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Side Dish

Granny Smith apple and grilled shrimp salad (Goi Buoi)

Mai Pham
Lemon Grass Restaurant, Sacramento

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16 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 (8-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and drained
1/3 cup matchstick carrot strips, soaked in ice water for 30 minutes and drained
1/3 cup matchstick cucumber strips, soaked in ice water for 30 minutes and drained
1 cup Granny Smith apple segments, separated into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup Vietnamese dipping sauce (see below)
20 Asian basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 Thai bird chile, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped, roasted peanuts

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Muoc Cham)
3 Thai bird chilees or 1 serrano chile, or to taste
1 clove garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons finely shredded carrots for garnish (optional)


Combine the shrimp, shallot, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and oil in a bowl. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
Thread 4 shrimp onto each skewer. Grill or broil until the shrimp are just done, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Place the carrots, cucumbers, apples, dipping sauce, basil, cilantro, chile and peanuts in a large bowl and toss gently.
Remove the shrimp from the skewers, add them to the salad and gently toss a few times. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Muoc Cham)
Cut the chilees into thin rings. Remove one-third of the chilees and set aside for garnish. Place the remaining chilees, garlic, and sugar in a mortar and pound into a coarse, wet paste. (If you don't have a mortar, just chop with a knife.) Transfer to a small bowl and add the water, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir well to dissolve. Add the reserved chilees and carrots. Set aside for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Nuoc cham is very amenable to variations and adaptations. In Vietnam, cooks like to use various vegetables to flavor the sauce, such as thinly sliced marinated daikon and carrots, ginger, scallion oil or peanuts and even slices of kohlrabi and the core of a white cabbage. Each imparts a distinctive savoriness.

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