Make, Jane, make!: Vietnamese Sausage (Nem Nuong) Lettuce Wraps


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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vietnamese Sausage (Nem Nuong) Lettuce Wraps

Summer always calls for meals that are full of fresh and raw greens served with grill-marked meats. And although the heat never fully arrived this year that didn't stop anyone from firing up the charcoal and enjoying some outdoor cooking, right?

This summer, we've received such beautiful lettuce and radicchio from our farmshare that it was inevitable that we would consume a lot of it in cup/wrap form. And what's our favourite filling for our lettuce wraps? Nem nuong. Delicious grilled pork.

(Jump to the recipe)

My parents spent most of their childhood in Vietnam, so we've always eaten a lot of Vietnamese food (to the point where I was well into my teens before I could clearly draw the line between Chinese food and Vietnamese food). These Vietnamese grilled sausages are one of my mom's favourites. Sweet and salty and garlicky - they pair well with Vietnamese vermicelli (bun) or soup noodles (pho), inside Vietnamese springs rolls, or wrapped up in a lettuce leaf.

This time around I made them with some absolutely delicious ground turkey from Round the Bend farm, which also supplies us with most of the veggies in my summer recipe posts via their weekly CSA box.

Our usual fillings other than the sausage are julienned cucumbers and carrots, glass noodles, shredded egg, cilantro, thai basil, fried shallots and peanuts. Though we've also thrown in peppers, fried tofu, bean sprouts, mint and other leftovers from the fridge with yummy results as well.

Anyway, this post is about three weeks late because I kept falling asleep while trying to write it... but better late than never. Here's the recipe to try in the last remaining weeks of bbq season...


Nem Nuong

3 lb  ground pork (or turkey)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tb lemongrass, minced*
6 Tb fish sauce (nuoc mam)
5 Tb sugar
3 Tb roasted rice flour
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tb water

*I have fresh lemongrass growing in my garden, so I use only about 1 tablespoon 'cause it's so fragrant. I know, I'm spoiled.
  1. Mix together the meat, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, rice powder, and pepper. Use your hands (they will be getting dirty later anyway when you form the sausages) to get it mixed really well, the meat should start looking smooth.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the baking powder and water together and pour the foamy liquid into the meat mixture.
  3. Add the roasted rice powder to the meat mixture as well and mix well again. The meat will be very sloppy and kinda sticky.
  4. Form sausages or meatballs or patties. You could also form sausages around a skewer if you're finding it hard to get them to hold a shape.
  5. Grill or broil until the meat is done.
  6. Serve however you like, they are delicious any which way. We like dipping them into a sweetened nuoc mam (simple syrup + fish sauce + lime juice + minced garlic +/- minced chilies).

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