Laotian crispy rice salad
The obvious choice for my first CSA box of the year ❤️
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Last Friday, I headed over to Winterfell Acres to pick up my very first CSA box ever.
Yes, that’s right. I was a CSA farmer for nine years and never once have I picked up a CSA box from anywhere other than my own farm. It’s hilarious, actually, that I never participated in CSA even as a consumer before jumping into starting our farm, and crazier still that I curated the CSA experience of my dreams without ever partaking in the experience first. But given my track record of just jumping headfirst into things I have a (sometimes fleeting) interest in, it also makes complete sense.
Regardless, I am happy to report that picking up my first CSA box was a blissful experience, in part because nothing makes me happier or more inspired than a giant box of vegetables that someone else has curated for me and in part because my CSA pick-up involved a lunch date with my dear friend where I received my box five days before everyone else so I could create recipes from it. I’m doing the recipes for Winterfell’s CSA newsletter this year and I could not possibly be any happier about it.
For the next several hours after picking up my CSA box, I spent time with Lilly: feeding her, playing with her, working through naps, all the while dreaming up the best way to use up the vegetables I’d just received.
There’s something about creating recipes from a CSA share that feels like a puzzle to me— a puzzle only I can solve.
Curating a collection of recipes to inspire and lead our CSA members was my favorite part of our CSA. I would spend hours on Tuesdays thinking about what I wanted to make from our CSA box items while harvesting. My mind reeled with all the possibilities and the perfect combinations I could think up to help my members efficiently use and enjoy each particular item without too much work.
Now, with Winterfell, I’ve found a way to continue this flow I love so dearly, but as a CSA recipient and not the farmer. It is, possibly, even more beautiful because the vegetables are more scarce. They feel precious, like I have to work fast so not one leaf goes to waste.
When I ruminated on the box’s contents, there was one immediately obvious direction I wanted to go, one recipe I’d been thinking about creating for (literally) years.
It’s the recipe below: an amazing crispy rice dish with sausage, onion, fresh herbs, and peanuts served alongside lettuce inspired by a meal we’ve been eating at Ha Long Bay for over a decade. The infamous LS7, also known as the Laotian dish Nem Khao Tod.
My recipe is in no way authentic. It is rather my best attempt at recreating the flavors I loved at Ha Long Bay with fresh, local ingredients at home. The traditional dish uses a fermented sausage that is spectacular (but not something produced locally or worth the extra shopping trip for me) as well as a spicy chili jam (that is also delicious, but rarely kept on hand). Some recipes call for fresh ginger, keffir lime, red curry paste, and an array of other pantry items.
My goal was not so much authenticity (I had Ha Long Bay for that), but rather simplicity, a local focus, and minimizing the ingredients required while still retaining the powerhouse combination of flavors. I’m happy to say it worked.
I’m in love with this meal, especially the use of locally made Saucisson Sec from Driftless Provisions alongside lettuce, mint, cilantro, and green garlic from Bethanee’s first CSA box of the year.
Happy eating everyone. It’s about to get delicious around here!
P.S. If you happen to purchase some Driftless Provisions salami for this recipe (which I daresay would be a great idea), be sure to use the code LEEKANDCARROT15 for 15% off your first order! One of my best friends is married to the founder and owner of Driftless Provisions, and I have been an ambassador for them over the past year, helping them grow their business’s reach far and wide! Their salami is a staple in our house and I hope you love it too!
LAOTIAN CRISPY RICE SALAD
This recipe does not fall into the category of quick or easy (although it is certainly not overly difficult or long). Because you need to let the rice rest before shaping it into balls and frying it, it stretches on 2 hours of very simple work. I enjoyed preparing all my other ingredients and cleaning the kitchen while waiting for the rice to rest, but if you want to shave off some time, just make the rice the day before, allow it to cool and then store it in the fridge overnight. Shaping the rice into balls and frying them is still a bit putsy, but the end result is so well worth the effort.
Takes 2 hours (1 hour inactive while letting the rice rest)
4 cups water
2 cups white rice
2 green garlic stalks, minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 green garlic stalks, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup boiling water
6-8 ounces salami (we used three Driftless Provisions Saucisson Sec salamis), cut into small pieces
3/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro (stems are fine)
1/2 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
5 scallions (or 1/2 yellow onion), thinly sliced and soaked in cold water
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2-3 heads mini romaine, washed and dried, leaves separated
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add rice and a hefty pinch of kosher salt. Reduce to low, cover, and cook for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for an additional 5 minutes.
Lay cooked rice out on a large baking sheet and allow to cool. You can leave it out on the counter to cool, but if you have room in the freezer, it will make the process a little faster. You want the rice to be cool to the touch before you shape them into balls (on the counter, letting them sit for an hour is enough).
While the rice cools, prepare the rest of your meal. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, oyster sauce, green garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir together then whisk in boiling water. Set aside.
When the rice is ready, add it to a large bowl with green garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, cornstarch, brown sugar, and egg. Stir together and then form rice mixture into 2-inch balls. It will be sticky to work with so don’t worry about losing some on your hands.
In a large skillet, bring an inch or two of oil to 350 degrees over medium heat. Add as many rice balls as easily fit without crowding the pan (probably 6-9). Fry for 4 minutes on each side and remove to a paper towel to drain. Repeat with remaining rice balls.
When ready to serve, break 4-5 rice bowls onto your plate. Top with salami, cilantro, mint, onion, and peanuts. Spoon sauce over everything and serve with lettuce leaves on the side. Use the lettuce leaves to eat the rice salad or roughly chop lettuce and eat with a fork.