The Vietnamese table salad, sa lach dia,
can vary from a bowl of fresh, leafy herbs to a more tropical combination
of bean sprouts, water chestnuts, mangoes, bananas, star fruit, peanuts
and rice noodles. Traditionally, a table salad is served to accompany the
classic finger foods such as spring rolls (cha gio), and pork or shrimp
balls, where pieces of the salad might be wrapped around a meaty morsel.
When the salad is served on its own, the vegetables and fruit are usually
folded into little packets using lettuce leaves or rice wrappers, and then
dipped in a sauce, or added bit by bit to bowls of rice or noodles. The
arrangement of a salad is simple and attractive.
Crunchy lettuce, with leaves separated
Cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
Carrots, peeled and finely sliced
Unripe star fruit, finely sliced into stars
Green bananas, finely sliced
Firm papaya, cut in half, seeds removed, peeled and finely sliced
Fresh mint and basil, stalks removed
Arrange the salad ingredients attractively
on a plate, with the lettuce leaves on one side so that they can be used
Squeeze the lime juice over the fruits,
particularly the bananas to help them retain their color, and place the
salad in the middle of the table.