Vietnamese Cooking Recipes

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Vietnamese-Style Beef Salad Recipe Recipe

Though I live in a house full of vegetarians, once in a while, I enjoy a tender and juicy steak. I’ve been getting the urge lately, so I bought a sirloin steak to satisfy my cravings. This time around I marinated it in an Asian-inspired sweet and savory sauce. I combined sugar, coriander, chiles, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice; the ingredients are very common in Vietnamese cuisine.

The meat doesn't require a long marinating time, which I love. A quick sear and you’ll have a perfectly juicy steak. I let the meat cool to temperature, then slice it into long strips against the grain, so the meat remains tender. The beef is scattered over a bed of mixed Vietnamese mint, cilantro and lettuce leaves, along with a bowl of rice vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, shredded cucumber and pickled carrots and daikon. My condiment of choice though: nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce). It may not be on your list, but it’s one of my favorites. No matter what you serve with this steak though, you will have a delicious meal!


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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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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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Banh Mi Mam Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Sandwich Recipe) Recipe

A lot of Vietnamese dishes are inspired by French cuisine, because Vietnam was a longtime colony of the French empire. Bánh mì sandwich is an example of a dish that reflects the fusion of both cuisines. The sandwich consists of cilantro, fresh chiles, pickled carrots and usually a meat filling (grilled chicken, which is shredded meat with roasted rice powder) or sometimes a vegetarian filling, served on a baguette, spread with mayonnaise on one side and butter on the other.

For the veggie option, I normally fill the sandwiches with bì chay (shredded tofu with roasted rice powder). But this time, Aunt Danielle stopped by and we made mắm chay. She knows it's my husband Lulu's favorite, so she makes it very often. As I've said before, Aunt Danielle is a sweetheart and an amazing cook, except that she does not share her recipes. She used to run a successful restaurant in the early 90s. She taught me a lot of Vietnamese staple dishes to cook for the family until she found out about PhamFatale.com through her friends. I had to confess and she was not happy. It's funny; family and friends are a lot more reluctant to share their tips and secrets with me, so I have to do a little bit of recon and intelligence gathering.

In the end, Aunt Danielle hasn't entirely showed me how to make mắm chay. We prepped and mixed the ingredients together but she hid a few tricks from me. All I can tell you is that there are a lot of ingredients similar to bì chay involved, such as fried tofu, bean thread noodles, dry roasted rice powder (thinh) and seasonings (fried garlic, sugar and salt). What makes it different from bì chay is the addition of galangal (a type of ginger), young pickling cucumber, chayote squash (trái su su), ripe papaya, fresh pineapple and dried daikon radish cured in brine.

Even though the sandwich is reminiscent of the typical French jambon-beurre (ham and butter sandwich), bánh mì provides a taste of Vietnam. Lulu's been addicted ever since I first introduced him to the Vietnamese version, and if you try one, you will be too!


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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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