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Vietnamese Food


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Hi all, your food is inspiring. I have made my own somewhat unorthodox pho for several years now using oxtails for the stock along with lemongrass etc, but haven't attempted other dishes. I notice much mention here of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Would that be a good book to start with? Any other books you like?

P.S. Ce'nedra, what is it about Pho you find unhealthy? I skim off all the fat from my stock before I make my soup so it's clean and greasless. Is it something you add later?

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My favorite Vietnamese cookbook is still The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam by Bach Ngo (in fact, as it is out of print, it is one of the ones I keep multiple copies of, just to make sure that if one book falls to pieces, I'm ok).

The paperback one with Gloria Zimmerman, foreword by Jacques Pepin? This was my first Vietnamese cookbook when I was trying to replicate my Vietnamese friend's dishes. It covers all the basics, and although I am a sucker for glossy photo cookbooks, it is this simple but thorough one I come back to. I especially like it for inspiration on homestyle dishes.

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rarerollingobject: Humble? Pah! That looks delicious.

I notice much mention here of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Would that be a good book to start with? Any other books you like?

We have Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table. Both books have spawned many family favorites, but I would probably pick the former if forced to choose.

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That looks great, Ce'nedra! What cut of meat do you use?

Thanks! I used random pork bones (but mainly from the tail bone because it supposedly contains the most flavour) for the stock, and to eat in a bowl, it's a combination of those stock bones and meat from pig's leg (that was bought already flavoured) from the butchers. Make sure the leg meat is flavoured (Asian style of course)! I believe it's a combination of soy sauce and something else...

Ce'Nedra - i also love the chewy tapioca noodles. Where did you get the recipe, or could you tell us one?

thanks!

My mum taught me how to make it so there's no actual recipe/measurements but I'll see what I can tell you :)

Umm...for the stock, I used pork bones (aim for the tail area), water, a couple of dried squid, salt and sugar. Cook as you would with normal stock.

When that is done, I would add oil to a small pan, then throw in alot of chopped green onions and stir through until it darkens and becomes a deep deep green (almost black). Then I throw that into the stock pot (at which point you should hear alot of sizzling and you will get all giddy and excited :raz: ) and the green onions will eventually turn black in colour. This is ESSENTIAL because it gives this noodle soup it's distinct fragrance and flavour!

That's pretty much it.

We just heat up the noodles (in individual bowls) in the microwave beforehand to soften it a bit, then I add the flavoured meat cuts (leg area) and the additional bones leftover from the stock. Now ladle the delicious soup in the bowls.

Serve with a small dish of fresh lemon or lime juice, fish sauce and chopped chillis (of course optional). This is, naturally, to dip the meat cuts. And we also eat the noodle soup with Chinese fried dough sticks. Oh and we also squeeze some lemon/lime juice into our bowl (just a tad).

I'm not sure if that was much help to you but I hope it gives you a general idea at the very least :smile:

Hi all, your food is inspiring. I have made my own somewhat unorthodox pho for several years now using oxtails for the stock along with lemongrass etc, but haven't attempted other dishes. I notice much mention here of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Would that be a good book to start with? Any other books you like?

P.S. Ce'nedra, what is it about Pho you find unhealthy? I skim off all the fat from my stock before I make my soup so it's clean and greasless. Is it something you add later?

I don't think I said it's 'unhealthy', I just said I found it can be sickening after eating too much (but the first two bowls are heaven! :raz: ). It isn't exactly healthy either though lol (well this depends on how you make it I guess but a good bowl of pho does not come without any fatty residue).

We also skim off the fats but like I said, pho without ANY fats is NOT pho. And despite skimming off quite alot, the way pho is cooked means that alot of those bits are still retained.

But then there's also the way I eat pho which makes it less than healthy hahhaa! A big squirt of various sauces, and I don't doubt there's a heap of msg/sodium somewhere there hmm...the vegies such as the herbs and bean sprouts are a good addition though :wink:

Edited by Ce'nedra (log)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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My favorite Vietnamese cookbook is still The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam by Bach Ngo (in fact, as it is out of print, it is one of the ones I keep multiple copies of, just to make sure that if one book falls to pieces, I'm ok).

Dave, fyi there are many used copies of this book listed with Bookfinder.com if you should burn through your supply. It is an excellent source for books, including hard-to-find ones.

Thanks, I will take a look at all the above suggestions. Many of the dishes pictured on this thread look fabulous--you are all amazing. I'm overdue for a break from my Italian phase (Siddown, Mario!) I don't know if I will ever get to the point where I am compelled to take pix of my food, but you never know.

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My friend let me know he was signing on for another Tet tour this year in Vietnam. It made me so nostalgic -I miss Hanoi, especially on drizzly cold Tokyo days.

I came home and made two of my favourite Hanoi home cooking dishes.

Caramel Pork:

gallery_41378_5233_39386.jpg

I forgot to mention -I thought Caramel Pork was a Southern Vietnamese dish? Correct me if I'm wrong :smile:

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Oh yeah, it probably totally is. But unlike a lot of other (noodle) dishes, it was readily available at restaurants in Hanoi. My favourite version, actually, was at Stop Cafe on Bao Khanh....*sigh. So Tender! You could shred the pork with your chopsticks.... mine is always too tough. I guess I need to braise it longer...

I don't think I said it's 'unhealthy', I just said I found it can be sickening after eating too much (but the first two bowls are heaven!

I call this condition "pho belly", which results from having drunk up too much broth for your belly to handle, so you walk home with it sloshing around from side to side. :biggrin:

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Dave, fyi there are many used copies of this book listed with Bookfinder.com if you should burn through your supply. It is an excellent source for books, including hard-to-find ones.

I found three copies of the hardback locally in the space of a week at used bookstores...

Even after giving some away, I'm comfortable with my stash.

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The paperback one with Gloria Zimmerman, foreword by Jacques Pepin? This was my first Vietnamese cookbook when I was trying to replicate my Vietnamese friend's dishes. It covers all the basics, and although I am a sucker for glossy photo cookbooks, it is this simple but thorough one I come back to. I especially like it for inspiration on homestyle dishes.

That's the one, although I've since picked up copies of the earlier hardbound version as well.

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It's truly surreal to see the dishes I grew up with being discussed on the same board that covers El Bulli, Thomas Keller, etc.

...and it made me realize the last time I had this food was years ago. I gotta call my mom tomorrow.

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Hey, good food is good food. I'm not picky! :biggrin: And the chances of me having a nice big dinner with lots of fabulous Vietnamese dishes is much greater than the chances of me getting anywhere near the French Laundry! So call your Mum, and while you're at it - ask her how long she cooks her caramel pork, and whether or not she uses pork shoulder. :laugh:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all --

Tried something new for myself today -- making Banh Xeo... Sigh. The filling (pork, shrimp, green onions, little garlic, fish sauce, thai basil, bean sprouts, chile) and dipping sauce was delicious... But the crepe part itself... Not good. I made it from a Banh Xeo mix I got at the asian market, much like what Ce'nedra posted above... Mixed that with water and coconut milk, but the resulting cooked crepe was pasty and icky. Any thoughts as to where I went wrong?

Emily

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Tried something new for myself today -- making Banh Xeo... Sigh. but the resulting cooked crepe was pasty and icky. Any thoughts as to where I went wrong?

The batter needs to be really thin and quickly cooked. Perhaps yours was too thick?

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Since I am sans kids and hubby for a few days ( :wub: ), I had a very close friend over, and one of the dishes on the table was the Shrimp in Spicy Tamarind Sauce from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen." I naturally made an entire recipe, and let me tell you, these, made a day ahead of time, in a bowl accompanied by a jigger of toothpicks makes a killer appetizer the next day.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Hi all --

Tried something new for myself today -- making Banh Xeo... Sigh. The filling (pork, shrimp, green onions, little garlic, fish sauce, thai basil, bean sprouts, chile) and dipping sauce was delicious... But the crepe part itself... Not good. I made it from a Banh Xeo mix I got at the asian market, much like what Ce'nedra posted above... Mixed that with water and coconut milk, but the resulting cooked crepe was pasty and icky. Any thoughts as to where I went wrong?

Emily

Hmm what about adding grounded mung beans and beer like I did? That definately helps to make it crisp :)

Also, in addition to the above plus the water and coconut milk, I also used rice flour.

Hope it works out for you :smile:

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Thanks to all on this inspiring thread who recommended Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. I did in fact receive it for a holiday gift and last night made my first recipe: chicken, lemongrass and potato curry. Instructions were clear and it was very easy. I admit to tweaking a bit by adding some Kale for the last 15 minutes of cooking, since I had some in the fridge and wanted something green. I used the lesser quantity of coconut milk, added some white breast meat cooked for a shorter amount of time to please my finicky daughter. It was delicious. I am already planning my next meal.

Since I have to make a major shopping expedition to Chinatown I'm curious to know what people on this thread prefer in the way of fish sauce. There is a fish sauce thread that is not Vietnamese specific in which there is some bashing of "Three Crabs" for it's additives, although Andrea Nguyen seems to like it. Which one do you like for Vietnamese food? Nguyen implies that imports direct from Vietnam--which would be the best--are hard to come by. Is that your experience?

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Since I have to make a major shopping expedition to Chinatown I'm curious to know what people on this thread prefer in the way of fish sauce. There is a fish sauce thread that is not Vietnamese specific in which there is some bashing of "Three Crabs" for it's additives, although Andrea Nguyen seems to like it. Which one do you like for Vietnamese food? Nguyen implies that imports direct from Vietnam--which would be the best--are hard to come by. Is that your experience?

Katie, glad you are enjoying the book. We keep one container of fish sauce on hand, and use it for Thai and Vietnamese food. I listed our favorites on the Fish Sauce, Which Brand (merged topic).

Three Crabs isn't my first choice, but I have used it and it tastes just fine. In general, Vietnamese brands of fish sauce seem to be a bit mellower than the Thai brands.

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I made the minced pork recipe from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" and I couldn't get it to brown/caramelize correctly. I even added another dosing of caramel water and it didn't really help. I wanted it to be shiny and brown but it was a dull color and started burning because I kept cooking, insisting time would help it along.

Any tips?

P.S. It doesn't say in the book but my mom has always served this with slices of cucumber (and rice, of course). Try it.

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I made the minced pork recipe from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" and I couldn't get it to brown/caramelize correctly. I even added another dosing of caramel water and it didn't really help. I wanted it to be shiny and brown but it was a dull color and started burning because I kept cooking, insisting time would help it along.

Any tips?

P.S. It doesn't say in the book but my mom has always served this with slices of cucumber (and rice, of course). Try it.

This one is on my 'to-do' list and I was just looking over it the other day.

'Medium High' is pretty darned hot, are you sure you weren't too cautious with the heat? I feel like she wants you to cook it at hot enough temperature where if you left it without stirring it would burn.

What kind of pan did you use? I feel like a non-stick skillet might not work as well here...

Either way, I promise I will try this one in the next week and report back on how it goes!

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I made the minced pork recipe from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" and I couldn't get it to brown/caramelize correctly. I even added another dosing of caramel water and it didn't really help. I wanted it to be shiny and brown but it was a dull color and started burning because I kept cooking, insisting time would help it along.

Any tips?

P.S. It doesn't say in the book but my mom has always served this with slices of cucumber (and rice, of course). Try it.

This one is on my 'to-do' list and I was just looking over it the other day.

'Medium High' is pretty darned hot, are you sure you weren't too cautious with the heat? I feel like she wants you to cook it at hot enough temperature where if you left it without stirring it would burn.

What kind of pan did you use? I feel like a non-stick skillet might not work as well here...

Either way, I promise I will try this one in the next week and report back on how it goes!

I did use a non-stick pan and I probably used low-med. Now that I think about it, I suspect the problem is with the lean ground pork that I bought. Unfortunately, it's the only kind available.

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Now that I'm back in Canada, finding the right meat to cook Vietnamese dishes for my family has been a real headache for me. All I can find in the supermarket is loin, loin, loin. I want shoulder! I found a pork rib roast, but it was pre-brined, if you can believe that! I need to find a real butcher. Do you have one near you that can get you better meat? It makes a real difference, I can tell you.

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