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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vietnamese Style Dinner Party!

Fresh spring rolls
Last night I hosted a Vietnamese style dinner party. Vietnamese cuisine is known for utilizing fresh herbs such as lemongrass, mint and basil. Vietnamese cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world, due to the abundance of fresh produce in Vietnam. Fresh spring rolls are often found on Vietnamese menus, paired with some type of dipping sauce such as a sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce or soy. Last night I tried my hand at making these rolls at home. Surprisingly simple to make, these rolls are healthy, creative and fun. You can add just about anything your heart desires to the rolls, much like a sushi roll. The only rule is, make sure the ingredients can be served cool or at room temperature. The thin rice paper rolls must be served cool, never warm like a fried spring roll. I paired my rolls with a homemade peanut sauce, perfectly sweet and spicy to compliment the herbs in my rolls. 

Below is a photo of a traditional Vietnamese meal. For my main course last night, I prepared flank steak in a lemongrass marinade, with broken rice, a fried egg, pickled vegetables and an assortment of condiments for my guests to try. I was unable to snap a picture of the meal before we scarfed them down, so a sample photo is used for your reference. 

Fresh Spring Rolls

Package rice paper round sheets
Package vermicelli noodles (thin rice noodles)
Shrimp or other protein 
Julienned carrots, red pepper, red onion and cucumber
Chopped lettuce 
Bean sprouts 
Chopped peanuts
Sliced green onion for garnish 

Submerge rice paper sheets individually in warm water for 1o seconds or until softened. Lightly dry sheet on paper towel and arrange on a flat plate. Fill roll with ingredients listed or make up your own! Roll sheet into burrito like wrap and cut in half for plating. 

Peanut dipping sauce 
Rachael's Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp garlic chili paste
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp catsup 
2 tbs soy sauce
Crushed peanuts and scallion to garnish 
Mix all ingredients well, taste and garnish!
Lemongrass Beef Marinade

*Place sliced beef or pork in marinade below and refrigerate for 24 hours for maximum flavor

3 lemongrass stalks, mincing bottom 4 inches only
3 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp grated ginger 
1 tbsp vegetable oil 
Picked Asian Cucumbers and Carrots
(Serves 4-6)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
Thinly slice cucumber rounds
Julienned carrots
Whisk vinegar, sugar and soy in bowl until sugar dissolved. Toss cucumber, carrots and mixture in a tight seal tupperware and let marinade overnight before serving. These veggies are absolutely delicious and so easy to make. Serve with sandwiches, salads or rice!

Traditional Vietnamese meal 

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