Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vietnamese rice paper wraps with porkbelly, shrimps, and veggie

This weekend has been quite productive for me. Saturday we got to spend the evening taking the dogs out to dinner with us in Alhambra, and then walked them a few rounds after dinner. It was great, not only did we give them the much needed exercise (that we often lack during the week due to both of us working and coming home tired), but we ourselves got to walk off our dinner as well.

The pooches could sense that they get to go out with Mom and Dad,
they jumped on the car as soon as we got in

Then today, Sunday, I drove down to my parents in OC and carpooled with them to sister in law's baby shower. It was a great shower, her coworkers did a great job planning it. The decorations were nice (they even had fresh flower centerpieces!), the cookie flavors were very cute and nicely wrapped in little cellophane bags, the catered foods were good, and the games seemed fun. Too bad, I didn't have time to stay for the games and gift openning. I had to leave for a meeting with these two brothers who are going to help me setup with my social networking website project (yoohoo!), and I will switch to use their hosting service as well. So I'm excited about the upcoming project. I've been a bit down spirited lately, staying busy with this upcoming web project will sure keep me busy and give me something to feel accomplished I hope :-)

On my way back home after the meeting, I spontaneously popped an idea that I'd stop by the market and pick up some fresh ingredients to make Vietnamese ricepaper wraps with pork belly and shrimp. This is one of hubbie's favorites, well anything with pork belly is his favorite. I usually try to limit him from pork fats and pork/beef organs (I'm a nag sometimes to get him to listen), but once in a while I gotta treat the guy nicely because after all he takes care of my oil changes and keeps me current with my DMV registration. So here it is, his reward, pork belly.

This Vietnamese course looks sophisticated but it actually is very easy to make. Provided you've got all the ingredients ready, it takes only 30min or so to prepare. Here's the ingredient list.
Note: there's no recipe because amounts depend on how you like to make your wraps, some may like more rice noodles, some like more herbs and lettuce, etc.

+ 1/2 bags of dried rice noodles (or whatever amount you want)
+ 1 package of ricepaper
+ 1-2 lbs pork belly, washed and cut into big pieces about 2-inch wide for faster cooking (see picture)
+ 20-30 shrimps, peels and deveined
+ 1/2 red-leave lettuce
+ 1 cucumber, peeled, and cut into thin slices
+ 1 small bunch of Vietnamese mixed herbs, you can use whichever kinds you like and however much you like. Ideas are: mint (rau hung lui), spicy mint (rau hung cay), Vietnamese coriander (rau ram), Korean perilla leaves (rau tia to), etc.
+ Dipping sauce: Vietnamese Mam Nem. My Mom made it for me and gave me a jar when I came visit her last weekend, I never have to make my own dipping sauce because hers are the best :-) But for those of you who'd like to know how to make it, WanderingChopsticks posts her recipe for it here.

+ Get 2 pots of boiling water going
+ In 1 pot, boil the rice noodle, per instruction. Typically, boil for 3-6 minutes, check the texture of the cooked noodles, then drain with cold water.
+ In another pot, boil pork belly until cooked, you can use a chopstick or knife to poke through the meat to check how cooked it is, there should be no sign of blood or pink from the poke. Iit took me 1/2 hour, but I let it boil while doing other things like washing the vegetables, etc.

+ While the pork is being cooked, you can wash and drain all vegetables, arranged in a large plate, along with sliced cucumbers.
+ Pour Mam Nem into 1 small bowl for each person to use as their dipping sauce.

+ When the pork belly is about done, add the shrimps to the same boiling water pot, and let it cook for 3-5 minutes along with the pork. Hint: this saves time and effort, you really don't have to boil another pot of water just for the shrimps, and this makes an excellent tasty fatty broth base if you want to have your rice noodle in broth.

+ Take pork belly out and let it cool down at room temperature. Then you can cut it into slices.
+ If you want to, you can cut the shrimps into halves, along its length.
+ Arrange the sliced pork and shrimp into a large plate.

Here's what you have for a healthy yummy dinner:

*** EDIT 11/17/2009 ***

I made this course again last night, using the rest half of the pork belly I bought. This time, I added 2 more side dishes: Vietnamese sweet pickled mud fish with papaya (mam thai) and Vietnamese sour pickled shrimps with papaya (mam tom chua). A common Vietnamese way of eat this is to mix the pickled side dishes and fresh vegetables and herbs to a bowl of vermicelli, then add some Vietnamese fermented anchovy dipping sauce (mam nem) or sweeten fish sauce (nuoc mam) to taste. And again, you can freely add whichever ingredients you like, we added the boiled sliced pork belly and the boiled shrimps.