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Vietnam (Vietnamese Recipes)

World Cuisine Recipes

   While the food of Vietnam has been influenced to a certain extent by the cooking of China, it would not be mistaken for Chinese food, for true Vietnamese food has a character and flavor all its own. Instead of soy sauce there is the universal use of fish sauce, nuoc mam, which is added during cooking. Nuoc mam is more pungent than other Southeast Asian fish sauces. If it is not available, add a little dried shrimp paste to Chinese fish sauce for a good substitute. But nuoc mam sauce (or nuoc cham), which is served as an accompaniment with practically everything, is based on nuoc mam with the addition of fresh chilies, garlic, sugar, lime or lemon and vinegar. The flavor is sharper and more pungent than anything the Chinese cuisine has to offer.
   Rice and noodles are the staple starches in the Vietnamese diet, but they have also cultivated a taste for French bread over the years and combine it with beef, cooked Vietnamese style, to make delicious, if somewhat unorthodox sandwiches.
   Breakfast in Vietnam is usually noodle soup. It is rather overpowering by Western standards, for it is redolent of fresh coriander herb (called Vietnamese parsley), garlic and nuoc mam. Rice, accompanied by dishes of meat, poultry or fish, is the basis of the other meals.

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepes)
Crepe Batter:
3/4 cup dried yellow mung beans
2 cup fresh or canned coconut milk
1 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp tumeric
Accompaniments And Filling:
4 oz pork butt or shoulder, cut into 12 thin slices
12 raw medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 tbl nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
4 lrg clv garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sugar
 Freshly ground pepper
2 cup thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 lrg onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Cooking Instructions:
Make the crepe batter: Cover the mung beans with water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain. Set aside 1 cup for the filling. Place the remaining 1/2 cup in a blender with the coconut milk and process to a fine puree. Add the rice flour, sugar, salt and tumeric; blend well. Strain the mixture into a bowl or jar and refrigerate. Steam the reserved mung beans for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Allow to cool. Cover and set aside. Prepare the Nuoc Cham and Vegetable Platter, and set aside. In a bowl, combine the pork and shrimp with the fish sauce, garlic, sugar and black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine the mushrooms, bean sprouts, onion and the cooked mung beans. Divide the mixture into six separate mounds on a tray. Heat 2 tbl sp of the oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the pork and shrimp mixture and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until the pork loses its pink color and the shrimp turn opaque. Remove to a platter. In a wok or an 8" nonstick omelet pan, heat 2 tbl sp oil over moderately high heat. When the oil is very hot, stir the rice batter well and pour 1/2 cup into the wok. Quickly tilt the wok to spread the mixture into a thin pancake. Scatter 1 mound of the vegetables, 2 slices of pork and 4 pieces of the shrimp on the lower half of the pancake. Reduce the heat to moderate. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the pancake is brown and crispy. Fold the pancake in half and slide it onto a platter. Keep warm in a low oven. Repeat with the remaining oil, batter and filling, making 5 more crepes. To serve, each diner places the rice crepe with some filling on a lettuce leaf with selected herhs from the Vegetable Platter and strands of carrot and daikon from the dipping sauce. The bundle is rolled up, dipped in Nuoc Cham and eaten out of hand.

Beef and Lotus Root Soup (Canh Bo Sen)
Servings: 6
6 cup Beef Stock (see recipe)
1 lb fresh lotus root peeled, and cut into thin rounds
Coarse sea salt to taste
Freshly-ground white pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cooked oxtail meat (from making the beef stock)
1/4 cup julienned holy basil leaves
Cooking Instructions:
Pour the Beef Stock into a pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the lotus root. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer, partially covered, until the lotus root is tender, about 35 minutes. Add shredded meat and simmer until it is heated through, about 10 minutes more. Serve hot in a communal bowl or individual soup bowls - garnish with holy basil.

Fresh Spring Rolls

For Filling:
3-4 oz dried thin rice stick noodles
Boiling water, as needed
3/4 lb boneless pork loin, in one piece
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
For Assembly:
12 dried large rice paper rounds, each 8 1/2 inches in diameter
12 large red-leaf lettuce leaves or other soft, pliable lettuce, stiff stems discarded
1 large carrot, peeled and finely julienned, then tossed with 1 teaspoon sugar until softened, about 10 minutes
1 small cucumber, peeled and finely julienned
12 fresh mint sprigs
12 fresh cilantro sprigs, plus extra leaves for filling
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
Cooking Instructions:
Prepare the dipping sauce; set aside.
For Filling: Place the noodles in a bowl, and add boiling water to cover. Let stand for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and set aside. Place the pork in a saucepan, add water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until opaque throughout, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut across the grain into very thin slices about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Set aside. Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add salt to taste and the shrimp. Boil until they curl slightly and are opaque throughout, 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise, pat dry and set aside.
   For Rice  papers: Dampen several clean kitchen towels with water. Fill a pie plate with cold water. Spread a damp towel on a flat work surface. Dip 1 rice paper round at a time into the water and spread it flat on the towel. Continue dipping and laying the rice papers in a single layer. When you run out of room, lay a damp towel on top of the rounds and continue, always alternating a layer of rice papers with a damp towel. Let the rice papers stand until pliable, about 1 minute or longer.
   For Assembly: Place 1 pliable rice paper round on the work surface and position a lettuce leaf on the lower third of it, tearing the leaf as needed to make it fit and leaving uncovered a 1-inch border on the right and left edges. Take a small amount (about one-twelfth) of the rice stick noodles and spread in a line across the width of the leaf. Arrange one-twelfth each of the pork slices, carrot and cucumber, and 1 sprig of mint on the noodles. Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper over to cover the ingredients, then roll up tightly one complete turn. Fold in the left and right edges to enclose the filling. Across the top length of the roll, place 1 sprig of cilantro and 2 pieces of shrimp, end to end and cut side down. Finish rolling up the rice paper to contain the shrimp and form a taut spring roll. Set seam-side down on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel. Make the remaining rolls in the same way. The rolls may be made several hours in advance; cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
   Divide the sauce among individual dipping saucers and then divide the peanuts evenly among the saucers. Serve the rolls with the sauce.
Barbecued Shrimp Paste on Sugar Cane (Chao Tom)
1 tb Roasted rice powder
Scallion oil
Crisp-fried shallots
1 tb Roasted peanuts, ground
1 lb Raw shrimp in the shell
1 tb Salt
6 Garlic cloves, crushed
6 Shallots, crushed
2 Ounces rock sugar, crushed -to a powder, or 1 tb Granulated sugar
4 Ounces pork fat
4 ts Nuoc mam
Freshly ground black pepper
Peanut Sauce
Vegetable Platter
8 Ounces 6 1/2-inch rice -paper rounds (banh trang)
12 Piece fresh sugar cane, or 12 oz Sugar cane packed in light syrup, drained
12 8-1/2 ea inch bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
Vegetable oil, for shaping shrimp paste
8 Ounces extra-thin rice vermicelli
Cooking Instructions:
Prepare the roasted rice powder, scallion oil, crisp-fried shallots and roasted peanuts. Set aside. Shell and devein the shrimp. Sprinkle the salt over the shrimp and let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly with cold water. Drain and squeeze between your hands to remove excess water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. Coarsely chop the shrimp. Boil the pork fat for 10 minutes. Drain and finely dice. In a food processor, combine the shrimp, garlic, shallots and sugar. Process until the shrimp paste pulls away from the sides of the container, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides. The paste should be very fine and sticky. Add the pork fat, roasted rice powder, fish sauce and black pepper to taste to the processor. Pulse briefly, only enough to blend all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate. Meanwhile, prepare the Peanut Sauce and Vegetable Platter. Cover the rice papers with a damp towel and a sheet of plastic wrap; keep at room temperature until needed. Peel the fresh sugar cane; cut crosswise into 4-inch sections. Split each section lengthwise into quarters. (if using canned sugar cane, split each section lengthwise in half only, then thread 2 pieces lengthwise onto a skewer.) Pour about 1/4 cup of oil into a small bowl. Oil your fingers. Pick up and mold about 2 tablespoons of the shrimp paste around and halfway down a piece of fresh sugar cane. Leave about 1 1/2 inches of the sugar cane exposed to serve as a handle. (If using canned sugar cane, there is no need to leave a handle. The skewers will serve as handles.) Press firmly so that the paste adheres to the cane. Proceed until you have used all the shrimp paste. Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat the oven to broil. Meanwhile, steam the noodles, then garnish with the scallion oil, crisp-fried shallots and ground roasted peanuts. Keep warm. Pour the peanut sauce into individual bowls and place the Vegetable Platter and rice papers on the table. Grill the shrimp paste on the sugar cane over medium coals, turning frequently. Or Broil, on a baking sheet lined with foil, under the broiler, about 6 inches from the heat, for 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Transfer to a warm platter. To serve, each diner dips a rice paper round in a bowl of warm water to make it pliable, then places the paper on a dinner plate. Different ingredients from the Vegetable Platter, some noodles and a piece of the shrimp paste, which has been removed from the sugar cane, are added. The rice paper is then roiled up to form a neat package. The roll is dipped in the Peanut Sauce and eaten out of hand. The remaining sugar cane may be chewed.

Vietnamese Chicken Curry

1 Stalk fresh lemon grass or 1 tb Dried
3 1/2 ts Curry powder
Fresh ground black pepper
1 ts Sugar
4 ts Salt
3 lb Chicken, cut up
7 tb Vegetable oil
3 Sweet potatoes or
3 White potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 Cloves garlic, chopped
3 Bay leaves
1 lg Onion, cut into wedges, separated
2 c Water
1 Carrot, 2-inch slices
2 c Coconut milk
1 c Milk or water
Cooking Instructions:
Combine the curry powder, black pepper, sugar, add salt and marinate the chicken in the mixture for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil and fry the potatoes over high heat until brown. (It is not necessary to completely cook potatoes at this point, only to brown them.) When well browned, remove from the pan and set aside until ready to cook the curry. Pour off most of the oil from the pan, leaving 2 tablespoons for cooking the chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high flame. Fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add the bay leaves, onion, and lemon grass; stir briefly and add the marinated chicken, stirring long enough to sear the meat slightly. Add the 2 cups of water and carrot, then cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes; uncover and stir, then cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover and add the prefried potatoes, the coconut milk, and the milk. Cover again and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve with rice, Rice Sticks, or Japanese Alimentary Paste Noodles.
Sour Fish Head Soup (Canh Chua Dau Ca)
Servings: 4
2 Scallions, white part only, -crushed with the side of a knife
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ts Salt
2 tb Plus 4 teaspoons fish sauce -(nuoc mam)
1 lg Fish head or fish carcass, -split down the center
1 qt Water
1/2 c Canned sliced sour bamboo
1/4 Fresh pineapple, cut in a -lengthwise section and sliced
1 ds MSG (optional)
2 tb Mixed chopped fresh -coriander (Chinese parsley)
Scallion green
Cooking Instructions:
Sprinkle the scallions, black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons fish sauce over the fish head. Allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and drop in the sour bamboo and pineapple slices. Cook at a lively boil for 5 minutes. Drop fish head into the actively boiling water and, keeping at a boil, add the 2 tablespoons fish sauce, remaining teaspoon salt, and a dash of MSG. Boil the fish head for a total of 10 minutes. Transfer to a soup tureen, sprinkle on the coriander and scallion green, and serve.
Grilled Dried Beef (Thit Bo Kho)
Servings: 4
1 pound Lean bottom round or sirloin, in one piec 6 inches in diameter
2 Stalks fresh lemon grass or 2 tablespoons dri grass
2 small Red chile peppers, seeded
2 1/2 tablespoons Sugar or honey
1 tablespoon Nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
3 tablespoons Light soy sauce
Cooking Instructions:
Cut the beef across the grain onto very thin 3 by 3 inch slices. If you are using fresh lemon grass, discard the outer leaves and upper half of the stalk. Cut into thin slices and finely chop. If you are using dried lemon grass, soak in warm water for 1 hour. Drain and finely chop. Combine the chiles and sugar in a mortar and pestle and pound to a fine paste. Add the chopped lemon grass, fish sauce and soy sauce and stir to blend. (If using a blender, combine all of these and blend to a very fine paste.) Spread the paste over the beef pieces to coat both sides. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Spread out each slice of marinated beef on a large, flat wire rack or baking sheet. Let stand in the sun until both sides are completely dried, about 12 hours. (You can also place a rack on a jelly roll pan and let the beef dry in the refrigerator for 2 days.) Grill the beef over a medium charcoal fire or transfer the rack from the refrigerator to the middle of a preheated 400F oven and bake until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Serve with glutinous rice.
Tom Yam Goong (Hot & Sour Soup)

1 qt Water
2 Stalks lemon grass, cut -into 1 1/2" lengths
4 Kaffir lime leaves, each torn off center spine
1 lg Shallot, peeled, sliced
6 sm Thai chiles or
2 Serrano chiles, sliced lengthwise 1/2 lb
3 tb Lime juice
3 tb Fish sauce
1/2 t Salt
1 sm Firm tomato, cut into wedges
1 c Cilantro leaves
1 tb Chopped pak chee farang
Cooking Instructions:
Some Asian markets now carry bags of pak chee farang leaves. If you can't get them, omit, or add a little more cilantro. In some markets they are labled with their Vietnamese name, ngo gal. Place water in 3-quart saucepan. Add lemon grass, line leaves and shallot and bring to boil. Add chiles and shrimp. Cook 2 minutes. Add straw mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce and salt. Add tomato and cook just until heated, not soft. Turn unstrained soup into serving bowl. (Do not eat lemon grass and lime leaves.) Top with pak chee farang and cilantro leaves.
Vietnamese Hue Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue)

1 lb ham hocks
6 stalks lemongrass, crushed and sliced thin
2 tablespoons nuoc nam
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces boneless sirloin
4 ounces boneless pork loin
16 ounces rice noodles, cooked
1 cup bean sprouts
4 sprigs Thai holy basil (regular basil ok)
4 sprigs fresh mint
4 sprigs fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons sambal oelek or hot chili sauce
4-8 fresh Thai red chili peppers (amount optional)
1 lime, cut into quarters
Cooking Instructions:
Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil; add ham hocks and lemongrass. Skim constantly for 10 minutes then cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. Strain the broth, reserving ham hocks if you desire them. Add nuoc mam, sugar, salt and pepper, sirloin, and pork loin to the broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until meat is cooked and tender; remove meat. Thinly slice meats into small pieces. To serve, place a portion of noodles in serving bowl, top with some bean sprouts, pork, beef, and some ham hock (if using), and ladle the broth over; add herbs, chili sauce, chilies, and lime juice to taste.

World Cuisine Recipes


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