Vietnamese Recipes

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga) Recipe

The key to great, flavorful gơi bắp cải (chicken and cabbage salad in Vietnamese) is to boil the chicken properly. Flavoring the broth prior to boiling the chicken is essential. This is the one chance you have to infuse additional flavor in the meat. As Tatie Danielle (aunt) says, "everyone knows how to make the sauce, not everyone knows how to cook the meat properly." She used to run a restaurant in the early '90s and is the best Vietnamese chef I know.

Even though this is referred to as a salad, it is typically eaten as a main course. Not only is it a great, filling meal, but nothing goes to waste. With the leftover broth, you can make súp bún măng gà, literally bamboo and chicken rice noodle soup, or a rice congee (cháo gà in Vietnamese), which is a type of chicken and rice porridge. The porridge in particular is great in the winter. I'll post the recipe when it starts getting really cold.  For now, enjoy some Vietnamese Chicken Salad!


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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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Vietnamese Spinach and Shrimp Soup (Canh Mong Toi) Recipe

Canh tôm rau mồng tơi, literally a soup made with tôm, or shrimp and mồng tơi, or spinach, is usually served as a side dish along with steamed jasmine rice and a dish of meat. 

Rau mồng tơi is a tender and sweet leafy vegetable that is unknown in Western cuisine. In Vietnam, it is a staple of lower income people. In fact, there is a saying using this leaf, "Nghèo rớt mồng tơi!", which approximately translates to "dirt poor". Like rau muống, another Vietnamese leafy vegetable, it is quite expensive in America. I've probably said it in the past: immigrants crave the foods of their childhood and are willing to pay more for the memories. And this soup fits the bill.


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Vietnamese-Style Stuffed Tomatoes (Tomates Farcies) Recipe

A lot of Vietnamese dishes are inspired by French cuisine, because Vietnam was a longtime colony of the French empire. Tomates farcies (cà chua nhồi thịt in Vietnamese) is no exception. In Vietnam, it is referred to as tomates farcies, which literally translates to "stuffed tomatoes tomatoes"!

Traditional French stuffed tomatoes are filled with garlic bread crumbs, chair à saucisse and chopped jambon de Bayonne (sausage meat and prosciutto). The Vietnamese version uses the same filling as meat eggrolls.

I used veal for its low fat content as well as its texture and color for this dish. And most important, it cooks pretty fast. You can certainly use any other meat, such as ground beef.

 


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Sweet Tamarind Drink (Nuoc Da Me) Recipe

Nước đá me, literally "tamarind ice cubes" in Vietnamese, is a fairly common drink in Vietnam. It's served in various ways, such as with salted key lime rind preserves, but today I made it with fresh pineapple purée. It's sweet and tart at the same time but most important, it's so refreshing!

Tamarind is quite popular in Asian and South Asian cooking. I usually eat the fresh pods as they are, and use tamarind concentrate or tamarind powder for cooking.


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