Nigella Lawson, forever stylish, Goddess of All Things Cooking, of Looking Fantastic and Fresh on Camera at All Times, of Simplifying Things to the Point of Laziness, this is my first post in your honor. Surely, it won't be the last.
You see, she is the one who made me realize I wanted to cook and eat and write about both for a living. It started on a visit to my friend Sara in London. She and her sister Tash were out shopping for Easter dinner while I, the pathetic hungover lightweight from across the pond, had been left at the house to come awake at my own pace. Alone there, I wandered downstairs to the kitchen and flipped through their cookbooks, taking a curious delight in the metric measurements. I pulled down a cookbook by Jamie Oliver, then one by Nigella - How to Eat - and pored over them. Later that day I watched Tash prepare a roast chicken and felt like an even dumber, less talented American than I had before. Not only did my nationality prevent me from drinking like a real woman, but I couldn't even roast a bird.
So I flew home - not immediately, of course, I stayed to drink plenty more and be hungover several more mornings - and bought How to Eat. I figured that was what I needed to learn to do. I also found Nigella Bites on TV and plopped on my living room floor with a pencil in hand, scribbling furiously away in a blue-green notebook while Nigella coaxed beautifully done food out of her oven, never abandoning her coquettish smile or letting a bead of sweat sully her English rose countenance.
That's where this recipe came from and I have made it countless times since. It's an old favorite, perfect with a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc or even a sweeter Riesling or Gewurtztraminer, whatever Mr. Food Musings is in the mood to pour. Tonight we had it with a 2002 Cain Musqué Sauvignon Blanc.
Nigella's Vietnamese Chicken and Mint Salad
Yield: 2 servings if you have moderate appetites, or 4 if you eat like a bird. Nigella, Mr. Food Musings and I are all hearty eaters so this can't feed more than 2 in our books.
For the dressing:
1 1/2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 1/2 TBSP fish sauce
1 1/2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBSP sugar
1 Thai or Serrano chile, diced (and seeded if you're a wimp)
1/2 onion, sliced into thin half moons
juice of 1/2 lime
For the salad:
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded (I use a vegetable peeler)
3/4 - 1 cup of chopped fresh mint
1/2 cooked chicken, chopped (Buy a rotisserie chicken from your market. Why kill yourself?)
1. Combine all ingredients for dressing in a bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Combine all ingredients for salad in a large bowl. Pour dressing over top. Toss and serve.