This recipe starts with fresh ingredients and lots of fresh herbs. Butter lettuce seems to work the best as the wrap or cup. For each bunch of butter lettuce, plan on 12 good size leaves.
In Vietnam, salads were often prepared with diakon. Diakon is a type of radish, white and long, that I use interchangeably in this recipe, but today I happened to have farmers market radishes. Radishes, including diakons are naturally cooling and their pungent flavor is highly regarded in eastern medicine for their ability to decrease excess heat in the body that can build up during the warmer months.
They are cruciferous vegetables, along with broccoli and cabbage and share the same cancer fighting properties. In Eastern and Ayurvedic healing practices radishes are believed to be able to draw toxins out of the body, by helping to break them down and eliminate cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
They also happen to add a nice peppery crunch.
Nouc Cham, a Vietnamese dressing or condiment is easy to make and requires only a few ingredients. Lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, chili pepper, garlic and water. For those of you wrinkling your nose at fish sauce, know this: When properly balanced, you don’t really taste it. Without it, the dish falls short. I do understand this requires a bit of trust.
In Vietnam, Nouc Cham is a staple, like ketchup is here. Variations of the basic recipe are used to flavor many dishes, and we most commonly know it as- the sauce that is served with fresh spring rolls. The sauce is a delicate balance between sour, sweet, salty and spicy, bringing all the elements together in harmony. This is not an easy thing to do and takes some practice. Flavoring with fish sauce is tricky if you’re not used to working with it. And it doesn’t help that there are thousands of different brands and varieties that will change the balance in recipes. If you have an aversion to fish sauce, my guess is …you had something where it was overpowering and not properly balanced. Try giving it another shot. Once you experience Nouc Cham, in its balanced state, you will fall in love. And fish sauce, believe it or not, is really good for you too.
- 1 Head Butter Lettuce
- 1 large avocado, sliced (optional)
- 12 large prawns – cooked, peeled with tails off ( if they are very small, double the amout and do two prawns per wrap)
- 6 radishes- sliced or cut into thin strips
- optional veggies-grated or match stick carrots, shredded cabbage, sliced cucumber
- 1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs ( mint, basil, cilantro)
- 2 scallions diced
- kosher salt
Nuoc Cham :
- 3 T lime Juice
- 3 T sugar
- 1 T fish sauce
- 1 T water
- 1 tsp finely minced red chille ( mild)
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
Assemble wraps. Arrange butter lettuce leaves on a platter. Distribute prawns on each leaf. Add a slice of avocado and dived veggies to each leaf. Divide radishes among each leaf, sprinkle liberally with fresh herbs and scallions and a light sprinkling of kosher salt. Serve immediately with Nuoc Cham.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 Wraps