Pacific Rim, Week 9: Vietnamese
My plate, from cold noodle salad at 3 o'clock: cha khoai tay (Vietnamese potato patties), cha bo (grilled beef patties Vietnamese style with veggies and nuac cham), ga chien (Vietnamese fried chicken)
Cha Bo (grilled beef patties, Vietnamese style, with veggies)
Com Chien Thap Cam (fried rice with pork, chicken, and sausage)
Coconut curry chicken noodle soup
Vietnamese grilled steak with cold noodle salad
Ga Chien (Vietnamese fried chicken)
Cha Khoai Tay (Vietnamese potato patties
While fried food will of course go soggy after time, it will sog out faster if you pile it vertially. Condensation/Steam from food at the bottom will rise up, sogging out the food above it, and oil from food at the top will sog down into the food below it. It's why I spread our potato patties out across the plate instead of trying to pile them up decoratively.
Also when deep frying, don't overcrowd your oil, especially with the first batch of fried items. With each item you drop into the oil, its temperature will drop, and soon you'll go from a lively fry to a snoozy sizzle. You can crank the fry-o-lator's temp up and avoid overcrowding to make sure your food fries up well (meaning it will yield crisp and clean results) and quickly.
I do wish we'd chopped the noodles up a bit for the cold noodle salad we paired with the flank steak; it would've been easier to both serve and eat. While long noodles are fun for some Italian twirling action, I found little joy in them here, although the taste and texture were both fine. So--chop those noodles!
Nuoc cham can take a lot of work, especially if you're working from scratch and are trying to finely grind down your garlic and chili into a paste. You could use a pestle and mortar or, if you're making a large enough amount, a food processor. And if all else fails, get the flat end of your meat cleaver going against your cutting board for a makeshift pestle and mortar. Or, just chop the stuff up finely and call it done!