Monday, June 29, 2009

Fried do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I live in North Carolina. For those of you who don't know, it gets hot here. Really, really hot and humid. Just so you know I'm not being overly dramatic here, last August we didn't have a single day under 100 degrees. We've already had a couple 100 degree days. When it's that hot out I don't want to eat. Except maybe a tomato sandwich. A nice whole grain bread, mayo, salt and pepper and slices of tomatoes. Yum. It's officially tomato season here, you know. I never liked tomatoes until I moved to North Carolina. Now I can't get enough of them. On a summer day in tomato season you'll see tons of tomatoes at the Farmer's Market...Big Boys, German Johnsons, green tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, ugly tomatoes, tiny grape tomatoes, you name it they grow it. The best part is that they all come from a distance of less than 45 minutes away. If you're really lucky, you might get some picked that day that are still warm from the sun. But I digress. I did hit the ol' Farmer's Market the other day and have tons of fixins for salads. I'll be posting my recipes shortly.

This was dinner tonight. Dalat vermicelli with fried tofu. I may have spoken before how I love Asian food. Vietnamese is one of my favorites. I always feel really good after I eat Vietnamese food. What we have here is one of my favorite dishes.
Any good Vietnamese joint ought to have a cold vermicelli dish. It couldn't be more simple. You could totally make something like this at home. It's cooked then cooled rice vermicelli. Just like the vermicelli you get in the pasta aisle, it's a long skinny noodle but it's made with rice flour. It's either served beside or on top of a little salad of lettuce, carrot, cucumbers, sometimes daikon radish and green onions. The noodles are then topped with something. Most places have a list of things like grilled pork, shrimp, grilled chicken, tofu (fried or grilled), egg rolls (a Vietnamese version, much lighter than a Chinese egg roll), and you can usually choose a combination of these. It's usually garnished with crushed peanuts, sprigs of cilantro and maybe sauteed green onions if they're fancy. (Beware peanut-free people...steer clear of Vietnamese food. It's pretty peanutty.) It's served with a sauce too. I've almost always have a clear light yellow sauce, based on fish sauce and vinegar I think. It looks suspiciously like a urine sample when you get it to go. (What? I'm just sayin' is all.) Tonight I got the thick red peanutty sauce that I love more than life itself. It's heavy enough on the fish sauce that Elvis went nuts while I was trying to eat it. (PS. He likes rice noodles now.) (He's so international.) I opted for the fried tofu because I love the texture. It's really soft inside and crispy outside. The tofu was topped with a sweet and salty sauce that just about did me in. Seriously, it's good. I ordered a small for $8.50 and got so much food it was all I could do to hold it while I was eating it. If you're within driving distance of Raleigh, you need to hit Dalat, south of NCSU in the Mission Valley Shopping Center. It's upstairs next to Baja Burrito. Be sure to ask for a to go box too. You'll need it.


peewee said...

Just to let you know we have THE BEST VIETNAMESE just a few blocks from me. So maybe you wanna come up just for that! Best Bun xao noodles I've ever had. YUMMM...gotta go to lunch :)

FoxyMoron said...

YUM. Elvis is a truly modern cat. The one thing I miss living in a small town is the maze of foreign food outlets that the bigger places have.