Food escapades in modernist cuisine

Vietnamese Summer Rolls: Sous Vide Pate, Fresh Herbs, Pickled Vegetable

Last night my wife was supposed to pick up some fish through work but she ended being too busy in the office during the day, so instead on her way home she stopped by the Chinese supermarket to pick up a few things. We ultimately decided to make some Vietnamese style summer rolls.

For the summer roll filling, I wanted to try a recipe I found online for nem nuong, or Vietnamese style grilled pork sausage. David Chang has a version in his Momofuku cookbook that includes lemongrass but I decided to improvise a little since we didn't have any on hand. With some ground pork, I mixed together some honey, sugar, salt, finely chopped garlic, sliced green onion, and fish sauce. After kneading the meat for a minute or so, I threw the mixture into a ziploc bag and removed all the excess air using the water displacement method. I set my Sous Vide Supreme to 150 degrees and then dropped in the ziploc bag.

While the sausage meat was cooking, we used the time to prepare the rest of our ingredients for the spring rolls, including some pickled carrots and cucumbers, simply sauteed shrimp, romaine lettuce, and picked thai basil and mint.

After about an hour or so, the huge block of sausage patty meat was done cooking. The meat firmed up quite nicely, and I was actually really happy with the consistency of the meat. Cutting into the meat reminded me of a French terrine or pate that my mother used to make, which makes sense since a pate is nothing more than a fancy meatloaf. The sous vide method worked really well in cooking the meat evenly and gently enough so that all the fat didn't leach out of the mixture. I've seen recipes in Modernist Cuisine where creme brulee is done sous vide, so it makes sense why something like pate typically cooked gently in a bain marie would also work well being cooked sous vide.

I did a quick sear on the meat to get some color on the outside of the meat, and we then finished putting together the spring rolls. Using some hot water, we softened the dried rice paper wrappers and then filled each of them with the spring roll filling ingredients. With this on the side, we served up some plain white rice.

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