Vietnamese Herb and Salad Plate

Xalach dia is an essential part of the Vietnamese table. The salad vegetables are used to wrap, to accompany, to enchance or to alter the[ other dishes — or they are eaten simply on their own.]

Total Time:
3 hr 30 min
3 hr 15 min
15 min

6 to 8 servings

  • Asian or sweet basil leaves
  • Mint leaves
  • Coriander sprigs
  • Leaf lettuce (one or more kinds), separated into leaves
  • Small scallions, trimmed
  • Small lime wedges
  • Bird chiles, whole or minced
  • Cucumber slices or chunks
  • Bean sprouts, raw or briefly parboiled and drained
  • Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad, recipe follows
  • Pickled Bean Sprout Salad, recipe follows
  • Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad:
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 pound daikon radish, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pickled Bean Sprout Salad:
  • 1 pound mung bean sprouts (about 6 cups loosely packed)
  • 5 large scallions or 8 smaller ones, trimmed, smashed flat with the side of a cleaver, sliced lengthwise into ribbons, and then cut crosswise into 2 to 3-inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • Set out the ingredients of your choice on one or more plates or shallow bowls to accompany any meal.

Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad:
  • Cut the tip off each carrot on a long diagonal. Use a mandoline or other vegetable slicer or a coarse grater to slice the carrots into strips, or use a knife to cut into matchsticks. You should have approximately 2 cups. Place the carrots in a large strainer and set aside.

  • Use the same method to make daikon strips. You should have approximately 2 cups. Add to the carrots in the strainer and mix well with your hands. Sprinkle on the salt and toss to mix. Place over a bowl or in the sink and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, in a nonreactive saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature. Don't cook the vegetables, bathe them.

  • Rinse the vegetables briefly with cold water, then squeeze dry and transfer to a medium bowl. Pour over the vinegar mixture and stir gently with a wooden spoon to ensure all the vegetables are well moistened. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

  • To serve, lift the salad out of the vinegar bath and mound attractively on a plate.

  • Yield: 2 to 3 cups

Pickled Bean Sprout Salad:
  • Rinse the bean sprouts well in cold water, drain, and place in a large bowl. Add scallions and set aside.

  • Place the remaining ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

  • Pour the vinegar mixture over the sprouts and scallions and stir gently to immerse all the vegetables. Let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

  • Drain the bean sprouts and serve mounded on several plates.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

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