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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 17, Vietnamese

Recipe: Vietnamese chicken salad
From: AWW's Kitchen

Second recipe: Vietnamese creme caramel
From: Ballymaloe Cookery Course

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is Vietnamese and I considered making pho, but when I saw that the recipe started with "roast your beef bones for 1.5 hours" and continued with "cook your stock for 4 hours" I couldn't be bothered going through with it! Perhaps if we had spent the weekend at home, but life is rather busy at the moment and I didn't have the time to spare. That and pho costs $8 a bowl up the road in Footscray..... and I doubt that I could do it better. (Did anyone else make pho? I applaud you if you did!)

Vietnamese chicken salad

Instead, I made a Vietnamese chicken salad from AWW's Kitchen. I don't know how authentic it is (not very, I suspect) but it was delicious. One of the good things about doing this Cookbook Challenge is that it has encouraged me to make recipes I wouldn't normally make. I'm sure that if it hadn't been for Vietnamese week, I would never have made this recipe. But it's such a good salad that I'm going to add it to my salad rotation!

The salad consists of poached chicken, pickled carrots, onions and bean sprouts, and then cabbage, Vietnamese mint, coriander, and a fish sauce and lime dressing. It's all crunchy and fresh, and I loved the tangy sweetness of the pickled vegetables. The herbs were fantastic in it, giving the salad a fresh pepperyness. I highly recommend trying this recipe!

Vietnamese creme caramel

For dessert, we had Vietnamese creme caramel. It was just like a regular creme caramel, except the caramel was made with palm sugar, and there was coconut milk in the custard.

It was a nice variation on the French dessert, with the coconut milk giving a faint coconut flavour. I did find it a bit eggy though, and (since I'm being critical right now) I should have pushed my caramel further. It wasn't quite caramel enough, but it was hard to tell the state of caramelisation with the palm sugar when I was cooking it. To be honest, plain old sugar would have done the trick just as well.

I enjoyed the theme for the Cookbook Challenge this week since I hardly ever cook Vietnamese food. The theme for next week is "BBQ"... hopefully the weather stays nice!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Update: See the round up at My Food Trail.

Vietnamese chicken salad

Vietnamese chicken salad

Adapted from AWW's Kitchen

500g skinless chicken fillets (I used thigh)
2 shallots, peeled
2cm knob of ginger, peeled
1 large carrot (180g)
1/2 cup (125ml) rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 stems of spring onion, washed and sliced into small pieces
1 & 1/2 cups (120g) bean sprouts
2 cups (160) finely shredded cabbage (I used wombok)
1/4 cup firmly packed Vietnamese mint leaves
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon crushed roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons fried shallots

For the dressing (you could get away with making half this amount)

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) water
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

In a medium saucepan, place the shallots, ginger and water (enough that you think will cover your chicken). Bring the water to the boil and put the chicken into the pot. Bring the water back up to a boil, and then cover the pot and turn the heat off. Let the chicken sit in the water for 10 minutes, and then return the pot to the heat and bring it back up to a boil. As soon as it comes up to a boil, turn the heat off, and let the chicken sit in the poaching liquid for at least another 10 minutes. The chicken should be cooked at this stage - take it out of the liquid and shred it coarsely. Discard the liquid.

Meantime, cut the carrot into matchstick sized pieces. In a large bowl, add the vinegar, salt and sugar, and stir to combine. Add the carrots to the vinegar mixture and let it sit for five minutes. Add the spring onions, and let it stand for another five minutes. Finally, add the bean sprouts and leave it for three minutes. Drain the pickled vegetables, discarding the liquid.

Place the pickled vegetables in a large bowl with the chicken, cabbage, mint and coriander.

To make the dressing, add all the ingredients into a screw top jar and shake well. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to combine, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the nuts and shallots.

Vietnamese creme caramel

Vietnamese creme caramel (Due Kem Caramen)

From Ballymaloe Cookery Course

Serves 6

110g palm sugar or golden caster sugar
100ml water
225ml water
225ml coconut milk
4 eggs
50g golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

6 ramekins

Put the sugar and water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. After the sugar has dissolved, brush the sides of the pot occasionally with a wet pastry brush, and cook the sugar until it is a rich brown caramel.

Pour the caramel into 6 ramekins, swirling it around so that it coats the side a little as well as the bottom. I find it easier to do each ramekin at a time, otherwise the caramel sets too quickly for swirling!

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

In a different saucepan, heat the milk and coconut milk until it starts to bubble around the edges. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the caster sugar and vanilla essence. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and pour into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Strain the milk and egg mixture into a jug, and then pour it into the ramekins. Place the ramekins into a tray with boiling water to half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until just cooked (mine were cooked after 35 minutes).

Remove from the oven and cool. To serve, run a knife around the edge of each one and dip the bottom of the ramekins into hot water. Invert on to individual plates.

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