cabbage and prawn vietnamese salad bowl
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Don’t let the Baharat spice in the rice fool you – this is one of those awesome Vietnamese salads with fish sauce dressing. I just like to cook rice with Baharat and guess what – it all works together beautifully.
You’ve got to give it to Oriental cuisines: they respect cabbage. It may be a different kind of cabbage than hammerheads, but Napa and pak choi grow happily in Europe so we have a good choice. Not that you’d know: unless a super-innovative chef ‘discovers’ cabbage, puts it on their tasting menu and charges seventy quid, you’ll be hard pressed to find cabbage dishes in British restaurants. Also the French turn their noses at it; but at least they have choucroute.
Asian cooking embraces cabbage like a dear friend. Cabbage is in spring and summer rolls, in gyoza and in dumplings, as kimchi and as suan tsai; it’s a filler and it’s a star. It’s a much better a filler than, say, potatoes or breadcrumbs and it can be a real star of the show.
This recipe is a little mix-and-match: I got the Vietnamese cabbage salad idea from Melissa Clark at NY Times Cooking and I thought it would work as well with prawns as with Melissa’s tofu (I’m kind of scared of tofu). And the concept of a bowl of fresh crunchy and zingy salad set on a bed of warm rice or noodles is brilliant; I’ve adored it ever since my first bò bún in a Vietnamese restaurant in France. Bò bún is a cold noodle layered salad with crispy beef, chopped peanuts and lots of crudités (can we please have a word for this in English?). You’d think this is nothing like it but the principle is the same - rice with toppings - and so is the gorgeous Vietnamese dressing, nuoc mam, fish sauce and brown sugar based.
You can play mix and match with it and make variations: instead of rice, nestle the bowls with warm rice or egg noodles. Stick to tofu if you like, or stir fry some beef to make the full circle towards bò bún (‘beef rice noodles’ in Vietnamese). But the cabbage is your best friend in this salad; do not dare replace it with lettuce.
cabbage and prawn vietnamese salad bowlServings: 4Time: 1 hour
- For the rice:
- 150g brown basmati rice
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tbsp. butter
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 2 tsp Baharat spice (or Ras-el-Hanout)
- 550ml chicken or vegetable stock
- For the dressing:
- 3½ tbsp. light soy sauce
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1 garlic clove, pressed
- 2½ tbsp. groundnut oil
- ½ tbsp. hot chilli oil
- For the salad:
- 1 small head of spring cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 large carrot, grated or cut into matchsticks
- 240g cooked peeled prawns
- 30g raw or salted and shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- ½ bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1. Wash the rice until water runs clear, drain and shake off on a sieve. Preheat the oven to 200C (fan if available)/400F/gas 6 with a rack set in the middle.
2. Melt the butter with oil in an ovenproof pan; add the spring onions and cook for a minute. Stir in the Baharat spice. Add the drained rice, pour in the stock and bring to the boil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 50 minutes.
3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, place the cabbage and carrots, the prawns, half the pistachios and half the coriander. Add the dressing and mix everything well.
4. To serve, place a mound of rice in a bowl, top with a generous portion of the salad and garnish with remaining pistachios and coriander.