Nuoc Cham Recipes

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Pan-Fried Banh Tet Recipe  Recipe

Pan-Fried Banh Tet Recipe

02.18.15 by Jackie

Hoa Tâm, a family friend, came to visit a few days ago and she gave us a very useful tip on how to avoid bánh tét food waste after the Lunar New Year celebrations. What is bánh tét you ask? It's a Vietnamese savory rice cake (at times sweetened with bananas). It's made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log-like cylindrical shape, with a mung bean or mung bean and meat center, then boiled. It's a must-have traditional food during Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in Southern Vietnam. We've been given a lot of the logs this season; it's a way to demonstrate the importance of rice in the Vietnamese culture. I told Hoa Tâm my fear that we'd have a lot of leftovers and didn't want to waste all the food. She then give uswonderful trick; if you have a lot of these rice cakes as e do, look no further!

Simply slice them and pan-fry them. Once crispy, drizzle with nước mắm chay (if you're a vegetarian) or fish sauce. It's as simple as that. Thanks, dear Chi Hoa Tâm!

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Vietnamese Tofu Stuffed Betel Leaves  Recipe

Tàu hũ cuốn lá lốt (betel leaf wrapped tofu in Vietnamese) is very similar looking to Greek dolmades. Instead of using grape leaves though, betel leaves serve as the packaging and delivery device for pan-fried tofu and vegetables. Betel leaves have a peppery taste, and when cooked they have the appearance, but not the texture of nori. The tofu mixture is similar to the filling I use for my vegetarian egg rolls.

The traditional way to prepare this dish is with extra lean ground beef (see tips), called thịt bò nướng lá lốt. However, Aunt Elise, who is a vegetarian, is visiting from Vietnam and taught me how to make the meatless version of the dish. Either way, it's an exotic and authentic taste of Vietnam.

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Vietnamese Sweet Potato and Shrimp Tempura Recipe

In Vietnam, there's a sweet potato and shrimp dish, khoai lan chiên tôm, that is served on many street corners. Three match-sticks of sweet potato are dipped in a tempura batter and then a whole shrimp is adhered to them. A little more tempura batter is drizzled on the sweet potato / shrimp combination and then the whole thing is deep fried.

This dish may not at first glance be considered Thanksgiving-friendly, but I think it's an excellent option. Tradition may have become synonymous with Thanksgiving, but the very first Thanksgiving was really a celebration of a fusion of cultures through food. So if you're searching for an alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving preparations of sweet potatoes, perhaps it's time to look east. To the Far East, that is.

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Deep Fried Black Pepper and Sesame Soy Gluten with Choy Sum Recipe

Soy gluten is made from the combination of wheat gluten and soy bean gluten. Contrary to tofu, it has a chewy texture. When deep fried, its volume expands, creating a crispy exterior.  The gluten shrinks when dipped in the black bean sauce creating a meaty texture. I used the same method as my sunken tofu so that the soy gluten absorbs all the flavor of the sauce.

What I love about this recipe is that it is probably the only dish that Lulu and I get to enjoy eating together and feeding each other. The soy gluten has a similar texture to meat, but with a very different taste. So if you're a carnivore like me, you'll enjoy this dish as much as I do.

To be honest with you, I'm not a big fan of vegetarian food. I have been cooking a lot of veggie dishes since I got married, but I don't really enjoy them without adding some meat. I keep complaining to Lulu how much I would love to be able to share a meal together. I've tried to convert my husband into a meat eater for almost 5 years, but I've been wildly unsuccessful. So in a way, one could say that this is my recipe for a happy marriage.

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Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Vegetarian Mock Fish Sauce) Recipe

If you like seasoning your Asian dishes such as bánh xèo and bì cuốn chay (fresh spring rolls) with the typical Vietnamese condiment called nước mắm but find it too strong to your taste or simply if you're a vegetarian, this recipe is for you. The vegetarian equivalent is called nước chấm.

I use lemon-flavored soy sauce as a main ingredient but there is a new product called nước mắm chay available in Asian stores. It gets a "sea" flavor from the addition of seaweed to the product.

It is also a nice addition to Asian soups like my sweet and sour pineapple soup.  Just serve it on the side and let your guests add as much (or as little) as they like.  In Vietnam, this sauce, or its fish-based equivalent, is as common on the dinner table as a salt shaker is in the West.

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