Germany and Vietnam, Unite!
We might think that Germany and Vietnam have nothing in common, be it geography, climate or culture. But, when it comes to food and wine pairings, it’s hard to find a better match than these two countries.
Affectionately called “Kaiser” (Emperor), this grape variety with mineral notes reigns in Germany. It has a certain freshness with hints of green fruits, like apple. This wine’s richness and natural residual sugar goes well with grilled pork and rice vermicelli.
Originating from Alsace but sporting a German name, Gewürztraminer is a rich wine with intense notes of exotic fruits, such as lychee and passion fruit. Gewürztraminer works well with most Vietnamese dishes, the wine’s sweetness pairing nicely with spicy dishes.
This grape variety from Germany’s neighbour Austria, with light and crisp wines, has apple and fennel notes with a hint of citrus, giving the wine a freshness that pairs perfectly with chicken coleslaw.
Vietnamese cuisine varies from region to region, and from family to family. What is similar in its cuisine is the flavour and freshness of the ingredients and dishes. Here are a few things you should know. Fish sauce is highly concentrated and is often used in marinades. However, when used as a dipping sauce, it should be diluted. A Vietnamese herbal blend is often composed of perilla, mint, Thai basil or Vietnamese cilantro. You can also make a simple blend of just mint and Thai basil.
Vietnamese Fish Sauce
1/3 c. (75 ml) fish sauce
1 c. (250 ml) hot water
4 tbsp (60 ml) sugar
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lime juice
1 small Thai chili pepper (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 – Dissolve sugar in hot water.
2 – Add all other ingredients.
3 – Store in a cool place.
Grilled Pork and Rice Vermicelli
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp (45 ml) finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp (30 ml) oyster sauce
1 tbsp (15 ml) dark soy sauce (not to be confused with regular soy sauce)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
2 lbs (1 kg) pork back, cut into 5 mm slices
1 package of rice vermicelli
Herb blend of mint, lettuce, red Vietnamese perilla
Lebanese cucumber, julienned
Pickled carrots and radishes (optional)
1 – In bowl, mix garlic, shallots, oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt and sugar.
2 – Add pork and marinate minimum 30 minutes, ideally overnight.
3 – Cook pork 30-40 minutes at 350ºF in oven-proof dish or grill as brochettes on BBQ.
4 – Prepare rice noodles as per package instructions.
5 – In bowl, add noodles and top with meat. Garnish with herb blend, lettuce, bean sprouts and cucumbers. Drizzle with meat sauce or fish sauce. Serves 4.
Coleslaw and Chicken Salad
1 small container store-bought traditional coleslaw with vinegar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 c. Vietnamese coriander (Rau ram) or spearmint
1 chicken thigh or small chicken breast, cooked and shredded
Salt and pepper
1 – Drain coleslaw containers in colander for about 10 minutes, making sure to remove as much dressing as possible.
2 – In bowl, combine coleslaw, red onion, coriander (or spearmint) and chicken.
3 – Adjust seasoning.
4 – Serve with prawn crackers and fish sauce. Serves 4.
5 – Serve with the Höpler Grüner Veltliner, Qualitätswein, Burgenland, 2019, C276, lot 1887.