Monday, August 16, 2010

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dip)

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dip)
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 1 per serving

1 tsp. garlic chili paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt

Grind the chili paste and garlic to a paste in a mortar, then combine with all the other ingredients and mix until sugar is dissolved.

NOTES: This stuff is great on salads, pasta, soups - all sorts of stuff. But we primarily use it on our Lemon Grass Chicken Skewers with Rice.

Lemon Grass Chicken Skewers with Rice

Lemon Grass Chicken Skewers with Rice
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 8 per serving

For the chicken:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 medium shallot, chunked
2 Tbsp. chopped lemongrass
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. garlic chili paste
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the salad:
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into moons
1 large carrot, shredded
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sugar
3 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 1/2 c. white rice, kept warm

Put the chicken chunks into a large, zip-top bag.

Prepare the marinade by putting the shallot, lemongrass, garlic, chili paste and Canola oil in a food processor and blend until combined. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and pulse until blended. Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken and marinate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.

Preheat the broiler.

Thread the chicken chunks onto metal skewers and lay the skewers on a rack on top of a sheet pan lined with foil. Broil for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through and browned.

To prepare the salad, toss the cucumber and carrot with the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar, and let marinate.

To serve, put rice on one side of each of four plates, and lettuce on the other side. Top the lettuce with the cucumber-carrot mixture, and the rice with some of the chicken.

Serve with plenty of Nauc Cham.

NOTES: This meal is one of the reasons why I love Vietnamese cooking. It's light, flavorful and full of complex flavors, but so simple in presentation that it's sort of misleading. This meal is a standby in our house - we have it at least once a month.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa
Servings: 3

For the salsa:
2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and diced
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
1/2 c. red onion, minced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

3 salmon fillets (about 6 oz. each)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the salsa, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix well to blend, then cover and refrigerate while you prepare the salmon.

Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over each salmon fillet, and season with salt and pepper. Add salmon to skillet and cook until desired doneness, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the salmon to serving plates and top with strawberry salsa.