There is a popular Vietnamese dish called thit cha bong. It’s basically crispy shredded pork. Well, last night I made its vegetarian counterpart: bi chay.
I based my recipe off of Pham Fatale’s, and it turned out really delicious! However, I already have plans for making it differently next time, because Pham Fatale’s recipe (and my slightly altered version of her recipe) took WAY too much time! Plus, I think she uses too much oil in her recipe. She fries a lot of the contents, so next time, I’m going to save my time and my health by cooking some parts slightly differently. I’ll post my version of Pham Fatale’s recipe, and then I’ll give you my tips below, which is what I plan on changing in this recipe for next time.
1 (12 oz) package of firm tofu
2 oz dried bean thread noodles
6 yukon potatoes
1/2 cup white jasmine rice
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt (or mushroom seasoning salt)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper, to taste
Dry Roasted Rice Powder: Add rice to a small skillet over high heat on the stove and stir around until all the rice is golden brown (about 5 minutes). Allow to cool, and then grind the grains into a fine mill, using a food processor.
Dried Bean Thread Noodles: Soak noodles in cold water for 30 minutes (can leave soaking for up to one hour, so just soak while you prepare other parts of this recipe). Drain, and chop into one inch threds. Set aside.
Tofu: Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Heat oil in a pan (1-2 Tbsp), and cook all the tofu slices until they are golden on each side. Transfer to a plate, and once cooled, cut tofu into long thin strips. Set aside.
Potatoes: Peel and shred all the potatoes, and place in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with water along with 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Mix it up and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain the liquid, pat dry, and then, using the same skillet you fried the tofu in, add a little bit of oil, and place a few handfuls of potato shreds in the skillet and allow to brown on one side (about 2 minutes), then flip to the other side and allow that side to brown. Set aside on a plate. Repeat this until all the potato shreds are cooked.
Jicama: Peel the jicama and slice horizontally into 1/2 inch thick pieces, and then cut into strips (like fries). Fill a sauce pan with a couple inches of oil and fry all the jicama until golden brown. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil.
Assembly: In a large bowl, add the jicama, potatoes, tofu, dried bean thread noodles, and fried onions. Season with garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Toss well, and then sprinkle with the dry roasted rice powder. Serve on a platter.
Bi chay can be eaten with rice and vegetables, on top of rice noodles with vegetables and sauce, or in a sandwich.
1. If you aren’t sure where to get some of these ingredients, check out your local Asian market. They should carry everything on the ingredients list.
2. To save time and oil, I recommend baking the jicama strips rather than frying them. Before you start prepping anything else, just preheat your oven to 400, line a baking sheet with foil, put the jicama strips on the baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil (or toss jicama strips in about a Tbsp of olive oil in a bowl before placing them on the baking sheet), and bake for 30-40 minutes. You’re basically making unseasoned jicama fries.
3. If you want to save even more time, you can buy fried tofu instead of frying it yourself. Asian markets always sell fried tofu either in the case next to the fresh tofu or in a large bag in the freezer section. Just buy that and cut it into strips.