08.22.10: dinner (Vietnamese dishes courtesy of Emeril Lagasse)

Vermicelli Salad Bowl with Vietnamese BBQ Pork Meatballs

I don’t know how far back to go with this one. Okay. In New York around seven, I used to enjoy watching The Simpsons, often while eating (yes, we eat in front of the TV, I know it’s bad…) Then, one night, I was horrified to realize that they were removing my precious cartoon for some lousy talk show. But I’m a survivor, and I made do. I started watching Emeril Live on Cooking Channel. I like the show, it just gets a bit repetitive at times, is all. And even though The Simpsons has returned to its predestined time slot, I still flip back to the big E often, I can’t help it.

Grilled Vietnamese-Style Chicken Wings

Last week, the Big Cajun Bostonian (and whatever else he is) was doing a show on Vietnamese cuisine and, what can I say, I got intrigued. More than that, I got the itch. The I saw it on TV and now I gotta do it itch. C’mon, it’s how I learned to make risotto! Anyway, the man was making BBQ pork meatballs and I thought to myself, “Self, I can skewer meatballs and grill ‘em” and that’s the crux of the recipe, two recipes, actually. I opted for the noodle bowl (not the Vietnamese meatball po’ boy). All I had to do was break down and buy fish sauce. I have a hesitation when it comes to stocking my pantry with obscure ingredients as I am a user not a collector of both common and exotic foodstuffs. I relented this time around and got the fish sauce, which is delightfully salty and has a fermented aftertaste that I can only describe as “Parmesan-like”. The meatballs are flavored with shallots, garlic and the fish sauce, grilled and cut up atop a bowl of white vermicelli noodles (made from beans) and shredded veggies topped with a carrot vinaigrette (with, of course, more fish sauce).

Then I thought–I’d like something to go with, especially since the bowl might be a flop (I was concerned about the otherworldly dressing–turns out it was great, but you never know). Again, I must admit something here–I entered the string ‘Vietnamese’ into the Food Network website. What I got was another Emeril recipe for chicken wings of all things. We busted out to Fairway early on Sunday and before noon I had a blended concoction of lemongrass, green onions, ginger, garlic, lime, and shallot to marinate the wings all day while I went to the lab to catch up on some of the science.  I grilled them first on the stove and they were an even bigger hit than the bowls (albeit not as attractive). Next time I have a proper grill at my disposal, I’m impressing the hell out of its owner with these babies.  Thanks, Big E!!!

And so, be open to new possibilities and if you see something strange on TV don’t be afraid. Go to it, friends, and good luck! Until next time, cook on!

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6 comments
  1. Vietnamese food is my favorite! The meatballs look great. Emeril is kind of annoying to me…not sure why?

    • In all fairness, he was quite the overexposed food celeb (much in the vein of your arch-nemesis), but unlike so many of overexposed food celebs these days he at least showed some mastery of the cuisines he took on. His new show on the Cooking Channel is also pretty good–pared down, much like the old Essence of Emeril.

      That said, there are some episodes of Emeril Live that are TERRIBLE, namely the ones where he’s shilling for a book or a film and things get stilted and awkward.

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