One of my favorite dish to order at my local Vietnamese restaurant is bun thit nuong (vermicelli with grilled pork). It seems that in most Vietnamese restaurants, at least half a side of a menu features the different variations of the dish. There is a vegetarian version, you can have it with grilled beef, shrimp, chicken, and even Vietnamese spring rolls. It is served along with nuoc cham, a fish sauce based dipping sauce that is sweet, sour, sometimes spicy, and highly addictive.
This popular vermicelli dish is refreshing, and as you can tell from the different variations, it is also versatile. For my version I wanted to include one of my favorite produce this time of the year – sweet, ripe, summer tomatoes. Charring both the tomatoes and the romaine lettuce adds a nice smokey flavor. The spicy garlicky fish sauce based dressing brightens and adds a kick to the dish. Shrimp was my protein, but you can add grilled chicken, pork, beef, and even portobello mushrooms instead.
One thing to keep in mind if you are planning to char your tomatoes and lettuce indoor is that it creates A LOT OF SMOKE. A LOT OF IT! So remember to turn on your exhaust fan to high and maybe even open a few windows. If you have an outdoor area and a portable burner, char it outside. That is what I did and I am happy I did. Of course you can also char on an outdoor grill as well.
Vermicelli Noodle Salad with Charred Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, and Shrimp
FISH SAUCE DRESSING (makes 2 cups)
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tblsp lime juice, fresh squeezed, about 1.5 to 2 limes
1 head of garlic
3 bird’s eye chili pepper (Thai chili pepper)
Deseed the bird’s eye chili pepper or leave the seeds in if you want the dressing to be extra spicy. Finely mince the garlic and bird’s eye chili together. Set aside.
In a large glass bowl, add the sugar and hot water. Stir until the sugar is dissolve. Add the minced garlic and chili pepper, cold water, fish sauce, and lime juice. Mix well. Chill the dressing for at least 30 minutes. Dressing can be made overnight.
VERMICELLI NOODLE SALAD
1/2 lb medium shrimp (31/35 count size), 16 shrimps
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 lb Vietnamese vermicelli noodle (bun giang tay)
6 plum tomatoes
4 whole romaine lettuce
1/4 whole red onion
1 bunch mint
1 bunch Thai basil
1 bunch perilla leaves
1 bunch cilantro
Deshell and devein the shrimps. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Place shrimps in a glass bowl and add fish sauce, olive oil, sugar, and black pepper. Mix well and marinate for 30 minutes.
In a large pot of water, cook the vermicelli noodles. Strain the noodles in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Drain and set aside.
Hand tear or roughly chop the mint, Thai basil, perilla leaves, and cilantro. Set the herb mixture aside.
Thinly slice the red onion. Set aside.
Slice the plum tomatoes and whole romaine lettuce length wise. Drizzle the cut side with olive oil. Set aside.
Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle until it is very hot and smokey. Place the tomatoes cut side down. Cook until cut side is charred. About 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside on a plate.
Wait until skillet is hot again. Place the romaine lettuce cut side down. Cook until cut side is slightly charred. About 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside on a plate.
Cook the shrimp on the same skillet. About 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Set aside.
Divide the noodles into 4 servings. Place noodles in large individual serving bowls.
Chop the charred lettuce into bite size pieces. One half whole lettuce per serving. Slice the charred tomatoes lengthwise. Chop into bite size pieces. Three half plum tomatoes per serving. Place lettuce and tomatoes on top of noodles.
Add the shrimp (four shrimps per serving), sliced onions, and herb mixture on top of the noodles as well.
Place fish sauce dressing in four small bowls. Half a cup of dressing in each bowl. Serve noodles and dressing side by side. Pour dressing on noodles before eating. Mix and enjoy.
Grilled corn on the cob, the one food that almost everyone wants to eat at barbecues but afraid to. It’s messy and kernels can get stuck in between your teeth, but it’s so good. I wish I could tell you this recipe will solve that problem, but it doesn’t. If anything, it makes corn eating more messy. It’s worth it though. Soy sauce and butter is one of my favorite flavor combination. Besides corn, this sauce is also perfect drizzled on grilled or roasted new potatoes.
Grilled Corn with Butter, Soy Sauce and Aonori Ko (dried seaweed flakes)
4 ears of corn with husk
2 tblsp butter
1 tsp soy sauce
2 scallions, chopped
aonori ko (dried seaweed flakes)
Remove as much of the corn’s silk as possible while keeping the husk on. Soak corn in a large bowl of water for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the grill.
In a microwave safe glass bowl, melt the butter in 30 second intervals, checking in between. When the butter is melted, add the soy sauce. Mix well. Add one chopped scallion and 1/4 tsp of dried seaweed flakes into the butter and soy sauce mixture. Stir and set aside.
A package of aonori ko (dried seaweed flakes), found in most Japanese or Korean supermarkets.
Remove the corn from the water, shake dry, and place on the grill. Turn occasionally until the husk are charred on all sides. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes.
When the corn are done, place on a plate and carefully pull back the husk with a towel. Spoon or brush on the butter and soy sauce mixture all over the corn. Sprinkle with remaining chopped scallion and dried seaweed flakes. Serve hot.
What is your favorite part about the weekend? For me it is sleeping in, brunch with friends and family, taking the pup to the dog park, and of course….SHOPPING. Welcome to Weekend Buys! A recap of a few of my favorite things I discovered and bought over the weekend.
There is one thing that I didn’t include in the picture above – a doggy pool! After searching for it for the past two weeks, I finally found one. It might be August, but summer is not over yet and I don’t think it is every too late to throw a doggy pool party. That’s Bailey, my pup, in the first picture and his awesome pool pals, Bella and Hudson in the other picture.
So, how was your weekend? Did you get anything interesting you would like to share? Please comment below!
Everyone has their own list of pantry/fridge essentials. If you frequently cook Asian food, your pantry is probably always stock with soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, and sesame oil. Now, add this to your pantry if you don’t already have it – Bull Head Barbecue Sauce. Made with dried shrimp, brill fish, chili, garlic, shallot, and sesame, this is not your typical American barbecue sauce. Known as “sa cha jiang” or “sa cha” sauce, Bull Head is the go-to brand for it. During the winter months, also known as hot pot season in my family, we easily go through two 26oz cans of the sauce. If you’re new to the sauce, don’t worry, it also comes in a smaller can. For hot pot, it’s served as a dipping sauce and is used to flavor the soup base as well. It’s also great in stir-fried dishes, especially ones with beef or lamb.
It’s hard to describe the taste of “sa cha” sauce. It’s not too salty or spicy at all (unless you buy the spicy version), and there really isn’t another sauce that taste similar. It is just good and this recipe, Pan Fried Bull Head Chicken Wings, is the first of many recipes I want to develop to showcase this essential Asian pantry ingredient.
Pan Fried Bull Head Chicken Wings
2 lbs chicken wings
4 tblsp Bull Head Barbecue Sauce
5 slices of ginger, about 2 inches wide
2 tblsp sake
2 tblsp soy sauce
2 tblsp fish sauce
2 heads of peeled whole garlic cloves
2 or 3 steams of Thai basil, hand torned
1 large red onion, thick lengthwise slices
2 or more Thai pepper, diced [optional]
In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken wings, combine Bull Head Barbecue Sauce, ginger slices, sake, soy sauce, fish sauce, and whole garlic cloves. Mix well and add the chicken wings in. Marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Take chicken wings out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking.
In a large non-stick skillet, heat up 2 tsp of oil on medium heat. As the pan is heating, remove as many of the whole garlic cloves from the marinated chicken wings and place in the pan. Add sliced onions. Season with salt. Cook until onion is done but still a little firm. Set aside.
In the same pan, heat up 2 tsp of oil. When pan is hot, add the chicken wings. Cook in batches. Cook drummettes first and then the mid sections. Cook with the pan lid tilted on the pan to prevent oil splashing out. Pan fried for about 5 to 7 minutes of each side depending on the size of the chicken wings. Set aside.
When all the chickens are pan fried, rinse the pan with water and wipe dry. Heat up the pan and add the onion. Cook for 1 minute until the onions are warm. Add the chicken wings, Thai pepper, and Thai basil. When the Thai basil begins to wilt, remove everything from the pan and the dish is complete.
Served with white rice. Serves 6 to 8.
A visual journal of recipes, travel notes, unique finds, and everyday moments of life.
Welcome to my blog, f r i e d w o n t o n s 4 u.
For those who have been readers of this blog since the very beginning in 2008, thank you for your support! This is a new start. It was not an easy decision to delete everything and start brand spanking new, but it was much needed. The blog went through a cleanse and don’t you agree it already looks better? If you are new to f r i e d w o n t o n s 4 u, hello and welcome!
I am looking forward to posting new recipes, re-introducing old favorites, and in between all the cooking and eating, I’ll be sharing everyday moments and things that I love — my pup Bailey, fashion, beauty, and anything and everything that makes my heart skip a beat.