8, Feb 2008
Vietnamese Carrot Relish

This recipe makes a simple relish which is good as a side with meat, or as part of a salad. I came up with the idea one day when I’d grilled some meat and wanted a side, and happened to have nuoc cham in the house. The flavors of the carrot and onion complement each other well, and by soaking in the nuoc cham for a while, they merge somewhat and the onion loses its edge. The peanuts complement the flavors and bind everything together.

1-2 medium carrots
1/2 red onion
3-4 radishes
3/4 c dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 c fresh mint
2 tbsp nuoc cham
1 tbsp sesame oil

Finely dice or food-process the carrots, onion, and radishes. Toss with nuoc cham and sesame oil, in amounts to taste. Let stand for 20-30 minutes, to let the vegetables soak up the sauce (which will also mellow the onion somewhat). Meanwhile, clean and dry the food processor and grind the peanuts until it varies from small pieces to near-powder size. Just before serving, toss with the peanuts, then the mint.
Surprisingly good! Something about the balance of flavors works for me. The radishes were a recent addition and seem to work well. I’m sure sweet onions or shallots could be substituted for the red onion, and other vegetables could be tried as complements (cucumber, celery, …).