Đậu Hũ Sốt Cà Chua (Vietnamese Style Tofu with Tomato Sauce)

Tofu with Tomato Sauce

What is your Comfort Food?

Mac ‘n Cheese? Chicken Noodle Soup? PB and J sammies?

No matter what it is—one thing holds true for everyone. Comfort Food does exactly what it’s named for….it brings us comfort—and perhaps transports us back to a time of happiness, safety and love.

And for me, that is what Vietnamese food is.

Tofu with Tomato Sauce

It’s about the “everyday” dishes my family would sit down to at dinner time. A plethora of dishes to be eaten with jasmine rice….fried fish, stuffed squid, various stir-fry veggies, soups, and stinky stuff that just tastes so damn good. And wouldn’t you know it? When I was young, I would complain all the time about it to Mom and say “cơm (rice) again?!” Because at that time, I wanted to eat what all my friends were eating…spaghetti, pizza, burgers, etc. But Mom would always say, “Just wait—one day, you’ll miss this”. And darnit! She was right! Moms…..how do they just know?!

This simple tofu dish is something we would eat quite often. It’s quick and tasty—balancing salty and sweet together. I cheat and buy already fried tofu squares at my local Asian markets which makes this dish SUPER quick and easy. But if you don’t have that available, cube up firm tofu and use paper towels to dry them off. Fry them in oil until golden brown and then throw them into the sauce. Easy Peasy!

So tell me, Friends….what’s your go-to Comfort Foods?


Đậu Hũ Sốt Cà Chua (Vietnamese Style Tofu with Tomato Sauce)


4 Cups Fried Tofu
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, minced
1/4 Cup Shallots, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and roughly diced
1 Red Jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 Scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Black Pepper
Garnish with additional scallions and cilantro

In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium heat and cook garlic and shallots for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until softened. Stir in ketchup and fish sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Toss in fried tofu and coat evenly. Season with black pepper and garnish with additional scallions and fresh cilantro. Serve with steamed rice and Enjoy!

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad) & Giveaway Winner!

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

Ever had Gỏi?

Gỏi is a general term for “salads” in Vietnamese and can come in all forms using a variety of ingredients. Lately, my favorite Gỏi utilizes thinly sliced Banana Blossoms. I combine it with grilled proteins, pink grapefruit, creamy avocados, a ton of herbs and a healthy douse of Nước chấm “vinaigrette”. It’s absolutely delicious and epitomizes the balance in Vietnamese cuisines.

If you’ve never used Banana Blossoms before, they can be somewhat tricky the first time around. It’s best to remove the outer few petals as they’re quite tough (though you can save them as garnish), use a really sharp knife so you can get thin slices, and be sure to soak the cut blossoms in cold water that has been mixed with some type of acid–citrus juice or vinegar does the trick. The later helps removes some of that chalky flavor that the Banana Blossoms can sometimes have.

And although it sounds a bit laborious—it’s totally worth it and delicious!


Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

And now to announce the winner of a fabulous Nambe Pasta Cradle Bowl

Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Serena Kim who said she would serve Shrimp Pesto Pasta in the Nambé Bowl. Sounds yummy and will look gorgeous in your new bowl! Serena, we’ll be sending you an email shortly so we can get your new Nambé artwork shipped out.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And THANK YOU Nambé !


Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)
Serves 4-6

Nước chấm (Sauce):
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely minced
chili paste, to taste

Gỏi (Salad):
cups chicken breast, grilled and shredded
cups prawns, shelled and grilled
2 medium sized avocadoes, cubed
1 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit segments
4 cups banana blossoms, julienned
¼ cup loosely packed fresh Vietnamese Mint (rau răm), chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup fried shallots
¼ cup roasted peanuts, crushed
cold water
black pepper to taste

Prepare the sauce. In a medium sized bowl, stir the sugar and water together until completely dissolved. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir until combined. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rice wine vinegar. Peel off the dark colored and tough outer leaves of the banana blossom. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to julienne the blossoms. You can either discard the “baby bananas” or chop them up finely. Submerge the banana blossoms into the bowl of water/vinegar after they have been julienne. Allow the banana blossoms to sit in the vinegar water for 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, prawns, avocados, herbs, and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce until the items are lightly coated. Drain the banana blossoms from the vinegar water and squeeze out any excess liquids. Add banana blossoms to the other ingredients and spoon in some additional sauce. Gently toss the salad with the fried shallots and plate. Sprinkle the top with crushed peanuts and serve.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

The other week I did a quick poll via Twitter and Facebook asking folks what Vietnamese dishes they’d like to see on the blog—well, other than Phở :)

I got a range of requests from Bún (Vermicelli Noodles) to Gỏi Cuốn (Spring/Summer Rolls) and even Bánh Mì (sandwiches).

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But truth be told, outside of the occasional Bánh Mì Chả Lụa (Vietnamese “Ham”/”Sausage” Sandwich), I rarely ever make Bánh Mì.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

By no means is Bánh Mì difficult to assemble but I’ve always been lucky enough to have local Bánh Mì shops nearby and at under 3 bucks a pop (and that’s on the high end), I have been just darn lazy. Yup, I admit it.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

At it’s base, Bánh Mì is made up of a toasted french baguette, pickled veggies, tons of cilantro, mayonnaise, and some type of protein. But don’t let it fool you. Just because it sounds simple, doesn’t mean the flavors aren’t genius!

Bánh Mì is all about balance. The great crunch from the baguette, savory flavors from the protein, bright notes from the herbs and the sweet/tangy aspects of the pickled veggies. Just Perfect.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But I realize not everyone has access to yummy Bánh Mì shops so I thought it would be fun to share a delish and easy method. For this particular Bánh Mì Gà Nướng, I used chicken thighs marinated with Chinese Five-Spice and Maggi Seasoning Sauce. In fact, this is how our mom would often marinade our poultry—including our Thanksgiving turkeys every year! The Five-Spice gives a deep, earthy flavor from the combination of star anise, cloves, and other goodness. Trust me, it’s amazing.

And with that friends—Ăn ngon! Stay tuned next week for another Vietnamese dish!


Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)
Serves 4

4 6-inch Baguette Rolls, lightly toasted and sliced lengthwise
Five Spiced Chicken*
Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables)*
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves, washed and dried
1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Small Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise

Five-Spice Chicken
6 Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin on
1 Tablespoon Five-Spice Powder
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Maggi Seasoning Sauce

Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables):
1 Cup Carrots, julienned
1 Cup Daikon Radish, julienned
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
½ Cup Boiling Water

2 Large Egg Yolks, at room temperature
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Garlic Clove, minced
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped (optional)
2-3 Dashes Nước Mắm (fish sauce)

Prepare the marinade for the chicken. In a large bowl, whisk together the Five-Spice, sugar, and pepper. Stir in garlic, Maggi and oil until the dry ingredients have dissolved. Submerge the chicken into the marinade, being sure to coat both sides. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the vegetables and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the mayonnaise. In a blender, add all the ingredients except the oil. Pulse several times and then slowly drizzle in the oil until the mayonnaise has properly emulsified. Refrigerate until ready for use. *You can also use jarred mayonnaise to substitute*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with oil and place the marinated chicken thighs on the sheet, skin side up. Roast for approximately 30 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into pieces.

Assemble the Bánh Mì. Spread a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise inside one side of each toasted baguette roll. Fill each roll with the chicken and drizzle a bit of the pan drippings over the meat. If desired, sprinkle with more black pepper. Fill the sandwiches with pickled vegetables, jalapeno and cucumber slices, and the cilantro. Enjoy!

Bò Lúc Lắc Xà Lách Son (Vietnamese Shaking Beef over Watercress)

Bò Lúc Lắc Xà Lách Son (Vietnamese Shaking Beef over Watercress)

Bò Lúc Lắc was a staple in our house growing up. Mom would make it in several different variations depending on her mood—with tofu, mushrooms, fried potatoes, or over a bed of fresh and peppery watercress.

The three key components to Bò Lúc Lắc are simple and straightforward. First, you need a high-quality cut of beef for a deliciously tender Bò Lúc Lắc. Mom preferred Filet Mignon but ribeye can be substituted. Second, due to the quality of the beef, you have to stirfry the meat quickly and over high heat. And lastly, the Maggi. Completely unique in flavor, the Maggi Seasoning Sauce is referred to as xì dầu” (soy sauce) in Vietnamese–although completely different in flavor profile than your average soy sauce. In dire circumstances, you could substitute Maggi with light soy sauce. However I would highly recommend stocking up on a bottle if you ever plan on cooking Vietnamese cuisine. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.

Have a great week!


Bò Lúc Lắc Xà Lách Son (Vietnamese Shaking Beef over Watercress)


1 Pound Filet Mignon or Ribeye Beef, cubed
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
Maggi Seasoning Sauce
1 Bunch Fresh Watercress, washed and dried (about 3 cups)
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil
Fried Shallots (optional)

In a large bowl, mix beef, garlic, sliced shallots, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season heavily with pepper.

Heat a large wok over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and when it begins to slightly smoke, carefully toss in the beef. Quickly stir-fry for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in the butter and add several dashes of Maggi to taste. In a separate bowl, quickly toss the watercress with the rice vinegar and plate. Pour the beef and the juices over the top of the watercress and season with additional black pepper. Optional: Sprinkle the top with the fried shallots.

Xôi Gấc for Tết (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

It’s hard to believe that Tết, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is just a few days away.

Growing up, our parents used to have us scrub down the entire house the days leading up to Tết. It was one of the many important traditions we used to follow to ensure a prosperous and lucky new year. Then, the entire clan would come together, cook up a feast of goodies, offer ancestral prayers at the alter, hand out lì xì (lucky money in red envelopes) to the kids, eat, drink, laugh, and well—gamble and play cards! Needless to say, it was always a fun time.

One of the traditional dishes often found around Tết is Xôi Gấc which is essentially, glutinous rice (sticky rice) that has been steamed with coconut milk and Gấc.

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

This is one of those Vietnamese dishes whose name just doesn’t translate well into English. The first challenge is “Gấc”.  It has several English names such as Baby Jackfruit, Cochinchin Gourd, Sweet Gourd, Momordica Charantia Fruit, and my least favorite–Spiny Bitter Gourd. I mean, c’mon now…… How unappetizing does Spiny Bitter Gourd sound? You might as well throw in some other funky words like gelatinous and congealed and call it a day.

But I digress…..

Since I’ve seen Gấc more often called “Baby Jackfruit“—–I’m going with it. But for the record, it does not taste like regular jackfruit or even “young jackfruit”. Could I BE more confusing???

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

The flesh of the Gấc fruit is deep red and is well suited to not only flavor Xôi (sticky rice) but also naturally dyes the grains of rice to an intense orange-reddish hue. It’s because of this that you’ll find Xôi Gấc served at celebrations such as Tết and weddings since the color red is considered to be very lucky.

Although fresh Gấc can now be found in many large Vietnamese grocery stores this time of year, I couldn’t convince myself to make the trek to Orange County to pick some up. I resorted to using frozen Gấc puree that my local Vietnamese grocery store has stocked year round. If you can get it, I would HIGHLY recommend using the fresh fruit over frozen as you won’t be able to get the same rich and vibrant hue if you use the latter. Truthfully, my finished Xôi Gấc looked a tad anemic because I used the frozen puree—but it was DARN TASTY all the same.

Oh—and if being healthier is one of your New Year’s resolutions….the Gấc fruit has a supposed astronomic amount of beta-carotene and lycopene.

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

Since Xôi Gấc has a slightly sweet profile to it, it’s best served alongside something savory like roast pork or Chả lụa (pork sausage). But it can also be enjoyed as a breakfast item as well.

And with that Dear Friends, I better get back to cleaning my house before Tết is here. But before I sign off, let me wish you and your loved ones a joyous, adventure-filled, and delicious Year of the Dragon!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!


Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)
Serves 4-6


2 Cups Sweet Glutinous Rice
12 Ounces Gấc Fruit, either fresh or frozen puree
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
6-8 Fresh Pandan Leaves
1 Tablespoon Mirin
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Fill a large bowl with cool water, add the rice and soak it overnight.

Once the rice has been properly soaked, drain the rice and shake off any excess water. With a kitchen towel, gently pat the rice dry and then transfer to a mixing bowl.

While wearing gloves, massage and rub the Gấc into the rice, allowing the grains to be thoroughly covered in the fruit. Sprinkle in the salt and mix until combined.

Line the bottom of your steamer with a sheet of cheesecloth. Place a layer of pandan leaves on top of the cheesecloth and then spread the rice mixture evenly on top the leaves. Cover the rice mixture with additional pandan leaves and place the steamer lid on. Steam for about 15 minutes and then remove the lid and top layer of pandan leaves. Using chopsticks, stir in the coconut milk and mirin while fluffing the rice. Place the leaves and steamer lid back on and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Enjoy!

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.



Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crêpes)

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)

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

Thai Basil

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!

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)



Bánh Pa Tê Sô (also spelled Pâté Chaud) are deliciously flaky pies with a savory filling.

I know what you’re thinking. Puff pastry isn’t exactly among the first things that comes to mind when you think of Vietnamese cuisine. But, like the baguette and coffee, we’ve taken these items initially introduced by the French and have given them a Vietnamese makeover.



Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Pa Tê Sô are usually cut into round shapes but if you want to minimalize the waste of excess pastry dough, you can shape them into squares, rectangles, or triangles. But for the record, when I shape them into rounds, I never throw away the excess dough. Instead, I take the leftover strips, twist them and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar before baking them. That way, I get a little sweet treat, too. Yum.



Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)



The pork filling I use is essentially a riff off of my Chả Giò (eggrolls) filling with the slight adjustments of a few things—such as the addition of peas. I also make a curry-lemongrass pork filling that is really fantastic with the buttery puff pastry, too. But whatever you choose to fill your Bánh Pa Tê Sô with, just be sure to not over stuff them or it will not cook through and may bulge out of the seams.



Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

You can also freeze the pre-baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô. Just wrap them up individually with plastic wrap and freeze. Before baking, thaw them out to room temperature and bada-bing, bada-boom. Freshly baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô, whenever your heart desires.

Of course if you’ve got some time and ambition on your hands, homemade puff pastry dough would be ideal. I just don’t have that kind of patience and think the store bought pastry dough works just fine for me.

And no, that’s not cheating–despite what my sister, P, would say :)


Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)


1 Package Puff Pastry Sheets (typically contains two 10×15 inch sheets)
½ Pound Lean Ground Pork
¼ Cup Rehydrated Wood Ear Mushrooms, minced
¼ Cup Rehydrated Bean Thread Noodles, minced
¼ Cup Peas
1 Small Shallot, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together pork, mushrooms, noodles, peas, shallots, garlic, fish sauce and pepper until well combined.

Using a 3-inch ring biscuit cutter, cut rounds of puff pastry. Place one tablespoon of the filling in the center of one round and place another piece of puff pastry on top. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges of the rounds to seal the pastry. Transfer the Patê Sô to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pastry rounds. Brush the tops of each Patê Sô with the beaten egg.

Bake the Patê Sô for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!




**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #18 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 Bonnibella for hosting this month!**