Noah Crowcroft, group executive chef at Rice Paper Scissors in Melbourne, has a thing for asparagus. He says one of the most popular dishes on the menu right now is a chargrilled asparagus salad topped with nam jim, a green Thai dressing.

“Victorian asparagus is world-renowned,” he says. “Victoria supplies about 90 per cent of Australia’s asparagus. And it’s in full swing at the moment, until early January.”

Crowcroft says the succulent chargrilled spears are an excellent reason to light up the barbeque. “It’s also just a very fresh and punchy salad for a warm day,” he says.

Never miss a moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.


The salad is also one of the options available in the Southeast Asian banquet lunch experience at Rice Paper Scissors offered via RedBalloon, which includes five different sharing courses for two people, plus a cocktail for each diner.

While the menu changes seasonally, dishes might include Mekhong-marinated lamb ribs or crispy barramundi salad. To drink, there’s a summer-friendly cocktail list – highlights include the Vietnamese Espresso Martini and the Rice Paper Spritzer (with Choya plum wine, elderflower, cucumber, prosecco, soda and mint).

This salad is easy to make at home: besides a barbeque and mortar and pestle (or food processor), all you need is a cutting board and a mixing bowl. You can adjust the heat level in the spicy nam jim dressing according to your preference (just add more or less chilli), and you can easily do a vegan version by opting for vegan fish sauce.

As with all the hawker-style fare at Rice Paper Scissors – and its new catering venture Rice Paper Catr – don’t be afraid to use your hands as well as your fork. “Have fun,” Crowcroft says. “That’s something we always encourage with our customers.”

Chargrilled asparagus salad with green nam jim
Serves 2–3 as a side dish

Preparation time: 20 minutes


1 bunch asparagus
1 whole Lebanese cucumber
½ bunch coriander
½ bunch mint
½ bunch Vietnamese mint
2 whole shallots
1 long green chilli
2 tbsp pickled ginger (available at most Asian grocers)
1 tbsp fried garlic
1 stalk lemongrass

Nam jim dressing
2 long green chillies
1 bunch coriander roots
3 garlic cloves
50g sugar
100ml fresh lime juice
100ml fish sauce


For the nam jim dressing, put the garlic, green chilli and coriander roots into a mortar and pestle (or food processor) and mash into a paste. Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir well until everything is combined. Taste the dressing. It should be a good balance of sweet, salty and sour. If it needs adjusting, add sugar for sweetness, fish sauce for salt or lime juice for sourness.

Prepare the rest of your salad while the barbeque is heating. Thinly slice the shallots and chilli and add to a mixing bowl. Remove the outside couple layers from the lemongrass stalk and then thinly slice the stalk down to the base. Add to the mixing bowl. Wash the herbs, dry well and add to the mixing bowl.

Add the pickled ginger. Cut about an inch off the bottoms of the asparagus. Lightly coat the asparagus in oil and put on the barbeque. Lightly char the spears and then transfer to a cutting board. Cut the spears into 3 pieces and transfer to the mixing bowl. Add the desired amount of nam jim and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with fried garlic.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with RedBalloon. Discover more exclusive dining experiences here.