Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

nuoccham

Vietnamese is a favourite cuisine of mine because of the prolific use of fresh herbs and contrast of hot and cold temperatures. The salads are especially attractive, marinated and grilled meat served on top of rice noodles with pickled carrots, cucumber, herbs and a sweet, spicy and sour dressing. Nuoc Cham is a great example of how important balance is within Vietnamese cuisine, if one of the components is off then the sauce won’t taste right.

Of course I have a favourite restaurant out at Sunnybank that produces killer salads, a place that we affectionately call ‘Cow and Chicken’ because of it’s sign (It’s real name is Pho Hien Vuong Pasteur). They specialise in pho but their rice noodle salads are a cooler choice than soup when the Brisbane summer is in full swing. As with most dishes that I eat at restaurants, I have to give it a go at home to see if I can do it just as well. Legit pho is still slightly intimidating to me but the rice/rice noodle salads that I’ve made at home have been a raging success. You might have to wait a little while for the full salad recipe but if you get this dressing down in the mean time, the rest is child’s play.

Add half of the lemon juice first, taste, and add the rest as you need it. You can always add more but once it’s in there you can’t add less (I’m giving this advice because I’m horrible at taking it). De-seed the chillies for a mild, kid-friendly dressing.

This one is dedicated to my step-bro Aaron, now you can make it for yourself!

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

Adapted from Nuoc Cham Sauce over at SBS Food.

1 clove garlic, peeled

3-5 large red chillies

7 tbsp fish sauce (Three Crabs Brand is recommended)

7 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp water

juice of 1 lemon

Blitz the garlic and chillies in a food processor until finely chopped (traditionally they are pounded in a mortar and pestle, also an option).

Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely.

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Lamb Banh Mi

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Cooking lamb this way is da bomb. The Asian style marinade is a perfect flavour pairing with the lamb and the slow cooking ensures a tender result. In the original recipe the lamb is served in Chinese style buns but I don’t always have the time to devote to bun making, so I had the idea of serving it banh mi style in crusty French bread with all of the Vietnamese trimmings. Banh mi’s are traditionally stuffed with grilled pork or a type of Vietnamese sausage and can have additions such as pate, aoili and butter. When you buy them you will usually be given the option of a huge sprinkling of chilli, seeds and all. I love heat but find biting into chilli seeds a bit too intense for my liking so Sriracha is my chilli of choice for homemade banh mi.

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We eat a lot of banh mi round these parts so I always have a jar of Pickled Carrots and Daikon in my larder but you can buy them from Asian supermarkets pre-pickled. Try to buy the freshest bread possible, it makes a big difference. The boyfriend picks it up from the Vietnamese bakery at his work, it’s super fluffy and slightly sweet. The major change I made from the original recipe is the cut of lamb that I used. I had a butterflied lamb leg in my freezer already so I used that instead of a shoulder. If you choose to go with a shoulder (they’re really good value) check out the original recipe for cooking times.

Lamb Banh Mi

Adapted from Sarah’s Epic Lamb Buns over at The Sugar Hit.

1.2 kg butterflied lamb leg

4 spring onions, sliced

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp sriracha

1/4 cup white miso paste

2 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp light soy sauce

5 tbsp maple syrup

Combine all of the ingredients together except for the lamb in an oven tray with high sides, mix well.

Place the lamb in with the marinade, rub marinade all over the lamb.

Cover with cling film, place in the fridge and allow to marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 200 C, while the oven is preheating take the lamb out of the fridge to come to room temperature (approx. 30 minutes).

Take the cling film off the lamb and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 mins, take the lamb out of the oven and cover with aluminium foil, place it back into the oven then turn the temperature down to 160 C, cook at this temperature for 1-2 hours (or until the lamb falls apart easily).

Shred with two forks, cover with aluminium foil again to keep it warm until serving.

To serve:

French baguette rolls

fresh coriander

Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon

Japanese mayonnaise

Sriracha sauce

hoisin sauce

sliced cucumber

Place the warm lamb in the rolls, add desired condiments to taste.