Whenever we have a đám giỗ, a death anniversary where family members come together to honor and commemorate the deceased loved one with a celebration, I can always count on dining on an elaborate spread of amazing traditional Vietnamese food.
The dish that I look forward to the most during a đám giỗ is the Vietnamese salad (gỏi). This year's đám giỗ for my husband's grandfather, my husband's cousin, did not disappoint. Her Vietnamese young jackfruit and shrimp salad (gỏi mít non tôm) was simply scrumptious. I was instantly motivated to make my own version, after picking up a few pointers from the master chef herself.
Vietnamese salads have many different textures and tastes, all happening at once. I love the savoriness of the boiled shrimp, the crunch of the roasted peanuts, the exotic taste of young jackfruit, the amazing aroma of freshly fried garlic and shallots, and the sharp tang of the Vietnamese coriander. The dressing for Vietnamese salads is the popular Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce (nuoc mam cham), something I always have in the fridge. You add as much (or as little) as you want to bring all the salad components together.
To make this salad stand out, try making your own fried shallots and garlic. You can always buy fried shallot and garlic but you will quickly notice that the store-bought versions are not aromatic at all. The aroma of fried garlic and shallots that you make yourself is so much more intense and flavorful.
Young jackfruit can only be found in cans in my area unfortunately, and I never like to use anything straight from the can. To remove the awful can smell and possible preservatives, I first blanch the canned jackfruit for a few minutes, drain and rinse. I give it a quick squeeze to remove excess moisture before use.
For the shrimp, I preferred the deveined ones with the shell in tact (heads removed). I find boiling shrimp with shells on is always more flavorful. Once the shrimp is boiled, I halve the shrimp along the backside so they are nice and flat.
Vietnamese Young Jackfruit & Shrimp Salad Recipe
(Gỏi Mít Non Tôm)
2 20-oz cans young jackfruit (Mit Non)
3/4 lb raw deveined, headless, shell-on shrimp (21-25 size preferred)
1 cup raw peanuts without skins
1 bunch Vietnamese coriander/mint (Rau Ram)
Drain the canned jackfruit in a colander or seive. Remove any woody pieces (usually the pulp), if needed. In a small pot, blanch the jackfruit in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse then give it a gently squeeze to remove excess water. Slice the jackfruit thinly and transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
Using the same pot above, clean it out and add about 1 inch water and bring it to a boil. Add shrimp. Give it a quick toss until they all turn opaque (about 2-3 minutes). Drain the shrimp and once cooled, remove shell and slice them in half along the backside. Toss together the shrimp and jackfruit.
Add about 6-8 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce to the shrimp and jackfruit. Adjust if necessary. Avoid having a pool of dressing sitting at the bottom.
In a small frying pan, pan fry (no oil) the raw peanuts until all sides are golden brown. Coarsely chop in a food processor. Set aside.
Remove all the Vietnamese coriander/mint leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Set the coriander/mint leaves aside.
When ready to serve, top salad with Vietnamese coriander/mint leaves, toasted peanuts, fried shallots and garlic.