Vietnamese Chicken or Pork Patties with Coriander Rice

Minced chicken or pork is what you need for these light and bright pattie-cum-burgers. They’re flavoured with finely chopped kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass with ginger, chilli and fresh coriander. Fried and chunkily sliced, the crumbly pieces are served piled over steamed rice with coriander and a sharp and spicy nuoc nam-style dressing. The latter is made with crushed garlic, Thai fish sauce (nam pla), fresh lime and sweet chilli sauce bringing a lively zing to the rice. If you would prefer the rice plain, that’s okay too as there is plenty going on in the patties. The other optional seasoning is crushed roasted and salted cashew nuts and a zig-zag of sweet chilli sauce. Did you know, by the way, that the reason cashews are always sold shelled, peeled and (usually) roasted, is because the skin contains allergenic resin and oil related to poison ivy? And they’re a seed not a nut.

Serves 4

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 15 min

200g basmati rice

50g finely chopped shallot

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 lemongrass stalk

4 kaffir lime leaves

25g fresh ginger

15g fresh coriander

500g organic minced chicken or pork

1 tbsp vegetable oil

for the dressing:

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce

for the garnish:

2 tbsp roasted salted cashew nuts

1 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce

     Rinse the rice until the water runs clean. Place in a pan with a good fitting lid and cover with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes then agitate with a fork to loosen the starch. Drain. Return to the pan, add 300ml cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat immediately to very low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Leave, covered, for 10 minutes. Fork up the rice, tip onto a platter and decorate with reserved sprigs coriander.  While the rice cooks, mix shallot and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Extract the inner lemongrass shoot and finely chop. Finely chop the lime leaves. Peel the ginger and grate very finely. Set aside a few sprigs coriander and chop the rest. Finely dice the chilli, scraping away the seeds. Crumble the meat over the shallots and scatter with the prepared seasonings. Add a pinch of salt. Use your hands to mix and mulch. Divide in four and flatten into discs approximately 10cm circumference x 2cm deep. Keep chilled (up to 24 hours or freeze) until required. To make the dressing, finely chop the garlic, crush to paste and mix with all the other ingredients. Lightly crush the cashews to make chunky pieces. To complete the dish, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the patties for 3-4 minutes a side until golden and just cooked through. Transfer to a chopping board and slice on the slant into 4 roughly equal pieces. Serve over the rice, add the dressing, a scatter of nuts and swirl of chilli sauce.