Vietnamese food is as mysterious and wonderful as Vietnam. The flavours are unique and addictive — way too complex, I decided, to decode on my own. So when I was offered the chance to review Simply Vietnamese Cooking by Nancie McDermott, I took the challenge.
My first stab, Roast Chicken Cucumber Mint Noodle Bowl, was 100% satisfying. It wasn’t just cooking; it was an immersion into a culinary-clever culture — a one big bowl feast full of surprises for your senses. This is a meal that can be prepared in stages and well in advance, leaving you lots of time to do whatever you do before you enjoy dining.
I solemnly swear to continue to tackle Vietnamese cooking skills because the pleasure factor greatly outweighs the effort.
Roast Chicken Cucumber Mint Noodle Bowl
- 5 oz vermicelli brown rice noodles, cooked
- 2 c shredded lettuce
- 3 c shredded roasted chicken (one whole small chicken)
- 2 c peeled, sliced cucumber
- 1/2 c each mint, cilantro leaves or sprigs
- 2 c bean sprouts
- 1/3 c thinly sliced scallions
- 3/4 c dry-roasted peanuts
- 1 c Pickled Carrots (recipe below)
- Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
- Cucumber Salad (recipe below)
Assemble just before serving. Divide ingredients into 4-5 large bowls, lettuce first, 1 – 1.5 cups of noodles, chicken on one side, with cucumbers, Pickled Carrots and herbs on the other. Garnish with scallions, peanuts and 1/4 cup of Dipping Sauce. Chop and toss your salad to enjoy all the flavours in every bite. Serve Cucumber Salad on the side.
- 1 1/2 c water
- 3/4 c white vinegar
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1 t sea salt
- 3 c shredded carrots
In a small pot, over medium-high heat, combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes until sugar and salt dissolve. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and cool to room temperature.
Add carrots to brine, stir well and let stand for 20-30 minutes. Can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 5 days. Serve by scooping carrots out of brine.
- 2 T chopped garlic
- 4 T each sugar, fresh lime juice
- 1 t finely chopped chili-garlic sauce, fresh hot red chilies or 2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
- 6 T each fish sauce, water
Use a mortar and pestle to grind garlic, sugar and chili into a paste, or combine them on a cutting board and use a fork to mash and a spoon to press or a knife to finely chop and mix.
In a small bowl, combine garlic-sugar-chili paste with fish sauce, water and lime juice. Stir to dissolve sugar. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week.
- 1 lb cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded, thinly sliced
- 3 T finely chopped scallions, shallots or red onion
- 1/4 c white vinegar
- 2 T coconut or regular sugar
- 2 T water
- 1 T fish sauce
- 1/4 t each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place cucumber and shallots in a medium-sized bowl.
In a small pot, combine sugar, vinegar, salt and water. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and stir for 3-4 minutes until sugar and salt dissolve. Add fish sauce and pepper, then transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
Pour cooled brine over cucumbers. Stir well and let stand for 15 minutes. Can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 days. Serve by scooping cucumbers out of brine.
- If you have some Asian Peanut Sauce hanging around, it’s also a wonderful condiment for this Roast Chicken Cucumber Mint Noodle Bowl. There is no such thing as too much melding of wonderful flavours.
- Roast Chicken Cucumber Mint Noodle Bowl is a light meal that will leave you feeling svelte but energized.
- You can swap shrimp, meat or your favourite vegetarian protein for the chicken.
- Planning a trip to Vietnam? Here are Vicky’s, Indiana Jo’s and Robert’s itineraries.