Vietnamese Bowl

As you can probably tell from my last few posts, I’ve been on a one-bowl meal kick lately. This colorful bowl tastes as good as it looks. I chose tofu for the protein, but salmon, shrimp or chicken would be delicious too. I usually like a spicy peanut sauce for bowls like this, but I was surprised at how much I loved the sweet and tangy vinaigrette.

slightly adapted from: Bowls Of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicous Whole-Grain Meals
serves: 4

for the protein:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons honey
4 (4-oz) skinless salmon fillets; 1 pound large shrimp, peeled & deveined; 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts; or 1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch slabs
kosher salt
canola oil (or other neutral-flavored oil)

For the bowls:

about 3 1/2  cups cooked rice (I blended together jasmine and red rice)
1/2 head purple, green, or Napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups bean sprouts (optional in my opinion)
2 large carrots, shaved into long ribbons with a U-shaped peeler
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro and/or Thai basil (I like both)
2 red Fresno chiles (or red or green Serrano or jalapeño chiles), thinly sliced
Sweet & Tangy Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 cup roasted peanuts or cashews, left whole or coarsely chopped

To prepare the protein, combine the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and honey in a glass or ceramic baking dish or bowl, or in a large Ziploc bag. Put the fish, shrimp, chicken or tofu in the marinade, turn to coat, and cover the bowl or close the bag. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes for the fish or shrimp, up to 2 hours for chicken or tofu. Remove the protein from the marinade and season with salt.

Pour enough canola oil into a large sauté pan to coat it lightly and heat it over medium-high heat until the oil slides easily in the pan and is sizzling hot but not smoking, 2 to 3 minutes; the protein should sizzle when it hits the pan.

For the salmon, put the fish in the pan, rounded-side down, and cook until golden brown and caramelized, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the salmon, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 4 minutes, until it looks like medium-rare from the side. Remove the salmon from the pan.

For the shrimp, cook until they are pink and opaque on both sides, about 5 minutes total.

For chicken, lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook until the first side is caramelized, about 3 minutes. Turn, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. (The juices will run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife, and the chicken will register 165F on an instant-read thermometer.) Remove the chicken from the skillet and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing it.

For tofu, cook until it is seared on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove it from the skillet and slice into triangles or rectangular slices.

To assemble:

Spoon the rice into four bowls. Put one portion of protein on each bowl. Drop a handful (or desired amount) of cabbage, bean sprouts, carrot ribbons, and scallions around the protein and scatter the herbs and chiles over the top. Drizzle 2 tablepoons or a bit more of the vinaigrette over the vegetables and sprinkle with cashews or peanuts. Serve the remaining vinaigrette and any remaining vegetables in little bowls on the side.

Sweet & Tangy Vinaigrette
makes: about 1 1/4 cups
1/2 cup canola oil (or another neutral-flavored oil)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 (3-to 4- inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated, (or equivalent amount of jarred ginger-about 1 heaping tablespoon)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1 generous tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in a clean jar and shake, or whisk together in a bowl. The vinaigrette will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week. It will need to be re-shaken or whisked before serving.


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