Lent offers families chance to share worldwide cooking experience

asiansalad2I love nothing better than browsing library sales for cookbooks – the older the better – and from all nationalities – to add to my collection. They offer so much insight on the foods brought to the tables of our world wide communion.

Recently, the library in a town my friend Linda, a fellow cooking enthusiast, and I visited had posters out for a book sale. Of course, we had to stop by and we left with several cookbooks including a delightful 20 year-old cookbook entitled “Passport On A Plate” an “Around the World Cookbook for Children” ages 9 and up featuring 100 international recipes.

The book became the inspiration for this year’s Keeping the Feast Lenten recipe series which will offer simple recipes from around the world for families to share.

Among the global recipes presented in the book were several from Vietnam which kindled memories of tasty meals from years ago. On Feb. 7 – Vietnamese New Year’s Eve – I had a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with the Vietnamese Community of Christ the King which meets at St. Rose Parish, Freehold and those memories rekindled once again.

The community – more than 200 strong – had gathered for Mass with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. in the church. Following that beautiful liturgy, a festive celebration in the parish center offered the chance to sample that irresistible mix of flavors that are hallmarks of Vietnamese cuisine.

The dish which begins the Lenten series is a simple crunchy vegetable and shrimp salad that children should enjoy helping to prepare and then, digging into. Salads are an important part of the Vietnamese diet and shredded meat is often added to them. In this case, however, the added ingredient – also a mainstay of Vietnamese cooking, is shrimp.

Visit photo gallery of this event [HERE}


asiansalad1 pound medium shrimp, shelled
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ tablespoons Asian fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 medium-size carrots, peeled and grated
1 small shallot, very finely chopped
1 cup cilantro or flat parsley leaves
½ small green cabbage, cored and finely shredded – 6 cups
2 Kirby cucumbers, very thinly sliced

Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill the bowl with ice water. Add the shrimp to the boiling water and cook until pink – about one or two minutes. Drain the shrimp and transfer them to the ice water. When cool, drain and pat dry.

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and shallot. Add the cabbage, carrots, cucumbers and shrimp and toss until evenly coated. Let stand at room temperature for about a half hour until the cabbage is slightly wilted. Toss the salad, top with cilantro/parsley and serve with crusty baguettes.


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