As anyone who follows this blog knows, I love Vietnamese food. One of my favorite dishes, and one that many non-Vietnamese are often familiar with, is nêm, or fried spring rolls (also called chả giò in southern Vietnam). However, because most nêm is fried and rather heavy with oil, I prefer nêm made with a special rice paper called bánh tráng rế, which looks something like a circle of dried, pressed string.
Following are recipes for nêm and rau cải xào nấm (sautéed bok choy and baby shiitake mushrooms) courtesy of M--, who I think really needs to open up her own restaurant because she makes the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had.
Ingredients (for 2 people)
4 wood ear mushrooms (soaked and chopped)
8 baby shiitake mushrooms (soaked and chopped)
1/2 carrot (slivered and then chopped)
150 g minced pork
50 g fresh crab meat
50 g cabbage (chopped)
1 bunch green onions (chopped)
1 package miến noodles (soaked and finely chopped)
1 package bánh tráng rế
1 tsp salt
2 tbs vegetable oil
1. Soak the wood ear and shiitake mushrooms for 10 minutes, then slice into slivers.
2. Sliver carrot and chop finely.
3. Mince pork and break crabmeat into small pieces.
4. Chop cabbage and green onions into small pieces.
5. Soak miến noodles for 10 minutes and finely chop.
6. In a bowl, mix all of the above with 1 egg.
7. Scoop spoonful of mixture and place on one sheet of bánh tráng rế, then roll smoothly (pictured below).
8. In about 2 tbs of vegetable oil, fry the rolled nêm until golden brown and crisp.
9. Set cooked nêm on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
10. Serve plain or with soy sauce and/or nước mắm.
The nêm is more delicious if you have herbs and lettuce on hand to eat with it. Cilantro, mint, shiso, and basil go nicely with this kind of nem. Bean sprouts are another nice accompaniment.
Rau Cải Xào Nấm (Sautéed Bok Choy and Baby Shiitake Mushrooms)
Sautéed bok choy and shiitake mushrooms
200 g bok choy
8 baby shiitake mushrooms
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
pork seasoning powder, or bột hạt nêm (optional)
1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 2-3 minutes (or soak for 10 minutes in room-temperature water), then chop in half.
2. Separate bok choy pieces.
3. Heat oil at medium temperature. Add bok choy and mushrooms and sautée for 2-3 minutes.
4. When veggies have turned darker and a bit softer, add salt, and bột hạt nêm and turn off heat. Let veggies continue to cook with heat off for a few more minutes.
5. Enjoy with nêm and cold beer.
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