Vietnamese Pork and Prawn Salad with Black Sesame Cracker

This Pork and Prawn Salad is a refreshing, filling and delicious dish that really highlights South East Asian cuisine. The use of two proteins, pork for fat and prawn for sweetness come together to create the OG ‘surf and turf’ flavour pairing, the salad has all different kinds of wonderful crunchy textures and finally the dressing is the iconic flours of salty, sour, sweet & spicy. It’s all about the marriage of flavours that come together to create something balanced, harmonious and delicious!

Traditionally this salad is served with fried prawn crackers, however I’ve opted for a favourite, Vietnamese black sesame rice cracker which is an easier and healthier option to make at home. Rather than frying in oil, I’ve learnt to just microwave it for 1 minute and it will puff up into an edible bowl that you can then serve the salad in.

Serves- 2 as a main, 4 as a starter
Ingredients- 16
Cooking Time- 30 minutes
Skill Level- Easy

Ingredients

  • 200g of pork belly
  • 400g or 8 prawns, raw with shells on
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned or grated
  • 1 stick of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1 handful of herbs: coriander, mint, vietnamese mint. Shiso leaves.
  • 1/2 cup of bean sprouts
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 packet of prawn crackers
  • 1 packet of black sesame rice paper
  • ⅓ cup of peanuts, roasted

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 2 lemons or limes
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped


Method

  1. Start cooking your proteins by bringing two pots of salted water to the boil. Place in your pork in one and prawns in the other. Cook the pork for about 15 minutes and then remove and allow to cool.
  2. For the prawns, they only need to poach for 2-3 minutes until cooking turning opaque in colour. Remove and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking any further. Allow to cool down.
  3. Once cool, remove the head and tail of the prawns, peel off the shell and legs. Use  a knife to slice the prawns in half lengthways and remove the intestinal tract. Set aside.
  4. ‘Julienne’ your carrot by peeling, then cutting thin slices on an angle first and then finely slice the other way until you get super fine strips.
  5. Prepare your cucumber by cutting off the ends, cutting in half lengthways and then using a teaspoon to scoop out the core. You need to remove the core because it’s the wettest part of the cucumber and will make your salad soggy, but if you don’t care, you can leave as is. Finely slice and set aside.
  6. Finely slice your onion and soak in a bowl of cold water whilst you’re preparing the rest of the salad. Adding them to water makes them crunchy and removes the bitterness out of the taste, so they're not as overpowering in your salad.
  7. Finely slice your celery sticks and finely chop the leafy tops too. Don’t waste anything. Celery adds a nice crunch to the salad.
  8. Finely chop a handful of mint, but you can use whatever you want or leave out. The mint adds freshness and aroma.
  9. Remove any bone from your pork belly and finely slice into little bite sized square slices.
  10. Make your salad dressing by placing the palm sugar with a tablespoon of water into the microwave for 30 seconds or until it’s fully melted. Add in your lemon/lime, fish sauce, finely chopped garlic, chilli and mix to combine. The dressing should be the perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy so adjust to taste.  
  11. Roughly chop your peanuts with a knife so you have a good mix of chunky and almost fine dust like peanut pieces.
  12. Prepare your rice paper by placing into the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until it’s fully puffed up and white in colour. This is going to become the edible ‘bowl’ that we’ll serve the salad in.
  13. Place all of your salad ingredients into a bowl, add in a tablespoon of dressing at a time and mix to combine until the salad is lightly dressed. Add in half of the peanuts and reserve the remainder for the garnish.
  14. To serve, place your rice cracker onto a plate. Fill the bowl with the salad making sure to place the prawns on top for presentation. Sprinkle the remaining peanuts on top and serve immediately.
  15. To eat, simply break off a small piece of the cracker, add a bit of the salad on top and enjoy like some nachos!

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