January 29, 2017 — Family Food
I surprised myself making this. It was especially good. It’s more time-consuming than our usual suppers, but it demonstrates that putting in the extra effort can result in creating new fresh flavours.
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Approx. 800g – 1000g prime pork ribs without bone as far as possible
1 large finely chopped shallot
4 spring onions finely chopped
2 lemon grass sticks outer leaves removed and very finely chopped
5 cm piece of ginger peeled and very finely chopped
6 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped (amount of chilli according to taste)
4 tbs fish sauce
3 tbs honey
2 tbs molasses sugar or other brown sugar
2 tbs hot water
Juice of 2 limes
300g dried rice vermicelli
Sesame oil and ground nut oil
300g bean sprouts
Small handful coriander leaves
Small handful Thai basil leaves
Small handful mint leaves
170g Chinese leaf
3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
For the pickle:
1 large carrot
1/2 small mooli
1 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbs coriander seeds
For the dressing:
8 tbs water
2 tbs sugar
1 red chilli chopped in rings
1/2 red chilli (to taste) chopped finely
1 clove garlic grated
1 peeled 5 cm piece of ginger grated (optional)
Salt and pepper
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I had this for the first time from the Hanoi Kitchen, a Vietnamese stall at the Kerb in Camden Market. Hanoi Kitchen, was one of about 35 stalls in the market – each chosen to represent a different national cuisine from around the world or regional food from around Britain. This poses a fascinating challenge, given that stalls are limited in the range of food they can offer (usually about 3 different items), how do they decide on a menu that will represent their national or regional cuisine? The challenge is further complicated by the fundamental requirement of producing food that is easy to hold in the hand and/or to eat on the street.
Most stall holders answer the task using proven and well-established precedents. So we get American food represented by hamburgers, Middle Eastern food in wraps, and oriental food with pots of noodles. You might think that this practical ‘street food’ restriction would distort a trader’s ability to represent a specific cuisine. But remarkably, it still seems possible to convey an accurate representation of a particular cuisine. An American hamburger, goes a long way to describing American food – and you can put endless variations of flavours and ingredients in a wrap or pot of noodles…
This is how the Hanoi Kitchen solved their product offer: ‘Having scoured the streets of Hanoi and tasted every dish along the way, we persuaded our favourite traders to teach us the best Vietnamese street eats so that we could bring them home to you in the UK!’ Look at their menu and you see the same main dishes being offered in most Vietnamese stalls and restaurants: Banh mi baguettes, pho ga chicken noodle soup and bun cha BBQ pork noodle (salad) pots – along with chicken, beef and tofu versions (they also offer summer rolls). So with a limited menu of three or four items, they have created take-away versions of the most popular Vietnamese classics.
Of course, any national or regional cuisine will be more complex and diverse than can be sold in a street market, but Hanoi Kitchen have done a good job at incorporating key ingredients, flavours and textures of Vietnam. Our bun cha was light and fresh, full of vegetables and herbs (especially mint), there was pickled carrot, sweet and savoury meat, offset with a filling portion of vermicelli rice noodles. The dressing balanced sweet, sour, salty and hot tastes well – and all was topped with the crunch of roasted peanuts. It was an excellent interpretation. Camden Lock may not be the old quarter of Hanoi, but our bun cha certainly helped to evoke the tastes and flavours of Vietnam.
The prime ribs are from CD Jennings and Sons in Surbiton. They are an excellent and economic cut of meat they are especially suited to this type of marinade. The other oriental ingredients were bought from Longdan’s in Kingson.
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