Vietnamese Recipes

View All | View Summaries
Ca Nuc Kho (Traditional Vietnamese Whole Mackerel in Sugarcane Sauce) Recipe

Cá nục kho mía literally translates to "mackerel braised in sugarcane sauce". It's the fish traditionally served in  a Vietnamese claypot. The dark caramel ginger sauce is made from galangal and sugarcane juice (nước mía in Vietnamese).

Mackerel is high in Omega 3 oils but can have a strong fishy flavor. There are several steps that can be taken to ensure this dish is absolutely delicious. First, when you're at the market, make sure the fish is fresh; fresh mackerel shouldn't smell fishy. Look for clear-eyed fish with bright, shiny scales. The second step is to clean the inside of the fish thoroughly in several water baths and let the fish rest in a vinegary solution for a few minutes. The last part is to use a lot of shallots and galangal, which has a sharper, more aromatic flavor than ginger. It's slightly more expensive than ginger but it's well worth it.

I served the fish with steamed jasmine rice and sautéed rau muống (Vietnamese pea shoot tendrils) with fresh chestnuts and wood ear mushrooms.


Full Recipe...
Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe with Chestnut Swirl Recipe

This recipe proves that vegan doesn't always mean healthy. Coconut cream, coconut milk, sugar, pure vanilla extract, chestnut purée and stabilizers combine to make a vegan ice cream recipe that tips the scales at about 3000 calories per quart (that's 375 calories per serving). But there aren’t any eggs or dairy products!

I recently received a request for a vegan ice cream recipe from Leslie. It was the first time I tried making a vegan dessert. I made use of the same combination of stabilizers I use in other egg-free recipes, namely soy lecithin and xanthan gum. I increased the quantity to improve mouth-feel though. Xanthan gum in particular inhibits the formation of ice crystals, which create a more pleasing texture.

After tasting the final product, everyone in the house agreed that the ice cream strongly resembled chè, a very popular Vietnamese dessert. I hadn't anticipated that at all. Since I swirled the ice cream with chestnut purée, I thought it would have a more French flavor to it, but that was not the case. That's one of the things I love about cooking. I really enjoy experimenting, and the results of these culinary adventures can add completely new recipes to my repertoire.

My husband Lulu has decided to leave the ice cream maker on the kitchen counter until the end of summer to encourage us to make ice cream more often this year. I’ll post our concoctions on here all summer, so at least some good can come out of my impending weight gain. Stay tuned!


Full Recipe...
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!


Full Recipe...
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!


Full Recipe...
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.


Full Recipe...