We are having a wonderful warm spell in Northern California. It's flip-flops and t-shirt sans jacket weather. People
are firing up their grills in the neighborhood. Whenever we’re out for a walk
to the grocery store, we sniff the cooking food smells and try to identify what
people are making. Steak? Salmon? Burgers? Or some long-smoked meats? The live
fire cooking stirs my senses and I conjure up imaginary menus. What would I
serve with what they’re cooking?
I always plan meals to include the various food groups, but
with a healthy emphasis on vegetables. And with all the grilling going on right
now, my thoughts lean toward Vietnamese salads. They’re flexible dishes that
may be a served on their own or be a friendly side offering to go with a hunk
of grilled something. There are many salad and side recipes in books I’ve
written, but to add to your collection, I reached back into the VWK archives to
select some refreshing ones:
Beef and Jicama Salad – Cook the beef and top a salad with it for a splendid
lunch. Jicama is cooling and light, plus it’s easy to prep. In the summer time,
you may find little baby
jicama at farmer’s markets to make the salad with or to peel and eat like
Papaya Salad and Beef Jerky (Goi Du Du Kho Bo) – My local Trader Joe’s
sells green papaya. I don’t know how unripe they are inside but every time I
see them, I think of Vietnamese green papaya salad. This recipe is a rendition
of a northern Vietnamese classic. In Hanoi, it’s sold as a street food. Yes,
there’s a link to making your own beef jerky. If you don’t know what green
papaya is or how to prepare it for cooking, check this primer.
Green Papaya Salad (Goi Du Du Chay) – For non-meat eaters, here’s a vegan
version of Vietnamese green papaya salad. For protein, I included pressed tofu.
Cabbage Salad (Goi Bap Cai) – Cabbage is used in Viet kitchens in many
dishes, including stir-fries, noodle soups, stuffed cabbage rolls, and salads.
People adore its crunch and appreciate its heartiness, especially because
refrigerator space is limited. Cabbage keeps well. The classic version of
cabbage salad is made with chicken (see Into
the Vietnamese Kitchen for a recipe) but I also enjoy a flavor-forward
Red Cabbage and Cashew Salad – When I made this salad for Sunset magazine
last year, the colors were meant to evoke autumn (hence its name, “Vietnamese
Thanksgiving Salad”) but in my Viet gut, I knew that it was a year round salad.
Fennel is great this time of the year so grab some for this cheery salad.
Some of the salads require advance prep (hello, beef jerky)
while others come together in a flash. Try them out and add a Viet salad to
your summer repertoire!
What's your favorite summery Asian salad?