Monday, January 12, 2015

Crab Claw Herb Salad (Goi Rau Cang Cua)--serves 4 to 5 as part of a shared meal

I visited my cousin, Sieu Hen's home and she showed me her yard. Despite having a small plot of land she is able to grow various fruit trees, herbs and flowers. I was most impressed with her orchid collection. Her secret to growing beautiful orchids in pots is using just pieces of dried coconut and charcoal. She also introduced me to Vietnamese rau càng cua which translates directly to crab claw vegetable or herb. I have eaten many crabs but I find it difficult to find any resemblance. Perhaps I just have no imagination. I have never eaten this particular herb in the past. Now that I can identify this plant I see a little growing in my grandmother's yard in the wild. Most people that I have spoken to tell me that they make a salad out of them. One of my aunts tells me to discard the flowers since they are very bitter. Although I did not find the flowering part or the spear-like tips to be that bitter. Recently at the market I saw some young tips for sale so I bought a bag to try. This salad called gỏi rau càng cua in Vietnamese tastes very good dipped in a Vietnamese dipping sauce. 

rau cang cua from my cousin's yard
(the flowers are the spear-like parts of the plant
--these are bitter and most people discard them)
harvested young leaves (not yet sorted)
--one type of crab found in Vietnam
--Can you see any resemblance of this crab to the plant above?

4 large handfuls of rau cang cua (crab claw herbs), bruised, yellow, wilted leaves, and flowers sorted and discarded, washed gently (as the leaves bruise easily) in cold water, drained
A few leaves from an assortment of herbs (such as culantro, mint leaves, Vietnamese coriander, Thai basil), rolled and sliced thinly
About 2 tsp of sugar
Juice from 3 small limes (about 4 Tbsp)
A piece of boiled pork, thinly sliced (comes to about 1/4 cup)
Crushed roasted peanuts, garnish
Vietnamese chili and garlic dipping sauce


1) Gently toss the crab claw herbs and other assorted herbs with sugar and lime.
2) Add the sliced meat.
3) Sprinkle some roasted peanuts on top.
4) Serve with extra Vietnamese dipping sauce.

*There is no specific recipe for this tossed salad. You may add any amount of ingredients according to your taste. You may also want to add steamed or boiled shrimp and fresh ground black pepper to this if interested.
*Here is a site on Vietnamese crab claw herb.
*Below are a few photos from my cousin's (Sieu Hen) back yard.

my cousin's back yard
hot chili peppers
a friendly lizard

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