Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gỏi - Vietslaw

*Read me, I'm italicized: We're always looking for ideas for Friday Night Dinner so check the link at the top of the page or simply click right here. Any suggestions welcome!

Do you find that there are some foods that you could just eat and eat and eat? As if that food that is going into your stomach vanishes into thin air no matter how heavy the meal actually is? I do.
You may be familiar with the popular dish Bun Cha Gio (Rice noodles and spring rolls) which I can eat bowls upon bowls of and not small bowls either because it's a dish that has many toppings. Most people that know me know I can eat a lot but there's something different about these dishes maybe it's because they're so delicious and seem so light that they never fill me up.

Gỏi is one of these dishes that I love because it's light, delicious and something you put nuoc mam on. There are a few kinds of Gỏi out there, probably the most popular in restaurants being Gỏi  đu đủ (Papaya Salad) that is usually served with shrimp (at least here in Montréal) though it is normally served with beef jerky. I did a little test run of Gỏi Gà (chicken) minus the gà because I only had shrimp. This salad uses cabbage instead of papaya and is usually eaten with chao (congee), rice porridge. That really doesn't sound appetizing but trust me, it's good.

Gỏi with shrimp 
Printable Version

- 1 head of cabbage, sliced super thin.
- 4-6 medium size carrots, sliced super thin
- 1 large onion, sliced super thin
- Shrimp
- Chicken, torn into pieces.
- Vinegar, I used about a cup ...and a half?
- Salt, a few tsp.
- Peanuts, crushed
- Mint, finely chopped
- Nuoc Mam


Seriously, slice those veggies super thin. My mẹ was not entirely impressed with my idea to use our lovely Kitchenaid food processor and described the utensil she uses to slice cabbage super thin. Now my understanding of Vietnamese is decent, but there are a few conversation topics in which I have never engaged in, for example the description of a bladed object used to slice cabbage super thin. As far as I could piece together the description, I'm sure it looked something like this. I have yet to receive one of those in honourable combat, however not all hope was lost. She told me of how my great grandmother (or was it her great grandmother?) was able to slice cabbage paper thin with merely a knife. Yes, a k-nife. So arm yourself with whatever weapon you may have in your kitchen drawers and slice the veggies long and thin.

The low quality of the camera does not do my paper thin cutting justice.
 Once you are done, put the cabbage and carrots into a bowl. Add salt and vinegar. This will soften the cabbage. Let sit for about an hour. I would turn the mixture now and then to make sure it got all coated in vinegar.

I know what you're thinking: Paper thin. Am I right?
After the mixture has soaked for a sufficient amount of time, squeeze all of the liquid out of the mixture. Ok, look, when my mẹ told me to squeeze the liquid out of the veggies, I pictured someone picking up a handful of stuff, and squeezing it until nothing came out. As I was doing this, my wife looks at me and says "You could probably just put it into a strainer and push down on it."  I looked at her and continued to squeeze chopped up cabbage with my hands. The result?

Perhaps she should've taken a picture of me in the squeezing
process. I certainly couldn't have.
I will let you decide what course of action you wish to take, but before you do, think to yourself, which way seems more fun? Finally, add the sliced onions, shrimp, (chicken), mint, crushed peanuts and nuoc mam. The idea is for the shrimp to be sliced in half and placed red side up on top of the salad to look đẹp (beautiful). I happened to have a bag of small salad shrimp so this wasn't going to work for me. One day I'll provide you with a picture worth looking at, as for today...

I threw on those mint leaves cause I had a lot leftover. 

Oh Nuoc mam, I see you hiding in the background there.

It keeps well in your fridge and tastes great the next day, and the day after that which is good because it makes a lot. 

Mẹ also reminded me that one of my aunts makes a reeeeeally good gỏi, so I'll make it a mission to learn that one. I'm also sort of running out of dishes that I can think of off the top of my head, so I may need to search for inspiration in Chinatown. I also need to renew my passport and it happens to be very close to Chinatown... That was probably the most unrelated way to end.

Edit: I was informed by my cousin that it's actually her dad, (my uncle) who makes the good gỏi. 

It was supposed to be so eeeeasy...


  1. I like your song lyric endings. I'm suddenly reminded that maybe you used to do this on another blog? But I can' be sure.

  2. Livejournal used to have a feature where it would post the song you were listening to at the time of posting. Tycho of Penny Arcade fame does the lyrics thing.