Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fast Vietnamese Slaw
This is a colorful side dish that can add excitement to everything from roasted meats to simple baked fish fillets. It's sweet, salty, and crunchy with a little bit of heat that you can control.

I like keeping a bag of the premade slaw mix in the fridge for this recipe. It's one of those rare ready made ingredients that stay fresh for a good week or so. The slaw keeps for about a week in the fridge and I like it more the longer it sits. You might think the herbs would die in all that acid, but the flavor is still great.


Mix and let marinate for about 1/2 hour the following:
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and minced, or more :)
1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Fish sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar

Then add:
1 1/2 cup slaw mix (half a 1 lb bag) or 1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced
1 shredded carrot (optional, I like more carrot than comes in the bag of slaw mix and it definitely adds a freshness to the mix)
1/2 thinly sliced red pepper (optional)
crushed peanuts and more cilantro for garnish

This slaw can sit for quite awhile, even overnight, but the vegetables do give off alot of liquid you might want to drain off. BUT save that liquid, I think it would make a great marinade for chicken or shrimp. Not sure about that idea of a marinade that's just a theory I'll have to try out.
Now, taste for the sweet, sour, salty balance adding more sugar, lime juice or fish sauce as needed. I think this is a skill that takes practice, figuring out how to balance flavors. It will probably need a little more fish sauce or sugar. Go very, very slowly when adding them it. Keep tasting.

Just before serving stir in:
1/4 cup fresh mint
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, make sure to include minced stems

Edited to add:
My friends over at eGullet forums recommend salting the cabbage first, letting it sit for awhile and squeezing out any liquid to cut down on how watery the slaw becomes the next day. It's not necessary, but I'll be trying this next time I make it.