Vietnamese-Style Wild Snapper Lettuce and Noodle Wraps

Gather the troops! This is a super fun meal to share and it’s quick and easy to make. Be sure to use Seafood Watch to find a best choice for snapper at your local grocery store or fish market. Enjoy! (P.S. This recipe was recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!)

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Photo by Andrew Grinton

Yield: 4 servings

 

Dipping Sauce

¾ cup distilled white vinegar

3 tablespoons raw cane sugar

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 lime)

1 tablespoon fish sauce

½ thai chile, thinly sliced, or more to taste

 

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

 

Lettuce Wraps

8-ounces vermicelli noodles

12 red leaf lettuce leaves (6-ounces or ½ bunch)

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup fresh mint leaves

1 cup fresh thai basil leaves

8-ounces small carrots, (approximately 4 small carrots) peeled, cut in half widthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise

 

Add water to a large saucepan (enough to boil the noodles) and bring to a boil. Add noodles and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes until noodles are soft. Drain and rinse noodles under cold water and place in a bowl.

Arrange lettuce, herbs and carrots on a tray or plate.

 

Snapper

1 pound skinless snapper fillets (¾ to 1-inch thick), pin bones removed

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

 

Pat fish dry and season fish evenly on both sides with salt. Cut fish into 3-inch by 1-inch strips.

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add oil. Heat until hot and oil is shimmering, approximately 2 minutes.

Add fish strips, adding the thickest strips to the pan first, and let cook for 2½ minutes total, flipping the fish every 30 seconds. Fish will start to flake when done.

Transfer fish to a plate. Serve immediately.

Gather the family/friends around the table! To serve, place some noodles on a leaf of lettuce. Add some carrots, fish and fresh herbs. Roll or fold the lettuce to form a wrap or pocket. Spoon over some sauce (or dip the lettuce wrap in the sauce). Eat and repeat!

Note: If you are not up for making the wrap, you can always shred the lettuce on your plate and add the other wrap items on top and spoon over the sauce like a salad dressing.

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Not Too Spicy Green Papaya Salad

(Hey! Update to this post – you can watch me make this salad on my YouTube page. Thanks and now back to the blog…)

California drought friendly and delicious, this papaya salad is a refreshing, bright, crunchy, herbaceous and spicy (not too spicy!) dish, perfect for warm weather months.

Super Sous and I traveled to Vietnam in February, our first stop being Hanoi, the capital city in the North. Upon arrival, we immediately arranged a street food tour of the Old Quarter of Hanoi (where we were staying). Our wonderful guide, Tam, took us on a whirlwind food extravaganza through the streets, alleys and hidden corridors to eat some of the best food Hanoi has to offer. From classics like Bun Cha to Egg Coffee to Beef Pho we ate A LOT, probably hitting up 7 different street food vendors/restaurants within the 3 hours of wandering.

Our third stop for the night was at a spot that served the best Papaya Salad we have ever had. At first, Super Sous and I were a little nervous about this dish as papaya salads we have eaten in Thai restaurants have been extremely spicy, but this salad was the perfect blend and balance of sweet, sour and spice. It was then that Super Sous and I fell in love with the Vietnamese papaya salad and despite our best efforts to not overeat and pace ourselves that evening, we couldn’t resist finishing off the whole salad.

Tam NL SS

Me, Tam – our street food tour guide – and Super Sous

Upon returning to California, we created our own version which comes pretty close to our experience. A note about the green papaya – you can find these in an Asian grocery store. (Sometimes they even have it pre-shredded in bags – score!) To shred yourself, cut in half, peel the section you want to use and shred using a citrus zester (photo below), a “noodler” (the instrument that makes zucchini noodles) a food processor (with the shredding attachment) or a box grater.

Citrus Zester

Citrus Zester

Now, a note about drought friendly recipes: Super Sous and I started the project of creating drought friendly recipes as a way for all of us around the country to help conserve California’s water. What I love about this recipe is the use of Virginia peanuts. They are so good! (It wouldn’t at all have anything to do with me being a Native Virginian…) Peanuts are a groundnut and therefore do not grow like almonds or walnuts in large orchards that require a lot of watering. Peanuts are a good source of protein and with their low water footprint, are a great alternative to almonds. According to the Water Footprint Organization, it takes 381 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of peanuts, whereas almonds require 6 times that amount. So, yay for peanuts!

green papaya salad

Green Papaya Salad

Yields: 2 servings

 

Dressing:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

¾ teaspoon freshly grated ginger, grated on a microplane

½ teaspoon freshly grated garlic, grated on a microplane

2 teaspoons minced lemongrass

¼ Bird’s eye aka Thai chili, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Salad:

2 cups packed shredded green papaya

¼ cup grated carrot (1 medium carrot)

½ cup thinly sliced green beans, sliced on a bias (8 beans)

3 tablespoons whole toasted peanuts

½ cup quartered grape tomatoes (7 tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

 

Combine dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sugar dissolves.

Add papaya, carrot and green beans to dressing and massage ingredients together with your hands for approximately 30 seconds, to meld all flavors and allow dressing to permeate papaya.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Divide onto plates and serve.

Switching it Up. From Sweet to Savory Breakfasts. And this Morning’s Sticky Rice with Bok Choy and Pickled Cucumbers

One of our (Super Sous & I) favorite things about our time in Asia was breakfast.

As luck would have it, the hotels we stayed in had huge buffet breakfasts (this seemed standard for hotels) and while there was a handful of sweet items available, the majority of choices were savory. Dim sum, pho, fish, salad, soup, congee, noodle dishes, stir fry vegetables… The choices seemed endless! There were western items as well: bacon, eggs, beans (British), breads, but the real gems were the local/regional specialities. 

What we came to experience after 2 weeks of savory breakfasts was that starting our day with savory instead of sugar was not only a great way cut sugar consumption, but to keep ourselves energized until lunch as we felt much more satiated. 

Even though we are used to eating a healthy breakfast, like nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, that breakfast alone can contain the equivalent of several tablespoons of sugar. 

It takes a little more forethought to eat savory for breakfast, but you can pull together something quick (photo below) like my sticky rice dish with pickled cucumbers and sesame stir fry bok choy. 



And… don’t forget about last night’s leftovers! How quick is that?!

Here’s to savor(y)ing the mornings… 

Hanoi, Vietnam – Street Food

First day in Hanoi and Super Sous and I have hit the ground… eating! Wow. What a delicious food culture. Noodles, salads, rice, chicken, beef, vinegars, spice, sweet, sour… All so fresh and unique. And we’ve only just scratched the surface. Much more to explore and learn over the next few days!

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