Make your own Vietnamese jackfruit salad

An Ottawa chef has launched a new cookbook inspired by his travels through Vietnam where he learned the art of the country's vegetarian cuisine.

An Ottawa chef has launched a new vegetarian Vietnamese cookbook

Young jackfruit salad is one of the recipes inside Cameron Stauch's new cookbook featuring vegetarian Vietnamese recipes. (Evan Sung)

An Ottawa chef has launched a new cookbook inspired by his travels through Vietnam where he learned the art of the country's vegetarian cuisine.

Cameron Stauch is the chef behind the new cookbook called Vegetarian Việt Nam, which he wrote after travelling far and wide through Vietnam learning about food from monks, nuns, restaurant chefs, home cooks and even market vendors.  

Many of the vegetarian recipes come from the country's Buddhist population who would make vegetarian versions of traditional dishes on certain days of the month, depending on the lunar cycle.

Monks and nuns, he said, typically ate vegetarian all the time.

"Monks and nuns and vegetarian restaurant owners were really happy that I was taking the time to learn this from them and then to share it with others," Stauch told CBC Radio's All In A Day. "For them is was just another way to help spread eating in an ethical, moral, environmental way."

Jackfruit, one of the largest fruits in existence, is a popular vegan substitute for meat and the star of one of Stauch's favourite recipes, a young jackfruit salad, which he shared with All In A Day.  

For the recipe, he stresses, that a young unripe jackfruit is needed and not the ripe ones, which are typically soaked in syrup. 

Young jackfruit salad

Salad ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds. 
  • 2 tablespoons crispy fried shallots.
  • 1 or 2 toasted sesame rice crackers. 
  • 1 17-ounce (482 grams) can of young green jackfruit in water (drained wight 280 g).
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. 
  • 1/4 pound (112 grams) oyster mushrooms, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. 
  • 1/2 medium carrot, cut into matchstick pieces (1/2 cup).
  • 1/2 small white onion, thinly sliced. 
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped Vietnamese coriander leaves. 
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro. 
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint. 

Dressing ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons sugar.
  • 1/4 cup water.
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar. 
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce. 
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice. 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/2 fresh mild long red chili, seeded and finely chopped, or 1 fresh red Thai bird chili for more heat.
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped. 

Dressing instructions: 

  1. Spoon the sugar, water, rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a small bowl. 
  2. Stir to fully dissolve the sugar.
  3. Add and mix chili and garlic into the dressing. 
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Salad instructions:

  1. Prepare the toasted sesame seeds, crispy fried shallots and toasted sesame rice crackers. 
  2. Drain the jackfruit, rinse well and gently squeeze out any excess water. Cut or pull apart into bite-sized strips or shreds, discarding any hard sections, and place in a large bowl. 
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, stirring to coat the mushrooms lightly with oil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes without shaking the pan or stirring, to brown the mushrooms. Give them a quick stir and cook for another 2 minutes again without stirring.
  4. Push the jackfruit to one side of the bowl and spoon the mushrooms into the empty side to cool. 
  5. Toss the carrot, onion, Vietnamese coriander, cilantro and mint over the jackfruit. 
  6. Pour dressing into bowl and mix well. Scoop the salad, leaving most of the dressing in the bowl, onto a serving dish. Spoon half of the dressing, or to taste, over the salad. 
  7. Decoratively sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and crispy shallots over the top. To eat, break off a bite-sized piece of the rice cracker and spoon a small amount of the salad on top. 

CBC Radio's All In A Day