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Vietnamese Food


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Thanks for the suggestions above--and no, they weren't too late. Working with rice noodles has been a long learning curve. I had the feeling I could as easily as not ruin these noodles, so I did an experiment. I poured almost boiling water over just a few noodles. Within a few seconds they were softer than I like, so I decided not to parboil them at all. 2-5 seconds might be about right, but that seems pretty hard to control. Instead I simply added them to the stir fry after the flavoring sauce went in and by the time they were heated through and mixed with the vegetables--all of 30 seconds maybe--they were done. It was very good. I had carrots, kolrabi (kolrabi must be the new "it" vegetable in Chinatown--it's everywhere), cabbage and teeny weeny baby bok choy plus a little leftover duck. My flavoring or finishing sauce was simple Andrea Nyguyen formula: soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and I subbed a little duck broth for the water.

Yes, these noodles do look exactly like those pictured in the bowl of Bun Bo Hue on the dustjacket of "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen." I am thinking that you could just put them in a bowl as is and pour the hot broth over them and they would be just right. This is inspiring me to take a closer look at these fresh rice noodles and see what else I can do with them. Sorry, no pix!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks for the suggestions above--and no, they weren't too late. Working with rice noodles has been a long learning curve. I had the feeling I could as easily as not ruin these noodles, so I did an experiment. I poured almost boiling water over just a few noodles. Within a few seconds they were softer than I like, so I decided not to parboil them at all. 2-5 seconds might be about right, but that seems pretty hard to control. Instead I simply added them to the stir fry after the flavoring sauce went in and by the time they were heated through and mixed with the vegetables--all of 30 seconds maybe--they were done. It was very good. I had carrots, kolrabi (kolrabi must be the new "it" vegetable in Chinatown--it's everywhere), cabbage and teeny weeny baby bok choy plus a little leftover duck. My flavoring or finishing sauce was simple Andrea Nyguyen formula: soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and I subbed a little duck broth for the water.

Yes, these noodles do look exactly like those pictured in the bowl of Bun Bo Hue on the dustjacket of "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen." I am thinking that you could just put them in a bowl as is and pour the hot broth over them and they would be just right. This is inspiring me to take a closer look at these fresh rice noodles and see what else I can do with them. Sorry, no pix!

I'm glad it worked out for you. Fresh rice noodles taste so much better to me than reconstituted dried ones. I miss being able to walk out on to my street and buy fresh ones right out of a basket filled with rice noodles and banana leaves. You could use them to make all sorts of dishes...my favourite is Bun Bo Nam Bo.

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It was never something I found readily available in Hanoi, but every dry good shops carried a variety of peanuts - whole; roasted, salted, plain, ground....maybe people were making their own?

But actually, now I think about it, people in Hanoi always served both spring and summer rolls with nuoc cham, never peanut sauce.

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It was never something I found readily available in Hanoi, but every dry good shops carried a variety of peanuts - whole; roasted, salted, plain, ground....maybe people were making their own?

But actually, now I think about it, people in Hanoi always served both spring and summer rolls with nuoc cham, never peanut sauce.

Hmm I think that perhaps Hanoi/northern Vietnam has a tendency to use only nuoc cham as the dip while southern Vietnam uses a combination of a peanut sauce with nuoc cham (which is how I do it)?

Have you noticed if this is true between the two regions? It's really just my own assumption ha. Btw, I'm referring to the dip for summer rolls only (since only nuoc cham is used for the fried spring rolls, rather than peanut sauce).

Well then I wonder how they make their peanut sauce in Vietnam if not from peanut butter?

Really fine peanut powder maybe?

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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I just stumbled onto this topic today, and I LOVE IT!!!! Everyone's pictures look so great - it's very inspiring for me to start taking my own pics... do people have any tricks with lighting so that it look right?

I was in Hanoi for a very short time a while ago, and ever since, I dream of Bun Cha... our last day there, my wife and I almost missed our plane while walking around looking for it!!

I have found a vague faxsimile to it in a Vietnamese rest. in Chinatown in my home town of NYC - but they don't do the grilled pork patty - they just do the grilled slices of pork...

I'd love to do the real thing at home, but don't really know where to start - I'd assume the basic ingredients for the patties were ground pork shoulder, ginger, shallot, herbs, but I'm really just guessing here... does anyone know??

Also, I'm sure the grilled slices were marinated - any clues?

Is the "broth" for bun cha similar to nuoc cham? Unfortunately, my flavor memory is getting hazier by the day... I'd know it if I tasted it, but it's getting harder and harder to remember the flavor and just make it from scratch....

Any help would be SOOOOO appreciated!

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I have found a vague faxsimile to it in a Vietnamese rest. in Chinatown in my home town of NYC - but they don't do the grilled pork patty - they just do the grilled slices of pork...

They only do they pork patties in Hanoi. In my experience, most VN restaurants outside of Vietnam are run by Vietnamese from the South, where the cuisine is a little different. I have a recipe and some Bun Cha photos, but I'm late for my train - I'll post tonight!

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Well, I went digging through my notes, and I couldn't find a recipe for the broth. If you ate it in Hanoi, however, I can guarantee that large amounts of MSG went into both the patties and the broth to make them extra succulent. And I don't know why, but I feel like it's pineapple juice that is the fruit juice that gets added. I'm going to e-mail a good friend of mine in Hanoi and try to find out for everyone.

In the meantime....from Mai Hac De street, in Hanoi.....

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And if you're interested, here's my eGullet foodblog from Hanoi.

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I'm not sure if it's nuoc cham, really, but whatever it is, it's used as a kind of dip. In Hanoi, they give you a bowl of the soup with the meat patties in it, and a plate of rice noodles and a plate of herbs. Then you add the noodles and herbs to the sauce as you like, with crushed garlic and chilis as condiments, and then slurp it all up, a bit like eating zaru soba. You're not really supposed to have the soup, you just use it as a dressing for the meat and noodles.

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Ohh...so then it's different to say, the conventional noodle soup? I'm still a bit confused with whether it's a sauce or soup/broth that's served over the noodles hmmm...because you can't really drink nuoc cham (well, you can, but you wouldn't want to lol) as a soup. Well, maybe they serve it that way in northern Vietnamese cuisine. I could be entirely wrong because I'm only familiar with southern Vietnamese food.

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Sorry for the confusion by calling it a "broth" - as nakji said, it's more of a dip, but they give a soup bowl full of it... the place I went to looked very similar to nakji's photos - in the broth were grilled pork patties, pork slices, and what my memory seems to be grilled pork belly as well... I definitely remember 3 different styles of pork... served on the side was a bowl of noodles, and a plate of herbs and lettuce.... plus, we ordered some spring rolls (probably the best I've ever had) that were served separately, but our local guide who we took to lunch with us dipped them in the "broth" as well...

The dip had the acidic/fishsaucyness of a nuoc cham, but there was a slight sweetness to it also.... hmmm... pineapple juice... that might work!

Nakji - I just read your Hanoi blog... wow - it really took me back there!!! That was really cool... reading your blog makes me wish that we spent more time there... my wife and I only spent a couple of days in Hanoi... not long enough!!!

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Both of my Vietnamese cookbooks just call for nuoc cham. One also calls for carrot/daikon water pickle- some of that lightly acidic juice may play a part? Also one of the books calls for the caramel sauce in addition to fish sauce, pepper and MSG in the ground meat. That would add a sweetish deep note.

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He got back to me - on first thinking about it, he said that he thought it was just fish sauce and vinegar, with chips of green papaya and carrot in it for sweetening, but he's going to check for sure with his regular lady. Then he got cranky because I made him crave bun cha at midnight, when it's impossible to get. Oooh, bun cha....*sigh....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just an update on the bun cha quest.... this weekend, I tried a new Vietnamese rest. in NYC - called Tet... I think they're new, but I'm not sure...

On the menu, was what they called Bun Cha Hanoi! Granted, they had to upscalify it for the NY market - but there were the pork strips and a single pork patty... and eating the "broth" definitely brought back memories.... it was a dark brown sauce, and it tasted like a nuoc cham with an addition of caramel sauce, and possiblya juice of some kind...

I'm going to try to go back there a little more frequently to try to get to know them, and hopefully, they may feel comfortable enough to share some info with me!

In the meantime, I'm still waiting to hear if anyone in Hanoi can get some info from some of the real places -the ones on the street!!!

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