Asian Recipes

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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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Tofu Stuffed Bitter Melon (Kho Qua Nhun Tau Hu) Recipe

Khổ qua nhưn tàu hũ, tofu stuffed bitter melon is similar to dishes you might have seen at Chinese or Vietnamese restaurants. The difference is that it's usually shrimp paste instead of tofu (tàu hũ) and eggplant or button mushrooms in place of the bittermelon, called cà tím nhưn tôm ("eggplants with shrimp paste" in Vietnamese). I made my own blend of ground tofu paste with fried tofu and vegetarian ham to resemble the color of shrimp paste. I then stuffed the mixture into the bittermelon rounds and steamed the vegetables. For more flavor, I pan-fried the tofu filling then braised the dumplings in sweet pineapple hoisin sauce.

I love this dish because it's so flavorful and the texture of the tofu is very similar to meat. My husband Lulu, who’s a vegetarian, really likes it even though he isn’t into meat substitutes. It just proves that there’s more to vegetarian and vegan cooking than just silken and firm tofu!


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Bun Rieu Chay Recipe (Vietnamese Vegetarian Vermicelli Rice Noodle Soup) Recipe

Bún riêu cua is traditionally a vermicelli rice noodle soup made with tomato broth, meat, crab and shrimp paste. I'm not a very big fan of the meat flavors with shrimp paste so I usually make it meatless, using a paste of soybeans (and add the crab separately). The visuals and texture resemble the crab patties and the broth has the same fragrance from the sweet tomatoes.

The soup is typical Vietnamese comfort food. It's paired with the usual Vietnamese aromatic herbs and topped with other vegetables and fried tofu for a complete meal.


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Coconut Chicken Curry Recipe (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) Recipe

Coconut chicken curry is a dish made in both Vietnamese and Indian cuisines, with minor variations. This dish represents the Vietnamese version. The chicken is cooked in coconut milk, spices and a blend of nuts to create a creamy, rich mouth feel. I added galangal, lemongrass, turmeric powder, and kaffir lime leaves. Some people use other spices and add pineapple and various vegetables, but I wanted to keep it simple so the only other addition was potatoes.

If you're tempted by this dish but are bothered by the calories you could substitute evaporated milk for the coconut milk. It won't be as creamy, but the flavor will still be there.


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Dragon Fruit Salad Recipe

Dragon Fruit Salad

04.27.10 by Jackie

Dragon fruit (trái thanh long in Vietnamese) is an exotic fruit that has a very unusual appearance. The outer skin has a fuchsia color with green leaves and the flesh is white with seeds that are reminiscent of kiwi. The texture of dragon fruit is creamy and it has a subtle aroma of banana and ripe, soft pear. When fully ripened, the skin peels off as it would from an avocado.

I made a very simple fruit salad, using the Vietnamese Jaina dragon fruit variety, spearmint from our garden and agave nectar. The agave enhances the sweetness, and the mint lends a nice contrast of color and flavor. I served the fruit salad during a dinner party. Everyone was intrigued by the fruit, so it did double duty as a conversation starter.

If you ever travel to an Asian country, don't forget to ask for dragon fruit or pitaya. The last time I had dragon fruit was on my trip to Vietnam. I had no idea that this particular tropical fruit was cultivated in America. A couple of weeks ago I found it in an Asian market in San Jose. The salesperson told me dragon fruits are now grown in Florida, due to its humid and warm weather, which is similar to Vietnam. Quite honestly, the ones grown in the US are good but the ones in Vietnam are just exquisite and so much more flavorful. No sweetener necessary!

Dragon Fruit Picture


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