Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crêpes)

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe)

Bánh Xèo

Bánh = Cake

Xèo = Sound of the “sizzle” from the skillet

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe)

Growing up, I always considered Bánh Xèo to be a treat when my mom made them. She insisted that they needed to be eaten immediately from the skillet to maintain its crispy exterior. And unlike when you order them from restaurants, she would fill mine with tons of filling. :)

Bánh Xèo gets its yellow hue from the turmeric and is flavored with coconut milk. Traditionally, Bánh Xèo is filled with pork, shrimp, onions, mung beans, and bean sprouts. And just like chả giò (egg rolls), you wrap pieces of the Bánh Xèo with herbs and lettuce leave before dunking it into Nước Chấm–a fish sauce based dipping sauce. The freshness of the veggies is the perfect balance to the slightly fried crêpe.

Enjoy!

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Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crêpes)

Batter:
1½ Cups Rice Flour
½ Teaspoon Turmeric
¼ Cup Coconut Milk
1 Cup Cold Soda Water, more if needed
½ Cup Scallions, diced
1-2 Dashes Nước Mắm (fish sauce)

Filling:
½ Pound Shrimp, peeled and cleaned
½ Pound Pork Loin, sliced thinly
½ Cup White Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, finely diced
2 Cups Fresh Bean Sprouts
Nước Mắm (fish sauce)
Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Nước Chm (Dipping Sauce):
½ Cup Nước Mắm (fish sauce)
½ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
¼ Cup Warm Water
1-2 Thai Chilies, finely diced

Accouterments:
Lettuce
Thai Basil
Mint
Cilantro
Cucumbers

In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and turmeric. Add in coconut milk and mix until well combined. Slowly whisk in the soda water until all the lumps have dissolved. Whisk in Nước Mắm and scallions. Set the batter aside for 30-45 minutes.

Prepare the Nước chm. Combine Fish Sauce, Sugar, Lime Juice, Warm Water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in chilies. Cover and set aside.

In another bowl, add in pork and shrimp. Toss with garlic, white onions, a few splashes of Nước Mắm, and pepper. Heat a pan with a few tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat. Add the mixture and cook for a few minutes until the pork and shrimp are almost done. Remove from pan.

In a large nonstick skillet, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Stir the batter and carefully spoon a ladleful into the skillet. Tilt and swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly. After 1-2 minutes, place some of the pork/shrimp mixture on one half of the skillet. Top with the bean sprouts. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove lid and drizzle a little bit of oil on the outer edge of the crêpe. Cover the skillet for another 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully fold the crêpe in half, gently pressing down on top. Transfer to a plate. Serve with lettuce, mint, cilantro, thai basil and nước chm (dipping sauce).

 

 

This is my submission to the final Delicious Vietnama monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. Thank You Anh, Kim, and Hong!

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

To me, comfort food consists of simple, everyday dishes my family grew up eating. Uncomplicated Vietnamese dishes really…. but packed with flavor—and memories.

They included braised bamboo shoots, sauteed greens in shrimp paste, beef stir fry with potatoes, and  if we were lucky–fried shrimp.

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Depending on Mom’s mood—meaning if she was in the mood of peeling the shrimp or not, we would be treated to either Tôm Lăn Bột (batter fried shrimp) or Tôm Rang Muối (salted fried shrimp). Either way–I LOVED both dishes.

Tôm Lăn Bột are peeled headless shrimp, dipped into a batter, and then fried until golden brown. Tôm Rang Muối are head-on shrimp that are tossed into salt and flour (or cornstarch) and quickly fried. Since the shrimp are left with their shells on, they retain a lot of their moisture and add great texture. And the bonus—you get to suck the deliciousness from the heads!

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Mom and the aunties would often make Tôm Rang Muối at our family parties, too. Since it’s so quick to make, they would whip up several batches to tie us over before we got to eat. Big plates of Tôm Rang Muối would also get sent over to wherever the “menfolk” were sitting to “nhậu“—-which is the Vietnamese word for drinking adult beverages while nibbling on food.

I’m sure my mom would scold me for broadcasting this but THANK BUDDHA that I can nhậu now, too! :)

Hope you enjoy!

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Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Prawns, heads-on
1 Cup Rice Flour (or cornstarch, tempura powder, etc.)
1½ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Red Chili Pepper, sliced
¼ Cup Green Scallions, sliced
Vegetable Oil for Frying

Devein the prawns while keeping the shells in tact. This can be done by using a sharp knife to slice the backs of the prawns. Remove and discard the veins. Using kitchen shears, snip off the antennas and legs. Place the prawns in a colander and run cool water over them. Gently shake to drain the water and use paper towels to dry off excess moisture. Sprinkle salt over the prawns, tossing well to cover each prawn. Place the colander with prawns (with a bowl underneath to catch any excess fluid) in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

In a large pot (or deep fryer), preheat oil to 375 degrees.

Remove prawns from the refrigerator and sprinkle rice flour all over. Toss the prawns to coat and sift to get rid of any extra flour. In batches, carefully add the prawns into the hot oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy. Transfer the fried prawns to a paper towel lined plate. When the grease has been drained, gently toss the prawns with scallions and chilies. Serve immediately.

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #17 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Phuoc from Phuoc’n’delicious for hosting this month!**

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

When our clan gathers, you can be sure that there will be a massive array of delicious food. One can always count on the usual favorites such as Bánh Ít (sticky rice dumplings), Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup),and Cua Rang Mui (salt roasted crab). And intermixed with all the Vietnamese goodies would often be a sprinkling of “American” dishes such as mom’s Turkey.

Growing up, each dish became linked to one of the aunties or Mom as they each refined the recipes to make it their own. But as my generation grew older, the proverbial baton was passed and we in turn began to make these iconic family favorites.

And I find comfort in knowing that these dishes that my siblings, cousins, and I create will pass on my family’s traditions through food.  It’s kind of remarkable to think that the Phở Gà I’ll make for my kids will be exactly the same recipe my mom would have made for them.

Incredible, really.

One dish that I hope to continue is Gỏi Mít Trộn. At the heart of the salad is Mít Non—young, unripe jackfruit. The flesh of the young jackfruit is tender and mild in flavor. In the states, Mít Non is sold both canned and frozen. However, if you use the frozen type, you’ll need to boil it for a bit.

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

After being washed and well drained, the Mít is stir fried for a few moments before it’s tossed with shrimp, pork and several herbs like Rau Răm (Vietnamese Cilantro).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The Gỏi Mít Trộn is then topped with fried shallots, crushed peanuts and accompanied with nước chm (dipping sauce).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

It’s best served with Bánh Đa – crispy rice crackers flecked with black sesame seeds. Want to know something funny? When I was little, I used to think that the black sesame seeds in these were ants and stayed clear of these crackers for many years :)

 

 

 Bánh Đa

 

I like to eat Gỏi Mít Trộn by drizzling nước chm with lots of chili on top of the salad with a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice. Then I take a piece of the Bánh Đa and use it to scoop up the goodness. YUM!

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The layers of flavor and textures in this Gỏi really rock it out. Extremely savory from the proteins and fish sauce with bright herbaceous notes from the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. With each bite you get a lovely crunch from the rice crackers and peanuts that balances so well with the tender Mít.

If done correctly, everything is in perfect harmony.

I doubt my Gỏi Mít Trộn will ever be as good as my mom’s or aunties’. But one thing is for certain— in due time, our kids will be trying their hand at it, too :)

 

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Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

3 Cans (20 ounces each) Young Jackfruit
1 Pound Shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 Pound Pork Loin, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
½ Cup Scallions, chopped
1½ Cups Rau Răm Leaves (Vietnamese Cilantro), roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
N
ước Mm (Fish Sauce)
Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Accouterments:
Bánh Đa (rice crackers)
N
ước chm (dipping sauce)
Fried Shallots
Crushed Roasted Peanuts
Lime Wedges
Thai Chilies

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, pork, ½ tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon shallots, and a few dashes of fish sauce. Mix and season with black pepper. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

Drain the cans of jackfruit. Remove any seeds (including the shell layer surrounding the seeds) and cut off and discard any hard sections. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the jackfruit and transfer to a large bowl that has been filled with cold water. Repeat until all the jackfruit has been cut and rinsed. Using clean dishcloths, gently squeeze out the excess liquid. If too much moisture is left, your salad will be really wet and mushy. Set the jackfruit aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium flame. Add pork and shrimp and sauté until cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add another 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium flame. Add the remaining shallots, half the scallions and sauté until softened before adding the rest of the garlic. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the jackfruit and remaining scallions and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes before seasoning with a few dashes of fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from heat and mix in the shrimp and pork. Toss in the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. Taste and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that additional Nước chm will be used. Plate the contents to a large dish. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots and crushed peanuts.

Serve the Gỏi Mít Trộn with Bánh Đa, Nước chm, limes, and chilies. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #15, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Angry Asian Creations for hosting this month!**

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Growing up, our mom never measured her ingredients out. It was a toss of this, a pinch of that…..taste, adjust, and a few more shakes of whatever just for kicks. And even when she was coerced into documenting her dishes, they were vague amounts such as a “1/2 rice bowl of sugar” and a “handful of garlic”. Everything was “to taste”.

It made it difficult as heck to learn her “recipes” but I soon realized all of our aunties were like that too. And that’s what I’ve come to believe Vietnamese cooking to be. It’s pretty tricky as it’s all “to taste” and highly subjective.

You’ll find this quandary even more prominent in “simple” dishes as one slight off-balanced proportion will throw your taste buds for a spin. Things like nước chấm, soups, and even salads will have you repeatedly tasting and adjusting for the perfect balance.

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm, is a perfect example of this challenge and was a staple in our household growing up. Popularized from the Huế region of Viet Nam, shredded poached chicken is tossed in a light vinaigrette and packed FULL of fresh herbs and thinly sliced onions. And although I’ve given some measurements in the recipe below, it really depends on your flavor palette to add as much or as little lemon juice and sugar or salt and pepper. Just keep in mind that it’s also served with the nước chm dipping sauce so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

With all that said, the rau răm (known as Vietnamese Cilantro or Vietnamese Coriander) is my favorite part of the dish. The uniquely bright and slightly peppery flavor this herb adds is something that is difficult to describe but must be experienced. In fact, I’d say that it’s my favorite herb, closely followed by fresh cilantro and Thai basil. The addition of the shredded red cabbage is my nod to the restaurant, Hue Rendezvous in Westminster, California. They serve their Gà Bóp on top of shredded green cabbage, which I think is such a great addition for the added crunch and texture. This time around, I chose to use red cabbage because it’s a little milder in flavor and because its beautiful color provided such a striking contrast.

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm is best served at room temperature and would be a great addition to any summer picnic or luncheon. I’d even venture to say a light Rau Răm Mojito would be a great cocktail pairing for this dish. And that, my friends, is how I also come up with random cocktails :)

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Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken, preferably Free-Range
2 Tablespoons Nước Mắm, fish sauce
2 Inches Fresh Ginger
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, lightly crushed
½ Tablespoon Black Pepper Corns
1 Small Sized Red Cabbage, shredded
1 Medium Sized White Onion, sliced paper thin
½ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Bunch (about 1½ cups) Rau Răm leaves, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Optional: Nước chấm, fried shallots, crushed peanuts, and chilies

Thoroughly wash and clean the chicken. I usually lightly scrub several tablespoons of table salt all over the exterior body/interior cavity of the chicken and rub cut lemon wedges over the skin. This acts as a type of “exfoliant” and helps to reduce impurities and grit as the chicken is poaching. Trim any excess fat and skin as well as be sure to remove the bag of giblets and neck. Rinse the chicken well with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Prick the skin of the chicken all over with the tines of a fork.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the nước mắm, ginger, garlic cloves, and pepper corns. Gently ease the chicken into the pot and lower the heat to an even simmer. Poach until cooked—about 25-30 minutes. (Skim off any impurities that may form and discard.) Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and cool to room temperature. *At this point, the poaching liquids can be strained and stored to be used as a light chicken broth at another time.

While the chicken is cooling, combine the sliced onions and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Toss to cover thoroughly and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. In another small bowl, dissolve the sugar into the lime juice.

When the chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred all the meat into bite sized pieces discarding the skin, bones, and fatty portions. Toss the shredded chicken with the pickled onions and add in the rau răm and cilantro.  Add the lime juice mixture a little bit at a time to your taste preference. Season with salt and pepper.

To plate, spread the shredded cabbage on a large plate and top with a pile of the  shredded chicken salad. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots, chilies, crushed peanuts and serve with nước chấm on the side.

*It should be noted that Gà Đi B (free range chicken) is preferred in this dish for its texture and flavor.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #14, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Rau Om for hosting this month!**


Chả Cá Thăng Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Turmeric & Dill)

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Chả Cá Thăng Long (also known as Chả Lã Vọng and Chả Cá Hà Nội) is an infamous Hà Nội dish. At it’s originating roots from the 100+ year old Chả Lã Vọng restaurant, turmeric marinaded fish is first grilled and then fried table-side. It’s served with tons of fresh dill, other herbs, crush peanuts, and rice noodles.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I began to truly appreciate this dish with it’s complex, yet well balanced, flavors. In Orange County, I would order it as a treat when I was out with my parents in Little Sài Gòn. The only popular place to get Chả Cá Thăng Long at that time was from Viễn Đông Restaurant where it would come out on sizzling cast iron plates. Now, Chả Cá is pretty readily available at many Vietnamese restaurants.

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Traditionally, in Hà Nội, this dish is made with cá lóc –or snakehead fish. Which, on a random note, was my dad’s nickname in the navy. :)

Here in the states, most restaurants will make it with catfish or other firm white fish. But mom also used to make it with salmon, too.

If you’ve never had Chả Cá before, you may be surprised to see how much fresh dill is used. But trust in the process because it’s the plentiful dill and turmeric that makes this dish so special.

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Typically, Chả Cá is served with Mắm Nêm—a very pungent, fermented anchovy sauce. I love the stuff but it’s definitely a flavor to get used to—even if you are Vietnamese! As such, you see this dish also served with a standard Nước Chấm which is much more mild compared to its counterpart.

Not up to mixing up a batch of your own Mắm Nêm? No worries, I buy mine premixed and bottled. Mắm Nêm is just one of those tricky things that I seem to never be able to get the right ratios down. :)

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

At home, you can cook Chả Cá in several different ways. Either on a grill (or grill pan), underneath the broiler, or simply pan fry like I did. But be sure to get all the crispy brown bits in your bowl because that’s what is packed full of yummy flavor.

Thanks for reading!

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

On a side note, I’d like to dedicate this post/dish to our Mom who instilled in us the love for cooking and sharing food with loved ones. She would have turned 70 this coming Tuesday. Wasn’t she lovely? :)

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday, Mom! We miss you and love you!

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Chả Cá Thăng Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Turmeric & Dill)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For Fish:
1 Pound Firm White Fish, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Vietnamese Fish Sauce
1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
½ Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill Fronds, chopped (for marinade)
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
4 Scallions, sliced into 2 inch segments
1 Small White Onion, sliced
1 Large Bunch of Dill, without stems
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided

Accouterments:
½ Cup Peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Fresh Dill Fronds, chopped
Red Thai Chiles, diced
Chili Paste
Nước Chấm (fish dipping sauce) or Mắm Nêm (fermented anchovy dipping sauce)
1 Package Vermicelli Noodles, boiled according to package directions

In a large bowl, mix fish sauce, turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallots, dill fronds, and black pepper. Add fish and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook the white onions until lightly golden. Add 1/3 of the dill and ½ of the sliced scallions. Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. Plate the onions, scallions and dill on a serving platter.

Remove fish the refrigerator and drain off the marinade. Using paper towels, pat off any excess liquids. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining oil to medium high. Pan fry the fish—about 3-4 minutes on each side until the fish is evenly browned. Plate the fish on top of the bed of cooked onions, scallions and dill. Immediately top with the remaining fresh dill and scallions. Sprinkle peanuts on top and serve immediately with vermicelli noodles and sauces.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #13, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**

Sinh Tố Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee Shake)

Sinh Tố Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee Shake)

 

 

Vietnamese Coffee is a rich, dark roast that is slowly dripped through a small metal filter. More often than not, the coffee grinds are mixed with a chicory blend that gives the coffee a “woody” flavor profile. With a spoonful of rich condensed milk, it’s called Cà Phê Sữa and without it’s called Cà Phê Đen.

For this month’s Delicious Vietnam, I decided to utilize Cà Phê Sữa to make one of my favorite treats — Sinh Tố or Vietnamese Shake. In Việt Nam, Sinh Tố is usually made with fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, and avocados. It’s blended with milk, condensed milk, and ice to make a deliciously refreshing treat. But since I’m a major caffeine addict, I thought a Cà Phê flavored Sinh Tố would be the best of both worlds.

Instead of milk, I opted for Vanilla Ice Cream. And with the use of slow dripped Vietnamese coffee, this “shake” has a completely different flavor than any coffee shake you’ve ever tasted. It’s all in the chicory!

Don’t be surprised if your nearest mega-coffee-shop started offering Sinh Tố Cà Phê!

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Sinh Tố Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee Shake)

Ingredients:

5 Ounces Freshly Brewed Vietnamese Coffee
2 Heaping Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
1/2 Cup Crushed Ice
1 Tablespoon Condensed Milk

While the Vietnamese Coffee is slightly warm, stir in the condensed milk until it’s combined. Allow the coffee to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour coffee mixture into a blender and add ice cream and crushed ice. Pulse/blend the contents until smooth.

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #12, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**

 

Delicious Vietnam #11 Roundup!

 

It’s been my absolute pleasure to host this month’s Delicious Vietnam which was founded by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Kim and Hong of Ravenous Couple. I am thankful to have met new bloggers through this process and I am greatly excited to see a thriving love and passion for Vietnamese cuisine!

This month features mouth-watering dishes that vary from Savory to Sweet delights. Get those tummies ready because here we go!

 

Savory Fare:

 

From Hanoi, Vietnam: Chi Anh Dao of Door To My Kitchen shares Vietnamese Pan-Fried Tofu Chi Anh Dao says:

“The best way to eat Fried Tofu is fresh out of the pan – golden, crispy and bubbling hot, dipped into Vietnamese fish sauce with chopped scallions. I could eat it just like that with white rice, without anything else.”

Her amazingly descriptive post of the sounds, smells, and memories connected to this traditional dish will make you run to your kitchens to fry plates of tofu!

 

From Mountain View, CA and Ann Arbor, MI.: The dynamic team of Rau Om shares Caterpillar Bánh Tét (Bánh Tét Sâu Bướm). They say:

“Working from a caterpillar photo, we knew we needed 3 colors: green, orange and black. Green and orange colors were easy: pandan leaf extract and gấc (spiny bitter gourd) are 2 common Vietnamese natural coloring ingredients. Black was a bit more challenging. We gravitated toward squid ink to color the sticky rice black, but we were worried about introducing a seafood taste to our bánh tét. Our other option we decided on was nếp than (black glutinous rice).”

This whimsical and creative approach to Bánh Tét would be a great way to celebrate the New Year!

 

From San Jose, CA: Pauline of Sassy Savvy Travel shares Mom’s Lemongrass Chicken (Gà Xào Xả). Pauline says:

“The perfume of lemongrass sauteed with garlic and onions always made my mouth water.  My mom also knew how much I loved the crisp on the slightly seared chicken.  It was simple for her to cook, it made the house smell wonderful, and it tasted lovingly homemade.”

Definitely mouth watering! I can already smell the delicious aromas of the lemongrass!

 

From Los Angeles, CA: Hong and Kim of Ravenous Couple shares Vermicelli Fish Soup (Bún Cá). They say:

“It’s a simple vermicelli noodle soup often with a large steak or filet of meaty white fish as well as fish paste meatballs.  The broth is pork or chicken stock sweetened with pineapple and tomatoes.”

This colorful dish epitomizes the flavors of savory, sour, sweet—I can’t wait to give it a try!

 

From Virginia: Julie of Beginner Mom on the Run shares Beef Phở. Julie says:

“It’s steaming hot and like a aromatic facial when you lean over for the first bite. It’s ideal for any time during the day or night. It will keep your belly full for hours and is light and energizing from the assortment of fresh herbs you personalize you bowl with: basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, culantro, and green onions.”

I love that Julie chars her yellow onions and ginger to bring out an additional layer of flavors!

 

From San Diego, CA: Yours Truly of The Culinary Chronicles shares Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup (Miến Gà).

“The key to my Miến Gà is homemade chicken stock—something I almost always have on hand.  That combined with a splash of what I call “Vietnamese Liquid Gold” and you will have a wonderful and clean broth for your Miến Gà.”

Whether you’re feeling under the weather or just need the warmth of comfort food, Miến Gà will be perfect for you!


Sweet Fare:


From Melbourne, Australia: Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey shares Coconut Ice Cream with Pandan Sticky Rice (Kem Xôi). Anh says:

“My favourite bit of kem xôi was the toasted coconut pieces, which have wonderful nutty and coconut flavor and aroma. I always believe that such addition was the key to make kem xôi special. It was the link to bind the ice-cream together with the sticky rice component of the dish. (And, who can disagree that pandan and coconut are borne for each other?)

Coconut AND Pandan? Now that’s a winning pair and I just love the various textures that this tempting dessert offers!

 

From Berkeley, CA: Mai of Flavor Boulevard discusses White Canarium or Chinese Olive (Candied Cà-Na). Mai says:

“The first nibble must be executed with caution. It’s firm and sound, with one big hard seed. No wonder the folks at home call the American football the cà na ball: they look and feel the same, only smaller. The flesh is dense like an old coconut’s meat, sour like lemon leaves, yes sweet like licorice blended with a dash of sea salt.”

According to Mai’s post, Cà Na also has some medicinal properties. Tasty and good for you!

 

From Texas: We welcome Mai’s mother of Flavor Boulevard who shares Candied Orange Peel with Pulp (Mứt Cam). She says:

“This candied orange can also be eaten with toast like marmalade, its sweetness stark, its texture crunchy, a natural minty sweep from the peel even gives it a healthy sense. They say eating it helps improving sore throats. I think making it helps improving patience.”

This Candied Orange Peel seems so inviting that I can almost smell the floral fragrance coming from my screen!

 

From Ashburn, VA: Rosa of saVUry and sweet shares Bánh Tiêu À la Mode. Rosa says:

“I gently tore the bánh tiêu in half and stuffed it with ice cream.  IT WAS GOOD.  Fried doughy goodness with cool creamy ice cream.  It doesn’t have to stop there, coconut ice cream with coconut shavings? Nutella? Durian (if you’re into that, not I)?  But for today the vanilla ice cream just hit the spot.  Another beautiful harmony of Vietnamese and western cuisine has been born.”

Fried goodness combined with a creamy, cold treat? Now THAT is a beautiful combination!

 

 

Thank You to everyone who contributed to this month’s delicious spread! I am thrilled by all of this diversity in Vietnamese cuisine and hope that this month’s Delicious Vietnam has inspired you to try out some of these dishes either in your own kitchens or from your local Vietnamese restaurants. :) Cheers and Happy Eating!

Want to join this wonderful event? Come on board! Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey will be hosting for April. Submissions are due April 10th and should be sent to anhnguyen118@gmail.com For more information on hosting or past events, please visit Delicious Vietnam.

Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Chicken Noodle Soup…..what could be more comforting?

Cultures all around the world have their own spin on this soul warming dish. For the Vietnamese, we have at least two versions— Phở Gà and Miến Gà.

Phở Gà is the lighter alternative to the traditional beef Phở and follows a similar cooking method. Due to the slow simmering process of the broth and spices, it takes me a couple of hours to complete a quality Phở Gà. Miến Gà offers a lighter broth and is served with glass noodles (Miến). White on Rice Couple gives a great overview of Miến.

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Both soups are delicious–especially on cold days. However, I find myself making Miến Gà more often. My version of Miến Gà can be done in a quick 20 minutes. In addition, you can tailor the ingredient amounts to make anywhere from 1 to 8+ bowls. Whereas with Phở Gà, you need a couple hours (at least) and are committed to a huge pot of it!

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)
The key to my Miến Gà is homemade chicken stock—something I almost always have on hand.  That combined with a splash of what I call “Vietnamese Liquid Gold” and you will have a wonderful and clean broth for your Miến Gà.

Wondering what Vietnamese Liquid Gold is? Nước Mắm (fish sauce), OF COURSE! :)

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Serve your Miến Gà with fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai Basil), a few slices of red chilies, and a squeeze of lime. The herbs, spice, and the tiny bit of citrus perfectly rounds out the flavors. This type of balance is the quintessential foundation in Vietnamese cuisine.

Miến Gà— now that is comfort food :)

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Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1.5 Quarts Homemade Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Nước Mắm (fish sauce)
1 Inch Fresh Ginger, peeled
1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1 Boneless Chicken Breast
4 Ounces Dried Miến (glass noodles)
Hot Water
Garnish: Chopped Scallions, Chopped Cilantro, Thai Basil, Slices of Red Chilies, Lime Wedges

Fill a large bowl with hot water and add Miến. Soak Miến for at least 15 minutes until they have softened.

In a medium size pot, add chicken stock, Nước Mắm, peppercorns and ginger. Bring to a simmer and add chicken breast. Continue poaching chicken breast until it is fully cooked, about 8 minutes–depending on size. Remove the chicken breast. Once it’s cooled slightly, slice or shred the meat.

Turning back to the the broth, skim off any impurities that may have formed. Taste and adjust the seasonings—adding more pepper or a dash of Nước Mắm as needed. Keep the broth at a low simmer to ensure it stays hot.

Drain the Miến and add to bowls. Sprinkle with scallions, cilantro, and arrange chicken slices on top. Ladle hot broth over and noodles. Garnish with additional scallions, chilies, basil, and lime.

Note: It’s important that the broth remain piping hot when it’s poured over the noodles. The heat will finish cooking the Miến.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. To participate,  please send entries to theculinarychronicles@gmail.com by March 13th! For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**

 

 


Bánh Cuốn (Vietnamese Steamed Rice Flour Crepes)

Bánh Cuốn Đặc Biệt

 

When you’re a kid, you never realize how good you have it. I sure as heck didn’t.

Growing up in the mid-West, my mom somehow pulled together “Western” items with whatever “Asian ingredients” she could find to create delicious Vietnamese specialties. When necessity meets ingenuity…..it’s just what she did.

So when I look back and think how she was able to make Bánh Cuốn in our kitchen in Minnesota, I am pretty darn dumbfounded. It definitely makes me think twice next time I curse the fact that I only have course kosher salt on hand and not fine kosher salt.  :)

 

Bánh Cuốn Đặc Biệt

 

If you’ve never had them before, Bánh Cuốn is a dish originating from northern Việt Nam. Essentially, they are steamed “crepes” made from rice flour and are filled with a savory ground pork and wood ear mushroom mixture. You can also find them with finely minced dried prawns or without any filling at all–though the latter is technically called bánh ướt. Bánh Cuốn are typically served with chả lụa (Vietnamese “ham”), bean sprouts, cucumbers, fried shallots, fresh herbs and nước chấm (dipping sauce).

You can judge the quality of Bánh Cuốn by how thin the “crepes” are. They should be extremely thin—practically see through. For all you bread makers out there, think of “window pane” thin.

One of the reasons why I love Bánh Cuốn so much is that I believe it truly exemplifies what makes Vietnamese cuisine so darn delicious. It’s a wonderful interplay between texture (soft crepes to the crispiness of the shallots and veggies), bright herbaceous notes from the mint and herbs, and complimentary sweet-salty-spicy tones from the nước chấm.

YUM. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!

And in this gal’s opinion, the BEST place to get Bánh Cuốn outside of Việt Nam is in Santa Ana, California from Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T.


Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. (Santa Ana, CA)

 

I know what you’re thinking. The BEST place to get Bánh Cuốn is from a Phở place?! And I unequivocal say—HECK YES!

My mom first took us to Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. years ago and since then, I cannot eat Bánh Cuốn anywhere else. Many restaurants these days purchase their Bánh Cuốn already made—or they make them in advance. BOO on that! But Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. pours/steams them to order. Sure, it makes your wait a little longer (especially since they’re usually PACKED) but trust me….it is so worth it.

A little while ago, we were at lunch with my sister and nieces at Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. when I  whipped out my camera to snap pictures of my beautiful plate of Bánh Cuốn Đặc Biệt - the house specialty. The next thing I knew it, my sister had convinced the staff to let me into their back kitchen to take photos of them making them! I grabbed my camera and rushed back with my sister before they had the chance to change their minds.

I slowly entered the small kitchen with utter eagerness and glee. The first thing I saw was a woman hand peeling buckets and buckets of fresh shallots to be fried. And there were a TON of shallots! No jarred stuff here–no wonder why it’s so good! I gave a silent “Thank Buddha!” for this woman because without those shallots, their Bánh Cuốn would be naked.

The Bánh Cuốn station was staffed by two aunties who moved quick as lighting! As a result, a lot of my photos were blurry because I could barely keep up with them. And let’s be honest, I was in no position to say “can you do that again??” Just more incentive to learn how to take better photos :)

 

Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. (Santa Ana, CA)

 

On the top left you’ll see the steamer that is outfitted with an extremely fine mesh. This is the most important “tool” in creating Bánh Cuốn. An extremely thin layer of rice flour batter is poured and spread on top of the mesh (top right). Seconds later (bottom left), the auntie used a wooden stick to peel off the “crepe” and places it on the rolling station (bottom right).

 

Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. (Santa Ana, CA)

 

The auntie then quickly fills the Bánh Cuốn with the pork/wood ear mushroom mixture (top right) and then delicately rolls them up. She literally had an entire plate done within two or three minutes!  Who knows….it may be her Super Hero power.

 

Bánh Cuốn Đặc Biệt

 

VOILA! A beautiful plate of Bánh Cuốn Đặc Biệt. And this plate will only set you back 6 Bucks! Worth every penny!

 


Bánh Cuốn Đặc Biệt

 

To enjoy the dish, take a little bit of everything into a small bowl. Make sure to get some veggies/herbs, fried shallots, and Thịt Chà Bông (“cotton meat”—it tastes so much better than it sounds!) along with the Bánh Cuốn.  Pour some nước chấm and ớt (chili) over it and chow down!

 

Soda Chanh

 

My beverage of choice when I inhale (and I mean INHALE) a plate of Bánh Cuốn is a tall glass of Soda Chanh– a sugary, carbonated, limeade. MMM…so refreshing! Watch out for an upcoming post on my “adult” version of a Soda Chanh :)

And in case you missed it or your mouth isn’t watering enough yet, here’s another pic to get your tummy growling. :)

 

Bánh Cuốn Đặc Biệt

 

So the next time you’re in Orange County and are looking for some authentic and delicious Vietnamese cuisine—you MUST stop by Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. to grab yourself a few plates of Bánh Cuốn. Heck—don’t wait, DRIVE there! You will not regret it. And in case you’re wondering, their Phở is darn tasty, too.

UGH….now I need to go and get me some! :)

A HUGE Cảm ơn to the staff of Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T. for allowing me to see “where the magic happens“. And truly, their Bánh Cuốn is a magical thing.


Phở Tàu Bay L.T.T.
3610 West 1st Street
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(714) 531-6634
Tue-Sat 8 am – 8 pm, Sun 8 am – 4 pm (Closed on Mondays)

 

**This is my entry to Delicious Vietnam, which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. Much thanks to Mai of Flavor Boulevard for hosting this month!**