Asian 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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Com Ga Hai Nam (Hainanese Chicken Rice) Recipe

Whenever I have chicken broth leftover from making bún măng gà, literally "bamboo and chicken rice noodle soup", I make chicken rice with it. The dish is called cơm gà Hải Nam; the yellow hue comes from the aromatic chicken broth (in place of water) made from Vietnamese chicken. What is a Vietnamese chicken, you ask? In Vietnam, the gà đi bộ chicken are considered "free-range"; the chickens are "trained" to run and as a result the meat has a totally different texture from the chicken found in American grocery stores. If you want to make a very authentic broth, the choice of chicken is crucial. You can find it at Asian markets; ask for a gà đi bộ, literally a walking chicken.

Traditionally, cơm gà Hải Nam is served with pieces of the boiled gà đi bộ chicken and rau thơm, which translates to fragrant herbs. The herb mixture is usually composed of rau răm (Vietnamese coriander), Vietnamese mint, Thai Basil, ngò (cilantro) and thinly sliced cabbage. Of course, the dish is seasoned with nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce), fresh red Thai chiles, pickled shallots and thinly shredded fresh ginger. The overall dish is light and absolutely delicious!


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Braised Tofu with Hoisin Sauce Recipe

Braised Tofu with Hoisin Sauce

01.27.10 by Jackie

Braising is one of the best cooking methods to increase the flavor of tofu. In this particular dish, I braised the tofu in a hoisin sauce-based mixture for its caramel color and subtle sweetness. To this, I added several vegetables such as wood ear mushrooms, button mushrooms, carrots and Japanese eggplants.

If you've been following my culinary adventures, you know I married a vegetarian. I'm not saying it as though it's a flaw, but I have to admit that when we first got married, I was a little nervous about what I was going to feed my sweetie. I really didn't have any familiarity with vegetarian cuisine. I love Lulu so much that I was determined to learn how to prepare flavorful vegetarian meals. Since then, I've tried boiling tofu, pan-searing it, grilling it, braising it and deep-frying it. I think I've gone through every possibility, but If you have any other methods you like for cooking tofu, please drop me a message. 

Braised Tofu in Hoisin Sauce Recipe with Picture


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