Dinner Club – The Vietnamese special – smokin’!


As some of my regular readers know, every few weeks we take it in turns to cook each other a meal. The stakes are now getting pretty high as we continually push the bar on what we can cook. We all try something new and different each time and we learn loads. Plus all the experimenting is excellent fun!

This week was my turn and I was running scared, after Liz’s amazing Japanese feast and Simon’s butter-laden French feast, not to mention Matt’s delicious Spanish menu(unpictured), I was concerned about the quality and determined to do well.

We started off with cocktails

We started off with cocktails

I have to say that I had nothing to do with the cocktails, other than the purchasing of the dragon fruit. They were pretty but contained chilli vodka (Thanks Kirsten) and I couldn’t bear the strong taste of them.  We then had some crispy prawn crackers to start with. Unfortunately unphotographed.

Spring rolls (or parcels)

Spring rolls (or parcels)

We then moved onto some Vietnamese prawn, shittake and crab spring rolls. These featured highly in the taste stakes but quite low in the ease of making them stakes. I had to roll them in 2 spring roll papers and I couldn’t get the oil at the right temperature so some were not quite right and some were a little over cooked. The insides however tasted delicious!

Sapa Ribs

Sapa Ribs

Next up were the Luke Nguyen Sapa ribs – I marinated these for about 5 hours before putting them in the oven and they were delicious – tender, flavoursome and tasty!

Lovely ribs

Lovely ribs

And then there was a tiny intermission while I pranced around the kitchen in a bit of a panic and everyone else reclined on the sofa.

Tea smoking the duck

Tea smoking the duckGreen tea smoked duck breasts

 

In actuality, I was doing a little bit of smoking – I put some rice, some green tea, sugar, cassia bark and star anise in the bottom of a pan (on some tin foil) and then some cooks rings over the top and turned the heat up high until everything started to smoke. I then put the lid on and left the duck breasts to smoke. (They had been previously marinated in black pepper and soy and fried off on the skin sides.)

Lemongrass, chilli chicken

Lemongrass, chilli chicken

And then, it was time for the main course – Lemon Grass chilli chicken. Which was quite quite amazing in both it’s simplicity and deliciousness! It tasted remarkably fresh and light with all it’s ingredients. Again, I had to marinate the chicken for a good 4 -5 hours and I think it made the chicken even more tender and delicious.

Lemongrass chilli chicken, tea smoked duck and asparagus, with jasmine rice

Lemongrass chilli chicken, tea smoked duck and asparagus, with jasmine rice

This was all served at the same time – alongside the duck and some lemony asparagus and some jasmine rice. We were all exhausted at this point and had to retire from the table to the sofa. But I was on a roll and was determined to finish up by serving dessert – banana fritters with mint and coconut marscapone.

Banana fritters

Banana fritters

I think I used every pan and utensil in the house and the washing up took me 4 loads to get everything clean but the kitchen is now back to it’s reasonably spotless state and we have lots and lots of left overs to eat for the next day.

Recipes

I mainly used some online recipes for these dishes.

The Spring rolls were from this website and were delicious but finicky. Next time I would try and find those papers rather than the original Vietnamese papers.I served them with dipping sauce which was very simple but really really improved the taste of the spring rolls.

Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce)

2 clove of garlic, crushed & 2 red birdeye chillies, sliced,
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
some chopped coriander (optional)

The ribs were from Luke Nguyen’s Songs of Sapa book which a friend kindly typed up for me.
1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/2 teaspoon five spice
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g lean pork spare RIBS
6 spring onions, thinly sliced length ways

In a large bowl, combine the rice wine, soy, fish sauce, oyster sauce, honey, five spice, 1 teaspoon salt and the smashed and chopped garlic. Mix well, then add the pork RIBS, tossing to coat them in the marinade. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the RIBS in a baking dish in a single layer, then roast for 30 mins, basting the pork with the marinade every 5-10 mins. The RIBS should be crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cut the RIBS through the bone with a heavy cleaver into 6×2 cm pieces and garnish with spring onions. Serve with jasmine rice.

The most important variation we make is to cook them for much longer- at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours. We add some water so they don’t dry out. This makes the meat really sticky and unctuous and it just falls off the bone.

The Green Tea smoked duck breasts and the lemongrass, chilli chicken were also from Luke Nguyen’s tv series in Australia.

And the fritters were mostly from memory
6 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
bananas – cut into 3 and then each of those lengthways.
Shallow fry in oil.

Served with marscapone mixed with coconut cream and mint leaves for dipping.

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