Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RECIPE - Rice Vermicelli Salad (Salada de Bifum)

The thin, elongated rice noodle known as rice vermicelli in English and as bifum in Portuguese, has been taken to enthusiastically by Brazilian cooks in recent years, and has established a place in the Brazilian pantry.

This is partly due to historical and demographic reasons (click here to read more about Japanese immigration to Brazil) and also due to the fact that in the tropical heat of Brazil a type of pasta that doesn't need to be cooked and which is perfect for making light salads is just what contemporary chefs, professional or domestic, are looking for. A salad made with bifum isn't highly caloric, as it can be very lightly dressed with little oil. The noodles themselves, being made with rice, do not contain gluten, which is an added bonus.

Many Brazilian recipes for bifum are distinctly Asian in style and in ingredient choices. This salad, for bigum salad perked up with bell peppers, hearts of palm and pork tenderloin exhibits both Asian and Brazilian character, and is perfect for a lunchtime main course when the day is just too hot to eat something warm.
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RECIPE - Rice Vermicelli Salad (Salada de Bifum)
 serves 2

6 oz. (150 grams) pork tenderloin
1 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
6 oz. (150 grams) dry packaged rice vermicelli (bifum)
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin slices
1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 small green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 small Japanese cucumber, cut into julienne strips
1 stalk, heart of palm, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup chopped cilantro and green onions mixed
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
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Preheat a deep frying pan, preferably cast-iron over medium heat. Add the oil and when it's very hot but not smoking add the tenderloin and cook quickly, turning the loin to sear the outside completely. Cook for abour 5 minutes, then remove from heat, let cool, cut into julienne strips, and reserve.

Put the dry rice vermicelli in a large glass or metal mixing bowl. Pour very hot (not boiling) water over to cover and let stand for about 10 minutes, or until the noodles have softened and are pliable. Taste one or two to make sure they are completely softened, but still al dente. Drain thoroughly and reserve.

In a small jar with a tight lid, combine the soy sauce, vinegar and ginger. Shake will and let stand for a few minutes for flavors to blend.

Put the reserved noodles in a large decorative salad bowl. Top with the pork strips, the onion, bell peppers, cucumber, heart of palm and cilantro. Toss gently to distribute the dressing, then serve immediately.


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