The sun is shining, the weather is warming up, and the days are getting longer. As we hit the middle of spring, we’ve decided to celebrate with a garden party.
Packed with fresh herbs, citrus and a gentle hit of chilli, the light, vibrant flavours of Vietnam are perfect for an alfresco lunch with friends. And as much of the preparation for these recipes can be done in advance, you’ll have more time to relax with your friends.
Create an Asian garden party theme by decorating your backyard or nearby park with paper parasols and fans, and stringing up some silk lanterns for later in the evening. Then, to really get the party started, whip up a big bowl of our Vietnamese mint punch.
No Vietnamese springtime menu would be complete without a serve or two of the signature fresh spring rolls! Try this classic version of Vietnamese fresh spring rolls filled with prawns and vegetables, a fruity version of summer rolls with strawberries, pineapple and mint, or these flavour-packed Vietnamese rice paper rolls with pan-fried pork patties.
Visit your local Vietnamese bakery to buy crusty baguettes for these banh mi rolls. This recipe uses ma ling (luncheon meat), but you can easily substitute this for shredded rotisserie chicken or roast pork. For added tang, we like to briefly pickle the shredded carrot in a saucepan of white vinegar and sugar, then drain and set aside.
Fire up the barbecue at home or in your local park to chargrill these delicious grilled prawns on lemongrass sticks. By using lemongrass as the skewers, you’ll impart a delicate citrus note into the seafood. The honey, soy and chilli marinade also works a treat on chicken or beef.
Like sunshine in a bowl, this Vietnamese rice vermicelli salad is packed with vibrant herbs, crunchy vegetables and a zesty lime dressing.
For your Vietnamese garden party, why not make a big bowl of punch. In a large punch bowl, combine ¼ cup elderflower cordial, juice of 3 limes, a bunch of Vietnamese mint leaves, a bunch of regular mint leaves, and ½ cup vodka (optional). Stir to combine, then add 1 bottle of chilled prosecco and plenty of ice cubes.Top up with chilled soda water to serve.
Pro tip: freeze mint leaves in your ice cubes for added flavour and colour.
Find your nearest Asian Store