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Joy of Cooking Recipe: Vietnamese Bun Bowls

JOY07_400No one feels like cooking following the chaotic cuisine-marathon known as Thanksgiving. This recipe entails as little cooking as possible and, although it is originally intended for chicken, it works just as well with all that leftover turkey.

*Makes 4 main-course servings

This recipe is easily scaled up and down. Just figure on 4-6 ounces of protein, 3 ounces of dried rice noodles (slightly more if they are “fresh”), and a heaping cup of greens and sliced vegetables per person. If you don’t like fish sauce, an “Asian” vinaigrette will work here, too. That being said, the dressing below is quite addictive and can be made a week ahead of time, though you might have to make a double batch if you want it to last that long.

For the dressing, whisk together in a bowl until the sugar (if using) has dissolved:
½ cup fish sauce
½ cup water
⅓ cup sugar or mirin
¼ cup white vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
1 serrano or Thai chile, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook until done:
¾ pound dried, thin rice noodles (or 1 pound fresh rice noodles, blanched)
Dump in a colander, rinse with cold water, drain thoroughly, and divide equally between 4 bowls. Tear or shred:
1 small head of green- or red-leaf lettuce, half a head of Romaine, or 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage

Divide between the bowls. Julienne, shred, or slice:
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 large carrot, peeled
about ¼ pound red radishes or peeled daikon

5 green onions or one bunch of chives
Divide between the bowls. Thinly slice into bite-size pieces:
About 1½ pounds grilled chicken, pork, beef, or whole shrimp, cold or warm
Divide between bowls and arrange next to the julienned vegetables. Serve with the seasoned fish sauce to spoon over the bowls and any of the following garnishes:
Lime wedges
Bean or radish sprouts
Assorted herbs, such as cilantro, rau ram, sawtooth coriander (culantro), mint, purple or green shiso (perilla), or basil
Chili garlic paste or sriracha
Chopped peanuts

Image courtesy of John Becker

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