Gỏi bưởi (pomelo/grapefruit salad) is an unusual dish and is rarely featured on restaurant menus, but the first time we had it, we knew we wanted to do something fun with it. Traditional gỏi bưởi consists of broken pieces of supremed pomelo mixed with boiled shrimp and pork and served with a fish sauce based dressing and the usual Vietnamese salad garnish (rau răm/Vietnamese coriander, crushed roasted peanuts, fried shallots). The salad has a unique combination of the refreshing and clean sweet-tartness and fragrance of pomelo and herbs with savouriness of fish sauce, sweetness of shrimp and richness of pork belly. We wanted to start with that combination all in one bite of pomelo, then experiment with new flavors on top of that base. We had to learn several new techniques and technologies before we got the results below, which we were very happy with:
A little bit of (sourness + sweetness + spiciness + garlickiness + herbiness + crunchiness + chewiness) = a lot of yumminess
Nem is one of my favorite snacks. Before a trip back to Viet Nam, I usually contacted my uncle ahead of time so he could buy nem that would be ready to eat by the time I land. It’s an incredibly addictive food, with its mix of sweetness, sourness, and spiciness and the blend of flavors with rau răm (Vietnamese coriander), garlic and chili pepper.
I have been making a lot of nem chua lately. It’s often made with pork, but I actually prefer making it with beef (and hence the title is beef instead of pork). In the latest batch, I wrapped a ball of just mixed meat in
1) half of a lemon leaf and
2) 1-2 plum leaf(ves)
before wrapping it in 7 layers of banana leaves to let the meat ferment over a couple of days.
A pleasant surprise finding was that lemon leaf went incredibly well with nem chua. It really enhanced nem flavors. Plum leaves were too subtle to make a difference, unfortunately.
Anyway, just thought I should share this finding so you can add a little bit of lemon leaf (you don’t need a full or half a lemon leaf…a few thin strips will do) to your next bite of nem in addition to the usual rau răm, garlic and chili pepper.