In authentic Vietnamese parcels, the mixture would be wrapped in rice paper and then deep-fried. This recipe saves on the fat by poaching the pigeon mixture in a flavourful broth, and then wrapping the parcels in lettuce leaves – Little Gem or round lettuce – with fresh herbs. The result is very attractive and fun to eat.
Spice up the pigeon mixture with 1 fresh red chilli, seeded, if you like. Chillies are an important flavouring in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. Used raw, chillies are an excellent source of vitamin C, although you'd need to eat a lot to gain much benefit. * If you can't get fresh shiitake mushrooms, use 15 g (½ oz) dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated following the instructions on the packet. Or substitute fresh chestnut or button mushrooms. * Instead of the pigeon, use 170 g (6 oz) skinless boneless chicken breast and 85 g (3 oz) cooked tiger prawns or crabmeat. Add 1 tbsp each finely chopped lemongrass (the tender, inner part) and fresh root ginger to the rolls for extra flavour. * If you don't have fish sauce, soy sauce would do. The thinly pared zest of 1 lime can replace the lime leaves.
Pigeon offers first-class protein with only a moderate fat content. It is an excellent source of iron and a useful source of zinc. Zinc is vital for normal growth, reproduction and immunity. Pigeon also offers good quantities of vitamin B6, which helps to release energy from proteins. * Each portion of this dish provides over 100% of the recommended daily intake of iron for men. Women have a slightly higher iron requirement than men, but this dish still provides 75% of it. * Rice noodles are gluten-free and wheat-free, making them useful for people with gluten or wheat allergies or intolerance.
iron, B6, A, copper, zinc