Vietnamese Cuisine; Healthy Tips & Recipes (cont.)

Yield: About 1/2 cup (8 1-tablespoon servings)

Per tablespoon: 20 calories, 1.4 g protein, 3.5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 510 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 4%.

Recipe from Vietnamese Cooking Made Easy by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle Books; 2005). Reprinted with permission.

Rice Paper-Wrapped Salad Rolls

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal one roll as "side salad mixed" + "one slice of bread."

Similar to a salad that has been rolled up, this dish is usually eaten as a snack, although it also makes a lovely lunch. The key is to make the rolls tight, and that requires practice. You can substitute chicken, beef, or tofu and mushrooms for the filling. Grilled fish such as salmon also works well. You can serve whole or cut into smaller pieces to make them easier to serve and share. The recipe calls for untrimmed pork because the dish benefits from a little fat.

1/3 pound pork shoulder, untrimmed, cut into two pieces
12 medium-size raw shrimp, unpeeled
8 (12-inch) round rice papers (plus some extras)
1 small head red leaf lettuce, leaves separated and washed
4 ounces rice vermicelli or rice sticks, boiled 5 minutes, rinsed, and drained (find these in the Asian section of your supermarket)
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup Vietnamese Bean Dipping Sauce (recipe below)

  • Cook the pork in boiling salted water until done but still firm enough for slicing, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring another small pot of water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Rinse under running water and set aside to drain. When they're cool enough to handle, shell, de-vein, and cut in half lengthwise. Refresh in cold water and set aside.
  • Remove pork from heat and drain. When cool enough to handle, slice into thin slices, about 1 by 2 1/2 inches. Place on a small plate and set aside.
  • Set up a salad roll "station": Line a cutting board with a damp kitchen towel. Fill a large mixing bowl with hot water and place nearby. (Keep some boiling water handy to add to the bowl.) Arrange the ingredients in the order they will be used: pork, shrimp, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, mint and lettuce.
  • Working with 2 rice paper sheets at a time, dip 1 sheet, edge first, in the hot water and turn to wet completely, about 10 seconds. Lay it on the towel. Repeat with the second sheet and place it alongside the first. This allows you to work with one while the second is setting.
  • Line the bottom third of the rice sheet with 3 shrimp halves, cut side up, then top with two slices of pork. Add 1 tablespoon rice vermicelli, 1 tablespoon bean sprouts, and 4 to 5 mint leaves. (Arrange the ingredients so the rolls end up being about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide.) Halve a lettuce leaf lengthwise along its center rib. Roll up in one piece and place on the filling. (Trim if too long.) While pressing down on the ingredients, fold over the filling, then fold in the two sides and roll into a cylinder. If paper feels thick, stop at three-quarters of the way and trim the end piece. (Too much rice paper can make the rolls chewy.) Repeat with the remaining rice papers and filling.
  • To serve, cut rolls into 2 or 4 pieces and place them upright on a plate. Serve sauce on the side.

Yield: 6 appetizer servings

Per serving (not including rice paper):188 calories, 12 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 8.2 g fat, 2.4 g saturated fat, 44 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 319 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 39%.

Recipe from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham (2001; Harper Collins). Reprinted with permission.

Vietnamese Bean Dipping Sauce
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal 2 tablespoons as "1 teaspoon mayonnaise."

This recipe is very simple and quite delicious, especially if you can find whole fermented soybeans. You can also embellish it with garlic, chilies, and ginger and serve it on grilled fish, chicken and beef. If you can't find soybeans, substitute 1/3 cup of hoisin sauce and omit the sugar.

1/4 cup whole fermented soybeans (look for these at an Asian market)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup coconut milk (you may find this in cans in the Asian or cocktail mixer section of your supermarket)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons sugar

Garnishes
1 tablespoon ground chili paste (or to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped roasted peanuts

  • Place the soybeans (or hoisin sauce), water, coconut milk, vinegar, onions, and sugar in a blender or food processor. Process just until the mixture is smooth.
  • Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. (If you don't have a food processor or blender, cook the soybean mixture first, then beat with a whisk.) Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add a little water if it's too thick. Set aside to cool.
  • To serve, transfer to individual sauce bowls and garnish with chili paste and chopped peanuts. Sauce will keep up to two weeks if refrigerated.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 38 calories, 1.5 g protein, 4 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, .2 g fiber, 1 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 49%.

Recipe from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham (Harper Collins; 2001). Reprinted with permission

Published Aug. 18, 2006

SOURCES: Mai Pham, owner/executive chef, Lemongrass Restaurant, Sacramento, Calif.; instructor, Culinary Institute of America; author, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table. Nancie McDermott, author, Quick and Easy Vietnamese. Quoc Luong, executive chef, La Colonial, Chicago.

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