I have always loved Vietnamese cuisine. There are many fine restaurants of that sort in this area, especially up at Little Saigon, where more Southeast Asians reside and have businesses (many of them restaurants) than anywhere in the world outside of Southeast Asia. So maybe that's why I haven't cooked much Vietnamese food at home up to now.
But since we aren't going to restaurants as much as we used to these days (especially since the price of gas has gone up to $4.50 per gallon again as of today in our area, and that's at the cheap place!), I decided to try a dish rather like one we had once at a restaurant and loved.
A friend was coming to dinner. I planned four courses--vegetarian spring rolls with dipping sauce; Vietnamese spinach cooked in the same sauce as the dipping sauce named above; turmeric fish with dill; and banana fritters. Everything was fabulous, though my spring rolls were a bit misshapen.
The meal took a day and a half because of the cutting and chopping, assembling, and cooking. But that aside, I can't really say it was difficult to make, just time consuming.
The fish was so beautiful. I wish I had figured out how to use my new camera (bought at a yard sale a few weeks back) so I could have posted the pic here, but I can describe it.
On an oval black platter, I had covered a bed of thin rice noodles with fresh basil and mint leaves.The fish was filet of sole (very thickly cut), in chunks.These were marinated in a mixture of galangal, finely chopped , turmeric, red pepper powder, garlic, shallots, and a bit of oil. Then I browned some garlic in a half cup of oil, and cooked green onions and white onion wedges in the resulting oil, adding half the chopped dill to that. Then I took that out and browned the fish pieces in the oil. It was slow because there were a lot of pieces and I had to do them a few at a time. And the marinade tended to stick, so it took care not to break the pieces to bits. Then I put the onions/dill together with the fish, added a little fish sauce and the rest of the dill, and it was done. I poured it on top of the noodles, added a bit of chopped peanuts, and dinner was served.
The balance of spices was so good and subtle, I was quite proud of myself, and impressed that the recipe came from online.
The dessert fritters were wonderful too. I cooked them to order because with fried food, that's what had to be done. The halved bananas were coated in the batter, rolled in flour, and fried, becoming creamy. I meant to top it with vanilla frozen yogurt, but I forgot to use it.