Straw Mushrooms Recipes

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Muop Tau Hu Xao Recipe (Vietnamese Loofah and Tofu Stir-fry) Recipe

Mướp tàu hũ xào (loofah squash and tofu stir-fry) is a standard in Vietnamese vegetarian cuisine. Mướp (Vietnamese Loofah) is stir-fried along with tofu in black bean sauce and chili garlic sauce. The dish is seasoned with soy sauce and fried garlic. I also added straw mushrooms as a foil to the loofah. It's a very quick and easy dish I often make when I'm in a rush and I want a tasty, healthy meal.

Vietnamese loofah is a very common vegetable in Vietnam that is also used a lot in making canh ("soup" in Vietnamese) because of its natural sweetness and tender texture. You won't be disappointed by this, and if you like it, it’s easy to put together non-vegetarian versions.

 


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Braised Straw Mushrooms (Nam Kho Ca Recipe) Recipe

Nấm kho cà tô mát, which translates to "braised mushrooms in tomatoes" in Vietnamese, was my late grandma's (Bà Ngoại) specialty. Bà Ngoại was an excellent cook; she mastered vegetarian cooking in particular. This dish resembles sweet tomato beef because of the texture of dried straw mushrooms in the sweet and sour sauce. The preparation is fairly simple. A lot of garlic and a fair amount of different soy sauces (zesty, sweet and salty) really make the dish flavorful. The sweetness and tanginess from the fresh tomatoes gives the final touch for this quick side dish.

As a child, I didn't come often to Vietnam to visit my grandma but I always remember all the wonderful stories she told me. Bà Ngoại used to be the director of a Saigonese school and was proud to educate and empower Vietnamese women through various disciplines, including culinary arts among others. I remember she was a very strong-minded lady who really represented the essence of Vietnam. I'm not saying this just because she was my grandmother, but she was such a great role model, always dedicated to excellence and so devoted to her children, especially during times of crisis. She was an admirable woman.


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Bottle Gourd Recipe with Tofu Recipe

Bottle Gourd Recipe with Tofu

01.24.11 by Jackie

Trái bàu translates to calabash, bottle gourd, long melon or opo squash. It's a very common vegetable used in Vietnamese cuisine. The shape is cylindrical and the color is light green. It's best harvested while still young. It can be boiled, stir-fried or added to soups. The texture is very similar to zucchini; the flesh is very soft, spongy and tastes mildly sweet.

Whenever I look at calabash, it makes me think of a very nice lady named Trần and her lovely family. Last year, I got to meet Trần through PhamFatale.com. She read my article about the dragon fruit that I bought at the market and she kindly offered to give me dragon fruit trees her mother grows as a hobby. Trần's mom has magical hands and is a very talented gardener. While visiting their garden in San Jose, I noticed beautiful, giant calabash growing on vines hung over a trellis. I took a few home with me and they were the some of the best I’ve ever had. I’m going to try and to grow some of my own this year, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

For this particular version I made a quick vegetable stir-fry, using miso and honey. In honor of the upcoming Asian New Year, I'm determined to eat vegetarian for a week and at the same time, shed a few pounds.  This recipe was a great way to kick off my challenge.


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Vietnamese Meatloaf (Mam Chung Thit) Recipe

Mắm chưng thịt is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine. It's a blend of pork or chicken, crab meat, salted fish fillet in brine, bean thread noodles, mushrooms and eggs.

For this recipe, I used a mix of chicken breast and thighs. The flavor is reminiscent of the filling of a meat egg roll combined with the strong flavor of salted fish fillet in nước mắm (brine). The most common fish used for making steam fish cakes is snakehead fish, though mackerel or catfish can be used as well.


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Banana Flower Salad (Goi Bap Chuoi Chay) Recipe

In case you were wondering, banana flowers really are the flowers of the banana plant. They are also known as banana blossoms or banana hearts. The taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts. They are consumed throughout Southeast Asia and also in India as well. In fact, I bought the banana flowers I used in this dish from an Indian market.

Gỏi bắp chuối chay literally means vegetarian banana flower salad in Vietnamese. It's a popular dish in the Buddhist community where many recipes, due to dietary restrictions requiring vegetarianism, are made to simulate meat. Banana flower salad is thought to imitate the flavor of gỏi gà, Vietnamese chicken salad. Other recipes use ingredients such as tofu skin or fried soy gluten that are chewy and resemble the stringy texture of meat.

This is a dish that is not only exotic but tasty as well. You might not make it every day, but it's definitely something you should try.


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