For the Table Salad and Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 head Green and/or red leaf lettuce, separate leaves, wash and spin dry, then rip into 4 to 6-inch (10 to 15 cm) pieces
  • 2 small Cucumber, Kirby variety preferred, cut into bite size julienne, about inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • 8 sprigs Asian basil
  • 8 sprigs Perilla herb or mint
  • 1 recipe Lime dipping sauce Nước Chấm

Method

  1. Arrange all items decoratively on platter; cover and reserve at room temperature.

Cooking and Serving

Each person breaks one of the crepes into 6 to 8 pieces, places pieces crepe inside lettuce leaf. Tuck some leaves of each herb in there, and a few strips of cucumber. Wrap the lettuce leaf to encase fillings, dip in nước chấm sauce.

On every trip to Asia I fall into a morning routine of visiting local markets, where I inevitably discover timeless regional specialties like the bánh khoái, known elsewhere in Vietnam as bánh xèo. They are hauntingly addictive taco-shaped sizzling crepes stuffed slivers of pork, sliced shrimp, and crisp bean sprouts. These crispy rice crepes look like omelets, since their batter is tinted with turmeric. In Hội-An, the bánh khoái are fried in pork fat and are made much smaller than the southern bánh xèo. They’re eaten with the fingers by wrapping pieces in lettuce leaves with herbs, and then dipping them in nước chấm, the Vietnamese lime-laced fish dipping sauce.