Tet Recipes

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Happy Valentine and Vietnamese New Year 2010! Recipe
Today is Valentine's Day and Tết (the Vietnamese New Year)! First, I want to tell my husband Lulu how much I love him. We've known each other for more than 10 years now, married for 5 and I look forward to spending more years of blissful happiness with the love of my life. Joyeuse Saint-Valentin mon coeur!



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Recipes for a Chinese New Year Celebration Recipe

If you're wondering what the inscription on the photo is, it says "Chúc Mừng Năm Mới" or Happy New Year in Vietnamese. This year, since the Asian New Year follows the Lunar calendar, we have 2 celebrations at the same time: Valentine's Day and Tết (the Vietnamese New Year). We're going to be celebrating a romantic Lunar New Year of the Tiger !

I've started decorating the house with things that symbolize the New Year. I went to San Jose and bought Vietnamese flowers called bông vạn thọ, which literally translates to "longevity flowers". As usual, every year, I'm on a quest to find the best bánh tét. It's a must to have traditional food for Vietnamese Lunar New Year. I went to several different stores on Tully road (San Jose, California) and I'll give you the results this weekend of the best places I've found. Some of you might not know what a bánh tét is; it's a ake roll made from sticky glutinous rice and red beans with a center of mung bean paste with or without meat. The flavors vary; there could also be bananas in place of the lentils and meat. 

If you are observing the tradition of eating vegetarian foods (ăn chay) on the last day of the previous year and first day of New Year, check out my tofu recipes.

For more details about Chinese New Year celebrations, check out last year's post.

Banh Tet in Banana Leaves Picture
Bánh Tét (Sticky rice roll cakes wrapped in banana leaves).


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Beef Hot Pot (Bo Nhung Dam, Shabu Shabu) Recipe

If you're a beef and seafood lover, this Vietnamese-style beef hot pot recipe is for you. Bỏ nhúng dấm (literally beef dipped in vinegar) is the Vietnamese equivalent of the Japanese dish called shabu shabu, but with additional seafood ingredients. The broth is made with coconut soda, chopped onions and tomatoes. On a separate platter, gather the raw beef, shrimp, baby squid and octopus, fresh pineapple, cooked rice noodles, bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets) and various aromatic herbs. The prep work is quite labor-intensive; you have to have a lot of company to make the meal worthwhile. The more, the merrier.

Place an electric hot pot in the middle of the dining table and let everyone dip and cook the beef and seafood in the fragrant broth and assemble their own rolls using the rice paper sheets. Dip the rolls in mắm nêm dipping sauce. It's made of fermented fish paste, which is very strong. If fermented fish paste is too overwhelming, you could ultimately use nước mắm chấm (fish sauce) or soy sauce (nước tương chấm) for a milder flavor.

Vietnamese beef hot pot is a very festive meal because it's fairly expensive and quite time-consuming to prepare. It's what one of my uncles would call "đặc biệt", or "only for special occasions" in English. On my Papa's side of the family in France, all my cousins (including me) married non-Vietnamese spouses but I can guarantee you they all know the meaning of the word "đặc biệt" (which means special). Whenever, we're invited to my uncles' homes, they offer a lot of đặc biệt meals. "Lulu, it's đặc biệt, you should try this, it's delicious!" as one of my uncle always says to my husband. So this recipe is dedicated to my uncle François, whom I call Chu Bay (Uncle #7. He's Papa's 7th brother and that's how you show respect in the Vietnamese tradition).

It's perfect for a winter meal and just in time for the Chinese New Year, which is coming very soon.

Bo Nhunh Giam Recipe with Picture


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Rau Cau (Coconut, Mocha, Pandan flavored Vietnamese Jello Cake) Recipe

Rau câu is a Vietnamese jello cake that is made out of agar agar, which is a seaweed by product similar to gelatin. It's made out of coconut milk, condensed milk and layers of your favorite flavorings like mocha, vanilla, coconut, banana, chocolate and durian (if you're adventurous!).. It has the same texture of pana cotta. 

It's a great alternative for vegetarians who do not want to use animal (usually pork) gelatin in desserts.


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Happy Tet 2009, Year of the Ox  Recipe
Happy Tết Kỷ Sửu, literally year of the ox in Vietnamese.
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