I know this guy whose family used to eat a turkey dinner every month. I’m talking oven roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, the entire works. He used to complain about it, but it sounded (still sounds) like heaven to a turkey lover like me! But, now that I think about it a little more, it probably wasn’t a traditional turkey dinner at all. It’s a lot more likely that they ate it turkey rice style, a popular regional Taiwanese way of cooking turkey. To them, turkey didn’t equal Thanksgiving the way it does in North America. To them, turkey was delicious, regardless of the time of year, probably because it was a taste of home.
Turkey tastes like home to me too. There’s something very cozy about a big feast featuring a giant bird. I love turkey as a meat and definitely don’t have an issue with having it year round, especially roasted with all the trimmings. But since there are so many days in a year, and so many ways turkey can be made, I like to mix it up. Enter: turkey prepared five ways.
Turkey five ways is a fun play on the more traditional beef seven ways (bò 7 món), a set of classic Vietnamese dinner party dishes. Typically, beef seven ways consists of:
- Beef salad (thinly sliced beef with pickled vegetables)
- Steamed beef meatballs
- Thinly sliced fondue style beef
- Minced grilled beef skewers, sometimes wrapped in caul fat
- Grilled beef wrapped in lolot leaves (kind of like grape leaves)
- Grilled beef with scallions
- Beef congee
Everything is served at once, along side rice paper, herbs, greens, and a sweet and savory fish sauce for dipping. Everyone digs in, making salad rolls for themselves and it’s a big old party, perfecting for feasting and therefore perfect for Thanksgiving.
For my turkey 5 ways (apparently it’s pretty common to have any combination of [insert meat] [odd number] ways) I used a combination of turkey parts – instead of a whole turkey – to come up with five turkey dishes. Some of them are pretty similar, like the turkey salad and grilled minced turkey skewers; and some are completely blasphemous, like the crispy turkey skin.
The five turkey dishes I ended up with were:
- Lemongrass scallion oil sous-vide and grilled breast and thighs
- Turkey salad with cabbage and Vietnamese herbs
- Crispy grilled turkey skin skewers
- Deep-fried imperial turkey spring rolls
- Lemongrass turkey meatball skewers
The star of the show is the sous vide and grilled breast and thighs. Sounds a bit finicky, but it’s mostly hands off. Everything, including the aromatics are sealed in a bag and put in a water bath. The thighs enter the hot water party first because they take a bit more time. The breasts hop in shortly after and if you time it correctly, both types of meat come out together. You give them a quick sear for some extra flavor and color. After thinly slicing, half of the meat is topped with a super savory lemongrass infused scallion ginger oil.
You could eat the meat as is, but it’s intended to be tucked, rolled, – along with green leaf lettuce and fresh herbs into supple rice paper – and dipped into a gingery fish sauce vinaigrette before meeting its timely and delicious end in your mouth. The remaining half of the sous vide turkey is tossed into a salad with plenty of crunchy shredded cabbage, a barrage of fresh herbs and a good dousing of gingery garlicky spicy sweet fish sauce.
Served along side the lemongrass scallion turkey salad rolls and turkey herb salad are crispy turkey skin skewers and lemongrass meatball skewers. I took inspiration from Japanese grilling: both skin (kawa) and meatballs (tsukune) are popular yakitori items. They taste equally as delicious on their own or tucked inside salad rolls.
Last, but in no ways least, and to be honest, probably my favorite part of turkey five ways are the crispy turkey spring rolls. Nothing innovative here, I just took my usual Vietnamese spring roll recipe, cut out the shrimp and substituted in ground turkey. Using ground turkey makes this slightly lighter than using pork, which means that you can eat as many rolls as you want. At least I think that’s what it means. Regardless, it’s Thanksgiving, and it’s supposed to be a feast!
Turkey five ways is fresh, savory, and completely the opposite of what you normally think of when you picture turkey dinner. I tested all of these dishes at a little early Friendsgiving party and they were a hit. It was just what I needed, especially since this Thanksgiving we won’t actually be at home. Maybe Mike and I will find a turkey burger somewhere?
Even if you don’t make all of these guys, I hope you give one or two of these recipes a go. Hope your Thanksgiving planning is coming along nicely and happy Thursday! The first recipe is listed below, click over here for the rest!
Sous-Vide and Grilled Turkey Recipe
- 1 boneless turkey breast, skin removed and saved
- 2 boneless turkey thighs, skin removed and saved
- 1 bunch green onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- lemongrass scallion oil, recipe here
For salad rolls
- green leaf lettuce
- Thai basil
- shiso leaves
- fresh mint
- rice paper
- ginger fish sauce vinaigrette, recipe below
Prepare a sous vide immersion circulator for use according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat the water to 150°F.
Place the thighs, in a vacuum-sealable bag with half of the green onions, 2 cloves of garlic, half of the ginger, and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce. Make sure the thighs are flat. Using a vacuum sealer, vacuum and seal the bag tight according to the manufacturer’s instructions; make sure you have a smooth, airtight seal.
Place the bag into the circulating water and cook for 2 1/2 hours.
While the thighs are in the bath, prepare the breast in the same fashion, making sure the breast is flat. Seal and place in the water bath 1/2 hour after the thighs went in. Both packages of turkey will be done in 2 1/2 hours.
When the 2 1/2 hours are up, remove the bags from the water and plunge into an ice bath.
Before serving, remove the turkey from the bags, discard the aromatics and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat up a touch of oil in a large pan and sear until golden and crispy, flipping as needed.
Remove from the pan and slice thinly. Drizzle generously with the lemongrass scallion oil.
Serve family style by putting the turkey in the centre of the table, surrounded by the greens and rice paper. Have everyone assemble their own rolls. Take a rice paper wrapper and completely submerge it in a bowl of hot tap water for 10-15 seconds. Place the wrapper on a plate – it’ll continue to soften as your assembling your roll. Add fillings as desired. Fold the bottom half of the wrapper up over the filling, hold the fold in place, fold in the sides and roll, much like a burrito. Dip into the gingery fish sauce and repeat.
For the rest of the turkey recipes, click here!