Vietnam Food Recipes

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Cua Rang Muoi (Vietnamese Salted Crab Recipe) Recipe

I love cooking seafood, but I don’t always get the chance because of the number of vegetarians in my house. So when I do prepare seafood, I make a point of getting the freshest ingredients I can, and today that was crab.

Cua rang muối is one of my favorite recipes for preparing crab. The Vietnamese name literally translates to "crab toasted (roasted) in salt crust". The preparation is quite messy but the cooking time is fairly fast. The main ingredients are whole crabs (of course), freshly cracked black pepper, coarse sea salt, garlic, jalapeño chile peppers, green onions and tapioca starch. When cooked properly, the strong smell of seafood shouldn't bother anyone around with a seafood phobia. And for those of you who love seafood as much as I do, you’re in for a treat!

Salted Crab Recipe with Picture
Don't they look like dentist tools?


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Vietnamese Lemongrass and Chili Chicken Recipe (Ga Xao Xa Ot) Recipe

Lemongrass chicken (cơm gà xào xả ớt) is a very delicious and easy Vietnamese meat dish to prepare. To start with, the chicken pieces are marinated overnight to guarantee optimum tenderness. The next day, I prepare a mix of spices made of finely chopped lemongrass, sugar, chili and salt. The dish is completed by combining and sautéing the ingredients in a fry pan.

I love the fragrance and taste of lemongrass. It has hints of sweet lemon and a touch of ginger. It really adds a distinctive flavor, but this dish can easily be ruined if the lemongrass isn't ground properly into a fine, moist powder. It’s important to take time to thinly slice the stalks of lemongrass before grinding them.

In case you’re interested, growing lemongrass is very easy. All you need to do is trim it often. My husband Lulu planted 4 "bushes" of lemongrass a few years ago. I gathered 4 stalks from the garden and made both lemongrass tofu (tàu hủ xả ớt) and lemongrass chicken for dinner tonight. The plants are quite prolific, and if you use a lot of lemongrass in your cooking, it’s worth planting some in your garden.

Note: Glossary of relevant Vietnamese cooking terms.

Thịt = chicken

Thịt = meat

Cơm = rice

Xào = stir fry

Ớt = chile

Xả = lemongrass

Tàu hủ or Đậu hủ = tofu


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Bun Bo Hue Recipe (Hue-Style Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) Recipe

If you're familiar with phở, bún bò Huế is another beef rice noodle soup. The beef soup dish originated in the city of Huế, the old imperial capital of Vietnam. Like traditional phở bò, the broth of bún bò Huế is simmered with beef bones and Asian spices such as ginger, but the similarities pretty much end there. The real difference is that the broth is finished with lemongrass and red chiles.

I made a very basic soup with thinly sliced beef shanks, but some people are more adventurous and add pig knuckles, congealed pig blood called huyết (which I do not like), and serve shrimp paste on the side as a condiment. I garnished the soup with the commonly used bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro and raw sliced white onions, thinly sliced purple cabbage and shredded iceberg lettuce. Purple cabbage makes sense because it most closely resembles the texture of banana flowers, which are traditionally included in bún bò Huế. The taste is obviously different though.

Once the dish is prepared, everyone should roll up their sleeves and commence slurping down the bowl of beef broth in front of them. This is not a subtle dish; your taste buds will be bombarded with sweet, savory and spicy flavors. My mouth waters just thinking about it!


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Vietnamese Tamarind Sweet Crab (Cua Rang Me) Recipe

Vietnamese-style tamarind crab (cua rang me in Vietnamese) is an incredibly simple, yet absolutely mouth-watering dish. The real key to making this dish successfully is to have the freshest crab you can get. The roughly cracked pieces of crab are stir fried in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce. The sauce is made of tamarind, chili, Thai basil and garlic. The Thai basil imparts an intense fragrance to the sauce, and by extension, to the crab.

We eat this dish family style. No pretense here. Just get a large platter, fill it with the tamarind crab and put it in the middle of your dinner table. We don't have enough meat eaters in my house, so I always call over a couple of family members or friends to share in the bounty. Roll up your sleeves, and dig in!


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