this online yesterday, I'm seeing a bunch now and they call for all sorts of fun stuff like sugar and cilantro. You could put those in, I guess.