Heat and spice come to life in a noodle broth boasting big, beefy flavours and a simple but saucy salad.
Salmon and nuoc cham salad
400g salmon fillet
3 tbsp fish sauce
60ml peanut oil
2 tbsp uncooked jasmine rice
1/2 Chinese cabbage, very finely shredded
100g bean sprouts
6 red shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 long red chillies, seeded, julienned
4 small dried red chillies, fried in a little peanut oil until black
180ml nuoc cham
Serves 6 as a shared starter
Rub the salmon with the fish sauce and marinate overnight.
Sear the salmon in peanut oil in a very hot pan to get a good dark crust on it. Cook to medium.
To roast the rice, heat the rice in a frying pan over a very low heat until it starts to turn opaque. Crush the rice in a mortar with a pestle. (You may wish to use a blender, but I find that renders the rice too fine and powdery.)
Put the cabbage, bean sprouts, shallots and chillies in a bowl and dress with the nuoc cham. Marinate for 5 minutes.
Add the salmon to the bowl with the other ingredients and toss.
Place the mixture in the middle of a large plate and sprinkle with the rice.
King prawn and udon in fragrant broth
1 medium white onion, peeled and finely sliced into rounds
juice of 2 lemons
600g fresh udon noodles
spring onions, white part only, sliced
handful coriander leaves
12 large cooked king prawns peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthways
6 tsp palm sugar
6 tbsp fish sauce
freshly ground white pepper
Vietnamese mint (rau ram) leaves
sweet Thai basil leaves
2 limes, quartered
sriracha chilli sauce
For the broth
3kg beef brisket
3 litres chicken stock
100ml peanut oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large knob ginger, peeled and sliced
15 red shallots, sliced
2 sticks cinnamon
3 star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
For the broth, put brisket in a large pot with 5 litres of water and bring to boil. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes, skimming off scum and fat. Pour away the water and wash brisket, removing stuck-on protein and muck. Wash pot and put brisket back in. Pour over chicken stock. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, skimming constantly.
Add peanut oil to a hot wok over a high heat and fry garlic, ginger and shallots until golden. Remove and drain. Add to brisket stock after the first 30 minutes. Simmer stock for another hour.
Place cinnamon, star anise and coriander seeds in a dry pan and roast in oven until fragrant. Tip these on top of the stock and simmer a further 1 1/2 hours. The stock should be clear and full flavoured. Remove from stove and pass through a fine strainer, then a piece of muslin.
Thinly slice half the brisket lengthways and keep moist with a little of the broth until needed. (You can use the remaining brisket for sandwiches or other recipes.)
Salt the sliced white onion for 30 minutes. Rinse, dry and marinate onions in lemon juice. Boil the noodles as per directions and drain.
Divide onions, spring onions and coriander leaves between 6 bowls. Place the noodles, brisket and prawns on top. Place 1 tsp palm sugar and 1 tbsp fish sauce in each bowl. Pour over the hot broth and add a pinch of white pepper.
Place fresh herbs, bean sprouts, limes and chilli sauce on a central serving platter for diners to help themselves.
SOMETHING TO DRINK
Hailing from the Wachau Valley on the Danube River in Austria, Domäne Wachau Terrassen Federspiel ($23) is a lively wine with white flowers and green melon on the nose, while the palate is dry with a hint of spice and acidity. Its light, dry texture beautifully complements the texture of the salmon.
* The broth may seem complicated, but it isn't. Once you make it, you'll be addicted.
* For a quicker, easier salad, you can replace the salmon with barbecued pork or roast chicken (just strip the flesh off the bird).
* Nuoc cham can be used in many ways: as a dressing over a chicken noodle salad or an Asian beef salad filled with herbs and fried tofu, or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, prawns or oysters.
Photography by William Meppem. Food styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.