In 2014, after working as a chef in New York City for three years, Troy Ngo returned to Vietnam to combine the skills he learnt in the Big Apple with the culture he grew up with. And so, Nữ Eatery was born—a quaint cafe tucked away in one of Hội An’s back alleys, named after his mother. Like many people in Vietnam, Troy is inspired by seasonal ingredients and sources everything from the local market. His unique combination of ingredients has bestowed him with quite the reputation for his salads. With Nữ Eatery quickly becoming a local favourite, late last year, Troy opened his second venture, The Sea Shell down by the serene An Bang Beach.
“Pineapple is used in many savoury Vietnamese dishes to bring a touch of sweetness and acidity at the same time.”
This signature salad of Troy’s brings together the classic Vietnamese combination of pineapple and coconut to create a fresh and vibrant salad bursting with flavour as pickled shallots contrast against bitter lime juice and sweet pomegranate pops against charred pineapple.
Fresh local produce. Photo by Beth Wilkinson for Lindsay.
Grilled pineapple salad served in a Cone11 bowl. Photo by Beth Wilkinson for Lindsay.
2 shallots, cut into thin rings
¼ cup water
⅛ cup vinegar
2 slices fresh ginger
1 ½ tbs sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup orange juice
1 lime, juice and zest
1 lime (optional)
3 passion fruits
1 shallot, minced
½ tbs honey
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 pineapple, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick rounds
1 handful lemon basil (Thai basil works too)
1 cup coconut meat, shredded (not candied or desiccated)
1 pomelo, segmented (if unavailable, substitute with grapefruit)
¼ watermelon, cut into bite size chunks
1 small red pepper, julienned
Serves: 4 / Skill level: Easy / Vegan + Gluten Free
1. To pickle shallots, bring water and vinegar to a boil to dissolve sugar and salt. Once dissolved, pour liquid mixture over shallot and ginger. Allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
2. To make dressing, simmer orange juice and reduce down to approximately ¼ cup. Once cool, combine with remaining dressing ingredients.
3. Grill pineapple on a hot grill or grill pan. Allow to cool before cutting into bite sized chunks.
4. Gently combine pineapple, basil, coconut, pomelo, watermelon, pomegranate and red pepper.
5. Gently fold through the dressing and top with shallots.
6. Season with salt and pepper and additional lime juice if desired.