Sunday, February 24, 2008

Green Jackfruit & Lotus Rootlet Salad (Goi Mit Non Ngo Sen)

I went to C&N’s house last night for dinner to celebrate C’s birthday and decided to bring a dish that most of my non-Vietnamese friends have probably never had. This salad is another one of my favorites from Hue. It traditionally includes pork as well, but since N does not eat meat, I substituted with lotus rootlets. The crisp, refreshing rootlets coupled with tender jackfruit creates a nice contrast in texture. The prawns are also traditionally steamed, but I find it hard to resist the grill. It’s such a simple dish, yet so satisfying. And like most Vietnamese salads, it keeps very well in the fridge and tastes even better the next day!

Boiled green jackfruit from a can. Jackfruits are abundant in Vietnam and although they are usually eaten as a fruit when ripe and sweet, residents of Hue love to pick them when they are still green and boil them for salads and other dishes. It has a mildly sweet taste and has a texture similar to that of artichoke hearts. It's a popular ingredient in Buddhist vegetarian dishes as the texture is a little "meaty."

Lotus rootlet/rhizome in brine. The rhizome of the blue lotus, the national flower of Vietnam, is a refreshing addition to any salad.

Raw Gaziantep pistachios from S' family farm in Turkey. They are so good that I would substitute them in any recipe that calls for any kind of nut.

  • 2 cans green jackfruit, washed & drained
  • 1 jar lotus rootlets, washed & drained
  • ½ lb prawns, peeled & deveined
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Vietnamese coriander leaves
  • 1 cup shredded spearmint leaves
  • 1 cup shredded Thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup shredded cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
  • ½ cup toasted pistachios
  • 2 tbsp shallot crisps
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 Persian limes, juiced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 bird’s eye chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
The jackfruit and lotus roots retain a lot of water, so it’s important that you wash and drain them ahead of time in order to get as much of the excess liquid out as possible. Blotting them with a towel helps to get whatever remaining liquid is left. Halve the lotus rootlets crosswise and then lengthwise. The jackfruit can be sliced into bite-size pieces.
When making the dressing for this salad, you want to make the simple syrup a little thicker than usual since you don’t want too much liquid in the salad. Dissolve sugar in the boiling water and let it reduce a bit. Pour this simple syrup into a small bowl to cool. Once cool, add the lime juice, garlic, chili peppers and fish sauce and stir together. Set aside.
Throw jackfruit, rootlets, onion, herbs and sesame seeds into a salad bowl and toss well with dressing. You might think the amount of herbs is excessive, but they wilt down substantially while the other ingredients stay the same size. Adjust seasoning if needed. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Shortly before serving, sprinkle the prawns with a bit of sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a tiny bit of olive oil and throw them on a grill. Halve them lengthwise. Plate salad and sprinkle with shallot crisps and toasted pistachios. Top with prawns hot off the grill.


theparrhesiastes said...

Tia, I loved this dish--it was soooooooo yummy! :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome recipe. I adore goi mit. I'll give it a try when I head back to the USA.