Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cold Vermicelli Bowl (Bun Giang) with Pan Seared Halibut

One of my favorite places to go out and eat is Vietnamese food.  About a year ago our small little town opened up its first Vietnamese restaurant and I've been visiting there as frequently as possible.  They recently installed a smoothie machine and the Honeydew Boba has me thinking I just might have to drive that way this afternoon.

I don't always have the time or energy to go out, so I like recreating stuff at home.  One of my favorite things to get aside from the Pho is their Cold Vermicelli Bowl with Pork or Shrimp.  It reminds me of a salad in a bowl, something I would lean towards most nights.

I've been trying to work more fish into our diets for the Misters health sake.  I don't know if I've adequately described him for you before.  He's not Mister Gourmet, a more appropriate title would be "Hot Dog Dude".  Whenever I'm not home to cook dinner he will say, "It's okay, I'll just have a hot dog."  I wish I was kidding about this.  He is just lucky he has someone like me looking out for his health or I could only imagine. 

Before you start prepping the veggies, put a large pot of water on to boil so it will be ready when you are.

Make the pickled carrot and daikon radish mixture first so it can have a few minutes to soften and get some flavor:

Pickled Carrots and Daikon Radish:
2-3 large carrots, peeled
1 - 6 inch piece of daikon radish, peeled
1 cup water
2 tbsp. white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. salt

You can vary this pickling mixture anyway you like I tend to like it a little on the sweet side.  I believe it's just a matter of ratios and you can make as little or as much of the pickled carrots and radishes as you want, I just made enough for the meal. 

In a small pot combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt, heat on medium until everything is dissolved.  Let cool.

I used a mandoline to cut the carrots and radishes into 3" chunks and then ran them through the julienne blade to achieve a thin matchstick size.  Please, please use a finger guard when using your mandoline.

Cover the shredded carrots and radishes with the pickling liquid.  Set aside till ready.

Other veggies you will need to prep:
1 cucumber cut into 2-3" julienne
1 head leaf lettuce
Cilantro leaves
Mint or Thai basil
1-2 small red chilies, minced

Julienne cucumbers into small matchsticks.  I like to chiffonade the lettuce, which is just a fancy term for rolling the leaves up and cutting them into thin strips.  Wash and dry your herbs and chop them and set them aside.  Cut the top off your chilies and remove the seeds, mince and set aside.

Prepare and sear the fish:
1 pound halibut fillet, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
1 tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Pour a little bit of oil on the fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet on medium to medium high heat, when it is hot add the oil and place the halibut flesh side down in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes.

Flip the fish over to the skin side and continue cooking until it is firm about 6-8 minutes.  Only way to tell if your fish is done is to touch it.  You read that right, you have to be okay with groping fish if you want to tell if it is properly cooked.  It shouldn't feel giggly, but not overly firm either.  I won't tell anyone you grope fish if you don't.

Rice Vermicelli:
10oz. package or whatever size you can find dried Rice Vermicelli noodles

Drop the noodles into boiling water and cook until tender 4-5 minutes, drain and set aside.

To assemble the bowls place a good amount of the lettuce on the bottom and side, place some vermicelli noodles next to that, add a nice amount of the cucumber and pickled carrots and radish, add some herbs, and top with a little chile.  In the restaurant they serve you a bowl of sauce that goes on top.  I just used a couple tablespoons of the pickling liquid for the top of mine for a little more flavor.

Oh you likey the photo above?  Me too.  I received a package from Kim - Liv Life that I bought over at Becky's Bake Sale.  I bet you are sorry you didn't go buy something now.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Kim and Family. I love everything in there, but especially the limoncello, the perfume when I opened the bottle provoked a little dizzy spell.





  1. That looks delicious! I love all the colors. I agree, Vietnamese food is amazing. I'm jealous you have a good restaurant near you.

  2. Gina this is just beautiful! I love Vietnamese food but we have no restautants in our area. And Halibut is one of our favourite treats. Your combination is inviting me to try my hand; now I can only hope to find these ingrediensts. Lovely.

  3. It looks really delicious and the photo is beautiful :o)

  4. I haven't had Vietnamese food that much, not too any out in the burbs, but we'll have to look for one. did your husband like this dish, because it is healthier that a hot dog?

    You were very lucky to outbid Chef Dennis for Kim's magnificent package!!

  5. Thanks ladies, yes Becky he loved it actually, it has lots of flavor and it's much healthier than a hot dog.

  6. Oh, Gina, this looks right up my if I could just persuade the rest of the family to eat it! Glad I'm not alone with the picky hubby :)

  7. Gina - this looks and sounds amazing! I have not had dinner yet and wish I had this in front of me right now. Have you been to Le Cheval in Walnut Creek yet? If you like vietnamese food, you will enjoy it.

  8. This looks fantastic! It's a little outside my box, but I've been trying to expand my menus lately and a healthy, highly recommended meal is a great way to start it :)

  9. Gina, that looks so amazing! I love the colors and I've realized that more colors means more nutrition (except with sprinkles :)) and this bowl of food is perfect! I love the combination of flavors...

    And that package from Kim looks divine! I wish I could taste some of that Limoncello! Congrats on being the winning bidder :)

  10. Hi Gina! Me too, I love Vietnamese food and your vermicelli with the halibut is amazing! You even made pickles too. Your photos are beautiful and what a perfect dish! I love it!

  11. Groping fish, eh? I love food porn. This does look fantastic. Unfortunately, I don't think I could get the family to eat another cold noodle dish after the last attempt at such a thing. I think it's gorgeous though.

  12. Gina, this is such a perfect healthy vermiceeli recipe. I love the way you serve...with seafood. :-))

  13. I love this Gina..Beautiful photos and awesome recipe..You always have something good going on here on your blog! Thanks for sharing, and have a wonderful day!

  14. This is a beautiful bowl of health Gina!
    'The hot dog dude' is one lucky guy that he's got you looking our for him and serving food like this, although I do like hot dogs myself with a bag of chips on the side;-)

  15. This is better than healthy! It's gorgeous and delicious,. And husband-person in this house might say, "That's okay. I'll have pizza." Which is why the fates arranged for us to meet!

  16. Healthy and gorgeous! Yes thank goodness Hot Dog Dude has you to feed him...too funny. This is really a nice dish for warm weather and something different from the everyday. I have not delved into Vietnamese much, but loved it when I have :)
    Hope you have a great weekend

  17. Your Mister sounds like my Good Guy. He would exist on ramen and cereal if I weren't in charge of the kitchen. Luckily, he is fairly willing to try new dishes (living with a blogger, that is a must!). That fish sounds amazing.

  18. The halibut looks so gorgeous over rice vermicelli, I love the pickled carrots and daikon radish here, an excellent dish!

  19. Hot Dog Dude sounds like a really cool guy, although you're right, for his health sake you should convert him to Gourmet Dude! And he is SOOOOO lucky to have you, Gina because you're a fabulous cook. This Bun Giang you made looks as good as the ones I've had on the streets of Ho Chi Minh!

  20. I love Vietnamese, too and I hope Hot Dog Dude appreciated this healthy dish. My hubs had to learn new eating habits ten years ago when heart disease struck him down. We gotta take care of our men!

  21. Aw what our men would it if it were not for us looking after their health. Luckily for your hubby he has a super talented cook to keep him healthy and eating like a king. Your noodle bowl looks like my idea of perfect summertime meal. I too love Vietnamese food and hopefully they'll open up a restaurant near us soon.

  22. What a beautiful dish! I love halibut but have not been able to find it in Israel, sadly. Great YBR entry. Looking forward to reading more!