Vietnamese Recipes

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Vietnamese Tamarind Sweet Crab (Cua Rang Me) Recipe

Vietnamese-style tamarind crab (cua rang me in Vietnamese) is an incredibly simple, yet absolutely mouth-watering dish. The real key to making this dish successfully is to have the freshest crab you can get. The roughly cracked pieces of crab are stir fried in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce. The sauce is made of tamarind, chili, Thai basil and garlic. The Thai basil imparts an intense fragrance to the sauce, and by extension, to the crab.

We eat this dish family style. No pretense here. Just get a large platter, fill it with the tamarind crab and put it in the middle of your dinner table. We don't have enough meat eaters in my house, so I always call over a couple of family members or friends to share in the bounty. Roll up your sleeves, and dig in!


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Korean Tofu Soup with Rice Cakes Recipe

Rice cakes are made from glutinous rice flour. We buy them at the Korean market. They're a great alternative to bánh phở or ordinary noodles. What I love most about this product is  that they're made with no additives or preservatives. They're a favorite at our house. The texture is very nice, and works well in a simple, clear vegetable broth. If you're looking for a healthy meal, this is not your average diet cabbage soup.

Korean Tofu Soup with Rice Cakes Recipe with Picture


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Vietnamese Tofu Stuffed Betel Leaves  Recipe

Tàu hũ cuốn lá lốt (betel leaf wrapped tofu in Vietnamese) is very similar looking to Greek dolmades. Instead of using grape leaves though, betel leaves serve as the packaging and delivery device for pan-fried tofu and vegetables. Betel leaves have a peppery taste, and when cooked they have the appearance, but not the texture of nori. The tofu mixture is similar to the filling I use for my vegetarian egg rolls.

The traditional way to prepare this dish is with extra lean ground beef (see tips), called thịt bò nướng lá lốt. However, Aunt Elise, who is a vegetarian, is visiting from Vietnam and taught me how to make the meatless version of the dish. Either way, it's an exotic and authentic taste of Vietnam.


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Vietnamese Deep Fried Banana Fritters with Ginger Coconut Mascarpone Sauce Recipe

Banana fritters, or chuối chiên in Vietnamese, can be found on street corners throughout Saigon. Aunt Elise, who is visiting us from Vietnam, has been teaching me many Vietnamese recipes, and today she showed me how to make these tasty treats. It's been a lot of fun learning about my culture and of course, the food, from someone who spent her whole life in Saigon.

The batter that the bananas are coated in is very similar to tempura batter. To make it a touch sweeter, we added some banana and banana extract. The fritters are usually eaten as is, but I wanted to make them a little fancier. I prepared a decadent mascarpone dip flavored with ginger, Vietnamese mint and coconut. The dip, though non-traditional, provides a nice contrast to the texture of the fritters. It's a taste of Vietnam that you won't be able to resist.


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Vietnamese Sweet Potato and Shrimp Tempura Recipe

In Vietnam, there's a sweet potato and shrimp dish, khoai lan chiên tôm, that is served on many street corners. Three match-sticks of sweet potato are dipped in a tempura batter and then a whole shrimp is adhered to them. A little more tempura batter is drizzled on the sweet potato / shrimp combination and then the whole thing is deep fried.

This dish may not at first glance be considered Thanksgiving-friendly, but I think it's an excellent option. Tradition may have become synonymous with Thanksgiving, but the very first Thanksgiving was really a celebration of a fusion of cultures through food. So if you're searching for an alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving preparations of sweet potatoes, perhaps it's time to look east. To the Far East, that is.


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