Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Avocado Salmon Salad Rolls

I know people who refuse to eat raw foods when they travel.  They believe it's safer to eat food that has been sitting for hours at a hotel buffet than to eat a freshly prepared dish at a restaurant packed with locals.  Anyone who travels to Vietnam who refrains from eating fresh vegetables deprives himself of some truly great food.

I first traveled to Vietnam in 1989.  I had just finished working on Pulau Galang, a refugee camp in Indonesia, and was keen to see what Vietnam was like.  At that time one had to travel with a government appointed guide and could only eat at places that accepted hard currency. While I had some good food, nothing was particularly memorable.  A few years later, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country opened up.  In 1994, my wife and I moved to Ho Chi Minh City for a year.  Newly married, we lived in a room we rented from a Vietnamese family in their four-story flat. 

While we ate breakfast (fresh fruit and coffee) and lunch at the house, we often ate out for dinner.  One of my favorite lunches was salad rolls made with thit quay (roast pork), banh hoi, and an assortment of fresh lettuce and herbs from the market. Here in California, I've modified the salad roll to include some local ingredients--coho salmon and avocado. These are perfect for a light meal, or they may be cut and served as appetizers.

Gỏi Cuốn với Salmon Bơ --Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Salmon and Avocado

4 ounces rice vermicelli, boiled about 3 minutes, rinsed under cold water, drained
6-ounce salmon fillet, grilled
green mango, peeled, finely julienned
carrot, peeled, finely julienned
mint, rau ram (daun laksa or Vietnamese cilantro), cilantro
red leaf or butter lettuce
avocado, halved and thinly sliced
rice paper rounds, dampened to make pliable

a sauce of 2 TBS Shark Brand Sriracha sauce mixed with 3 TBS hoisin and 1 TBS kecap manis

Lay a round of rice paper on a board or plate.  Place a lettuce leaf on top of the rice paper.  Put on some rice noodles, carrot, and mango.  Top with salmon, herbs, and some sauce.  Place two slices of avocado and some cilantro leaves near the top of the round.  Roll and seal.

If you plan on cutting them, wait until just before serving or the rice paper may not remain intact.  Wrap in plastic to keep from drying out.  Eat within a few hours of making. Do not refrigerate or the rice paper becomes  funky.

The "sauce" I used is hardly traditional, but it was quick, had a bit of a kick, and did not overpower the salmon and avocado.  Usually the rolls are dipped into a sauce, but I liked these with just a little sauce inside so that the avocado and salmon still came through.

To see some more traditional goi cuon,  you might want to try Wandering Chopsticks version, or
Ravenous Couple's Nem Nuong Cuon.

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  1. I think pretty much anything wrapped in rice paper tastes good. :)

  2. WC,
    Certainly anything wrapped in rice paper with a few rice noodles, herbs and lettuce. You could probably load these with spam and still feel you were eating a healthy meal.


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