Before Goi Bi Soi Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Salad), there was actually this savory version I made back in February with shrimp and pork. I initially encountered Vietnamese spaghetti squash salad more than a decade ago, when I was back in Chicago for a visit and staying with a college friend. I had just flown in that day, and was taking a brief nap before a potluck my friend was throwing that evening, when her mom woke me up to help in the kitchen. Still a little groggy, I vaguely remember her fishing the spaghetti squash out of a pot of boiling water and being instructed to separate the strands. I've long since forgotten what my friend's mom included in the spaghetti squash salad, just the sense of urgency as she hustled me to finish before guests arrived.
Now, of course, in the privacy of my own kitchen, the only urgency was trying to cook before darkness set in so I could photograph the dish in daylight. I didn't make it. Not that the recipe is difficult, just that it takes a bit to wait for the spaghetti squash to steam and for the pork and shrimp to boil. I didn't add the thinly sliced cabbage or pickled onions like I did to the vegetarian version so that the shrimp, pork, and spaghetti squash would get central play, although you could certainly add some if you'd like. Just added some chopped herbs and tossed with fish sauce dressing. It's best served warm, as cold, congealed pork fat doesn't taste very appetizing. Though if you omit the pork, a cold spaghetti squash shrimp salad is quite crunchy and refreshing the next day.
Incidentally, when I was looking up how to translate spaghetti squash into Vietnamese, a light bulb went off when I made the connection between soi as the classifier for fibers, such as thread, string, etc. Huh. Learn something new every day.
Goi Bi Soi Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Spaghetti Squash Salad with Shrimp and Pork)
For about 4 servings, you'll need:
1 spaghetti squash, cooked with strands separated
1/4 lb pork belly or shoulder, boiled
Half dozen or so shrimp, peeled, boiled, and deveined
1 loosely packed cup cilantro or Rau Ram (Vietnamese Cilantro) or other herb of your choice, roughly chopped
1/4 cup or more Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce)
Optional: Add imitation crab sticks, thinly sliced cabbage, or Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions)
I've boiled, baked, steamed, and microwaved spaghetti squash and prefer the last two methods. Baking takes too long. Boiling needs watching and is a bit soggier. Steaming is best if you have an electric steamer. And microwaving is fastest.
Cut off the ends of the spaghetti squash to allow it to breathe so it won't explode while cooking. Steam the spaghetti squash for 20 minutes or put it into a shallow bowl so it won't roll around and microwave for 10 minutes, turning the squash halfway so it cooks evenly.
While the spaghetti squash is cooking, set a 1-quart pot of water to boil and add 1/4-lb pork belly and 1/4 tsp salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Peel and devein the shrimp, adding them in the last few minutes so they don't overcook. Alternatively, instead of cooking just the pork and shrimp for this dish, you can use a larger chunk of meat and a larger pot and just make Canh (Vietnamese Soup Broth), which is the most expedient and cost-effective method.
When the spaghetti squash is done, slice in half length-wise and remove the seeds and insides.
Once cooked, the spaghetti squash will be quite easy to separate the strands. Just invert the rind a bit and the strands will already be loose.
Further separate any clumps if necessary until you get a big bowl of loose spaghetti squash strands.
Slice the pork and roughly chop the herbs. I only had cilantro on hand, but this would've been so much better with Vietnamese coriander. Slice the shrimp in half if you wish. I tossed in some imitation crab sticks too. Toss with about 1/4 cup Vietnamese fish sauce dressing, or more if you wish.
Plate and serve.
Although, I have to admit, my favorite parts were just the spaghetti squash noodles drenched in fish sauce dressing.
I had plenty of leftovers, so the next day I photographed the Vietnamese spaghetti squash salad in daylight and added some Banh Phong Tom (Vietnamese Shrimp Chips) too.
Just use the shrimp chips to scoop up a bit of salad.
Other Vietnamese salads:
Goi Bap Cai Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Cabbage Salad)
Goi Bi Soi Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Salad)
Goi Buoi Tom (Vietnamese Pomelo Salad with Shrimp)
Goi Cu Sen Non Tom Thit (Vietnamese Young Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork)
Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Salad/Spring/Summer Rolls)
Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Vietnamese Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky)
Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)
Goi Ga Bap Cai (Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad)
Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Pork and Shrimp)
Goi Xoai Xanh (Vietnamese Green Mango Salad)
Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad)
Xa Lach Thit Bo Rau Muong (Vietnamese Steak and Water Spinach Salad)
1 year ago today,
2 years ago today,
3 years ago today, Hot Stuff Cafe - San Gabriel.
4 years ago today, mom's geoduck, dynamite-style and chao oc (Vietnamese rice porridge with clams).
5 years ago today, Weekend Herb Blogging #135.
6 years ago today, Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy Tropical Fruit Salad.