Mountain Jelly Vegetable Salad (Goi Tien Vua)

I am proud to say this is the best version of my Vietnamese “mountain jelly vegetable” (yes, it’s one long name) goi that I have made for Superbowl Sunday night in 2017.  This goi took me 2 days to make.  With a little toddler that occupies much of my time, whenever I make any kind of Vietnamese goi that involves pickling the vegetables, I would prep the time consuming steps first the first day and then the easy and quick steps the next day before mixing all the ingredients together.  If you have never eaten mountain jelly vegetable before, it has a natural crunchy texture.  It is called the “mountain jelly vegetable” because it is a vegetable that grows and strives well in the mountainous regions of China.  Where? I don’t know.  I only found very limited information about it. It’s crunchiness resemble the crunchiness texture of pickled jellyfish. Pickled jellyfish salad is commonly available as a Chinese dim sum delicacy.

How long does it take?  Depends on how well you can multitask, pickling the vegetables is from 1-6 hours, time varies for each kind. I always soak the dried mountain jelly vegetable overnight and then pickle it for at least 6 hours because the stems are thick and takes longer to penetrate the pickling solution. If the mountain jelly vegetable is not pickled long enough, it gives a bland taste when you bite into it.

Servings?  Ummm…The following recipe is for a medium rectangular party tray size (those aluminum disposable pans in the baking aisle). It can serve about 30-people.  But then again, “serving size” is a joke for me when it comes to making and consuming any Vietnamese goi.  I can eat a whole plateful as a meal or eat it as a little side dish.  You can keep this up to a one week in the fridge.  Just add the herbs whenever you eat it if it’s not served all at once.

The following recipe was enough to make a party tray for about 20-30 people and some extras for my family. =) Here is out it looked once done.

Ingredients:

1 lb headless tiger shrimp with shell on

1 squid

1 lb of pork butt
1 bag of dried mountain jelly vegetable
3-4 carrots
3 jars of lotus rootlets
1 bunch or bag of mint

1 – 2 Tbsp kosher salt

1 bunch or bag of Vietnamese coriander (rau ram)
This is how the dried bag of mountain jelly vegetable that I bought at MIA Supermarket in Orlando looks like.  MIA is the only Asian market out of 11 that sells it in the Orlando area. So I was very happy when I stumbled upon it.

To make the base pickling solution, you’ll need

1 part vinegar, 1 part sugar, and 2 parts water.  I learned this from a Buddhist monk who pickles a lot of vegetarian vegetables. The solution needs to cover the vegetables so make sure you have plenty of sugar and vinegar.  I always have a big container of sugar and 1 gallon of vinegar at home.  If it’s your first time, I would suggest mix a gallon of the pickling solution, taste it to see if it’s too sweet or sour and add water, sugar, or more vinegar to adjust to your taste preference first. I actually add a little more water for my solution.
 

To make this goi dressing: I always have a jar of already made Vietnamese sweet and sour fish sauce (nuoc mam chua ngot) in my refrigerator. But here’s my family recipe for dressing here. You’ll need to have fish sauce, minced garlic, vinegar, lime juice, water, sugar, and Thai chili paste to make this.

Direction:

Day 1

1.  Rinse the dried mountain jelly vegetable two times then soak it in water for at least three to four hours. Make sure water completely covers it.  I made sure water is 2 inches over the vegetable because it will expand.  I soaked it overnight for 12 hours.

2.  Slice the lotus roots as thin as you can.  I can cut about 4 strips per root.  Then I soak it in the pickling solution for one or two hours. Pour it into a colander to strain the excess water out.  Then squeeze a handful of sliced lotus roots at a time to get the excess water out as I transfer it into a large bowl. I repeated the squeezing step 2 more times with the sliced lotus roots before I store it in a container.

3.  Peel and shred the carrots. Then soak it in the pickling solution for 1 hour. Transfer it into a colander to strain the liquid.  Then squeeze a handful at a time to get the excess water out as you transfer it into a container.  Store in fridge.

4.  Cook the pork butt. Make sure the water covers the meat completely.  Bring the pot to a boil on high heat and cook it for about 30 minutes on medium high heat or until center of meat is cooked with a slight pale pink. Transfer cooked pork butt onto a plate. Let cool before you slice and cut it into thin strips about 2 inches long. Store in the fridge.

5.  Devain the shrimp between the back and tail, still leaving the shell on. Cook the shrimp with 2 tbsp of water and a pinch of salt until it is cooked for about 3 minutes on high heat. Pour the shrimp in a strainer. Let cool before you peel the shrimp off and slice it in half.  Store in the fridge

6.  Prep the squid.  Clean it if not already.  (I requested the seafood department helper at the Asian market to gut it out for me.)  Boil water, and blanched the squid for about 5 minutes.   Let cool, then you use a knife to scrape the purply skin off of the squid as much as you can.  Then slice the squid into thin pieces. Lay the pieces flat on a baking tray or bid plate. Sprinkle some salt and sugar over the squid and rub it evenly. (1/8 tsp of each) Your goal is to not have it wet because it will spoil the goi quick. (I learned that from experience.) I pat the sliced squids with paper towels and let the sliced squid air dry for about 1 hour in a sunny spot. Microwaving it for a minute also helps if you want to speed up the process. If the sliced squid is still moist, it must be air dried or else the moisture will spoil the salad sooner like within 3 days.  Store in the fridge.

Day 2: 7.  Strain the mountain jelly vegetable into a colander. Rinse it one more time.  Now you can put it in the pickling solution for at least six hours.

8.  You have the other stuff prepped and stored in the fridge. This is the time you can make your goi dressing if you don’t have it yet.  Then prep the herbs (mint and rau ram).  Discard the stems, rinse the leaves and strain it in a colander.  Set a side.

9.  After pickling the mountain jelly vegetable,

cut the stems into 2-inch lengths.  Strain it in a colander.  Squeeze out the liquid one time with your fist.  Let it air dry for one hour.

Important note:  Before you mix the ingredients together, make sure you air dry or squeezed as much liquid and moisture out of it before mixing it together. Same goes with the sliced squid.

10. Now you are ready to mix all the ingredients together to make this goi in a large bowl. The order of how you mix this salad for a party is important too.

First, mix the vegetables and herbs together. Set some aside if you have vegetarian guests.

Next, add in the shrimp and squid. Set some aside if you have Muslim friends who can’t eat pork.

Last, add in the pork for meat lovers like me.

I reserved about a dozen halves shrimps to top on the tray for the final touch.

Enjoy! 

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