Saturday, September 12, 2009

Brassica di Seville: Goi Ga Bap Cai (Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad)

So that seven-plus pound cabbage from a couple of weeks ago? There's still some left after this latest recipe. The salad, courtesy of Wandering Chopsticks, turned out to be a perfect dinner to bring to Nationals Stadium for this year's Opera in the Outfield (a wonderful production of The Barber of Seville, with a deft and assured Lawrence Brownlee as Count Almaviva). The full recipe - including sub-recipes - is reproduced below. Even with a bare 30 minutes to chill, it tasted wonderful - flavorful and filling, with a nicely varied texture.
  • 2 scant cups shredded chicken (I boiled four small thighs; will use more next time)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • 1 medium head of cabbage, sliced very thinly
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup patis
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • juice from 1 and 1/4 lime
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (substituted for 1 chile)
Prepare the hanh dam (Vietnamese vinegared onions). Dissolve 2 tsp. sugar in 1/4 cup of rice vinegar. Add thinly sliced red onion; use more vinegar if need be to cover. Leave for 15 minutes or till onions get soft.

Prepare the nuoc mam cham (Vietnamese fish dipping sauce) - I opted for the spicier version. Mince three cloves of garlic along with the juice of 1 and 1/4 lime, 1/4 cup patis and 2 tbsp. sugar; adjust flavors to taste. Set aside.

Boil the chicken (I did so in about a quart of water with a half a head of smashed garlic, some of which I added to the dipping sauce afterwards, and a chopped onion); set aside.

Slice the cabbage as thinly as you can. Julienne the carrots, then stem and roughly chop the cilantro.

Combine everything - veggies, vinegared onions and dressing - in a bowl and mix. Correct seasoning if necessary.

Chill for at least half an hour, longer if possible, to let flavors meld. Enjoy.

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