By Sophia Hsu
As the city buzzes with all of its social summer activities, a certain question always rears its head, especially if you have friends with a courtyard, backyard, or rooftop terrace: What can I bring to this week’s cookout? Here are three quick and simple recipes to wow your friends, and you won’t have to break a sweat or turn on the stove.
First up is my variation on Burmese cole slaw. Unlike its American cousin, Burmese cole slaw is dressed with a vinagrette instead of mayonnaise and involves a variety of lovely summer vegetables. It is crisp, refreshing, and flavorful all at the same time. I think it’s the fish sauce that makes it so tasty.
Burmese Cole Slaw What you’ll need:
6 cups loosely-packed, finely-shredded green cabbage 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half length-wise 1 cup fresh green beans, stringed and French cut
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1/2 cup cucumbers, julienned
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh shallots
and crushed peanuts for garnish
1 cup white vinegar
1/4 or 1/2 cup fish sauce to taste
1/4 or 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice to taste
1 tablespoon natural sugar
a few cloves of garlic, crushed dried chili flakes or fresh hot chiles to taste
Mix together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside in the fridge. Spend the next half hour or so shredding through the vegetables. You
can replace 1 cup of finely shredded green cabbage with red cabbage for an extra punch of color. Mix everything together and toss lightly with the dressing. Let the combined ingredients marinate at least two hours, then garnish with the crushed peanuts. Makes enough for a large picnic.
Thai Green Papaya Salad (or som tam) This is like a cole slaw, but without the cabbage.
1 large green papaya, peeled and julienned
(I have used jicama as a substitute.)
5 cloves garlic, peeled
5 Thai chiles (to taste)
1 pint grape tomatoes split length-wise
2 tablespoons dried shrimp powder
2 tablespoons tamarind juice
2-5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2-3 tablespoons natural sugar
crushed peanuts for garnish
Using a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic and chiles. Add the shrimp powder. Add the green papaya. Add the wet ingredients to the papaya mixture and continue to pound on the ingredients with the mortar and pestle or mix and mash with the back of a large wooden spoon in a regular bowl. Add the tomatoes, and toss lightly. Cover, and set aside in the fridge for at least an hour before enjoying.
Vietnamese Summer Roll Some call it a fresh spring roll. I simply call it yummy! Though it involves a lot of prep work, you can have the ingredients ready ahead of time and let guests fill and roll their own. You can even shred leftover chicken, pork, or beef from last night’s cookout to be added to the rolls. Use hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, or Vietnamese sweet and hot fish sauce for dipping.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
Washed and dried leaves of a head of green lettuce
Soaked round rice paper wrappers
Julienned carrots Julienned cucumbers
Soaked rice vermicelli
Leaves of fresh mint or Thai basil
To soak the rice wrappers, dip them into a plate of room temperature water for about 5 seconds. A lot of Asian grocery stores sell the plastic net separators if you want to do a large batch at a time. They dry out quickly, so you must work fast. Place a leaf of lettuce in the center. Place the other ingredients in the center of the leaf. Roll one side towards the center, and fold the two sides perpendicular over what you just rolled in. Then, roll the whole package towards the last side. The rice wrapper should be sticky enough to keep itself closed.