Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Salmon, Rice Vermicelli, Pea Shoots, and Hoisin

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Suggested wine: gewürztraminer; riesling
Think of these as a salad you can hold in your hand. Flavorful, healthful, and beautiful to look at, these salad rolls make perfect hors d’oeuvres, a first course to the start of an Asian meal, or picnic fare for a summer outing. Even though the ingredient list is long, these are quick to put together and easy to assemble. My teenage daughter, Molly, makes these when I have leftover grilled salmon in the refrigerator. She uses whatever interesting greens I have on handwatercress, mesclun, a little mint—and then pulls some bottled peanut sauce from the pantry shelf. Make this dipping sauce—it’s terrific—but if you are in a hurry, bottled peanut sauce will work, too.


Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chunky natural peanut butter, warmed slightly to soften
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • ¾ teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 salmon fillet (12 ounces), pin bones removed
  • 1 package (2 ounces) rice vermicelli (bean threads) (see Cook’s Notes)
  • Eight (8-to 9-inch) round rice paper wrappers (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 2 ounces pea shoots (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 4 green onions, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and then cut into 4-inch lengths
  • 16 sprigs fresh cilantro
TO MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE: Combine the peanut butter, hoisin, water, fish sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Stir until well blended. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, soak the rice vermicelli in a medium bowl of warm water until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside covered with a damp paper towel.
Set an oven rack or broiler pan about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Drain the marinade. Broil the salmon, skin side up, until bronzed, 3 minutes. Turn the salmon and broil until it is bronzed and flakes slightly when nudged with a fork, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the salmon into 8 long, thin strips.
To assemble the salad rolls, have ready a large bowl of warm water and a clean, dry linen towel. Working with one rice paper wrapper at a time, dip the wrapper in the water for 5 seconds, turning to wet both sides. Arrange on the towel. As you assemble the rolls, use ⅛ of the ingredients for each roll: Lay a small portion of pea shoots, horizontally, on the bottom third of the wrapper. Top with a small mound of noodles, spreading them horizontally. Place a piece of salmon, 2 pieces green onion, and 2 sprigs cilantro horizontally on top. Roll the wrapper over the filling, creating a cylinder. Roll it halfway over again and then fold in the sides of the cylinder, envelope style. Continue rolling the wrapper into a finished cylinder. Place on a platter and continue rolling the rest of the salad rolls. Cover with a damp paper towel and then with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve. The salad rolls can be made up to 2 hours ahead. When ready to serve, cut each salad roll in half on the diagonal. Arrange on a platter or on individual small plates and serve with little bowls of dipping sauce.


Rice vermicelli, also called bean threads or cellophane noodles, are translucent threads made from the starch of mung beans. They have a wonderful texture once softened. Typically, bean threads come in 2-ounce cellophane bags, usually bundled in packages of 6 or 8 and wrapped in neon pink or plastic mesh bags.Rice paper wrappers (banh trang) are sometimes labeled “spring roll wrappers.” These are thin, translucent dried sheets made from rice, water, and salt. They come in various sizes and are either round or square. They are softened in warm water and used fresh, or they can be stuffed, rolled, and deep-fried.Pea shoots (dau miu) are the delicate, crisp vines and tender leaves of the green pea plant. Pea shoots taste like a cross between peas and spinach, with a hint of spicy watercress. Look for these ingredients in well-stocked supermarkets or in Asian grocery stores.
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Suggested wine: Chablis; pinot gris; sauvignon blanc
One of the most delicate and least-embellished salmon preparations is gravlax, a Scandinavian specialty in which the fish is cured by means of a salt and sugar rub. No cooking is involved. I like to think of this paper-thin sliced raw fish as one step beyond Japanese sashimi. Typically, gravlax is seasoned with fresh dill, a brandy such as Cognac, and spruce sprigs. Not everyone has a spruce tree growing in his or her yard, including me, so I’ve decided to re-create that woodsy flavor by including gin in my recipe. The gin’s mild juniper berry flavor is a lovely accent with the dill. Serve the salmon with buttered pumpernickel as an appetizer or first course along with thin slices of cucumber. The salmon can be garnished with chopped chives, scallions, capers, minced shallots, or lemon zest. Drizzle the salmon with extra-virgin olive oil if you desire.


  • ½ cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 salmon fillet (3 to 4 pounds), skin on and scaled, pin bones removed
  • 10 sprigs fresh dill, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup gin
Select a 2 -inch-deep glass or ceramic baking dish that fits the length of the fish as closely as possible. In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar and spread half of this mixture on the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the salmon, skin side down, in the dish. Gently rub the remaining salt mixture over the flesh side of the fillet. Spread the dill over the fillet. Slowly drizzle the gin over the fish, being careful not to rinse off the salt cure.
Place a large sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the fish. Select a slightly smaller baking dish, or some other large, flat object, to rest on top of the fish. Place something that weighs several pounds in the top of the dish. I use full beer bottles set on their sides. Place the weighted salmon in the refrigerator for at least 2 days or up to 5 days. Turn the salmon once a day, being sure to weight the salmon after each turn.

To serve, skin the fillet, then cut the fillet into ⅛-inch-thick crosswise slices. Arrange on a platter and garnish as desired. Gravlax keeps for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. To freeze for up to 3 months, wrap the gravlax completely in plastic wrap and then in a double layer of aluminum foil.

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Salmon Rillettes

Suggested wine: California or French chardonnay; chardonnay-semillon blend
I obtained this recipe years ago from Lucien Vanel, who owns Restaurant Vanel in the old city of Toulouse, France. The mixture improves with age, making it a perfect do-ahead hors d’oeuvre for a party. It will keep up to 1 week under a layer of clarified butter. Plan to make it at least 2 days before serving to allow the flavors to meld.


  • 1 salmon fillet (1 pound), skin and pin bones removed
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon (lox), cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Freshly ground white pepper
Cut the fillet into 4 equal portions. Sprinkle with the salt and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
To make clarified butter for sealing the rillettes, melt 7 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauté pan. Pour the butter into a 1-cup glass measure and set aside until the foam comes to the top and the milky residue settles to the bottom. Skim off the foam and carefully pour the clear yellow liquid into another measuring cup or small bowl. Discard the milky residue. Set the clarified butter aside.
Using the same sauté pan set over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter until it foams. Add the shallot and sauté until soft but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the salted salmon pieces in one layer and pour the wine over the top. Cover the salmon with a piece of waxed paper, and then with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 2 minutes. Turn the salmon, cover, and cook just until the fish turns opaque, about 2 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat but keep it covered and let the salmon cool in the pan.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the remaining 7 tablespoons butter until creamy. Use a fork to flake the cooled salmon and add it to the work bowl. Add the smoked salmon and pulse the mixture just until combined. The texture should be grainy—do not process until smooth. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, egg yolk, nutmeg, and a little pepper. Pulse just until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Pack the rillettes into either two 1-cup crocks or ramekins, or one 2-cup ramekin. Smooth the surface. If the clarified butter has solidified, heat it just until melted but not hot. Pour just enough butter over each ramekin to cover the rillettes by about ⅓ inch. Refrigerate.
Remove from the refrigerator about 40 minutes before serving. Remove the layer of butter by running a paring knife around the rim of the ramekin and lifting off the butter. (Scrape any of the salmon mixture off the butter and save the butter for later cooking. Use within a couple of days.) Serve the rillettes at room temperature, accompanied with crostini or crackers.
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Smoked Salmon with Lemon-Chive Shortbreads

Suggested wine: riesling; pinot grigio
These may seem like fussy little appetizers, but they’re not. What I like to do is make the dough, roll out and cut the shortbreads, then freeze the unbaked cookies. In a pinch, when company is coming, I’ll put a couple dozen on a baking sheet straight from the freezer and have instant hors d’oeuvres. The herbed cream cheese is a snap to mix together, or you can buy a goodquality herbed blend from the local deli where you buy lox. This recipe makes plenty for a large cocktail party, or you can pull out a dozen or so at a time for a dinner party.


Lemon-Chive Shortbreads
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons medium-grind cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh chives
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 30 minutes at room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • 10 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon (lox)
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Pulse several times to combine. Add the chives and lemon zest and pulse twice to combine. Distribute the butter and goat cheese evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse just until the dough forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, wrap well, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend together the cream cheese, pepper, and the 2 teaspoons dill. Cover and refrigerate. Cut the salmon slices into l-by-1½-inch strips. Roll the strips into little tubes and arrange on a plate ready to assemble the appetizers. Cover and refrigerate.
Position the oven racks in the center and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 3SO°F. Have ready 2 nonstick or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin lightly dusted with flour, roll the dough ⅛ inch thick. Cut out shortbreads with a 1¼-inch-diameter cookie cutter and place ½ inch apart on the baking sheets. Gather the unused pieces of dough, reroll, and cut additional shortbreads until all the dough is used. Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.
To assemble, using a table knife, dab a small amount of the herbed cream cheese in the center of each of the shortbreads. Place a piece of salmon on top and garnish with a tiny sprig of dill. Arrange on a serving platter. Serve immediately, or loosely cover and keep at room temperature for up to 1 hour.


These shortbreads are best when baked the day of serving. They freeze well unbaked. Roll and cut out the cookies, layer between sheets of waxed paper, and freeze in a covered container. The shortbreads can be made up to 1 month in advance. Bake without thawing, allowing for a slightly longer baking time. Alternatively, the dough can be made 2 days in advance, wrapped tightly, and refrigerated.
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Thai Coconut Soup with Salmon, Ginger, and Lemongrass

Suggested wine: Alsatian or Oregon pinot gris; riesling; gewùrztraminer
Don’t be discouraged from making this soup because of the long list of ingredients—this is a quick one-pot meal. I purposely cook the rice noodles first so the pot can be rinsed and reused. (I love to cook, dislike doing dishes, and am always trying to figure out handy cleanup-saving methods!) If your supermarket doesn’t have all the ingredients you need, either head to an Asian market to pick up supplies or order them online. The curry pastes will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. Rice noodles and Thai fish sauce are a boon to have in the pantry. Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator or can be frozen.


  • 6 ounces rice vermicelli (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin wedges
  • ¼ teaspoon Thai red curry paste (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 2 teaspoons Thai yellow curry paste (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed to about 8 inches long, halved lengthwise and flattened with the flat side of a knife
  • 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves or 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 salmon fillet (1 pound), skin and pin bones removed , cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 ounces bean sprouts, soaked in ice water for 10 minutes, then drained
  • ¾ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil or sweet basil leaves, shredded (see Cook’s Notes)
Fill a 6-quart soup pot two-thirds full of water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice vermicelli and salt and cook the noodles until they are soft but not completely tender, 4 minutes. (They will finish cooking once added to the soup.) Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water, drain again, and set aside. Rinse and dry the pot.

In the same pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat and swirl to coat the pan. Sauté the ginger, garlic, and onion until well coated with the oil, 1 minute. Cover the pan and cook the aromatics until softened but not brown, 2 minutes longer. Add the red and yellow curry pastes and sauté, stirring constantly, until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, lemongrass, and lime leaves or juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
Using tongs, remove the lemongrass and lime leaves from the soup. Add the fish sauce and reserved noodles to the soup and simmer for 3 minutes. (At this point, the soup can be made up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate, covered, then bring back to a simmer.) Add the salmon and simmer just until the fish is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Divide among warmed deep bowls and serve immediately. Pass the garnishes at the table.


Rice noodles are sold primarily in Asian grocery stores, but many well-stocked supermarkets also have them. Rice vermicelli, a long, thin rice noodle, is just one style. These noodles are extra-thin, about 8 inches long, and sold in cellophane packages. Within the package, the noodles are either loose or neatly bundled with a string. If you can’t find rice vermicelli, the slightly wider rice stick noodles will work, too.Thai red and yellow curry pastes are available in small jars and cans at supermarkets or Asian grocery stores. Thai red curry paste is made of ground red chiles, herbs, and spices and packs a punch. Use more (or less) to please your taste buds.
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Rice Noodle Soup with Salmon, Baby Bok Choy, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Suggested wine: German riesling
Think of this as a salmon pho, the Vietnamese equivalent of comforting and hearty noodle soup usually made with beef. I’ve skipped a few of the traditional salad garnishes to make this a quick, easy weeknight meal in a bowl, but feel free to add a few more garnishes if you like. Sliced green onions and bean sprouts would be good, and pumping up the heat with a little sriacha, a chile purée, will give the soup an extra kick. This soup is especially welcome on a chilly, rainy night, and I always enjoy any leftovers.


  • 5 ounces rice stick noodles (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 8 large dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 yellow onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 serrano chiles, including seeds and ribs, cut into thin rounds
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 6 heads baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • 1 salmon fillet (1 pound), skin and pin bones removed , cut into 6 equal portions
  • ¾ cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil or sweet basil leaves, shredded (see Cook’s Notes)
Place the rice stick noodles in a large bowl and cover completely with hot water. Soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Rinse under warm water, drain, then cover and set aside.
Place the mushrooms in a small container with a tight-fitting lid, fill the container to the top with hot water, and cover. (Using a covered container keeps the mushrooms completely submerged.) Soak the mushrooms until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain, discard the stems, and cut the mushrooms into thin strips. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 6-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat and swirl to coat the pan. Sauté the garlic, ginger, onion, and chiles until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, and anise. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the carrot and reserved mushrooms and cook until the carrot is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the bok choy and salmon. Simmer just until the salmon is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes longer.
Divide the noodles among 6 heated soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and top each bowl with a piece of salmon and 2 portions of bok choy. Garnish with the basil and serve immediately.


Rice noodles are sold primarily in Asian grocery stores, but many well-stocked supermarkets also have them. The noodles used in this recipe are Thai or Vietnamese translucent flat rice stick noodles about ¼ inch wide. The package will be labeled rice stick (ban pho or sen yai). • Dark soy sauce, sometimes labeled “black soy sauce “ or “soy superior sauce,” is aged for longer periods than regular soy sauce and usually contains molasses. It adds a distinct and hearty depth of flavor to a dish. My favorite brand is Koon Chun Black Soy. If you can’t find dark soy sauce, substitute 1 tablespoon of regular soy mixed with ½ teaspoon of molasses.Thai sweet basil (bai horapha) has purplish stems, green leaves, and an aniseed aroma and flavor. It is commonly used in soups, curries, and stir-fried dishes. Though primarily sold in Asian grocery stores, many well-stocked natural foods stores carry Thai basil. Substitute Italian sweet basil if necessary.
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Salmon Cakes with Satsuma, Red Onion, and Jicama Slaw

Salmon Cakes with Satsuma, Red Onion, and Jicama Slaw 
 Suggested wine: Spanish albariño or Portuguese alvarinho
What I love about this recipe is that, except for frying the salmon cakes, everything can be made ahead, and that takes the stress out of dinner parties. Just like perfect crab cakes that fall apart with the touch of a fork, these salmon cakes have no heavy binders and aren’t bogged down with fillers such as bread crumbs. The fresh taste of salmon, accented with ginger, onion, and herbs, makes these light, delectable, and crisp edged when rolled in Japanese bread crumbs. As a nice contrast and an addition to the plate, I’ve added a citrus-infused jicama slaw with lots of cilantro, red onion, and plump satsuma oranges.


Salmon Cakes
  • 1 salmon fillet (12 ounces), skin and pin bones removed
  • 2teaspoons olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • ½ cup finely diced celery
  • ½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Jicama Slaw
  • 12 ounces jicama, peeled and cut into ⅛-by-2-inch matchsticks (about 2 cups)
  • ½ small red onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin wedges
  • 3 satsuma oranges, peeled, white pith removed, and sectioned
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1¼ cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
TO MAKE THE SALMON CAKES: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the salmon in a shallow baking dish, rub all over with the olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the fish until the fat between the layers turns opaque, almost white, and the fish flakes slightly when pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes. Alternatively, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the salmon; when it registers 125° to 130°F, the fish is done. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet or sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan. Add the ginger, onion, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add */? teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, thyme, chives, and parsley. Stir to blend. Using a fork, flake the salmon into small pieces and add it to the mixing bowl. Add the vegetables. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix the ingredients, being careful not to mash the salmon. Form the mixture into 12 cakes about 1¾ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Place the salmon cakes on a rimmed baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes or up to 8 hours.
TO MAKE THE JICAMA SLAW: Combine the jicama, onion, satsumas, and cilantro in a large bowl. Toss to mix well. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, mustard, cumin, salt, sugar, and a few grinds of pepper to taste. Stir vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour the dressing over all and toss to mix well. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and refrigerate. (The jicama slaw can be made up to 1 day in advance.) Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Toss again just before serving.
To finish and fry the salmon cakes, spread the bread crumbs on a dinner plate and roll the salmon cakes in the bread crumbs, coating all sides well. Set aside. In a large sauté pan, preferably cast iron, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the oil over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat the pan. Working in batches and without crowding the pan, brown the salmon cakes on one side, about 3 minutes, then flip them over and brown the other side, about 3 minutes longer. Serve immediately, accompanied with the jicama slaw.
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