Table Salad

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup Mint leaves
  • 2 cups Hand-torn lettuce leaves (green leaf or butter lettuce hearts are best), bite size pieces
  • ½ cup Shaved banana blossom, soaked in acidulated (lemony) water
  • 2 to 3 medium Limes, cut into Southeast Asian style wedges
  • 4 to 6 small Long green chilies or other hot green chili
  • 4 to 6 Vietnamese sesame rice and tapioca cracker (bánh đa or bánh tráng mè), pre-toasted or toast over an open flame until puffed and slightly charred

Method

  1. Gently toss mint, lettuce and banana blossoms; arrange on serving platter.
  2. Arrange lime wedges and chilies on a small plate.
  3. Deep-fry or pan fry the rice/tapioca crackers until they puff (about 10 seconds); drain on paper towels, stack on a serving plate.

Upon arriving in Hội-An, a quaint town in central Vietnam, I asked locals where I could find the best maker of these mild curried noodles the city is famous for. I tried many, but none compared to the exceptional version made by Nguyễn Thị Sinh. I stayed at Ms. Nguyễn’s kitchen for hours asking questions, taking notes, and snapping photos. See Web site for more photos of that special visit. This is her dish, wherein supple noodles float in a light curried broth, topped with roasted peanuts. At Nguyễn Thị Sinh, each table is treated to a few additional plates: one with greens and herbs to add as the noodles are eaten, another with limes for squeezing, green chilies for munching, and a pile of crunchy rice crackers to eat like croutons.

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