In the past month or so, I have been trying to reduce the amount of meat while increasing the amount of vegetables that I’m eating. The reasons that I am doing so are a bit more selfish, as I really needed to change from the overly processed foods that I’ve been eating more of recently.
One of my favorite meals that I have always liked to eat is a Vietnamese roll called bò bía; which includes carrots, jicama, herbs and lettuce wrapped in rice paper, and is usually dipped in a peanut sauce. Other non-vegetarian or non-vegan versions include a combination of eggs, Chinese sausages and, sometimes, shrimp. I haven’t been really fond of those additions, as I’ve found fried tofu to be more than sufficient. I also shun the rice paper wrapper, as the filling makes for a perfect salad when combined with lettuce.
What you’ll need (sorry metric-phobes):
- 3 medium carrots, washed but not peeled
- 1 small jicama, peeled
- 1/2 sweet onion, julienned
- 250 g of fried tofu
- 10-12 leaves of thai basil, roughly chopped
- A handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 150 mL roasted cashews, chopped
- Salt, white or black pepper, red chili flakes
First, you will need to cut the carrots and jicama into about 5 cm by 2 cm slices. The carrot slices should be fairly thin while the jicama slices can be a bit thicker. Next, cut the fried tofu into about 7 cm long by 1 cm thick slices. Combine the carrot and jicama slices and julienned onion in a non-stick saute pan. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher or sea salt, grind in some white or black pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Lightly saute over medium-high heat until the carrots and jicama slices have partially softened. Lower the heat to medium and add the sliced fried tofu and continue to cook with the pan covered, until the tofu is heated thoroughly. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, stir in the 100 mL of the chopped cashews and leave to cool.
While waiting for the bò bía to cool, combine 120 ml of hoisin sauce, the remaining 50 mL of chopped cashews and 10-15 mL of Siracha hot sauce in a small bowl.
Once cooled to about room temperature, lightly toss in the herbs. Serve the bò bía as-is with some of the sauce made earlier as a salad, or wrapped with butter or green leaf lettuce with the sauce as a dip.
Now, if you really want to add meat to this, you can replace the fried tofu with boiled chicken breasts that has been shredded or sliced Korean-style bacon. Want surf-and-turf? Add some cooked 36-40 shrimp with the Korean-style bacon. If you are going to do that, I would recommend skipping the bò bía and eat it with rice noodles, omlette and pickled carrots doused with a mixture of fish sauce, lime juice, Siracha, grated ginger and garlic. Serve that with cilantro and thai basil… yum. That right there is my favorite comfort food.