Weekend Herb Blogging is 2 years old! And to celebrate this great event, our lovely founder, Kalyn, has asked us to prepare a doubly delicious post – a combination of vegetables and herbs we like best. For this, I have prepared a dish that presents my favorite combination of herbs and vegetables from Vietnamese cuisine… I won´t tell you the names now (scroll down for the intro), but it is a green and purple combo.
Firstly, let us start with the green part. I guess most of you are unfamiliar with taro stems…
As the name suggested, this long stem is from taro plant. I have blogged about taro tuber here and here. Now it is time for another edible part from the plant, which is my favorite childhood veg. Taro stem has a very special crunchiness which is the result of the `bubble´ net as seen in this photo:
Cooking taro stems is quite tricky since if it is not done properly, you may have an itchy throat in the end. In
I have used taro stems in a rather untraditional way for a northern Vietnamese girl. I cook it in a fish noodle soup. The broth here has light sourness from tamarind paste, and with the crunchiness of taro stems, it is a truly refreshing dish.
But wait, where is my herb? You see, the Vietnamese believe that fish noodle soup must be accompanied by a plate full of fresh herbs. This can be varied based on what is available, but we can normally see shredded lettuce, mint, thai basil. And for me, it will not be complete with this beautiful purple herb – the purple perilla (also known as beefsteak leaves). This particular herb has such a strong aroma, which makes a perfect accompaniment to any seafood dishes.
As for the recipe, I really don´t have any since I forgot to measure the quantity when cooking this. Nevertheless, I am running through a step-by-step preparation so if you want, you can try this at home. (Trust me, once you prepared the taro stems, the rest is super easy).
To prepare taro stems
Wash thoroughly then peel the outer skins.
Cut into pieces of 1 inch each.
Wearing a pair of food-grade gloves, add a generous amount of salt to the taro stem pieces. With your hand, squeeze the pieces until the volume of these pieces reduced by 1/3. Rinse through water and drain.
Then, you need to stir-fry these taro stem pieces with oil, tomato wedges (from 1 tomato) and seasoned with fish sauce. First stir-fry the tomato until very soft, add taro stem and fish sauce. Keep stirring until the taro stem is cooked through and well-seasoned.
Make a light chicken stock by boiling chicken bones with some ginger and spring onion. Discard the bones, ginger and onion in the end.
Choose Rice Vermicelli. Prepare according to packet direction, set aside.
I used flathead since it has lovely flavours, but you can choose your fav white fish fillet.
Marinade fish fillet (500g) with 1 tbsp of good quality fish sauce and 1 tsp of minced shallot. Set aside.
Close to serving, fry the fish fillets in little oil until cooked through. Keep warm.
The herb plates
Finely shred lettuce leaves (the curly varieties are recommended) and Asian herbs (choose from laksa leaves, Thai basil, coriander, and of course purple perilla if you can get it).
Heat up the chicken broth. Add in the taro stem mixture. Season to taste with salt, pepper and tamarind paste. The soup should be lightly sour and well-seasoned.
Arrange the rice vermicelli in a warm bowl. Arrange the fish on top, ladle the hot soup over.
Serve immediately with the herb plate.
How to eat
Put the herb in your hot soup bowl and enjoy the noodles!
I hope you guys aren´t bored with the lengthy post. You all can see more glorious fruit, vegs, herbs and all at the round up over at Kalyn´s Kitchen next Monday. Kalyn will also announce the favourite herbs and vegetables of this year, as voted by food bloggers around the globe. An event not to be missed!