Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vietnamese dipping sauce Nuoc cham

We found a brilliant Vietnamese sauce base in a cook book we are now the proud owners of - Rick Stein's far eastern odyssey. This sauce is traditionally Vietnamese and provides an amazing depth of flavour to so many dishes as below - including our very own recipe using king prawns.

Vietnamese dipping sauce Nuoc cham

2 tbs fresh lime juice (big juicy lime)
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger very finely chopped (skin off)
1/2 red chilli (large and seeded for mild spice) or 1 red chilli (small for hot spice)
1 garlic clove (Asian) very finely chopped 

Combine all of the ingredients together with 2 tbs water (optional), then place in dipping saucers to serve.

This is the size to aim for when preparing your ingredients
A favourite recipe we love to prepare using the Nuoc cham as a base to our marinade is our very own recipe - Kristy's Fragrant Vietnamese prawns! This dish came about last year when we were planning a lunch at our place with family. We love the colours of Asia and wanted to showcase this in our array of food for the afternoon! Secondly, a seafood dish was a must along with wonderful textures and incredible flavours of course!

Colour and Flavour for Kristy's Fragrant Prawns dish

Kristy's Fragrant Vietnamese Prawns

**Prepare Nuoc cham sauce as above and use this as your base marinade for this dish
18 King Prawns (shelled with tails left on)
1- 2 fat lemongrass stalk cored, halved and very finely chopped
 **use only the bottom half and discard the thin top part. Make sure you finely chop otherwise will taste woody & unpleasant in texture
1/2 cup very finely chopped coriander
1/4 cup very finely chopped mint
1/4 cup Vietnamese basil
1 tsp cracked black pepper (no salt needed as salt already contained in fish sauce)

Place Nuoc cham into large bowl. Add to this the prawns and toss around with your "clean" hands or use latex gloves for even better hygiene
Add remaining ingredients and toss through with hands
Taste test and add more flavour if so desired (we LOVE garlic and chilli, so I usually add another chopped clove on top of the garlic already used in the Nuoc cham sauce and a little more chilli)
Admire the incredible colours, smells and tastes, then cover with cling wrap and place into refrigerator for 1 hour
To cook Prawns;
Option 1 Thread individually onto skewers (be sure to soak skewers in cold water for 30 mins prior, to avoid burning) BBQ over medium to high heat for 5-6 mins (maybe less) until cooked through (prawns should be translucent and moist) turning frequently until cooked through
Option 2 Cook in pan over medium to high flame for 1-2 mins turning frequently until cooked through (prawns should be translucent and moist)

Nuoc cham also works brilliantly as a topping sauce for Rick Steins  "Baguette sandwich of char grilled beef marinated in soy, lemongrass and chilli"

Rick Steins "Baguette sandwich of char-grilled beef
 marinated in soy, lemongrass and chilli"
This recipe we enjoyed borrowing and changing slightly from Rick Stein's far eastern odyssey and we highly recommend you give it a go! This has become a favourite in our home across summer.

400g piece of beef topside, trimmed of all fat
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 fat stalks lemongrass, core and finely chop
20g crushed garlic
100g shallots, finely chopped
4 tbs dark soy sauce
2 tbs palm sugar
2 red bird's eye chillies finely chopped (seeded also for milder spice)

To serve:
1/2 cucumber grated length ways
1 small green mango (weighing about 450g or opt for a green pawpaw same amount and slice with mandolin - we used the pawpaw as green mangoes were not available at our Asian grocer)
4 tsp fish sauce
4 tsp lime juice
12 small par-baked mini baguettes 

Thinly slice beef and then cut into strips, 2.5cm wide. Put the black pepper, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and half the soy sauce into food processor and process into a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the rest of the soy sauce, the sugar, chilli and beef. Leave to marinate for 1 hour. Cover 24 bamboo skewers, about 18com long, with cold water and leave them to soak alongside the beef.
For the salad, cut the cucumber in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then, using a potato peeler, cut it lengthways into thin strips. Peel the green mango (or green pawpaw) and finely shred it. Mix them together in a bowl and leave in the fridge until needed.
Bake the bread according to the packet instructions if necessary (we bought ours from Vietnamese bakery and had them cold)
To cook, weave 2 strips of beef onto each bamboo skewer.
Light your BBQ - if coal wait until the coals have turned a light colour and grill the beef skewers for 1- 1/12 minutes on each side until nicely browned on the outside, but still moist and juicy in the centre.
Mix the fish sauce and lime juice in the green mango or green pawpaw and cucumber salad.
Split open the bread rolls, place 2 skewers of beef inside and slide the meat off into the roll. Add some of the green mango or pawpaw salad and a drizzle of Nuoc cham sauce

We look forward to hearing about your experiences making these dishes.



Song and Ji said...

I'm starving:) yummy!!You can make Asian food better than me ^^

Kristy and Adam said...

WOW - Huge compliment, thanks Songi! You make better macarons than me!! :)