Friday, January 30, 2009

Jackfruit Salad (Goi Mit Tron)

This evening I went back to an old recipe I haven’t made in over five years. I found some fresh jackfruit while wandering around Chinatown yesterday and immediately the following thought popped into my head: Oy! Tomorrow I’ll make goi!

This recipe comes from The Food of Vietnam and is called goi mit tron (jackfruit salad). Although this dish is said to do best with unripe jackfruit – the book explains that young jackfruit is like a vegetable, with a firm texture and mild flavor – I hardly had the luxury of being choosy. I just bought whatever jackfruit was being sold, and all of it was ripe and ready to be eaten.

Two pieces of advice if you decide to make this: 1) don’t boil the jackfruit too long or it will become gluey and hard to chew, and 2) the salad is better when served warm.

2 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large shrimp, peeled
2 ounces lean pork
Pepper to taste
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces jackfruit, boiled (for 2-3 minutes) and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped rau ram (in English it’s called polygonum, not that this helps)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Sesame seed rice crackers (banh trang me)

1. Sauté garlic in oil until fragrant.
2. Add shrimp, pork, pepper, salt, and sugar.
3. Stir until shrimp and pork are cooked, then add the boiled jackfruit and mix well.
4. Add chopped rau ram leaves and sesame seeds.
5. Mix well again and then arrange on a plate. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the salad.
6. Serve with sesame seed rice crackers.

The flavors are rich and surprising: deeply fruity, lightly salty, garlicky, and the freshness of the rau ram is absolutely wow-inducing.

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  1. Thanks for this! It's definitely one to try although I'll have to do a bit of sleuthing to figure out what is polygonum and where to find it.

  2. In the U.S., I've nearly always been able to find rau ram at Asian grocery stores (Vietnamese ones, especially, which of course is no surprise). It's definitely worth hunting down, as the flavor, at least to me, is as distinctive as basil or shiso. Asking for polygonum may not work for you. But if you ask for rau ram (pronounced either as "row" [as in an argument] and "ram" [as in a battering ram] or as "zow zam") you should be successful. Or maybe it's better to write it on a slip of paper and hand it to someone working at the store. Whatever it takes!

  3. I went searching for it at a Vietnamese grocery but blanked on the name! However, all was not lost: I picked up Vietnamese lemon mint/lemon balm (kinh gio) which I was told goes very well with soups and meat. I also spotted frozen jackfruit rather than canned so I hope it will have a flavor more akin to fresh. I will be better prepared on my next visit to the store. Thanks for all the info!

  4. Ah, it sounds like you found a good Vietnamese grocery, even if you blanked on the rau ram once you got there. Enjoy the mint and jackfruit!

  5. It would taste even better if you add a bit of dried toasted shallot. You can find it in a plastic jar in the Vietnamese grocery store. Ask for "Hanh Kho" give yu a bit of crunch taste. Also, the sesame seed, you should smash it a bit. it makes all the dif. in the taste. I'm from Hue(central VN) and this is a Hue dish. Bon appetit!

  6. Anonymous: The dried toasted shallot definitely sounds interesting. I have "hanh kho" in a kitchen cabinet, though I don't think I had it at the time I made this dish. And I appreciate the suggestion of smashing the sesame seeds to get more flavor. I guess I'll just have to try it again! Thanks for your comments, and I hope you're able to eat lots of Hue dishes wherever you live. What a wonderful cuisine you can claim!