Vietnamese food is pretty special. From the steaming bowl of pho to the crusty outside of a banh mi, it’s a cuisine that’s delicate, clean yet full of flavour. Here’s something quite simple to make, courtesy of Ili Sulaiman, the winner of last year’s Food Hero and host of By The Sea With Ili. Let it be the centrepiece of your next party – it’s a great sharing dish enough for two or more, if you double the recipe.
300g dry rice vermicelli noodles
3 cups vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
2 bird’s eye chilli
1 stick of lemongrass
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup coconut water
1 teaspoon corn flour
1/2 cup long bean (broccoli works too)
1/2 cup shitake mushroom
1 stalk spring onion
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon chilli paste
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoon fish sauce
Cut up the dry rice vermicelli noodles into half the length of your serving plate. In a wok, add in the oil. Test the heat with a noodle strand – if it expands immediately, it is hot enough. Now deep fry the noodles and drain any excess oil. Set it aside on the serving plate.
Slice up the long beans, lemongrass and bird’s eye chilli. Julienne the carrot into the size of match sticks, cut up the ginger into thin strips and cut the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Mince the garlic and dice the white end of the spring onion, leaving the green end as garnish.
Remove the shells and heads of the prawns. Devein and then butterfly them. Season them with salt, sugar and pepper before mixing in the chilli paste, oyster sauce and fish sauce. (It is important that the dry ingredients go in first. They help flavour the protein. If not, they end up flavouring the sauce instead.)
Put a frying pan to the stove and add in the oil. Heat the ginger, lemongrass, garlic, chilli and the white end of the spring onion. Fry it until the garlic turns translucent. Now slide in the prawns and add in the coconut water. Let it simmer a little before the vegetables go in. Stir fry for 7 minutes.
To thicken the gravy, mix a little water with the corn flour and pour it in. The prawns are now ready to go over the noodles.
By the Sea with Ili
Asian Food Channel (Starhub Ch 435)