Saturday, 26 September 2015

150 Best Spiralizer Recipes

150 Best Spiralizer Recipes
By Jennifer Williams and Marilyn Haugen
Paperback, 208 Pages

I know. You don't think you need another gadget. Clearly you are wrong. You need a spiralizer.

I have had mine for a few years now and I absolutely love it. A whiz with potatoes, zucchini, beets, yams, squash... and I have to admit that is all I have used it for.

Now I have a wonderful resource that has opened my world. Okay, my spiralizing world.

This handy and fun gadget makes veggies (and fruit) more fun and versatile than you can imagine.

You can replace noodles with veggies for a health conscious, refreshing and even gluten-free dish. Don't get me wrong, I love noodles, but switching them up for veggie goodness part of the time is great. Makes my halo shine a little brighter and leaves room for ice cream.

The fun shapes make the veggies more palatable for children and makes for a great way to get them to eat healthier.

And they aren't expensive, mine was about $60 in Canada and they have gone down quite a bit since becoming more popular. Amazon has them ranging from $10 to $45. I personally like the ones with a few blades to choose from and that sit steady on the counter while you use them. They seem easier to handle and safer to use with harder veggies.

Get the gadget and get the book. Add a new element to your cooking, without paying a fortune. You will eat healthier and have fun in the process.

The 150 recipes include some of these delicious offerings: Thai Salad with Peanut Lime Dressing, Spinach and Apple Salad with Pecans, Cranberries and Feta, Pancetta and Lentils with Zucchini Pasta, Curry Beef with Sweet Potato Noodles, Chicken Tetrazzini, Summer Squash Galette, Savory Skillet Turkey Sausage with Potato-Celeriac Noodles and Mexican Chayote Squash Spaghetti Pie.

Zesty Shrimp and Squash Vermicelli Soup
This one-pot dish pairs a little heat from chile peppers with the slightly sweet taste of butternut squash. Top that with shrimp and you have a flavorful, comforting dish.

2    dried ancho chile peppers, stems     2
    and seeds removed
    Hot water
2    butternut squash necks (at least     2
    4 inches/10 cm long)
2 tbsp    extra virgin olive oil     30 mL
1    onion, chopped    1
2    cloves garlic, minced    2
1 tsp    ground sage    5 mL
1 tsp    ground cumin    5 mL
4 cups    ready-to-use reduced-sodium     1 L
    chicken broth
1 lb    medium shrimp (31 to 35 count),     500 g
    peeled and deveined
1⁄4 cup    chopped fresh cilantro    60 mL
1⁄2 cup    sour cream or yogurt (optional)     125 mL

1.    Soak chiles in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened. Drain and chop.

2.    Meanwhile, peel butternut squash necks and trim to 4 inches (10 cm) long, with flat ends. Using a spiralizer, cut squash into thin strands. Set aside.

3.    In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, sage and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until onions are light golden and garlic is fragrant.

4.    Stir in chiles and broth; bring to a simmer. Add squash, reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until just starting to soften. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are pink, firm and opaque and squash is cooked to desired tenderness. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and sour cream (if using).


Courtesy of 150 Best Spiralizer Recipes by Marilyn Haugen & Jennifer Williams © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Chicken and Tangy Peanut Sauce over Squash and Carrot Noodles
A very colorful combination of vegetables delivers an inviting foundation for the chicken and tangy peanut sauce.

1 tsp    minced gingerroot    5 mL
1 tsp    minced garlic    5 mL
1⁄2 tsp    granulated sugar    2 mL
1⁄2 cup    smooth peanut butter    125 mL
3 tbsp    rice vinegar    45 mL
1 tbsp    gluten-free soy sauce or tamari    15 mL
2 tsp    sesame oil    10 mL
1⁄3 to     water    75 to
1⁄2 cup        125 mL
3    zucchini, ends cut flat    3
3    yellow summer squash, ends cut flat    3
2    large carrots, peeled and ends cut flat    2
    Ice cold water
4 cups    diced cooked chicken    1 L
1⁄4 cup    chopped fresh cilantro    60 mL
2 tbsp    sesame seeds    30 mL

1.    In a medium bowl, combine ginger, garlic, sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce and oil until well blended. Gradually stir in water to reach desired consistency. (The squash strands will add liquid, so you may want to make the dressing slightly thicker than usual.)

2.    Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, using a spiralizer, cut zucchini, squash and carrots into thin strands, keeping the carrots separate. Add carrots to the boiling water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness. Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer carrots to a bowl of ice cold water. Blanch zucchini and squash in the same way, but boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the cooled vegetables thoroughly and pat dry if necessary.

3.    Transfer blanched vegetables to a serving bowl. Top with chicken and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle cilantro and sesame seeds on top.

The peanut sauce also makes a terrific dip for fresh peas in the pod, or a flavorful spread for sandwiches.
If desired, you can toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant.


Courtesy of 150 Best Spiralizer Recipes by Marilyn Haugen & Jennifer Williams © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Spiralized Fruit Tarts
While I often think of tarts as a dessert item, I love to nibble on these little delights for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Whenever you choose to enjoy them, you will want to make them again and again.

•    Food processor
•    6-cup muffin pan, cups lined with plastic wrap

6    pitted soft dates    6
2 cups    raw walnut halves or pieces    500 mL
1⁄4 tsp    kosher salt, divided    1 mL
3 tbsp    raw agave nectar, divided    45 mL
4    crisp, tart apples (such as Cameo     4
    or Cortland), peeled, cored and ends cut flat
1⁄2 tsp    ground cinnamon    2 mL
Pinch    ground nutmeg    Pinch
2 tsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice    10 mL

1.    In food processor, combine dates and walnuts; process until crumbly and sticky. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp (15 mL) agave nectar; process until dough forms a ball.

2.    Divide dough into six equal pieces and press one piece into the bottom and halfway up the sides of each prepared muffin cup to form a crust. Refrigerate.

3.    Using a spiralizer, cut apples into thin strands.

4.    In a medium bowl, combine apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, the remaining salt, the remaining agave nectar and lemon juice. Let stand for 30 minutes or until apples are softened to desired consistency.

5.    Remove muffin pan from refrigerator. Remove tarts from pan and discard any liquid. Using tongs, divide apple strands among crusts, twisting them to fit.

Substitute firm pears (such as green or red Anjou) for the apples. Or use a combination of apples and pears. You will need 4 fruits total.
In place of the muffin pan, you can use four 3- by 1-inch (7.5 by 2.5 cm) mini tartlet pans. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and press one piece into the bottom and all the way up the sides of each tartlet pan.


Courtesy of 150 Best Spiralizer Recipes by Marilyn Haugen & Jennifer Williams © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Mistress of the Court: by Laura Purcell

Mistress of the Court
by Laura Purcell

Paperback, 448 pages
Published by Myrmidon Books Ltd

Some books take you to a different time and place. This is one of those books.

Starting out in a Jane Eyre type bleak life, Henrietta battles to provide for her son and keep her family together. She risks everything to join the Court of Hanover to start a new life and raise her son up out of poverty. She finds a friend and ally in Princess Caroline, but the higher up in social scale she gets, the bigger the problems she faces. And she is not alone.

A story of two women who will sacrifice their pride, bodies and souls for what they think is right for their country and their children. .

And a heck of a history lesson too. Remind me to stay far away from royalty.

From the Back Flap:

Book Tour
The second  in Laura Purcell’s captivating and acclaimed series of novels chronicling the lives and loves of the consorts and mistresses of Britain’s rash, reckless and ebullient Hanoverian kings.

Her first novel, Queen of Bedlam, was published by Myrmidon in the summer of 2014.

Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne.

Henrietta’s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince’s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?

Whatever George’s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit – even if it costs her pride and her marriage.

Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II’s reign.

 About the Author

Laura Purcell is a former Waterstones bookseller who lives in Colchester. She is a member of the Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces and featured on a recent PBS documentary, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court. She maintains a history blog at

Add to Goodreads badgeAmazon UK | Amazon

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel

The Sisters of Versailles
A Novel

Part of The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
By Sally Christie

Trade Paperback, 432 pages

Book Tour

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Historical fiction has a habit of building up slowly, and this is no exception. The reward for patiently soaking up the tone, time and atmosphere is an intimate view into one of the most fascinating places and times in history. The Court at Versailles.

Competitiveness, sexual and religious ambiguity, intrigue and betrayal on all levels. 

And based on a true account of history.

Stranger than fiction.

This on will send shivers up your spine and keep you reading, just to see what will happen next.

From the Back Flap:

A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France's most "well-beloved" monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed. 

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot - and women - forward. The King's scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie's stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

Sally Christie

I’m a life-long history buff and I really wish time travel were a possibility—I’d be off to the eighteenth century in a flash!

Since I can’t travel back in time (yet), I have done plenty of global travel: as a child I lived in England, Canada, Argentina, and Lesotho, and attended eight schools in three languages. I continued my global wanderings with a career in international development, but now I’m settled in Toronto and loving it.

The Sisters of Versailles is my first novel, though I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. When I’m not writing I’m reading, reading, reading; disappearing down various rabbit holes of historical research, and playing lots of tennis.

Find The Sisters of Versailles on Amazon US and Amazon Canada.

Connect with Sally

Website | Goodreads

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Bream Gives Me Hiccups, And Other Stories by Jesse Eisenberg

Bream Gives Me Hiccups
And Other Stories
by Jesse Eisenberg

Hardcover, 288 pages
Publisher: Bond Street Books

There is something special about this Jesse Eisenberg kid.

I am not exactly tuned in with popular culture, and most of the faces on the tabloids are lost on me - but I have seen a couple of movies with Eisenberg in them and have to admit that I would now see one just because he has a role in it.

His dry, mystified but keenly intelligent straightman humour cracks me up. And I guess you have to be fairly learned to pull that off. But I had no idea just how learned and accomplished he was. Writing for some of the world's best publications, writing plays, starring in plays. This is one talented fella.

There is something about him that draws you in. He adapts well to his roles and yet somehow is also always himself.

The same goes for his writing. You hear his voice and humour in every passage. And laugh.

This is a treasure of a book. Quick to read and quick to make you laugh. A lot.

There is some repetition in the stories, which, by the end, I figured was intentional. Like a hook in your favourite songs.

Take this book wherever you need a happy. Commuting, long lines, avoiding that certain someone.

Guaranteed to make you smile.

From the Back Flap:

From Academy Award-nominated Jesse Eisenberg comes a collection of hilarious stories that tackle the modern world from multiple yet equally absurd and poignant points of view.

     The series of stories that gives the book its unusual title are written from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy whose mother brings him to expensive Los Angeles restaurants so that she can bill her ex-husband for the meals. One story in the "Bream Gives Me Hiccups" series begins: "Last night, Mom and I went to Thanksgiving dinner at a Vegan family's house, which is kind of like going to Temple for Christmas. Mom said that Vegans are 'people that don't eat any meat or cheese or shave.'" Another series of stories are letters written by a university student to her high school counselor as she grows gradually more unhinged. Other stories imagine discussions in ancient Pompeii just before the volcanic eruption, explore the vagaries of post-gender-normative dating in New York City, and conjure up Alexander Graham Bell's first five phone calls: "Have you heard anything from Mabel? I've been calling her all day, she doesn't pick up! Yes, of course I dialed the right number--2!" Plus there is an email exchange between a boy and his girlfriend taken over by his sister who is obsessed with the Bosnian genocide, an ex-husband reviewing his wife's book online, and Marxist-Socialist jokes, including: "What do you get when you cross a Marxist with a Socialist? Two people who generally feel that the value of a commodity is equal to its socially necessary labor time." In different ways, the stories explore what it means to navigate the modern world, and are all illuminated by Eisenberg's ironic wit and fantastically funny and original voice.

Jesse Eisenberg

Jesse Eisenberg
has appeared in the films 30 Minutes Or Less, The Social Network (Oscar nomination), Holy Rollers, Zombieland, Adventureland (BAFTA nomination), The Squid and The Whale, and Roger Dodger. On stage, he has appeared in Orphans opposite Al Pacino, Scarcity at The Atlantic Theater, and Asuncion at The Cherry Lane, which he wrote. He is also a contributing writer for McSweeneys and his humor essays have appeared in Harpers and The New York Times.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Simply Vietnamese Cooking: 135 Delicious Recipes

Simply Vietnamese Cooking
135 Delicious Recipes
By Nancie McDermott
Trade Paperback, 256 pages

I didn't discover Vietnamese food until my thirties, and had no idea it was such a distinct flavour sensation in itself. Food, dining, the family table are all very important to the Vietnamese culture. Food is expression, tradition, sharing and communicating with friends and family. Food is soulful and restorative.

Vietnamese food has Chinese influence, to be sure. and even some French - from colony days - but the cuisine is all theirs. And it is wonderful. I think that it has replaced Thai as my favourite Asian cuisine.

Simply Vietnamese Cooking is a great book for us North Americans who want to bring the flavours of Vietnamese fare to our kitchens. The recipes are well presented and indeed simple. Most ingredients can be found in regular large grocery stores and specialty ingredients have suggested substitutions if they can't be found (or you don't feel like making a trip to an Asian market). 

The flavours are vibrant and full of life and, unlike many South Asian cuisines, are not really influenced by Indian fare.

Yes, originally grandma would spend all day on traditional dishes, but these recipes deliver the flavour and work with our fairly busy lives. (And why are we so busy anyway? The more convenience items and tools we have in our life, the busier we seem to get) Anyway, the recipes are quick, easy and delicious. I won't tell your guests that you didn't spend days making dinner.

The author, Nancie McDermott spent time in Thailand with the Peace Corps, so came about her love for Asian food honestly. I am so glad she shared it with us.

Summer Rolls with Shrimp and Mint

Goi cuon are known in English as “summer rolls,” “rice paper rolls,” “soft spring rolls” and “salad rolls” — the latter a direct translation of their Vietnamese name. These extraordinary rice paper–wrapped bundles of shrimp, rice noodles, lettuce and fresh mint present an edible sketch of Vietnamese cuisine. Delicate and satisfying, soft and crunchy, as plain as white rice noodles and yet vibrant with the pink and green of shrimp and fresh mint, these snacks invite you to savor the contrasting pleasures of Vietnam’s way with food. Get a little assembly line going with a friend or two and you will quickly wrap and roll enough goi cuon for your picnic or party.

Makes 10 to 12 rolls

8 oz    thin dried rice noodles, angel hair     250 g
    pasta or somen noodles
    (see Tip, below)
12    round rice paper sheets, about     12
    8 inches (20 cm) in diameter
10    Bibb, Boston or other tender     10
    lettuce leaves, cut crosswise
    into 1-inch (2.5 cm) strips (about
    2 cups/500 mL) loosely packed)
1⁄2 cup    fresh mint leaves    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    fresh cilantro leaves    125 mL
5    green onions, trimmed, cut into     5
    3-inch (7.5 cm) lengths and then
    cut lengthwise into thin strips
12    medium shrimp, cooked, peeled     12
    and halved lengthwise
    Peanut dipping sauce (homemade or store-bought)

1.    Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in rice noodles and immediately remove from heat. Let stand until tender and ready to eat, 5 to 7 minutes, gently lifting and stirring noodles occasionally as they soften to keep separate and to cook evenly. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside. You should have about 2 cups (500 mL) of noodles.

2.    Arrange all ingredients in separate dishes around a large cutting board or tray set before you. Have a large platter ready to hold the finished rolls and fill a large skillet or shallow bowl with hot water.

3.    To make each roll, slide 1 sheet of rice paper into pan of water and press gently to submerge for about 15 seconds. Remove carefully, draining water. Place sheet before you on cutting board.

4.    On bottom third of sheet, line up the following ingredients in a horizontal row: a small tangle of noodles (about 1⁄4 cup/60 mL), some lettuce strips, some mint leaves and some cilantro leaves. Sprinkle green onion slivers on top.

5.    Lift wrapper edge nearest to you and roll up and over filling, tucking it in under them about halfway along the wrapper and compressing everything gently into a cylindrical shape. When you’ve completely enclosed the filling in one good turn, fold in the sides tightly, as though making an envelope. Then place 2 shrimp halves, pink side down, on the rice sheet just above the cylinder. Continue rolling up wrapper and press seam to close it, wetting with a little splash of water if it has dried out too much to seal itself closed. Set roll aside on the platter to dry, seam side down. Continue to fill and roll up rice paper sheets until you have made 8 to 10 rolls. Set aside.

6.    To serve, present rolls whole or cut them in half crosswise — straight or on the diagonal. Or trim away the ends and cut into bite-size lengths. Serve with dipping sauce.

For angel hair pasta or somen, cook in boiling water until tender, according to package directions. Drain, rinse and use as directed.
The rice paper wrappers used in this recipe are sturdy once softened in water and wrapped around a savory filling of noodles, lettuce, herbs and shrimp, but while dry and in the package, they are fragile. A given package may contain broken disks and you may have to discard some because they tear or dry out during the rolling process. Buy extra, so that you have plenty on hand. They keep well for many
months even after they are opened so they make an excellent pantry staple.

Courtesy of Simply Vietnamese Cooking by Nancie McDermott © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Sweet and Tangy Soup with Pineapple, Tamarind and Shrimp

Western cooks think of pineapple in terms of sweets and desserts, but Asian cooks relish the sweet-and-tangy contrast it provides to savory dishes as well as sweets. In Vietnam this celebrated soup appears on the table as one of a host of rice-centered dishes, but with its complex flavors and inclusion of shrimp, I love it as a main course, along with rice and a simple stir-fry of spinach or a crisp salad for cool contrast. The ingredient list for this soup is a bit long, but everything comes together quickly. With rice and a simple salad, you’ve got a wonderful meal.

Serves 6 to 8

2    stalks fresh lemongrass    2
1 tbsp    vegetable oil    15 mL
1 tbsp    finely chopped garlic    15 mL
5 cups    chicken stock, store-bought or water    1.25 L
1⁄4 cup    prepared tamarind liquid or     60 mL
    Indian-style tamarind chutney
    (see Tip, below)
2 tbsp    fish sauce    30 mL
2 tsp    granulated sugar    10 mL
1 tsp    chile-garlic sauce    5 mL
8 oz    medium shrimp, peeled and     250 g
1 cup    pineapple chunks, canned    250 mL
    or fresh
4    plum tomatoes, cored and    4
2 tbsp    thinly sliced green onion    30 mL
2 tbsp    chopped fresh cilantro    30 mL
Garnishes, optional
2 tbsp    chopped fresh mint    30 mL
2 tbsp    chopped fresh Asian or any     30 mL
    other type of basil
1 cup    mung bean sprouts    250 mL

1.    To prepare lemongrass, trim away and discard any dried root portion (to make a smooth base), the top half of stalks and any dry, tired outer leaves. Cut remaining portion of each stalk diagonally into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths.

2.    In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine oil, garlic and lemongrass chunks and heat until lemongrass and garlic release their fragrance. Toss for 1 minute and add stock, tamarind liquid, fish sauce, sugar and chile-garlic sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain the soup at a lively simmer and cook, stirring once, for 10 minutes.

3.    Increase heat to medium-high and when soup returns to a boil, add shrimp, pineapple chunks and tomatoes and stir well. Cook until shrimp are pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in green onion and cilantro and remove from heat. Stir in additional herbs and bean sprouts, if using. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve at once.

Instead of the tamarind liquid, use 3 tbsp (45 mL) vinegar mixed with 1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar.

Courtesy of Simply Vietnamese Cooking by Nancie McDermott © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Cha Ca Fish with Fresh Dill, Hanoi-Style

Vivid color and flavor come to mind when I think of this lovely classic dish. Gold and green — the gold from turmeric and the green from fronds of fresh aromatic dill. Cooked at the table in Vietnamese restaurants, it’s a show-stopping treat. My streamlined version of cha ca gives you a delicious, aromatic and gorgeous dish so appealing you will want to make it often and so easy that you can do just that. If time is an issue, you can omit accompaniments, sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and serve this as a main dish.

Serves 4

2 tbsp    fish sauce    30 mL
1 tbsp    vegetable oil    15 mL
1 tbsp    finely minced fresh gingerroot     15 mL
    or fresh or frozen galanga
1 tsp    ground turmeric    5 mL
1⁄4 tsp    salt    1 mL
1 lb    firm-fleshed fish fillets, such as     500 g
    catfish, monkfish or tilapia

8 oz    thin dried rice noodles    250 g
3 cups    shredded lettuce leaves, such     750 mL
    as Boston, Bibb or oak leaf
1 cup    fresh mint, cilantro or Asian     250 mL
    basil leaves
1⁄2 cup    chopped dry-roasted salted     125 mL
    Pineapple-chile sauce, store bought or homemade
2 tbsp    vegetable oil    30 mL
2 cups    coarsely chopped fresh dill     500 mL
    (see Tip, below)
5    green onions, trimmed, white part     5
    chopped and green part cut into
    2-inch (5 cm) lengths

1.    Marinade: In a medium bowl, combine fish sauce, oil, ginger, turmeric and salt and stir to mix well. Cut fish into big bite-size chunks (2 to 3 inches/5 to 7.5 cm square) and add to bowl, tossing to coat well. Set aside while you prepare noodles and other accompaniments, or cover and chill to marinate for up to 1 day.

2.    Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in rice noodles and immediately remove from heat. Let stand until tender and ready to eat, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and then drain well. Transfer to a shallow bowl or a deep plate. Prepare and arrange the remaining accompaniments next to a serving platter for the cooked fish.

3.    To cook the fish, place oil, dill and green onions by the stove. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a bit of dill sizzles at once. Add fish to pan and cook on one side, about 2 minutes. Gently turn and let fish cook for another minute. Add dill and green onions to pan and cook, tossing gently to wilt herbs, for 1 minute. Transfer to a serving platter.

4.    To serve this dish the classic small-bowl way, start each guest off with a small bowl holding a portion of each accompaniment: noodles, lettuce and a few leaves of mint, cilantro or Asian basil. Top with a piece or two of fish with dill and green onions, sprinkle with chopped peanuts and drizzle with a spoonful of Everyday Dipping Sauce. Invite your guests to continue serving themselves in this way.

5.    To serve the big-noodle-bowl way, divide the accompaniments, fish, dill and green onions among 4 big noodle bowls or pasta plates. Season each bowl with Everyday Dipping Sauce and invite each guest to toss with chopsticks or a fork and spoon and enjoy.

Fresh dill is essential in this traditional dish, but it can be difficult to find, especially during winter. If you can’t find it, use a bouquet of fresh cilantro or basil in its place. It won’t be a proper cha ca ha noi, but it will still be a most tasty and pleasing dish.
Courtesy of Simply Vietnamese Cooking by Nancie McDermott © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.