The Sunlight Sets: Life is messy and joyful

A new set menu from the Sunlight Sets: light, easy to digest menus we can all enjoy.

You’re in the atmospheric town of Hoi An, Vietnam. You get into the habit of eating fresh tropical fruits every morning. Dragon fruit, lychee, longan, rambutan, mango… you can’t stop. Blended with yoghurt, they make a creamy drink that complements the country’s famous summer rolls. But those bear no resemblance to the ones you’re used to back home – these are a messy, joyful eating experience. Big handfuls of herbs, stalks and all, grilled prawns on skewers, fermented vegetables… all on a huge sharing plate so you can roll your own. You eat in an outdoor café and think mmm, what's next? The rest of those lychees won’t go to waste, no. Your tastebuds are about to go brrrrrrr.

Vietnamese set menu5

Prawn and pickled veg summer rolls 

Ingredients: 1 rectangle of dried rice vermicelli (rice noodles) · 1 tsp sesame oil · ¼ tsp chilli flakes · 3 radishes · ⅓ cucumber, peeled · ½ carrot, peeled · ½ tbsp rice vinegar · ½ tsp sugar · 1 tsp fish sauce · juice of ½ lime · 8 rice paper wrappers · handful each of coriander and mint leaves · 16 cooked large prawns · 4 leaves of butter lettuce, sliced thickly · 8 chives, chopped in half

Dipping sauce: 1 tbsp sugar · 2 tbsp lime juice · 1 tbsp fish sauce · 1 garlic clove, finely chopped · ¼ tsp chilli flakes

Method: Put the dried noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 3 minutes. Drain the noodles, then rinse with cold water. Cut the noodles into smaller pieces with scissors and put them back into the bowl, mixing through the sesame oil and chilli flakes. Slice each prawn in half through the centre, and set aside. Cut thin slices of radish, and use a peeler to slice the cucumber and carrot into long, thin strips. Whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the vegetables and coat with the dressing. 

You’re ready to roll. Pour hot (not boiling) water onto a deep dinner plate. Press a rice paper wrapper into the water for about 5 seconds until it starts to curl at the edges. Flip it over and immerse again until it just softens. Lay on a chopping board and get ready to work quickly. Place four prawn slices and some herbs across the centre of the wrapper. Top with a small handful of noodles, some lettuce, a tablespoon of the pickled vegetables and two pieces of chive. Fold in both sides of the wrapper, then roll firmly from the base until it is closed. Cover the finished rolls with damp kitchen paper so they don’t dry out.

For the dipping sauce, whisk the sugar into the lime juice to dissolve then add the fish sauce, chopped garlic and chilli flakes. Makes 8 rolls, enough for 2 travellers.

Lime lychee lassi

Ingredients: 2 cups natural live yogurt · 1 cup canned lychees (reserve 2 tsp of the syrup; save the rest of the lychees for your frozen lychee bombs) · juice from 1 lime · 12 ice cubes · ½ tsp ground cardamom

Method: Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until frothy. Serves 2.

Lychee bombes

Ingredients8 large canned lychees · 8 small fresh raspberries

Method: Pop a raspberry into the open centre of each lychee. Freeze your lychee bombes for at least an hour in a plastic container or silicone muffin tin.  Enjoy your frozen treat. Makes 8.