For those readers of this blog who find themselves in Ithaca, NY, you all know about the absolute food glory that is Saigon Kitchen: a great Vietnamese restaurant with friendly staff and bangin’ food! They are crazy busy at all times which is both fantastic and frustrating! Sometimes I just want the food without having to wait until I get all the way home! Here is the perfect fix: a homemade Vietnamese salad. The version in the restaurant has thinly shaved raw green cabbage, very thinly sliced white onion, scallions, julienned carrots, cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts with a choice of either poached shrimp or tofu for protein. The salad is dressed with a sweet onion and tamarind dressing which, let’s face it, I have no chance of replicating.
My version had thinly sliced green cabbage, julienned carrots, thinly sliced white onion, sliced scallion greens, chopped roasted peanuts and the cilantro was greatly missed as I did not have any at home 😦 For the protein, I cubed up some local tofu and pan fried it in olive oil until it was golden brown and had a crispy exterior. For my dressing I combined just about every Asian ingredient in my pantry and it produced a delicious vinaigrette! Sweet, salty, pungent, bright: all the aspects of good yin/yang balanced Asian flavor profiles! It was a combination of 2 tbsps rice wine vinegar and 2 tbsps fresh squeezed lime juice, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (for emulsification purposes), a splash of good fish sauce, a splash of toasted sesame oil, a splash of soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of sambal oelek for heat and a pinch of sugar to offset all of the tart tangy funk! Whisk together, pour over all your ingredients and proceed to shovel into your face!
Ahh, just the fix I needed!