Every New Years Eve, my family and I join two other families to feast. I have posted some of those great evenings in previous posts. A lot of discussion goes into deciding a theme. The theme pushes us through the night in a whirlwind flavor delight fest. This year we decided to go with a homage to Anthony Bourdain. His suicide shocked us. We enjoyed his books, his love of travel and most importantly, his love of food. We will miss him greatly as we appreciate what he has done for global cuisine.
The ladies, L and J picked up cook books written by Bourdain and I set forth working on an idea to pay tribute to the Bourdain I knew. The traveler, which brought my thoughts to Vietnam. Bourdain loved this country. Its people and the incredible food they served on street corners. Umami laden bowls of meat, fish and noodles would be consumed immediately upon landing in Vietnam. Usually getting a bowl of Pho and loading it with a myriad of spicy, lip curling, tongue burning condiments.
It took me a bit of time to settle on what I wanted to cook. An amuse bouche was one component I was searching for plus another simple looking bite. The small portions are needed in our meals because in years past, we were crawling to midnight because we ate too much. A Monty Python moment for "Bring The Bucket!" would be screamed.
The aha moment came when I stumbled on Cha Ca La Vong. A spicy monkfish meal with rice noodles, turmeric and dill. I marinated fish in a fresh turmeric with soy sauce, lemon juice, shrimp paste and chili paste. That alone had a wow factor. I cut the fish into small bite sized pieces and marinated it for two hours. I seared off the fish in a hot pan with sesame oil. Once complete, I added a strand of cooked rice noodles, a sweet and spicy sauce, monkfish and finally the dill. Serving on little spoons, Cha Ca La Vong set the night off into a taste bud frenzy of awesomeness!
The picture looks great. The flavor....out of this world. I do see this dish appearing as an appetizer dish on future menus. Just an FYI that you will not want to miss.
My second dish for the evening was Cha Gio. A pork spring roll. It consisted of julienne carrots, thin rice noodles that were chopped, garlic, ginger, black fungus re-hydrated mushrooms and oyster sauce. The key to this dish is finding Vietnamese Rice Paper. It will be in an Asian Market freezer section. Once deep fried, I added some chili paste to the plate and some great chili oil. Then end result....a crunch bite with a nice spicy kick. I loved everything this dish had. Well worth attempting at home.