"Tet" is the Vietnamese name for the Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 31. Celebrate the Year of the Horse by working citrus, symbolic of good fortune, into your menus. Here are two recipes from two cookbook authors of Vietnamese descent, Luke Nguyen of Australia and California-based Andrea Nguyen (The two are friends but not family, Andrea Nguyen says.)
— Bill Daley, Tribune Newspapers
Pomelo and crab salad
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings as part of a shared meal
A recipe from Australia's Luke Nguyen, author of "The Food of Vietnam" (Hardie Grant, $50). Grapefruit can be substituted for the pomelo, if necessary. Luke Nguyen, a Sydney restaurateur, is author of four cookbooks and a television cooking show host. Vietnamese mint is also known as Vietnamese coriander or rau ram, according to "The New Food Lover's Companion." Look for the herbs and other specialty ingredients in an Asian grocery. If you cannot find them, leave them out, the salad will still be delicious.
1 3/4 ounces dried shrimp, about 1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 large pink pomelo, or 2 small pink pomelos
7 ounces picked, cooked crab meat
5 mint leaves, sliced
5 perilla leaves, sliced
5 Vietnamese mint leaves, sliced
5 Thai basil leaves, sliced
1 tablespoon fried red Asian shallots
2 teaspoons fried garlic chips
3 tablespoons nuoc cham dipping sauce, see recipe
1 large red chili, sliced
Crushed roasted peanuts
1. Soak the dried shrimp in water, 1 hour; drain.
2. Add the oil to a hot frying pan. Add the garlic; cook until fragrant, 5-10 seconds. Add the dried shrimp; stir-fry until crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan; allow to cool.
3. Peel and segment the pomelo. Break into bite-size pieces; place in a large bowl. Add the cooled garlic and shrimp mixture, the crabmeat, herbs, fried shallots, garlic chips and nuoc cham. Toss together well. Transfer to a serving dish; garnish with the chili and peanuts. Serve garnished with extra herbs.
Nuoc cham dipping sauce: Combine 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons each of fish sauce and white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir well; cook until just below boiling point is reached. Remove pan from heat; cool. Stir in 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 thinly sliced birds' eye chili and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Nutrition information per serving (for 6 servings): 118 calories, 5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 68 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 285 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
Candied orange peel
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Makes: 60 to 70 candied peels, each 2 to 3 inches long
"These sweetmeats are not traditional New Year fare, but since navel oranges are at their peak in California during Tet, the peels have found a place in my annual candy-making production," writes Andrea Nguyen in her cookbook, "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors." Scrub the oranges well if there's a waxy coating on them. Andrea Nguyen suggests dipping the peels in melted dark chocolate if a "touch of decadence" is desired.
6 small or 5 medium blemish-free, thick-skinned oranges, preferably California navels
1 2/3 plus 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1. Trim 1/4 to 1/2 inch from both ends of each orange. Reveal some flesh to make removing the peel easier. Make cuts, from top to bottom and at 1-inch intervals, around each orange. Make sure the knife goes through the peel and pith down to the flesh. Use your fingers to remove the peel from the orange in sections. Cut each section lengthwise into 1/3-inch-wide strips.
2. Put the peels into a saucepan; add enough water so that they float. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.
3. Drain the peels. Return them to the saucepan; again add enough water so the peels float. Heat to a boil over medium heat; then drain. This mellows the harsh flavor of the peels.
4. Put a wire rack on a baking sheet; place the baking sheet nearby for drying the finished strips. Put 1 2/3 cups sugar and all the water in a wide, high-sided skillet that can accommodate the strips in a single layer. Heat to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the peels; lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until glazed and shiny, 25-30 minutes. Occasionally stir the peels and swirl the pan to ensure even cooking; lower the heat as needed to prevent scorching. During candying, the plump peels will shrink, straighten out, and soften. The white pith will turn golden and somewhat translucent.
5. Use tongs to transfer each strip to the rack, placing them orange side up and not touching. Discard the sugar syrup. Allow the peels to dry until they feel tacky, about 1 hour.
6. To coat the peels, put the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Drop in a few strips at a time; shake the bowl back and forth to coat them well. Transfer to a plate; repeat with the remaining peels. Store strips in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.Copyright © 2015, CT Now