Vietnamese Herb and Salad Plate
Xalach dia is an essential part of the Vietnamese table, especially in the south, a wonderful tradition that brings freshness and variety to every meal. The salad vegetables are used to wrap, to accompany, to enhance, or to alter the other dishes, or they are eaten simply on their own. The salad platter gives each person a chance to vary tastes and textures, mouthful by mouthful, as the various herbs and salad vegetables complement the cooked foods with fresh flavors. What’s more, the salad platter brings color and beauty to the table.
Halfway around the world, in Iran, Armenia, and the Eastern Mediterranean, there’s a very similar salad plate tradition, and its role in the meal is almost identical. In all cases, it makes each person a lively participant in how the meal comes together.
If the list of options looks daunting, just begin by putting out a bowl of salad greens, without dressing, and a bowl of fresh herbs, coriander sprigs, for example, or Asian basil leaves. Encourage your guests to use the greens and herbs as a freshening mouthful between bites of cooked food, as well as to wrap combinations of different foods.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Taste and Texturecrisp, crunchy, herby, tangy, tart
Type of DishCondiments
- Asian or sweet basil leaves
- Mint leaves
- Coriander sprigs
- Leaf lettuce (one or more kinds), separated into leaves
- Small scallions, trimmed
- Small lime wedges
- Bird chiles, whole or minced
- Cucumber slices or chunks
- Bean sprouts, raw or briefly parboiled and drained
- Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad
- Pickled Bean Sprout Salad
Set out the ingredients of your choice on one or more plates or shallow bowls to accompany any meal.
2000 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid