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:
Green 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.
Vegan 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.
Spicy 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 vegetarian version.
Fennel, 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?