Lena on June 8th, 2012

I love watching Luke cook. He’s really great at what he does. Let the favorite author, cooking show host, acclaimed owner and chef of the Sydney restaurant ‘The Red Lantern’ teach you how to make easy and delicous Char Grilled Pork Skewers. This recipe is great for spring rolls, noodle bowls, banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) or can be served by itself as a tasty appertizer.

1 lb pork neck, thinly sliced

1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fishsauce
1 tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pinch of pepper
4 green onion, pounded into a fine paste, with a mortar and pestle.
1 tbsp oil

Prepare the marinade. Toss the meat in, cover and let it develop the flavors for couple hours or overnight.

Soak the skewers for 1/2 hr in cold water. Thread the meat through the skewers and grill in medium heat, about 2 – 3 minutes each side.

Garnesh it with green onion oil, fried shallots, crushed peanuts on the top of the meat.

I tried it myself last weekend and it turned out great. Enjoy!


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sesame peanut candy, keo dau phung

sesame peanut brittle

Kẹo Đậu Phộng – Sesame Peanut Candy, or Sesame Peanut Brittle is commonly found in every corner in Vietnam. Easy to make and fun, crispy, crunchy to eat, it’s a great treat for kids and adults to enjoy. Some Vietnamese like to roll it on top of rice crackers or rice paper, but I like to skip it and pour it out directly on a greased tray, put a greased foil paper on the top and roll it out thin. And a word of caution: the sugar liquid is super hot, so be carefully not to burn yourself.

Vietnamese Sesame Peanut Candy/ Sesame Peanut Brittle Recipe:
1 cup peanut, roasted
1/4 cup sesame seeds, roasted
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp lime juice or vinegar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp water
1 rice paper or rice cracker (optional)

In a small pan, combine sugar, lime juice, vanilla and water. Simmer in a low heat, stirring frequently to make sure the liquid is not burned at the bottom of the pan. When the liquid turns light yellow, turn off heat. Add peanuts. Pour it on a rice paper or a rice cracker, and save some to fill the edges later. Oil a foil paper that is large enough to cover the whole rice paper, then put the greased side down and use the roller to roll it out thin. Save some peanuts to fill the edges. Spray sesame seeds on top.

Fill in the edges to make sure a whole rice paper is covered.

Let it cool completely for at least 1 hour before serving. Break it into small pieces and serve.

If you don’t like using the rice paper as the candy base, you can pour the mixture out to a greased container directly, put a greased foil paper and top and roll it out thin.



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Lena on September 20th, 2011

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Lena on September 12th, 2011

Rang Muối – Salt and Pepper Seasoning is a common way to prepare seafood dishes in Vietnamese cuisine. You can use the same recipe below for other seafood, such as fish fillets (cá rang muối), crab (cua rang muối), lobster (tôm hùm rang muối), scallop (sò diệp rang muối), squid (mực rang muối), etc…Adjust the amount of seasoning for other seafood dishes, of course. In this cooking technique, you would deep fry the seafood, then toss it in onion and jalapeno pepper stir fried in oil to increase the dish fragrance and flavors. After that, finish the dish by sprinkling salt and pepper seasoning on top.

Commonly, we use cornstarch for deep frying seafood because it’s crispier and lasts longer. But if you don’t have cornstarch available, you can use tapioca starch to coat the seafood, it would also do the job well.

Tôm rang muối, Salt and Pepper Seasoning Shrimp Recipe:

12 large shrimp, shell on, head on
1/2 cup cornstarch

1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, wedged
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thin diagonally
3 green onions, cut about 1 inch long

Salt & Pepper Seasoning:
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp MSG (optional)
1 pinch of pepper
Mix it up

Wash shrimp in cold water and use a pair of scissors to cut off any long whiskers and sharp point on the head. Coat shrimp in corn starch.

Heat up oil in a deep pan, wok or deep fryer, deep fry the shrimp in small batches until they become pink and crispy. Remove and drain excessive oil.

In another wok or skillet, heat up one tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot, add in garlic, yellow onion, jalapeno, stir fry it until fragrant then add in fried shrimp. Quickly stir fry shrimp and sprinkle in the salt and pepper seasoning. Stir it up to make sure the seasoning is coated well. Add green onions. Stir it up one more time to mix it well. Add in 1 tsp of butter to moist the shrimp up if desired.

Turn off the heat and laddle it to a plate. Serve hot.


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Lena on August 26th, 2011
da ua, sua chua, vietnamese yogurt

da ua

The way Vietnamese eat yogurt is different from what Westeners know: after incubating the yogurt, we actually freeze them in small jars, the same size as baby food jars. Many Vietnamese families here in the US do save the baby food jars and use them to store their homemade yogurt. It might be surprising for you to learn, but Vietnamese also enjoy ice yogurt, a yogurt drink that is usually served for a healthy breakfast. You can find the instructions on how to make it below.

To make yogurt, you need to have a cup of yogurt to use as a starter. For an authentic Vietnamese yogurt, buy a cup of yogurt at a Vietnamese food-to-go store. If you can’t find it in your area, you can use plain organic yogurt as the starter. It’s available at any supermarket. After that, save 1 cup each time and use it as the starter for the next round.

The formula below uses the same condensed milk can to measure. It makes the job easier and less to clean up. Enjoy!

Vietnamese yogurt recipe:
1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
1 can hot water
2 cans whole milk
1/2 to 1 can plain yogurt as a starter

Boil a kettle of water. Let it cool down for 5 minutes.

Pour the condensed milk into a bowl. Using the same can, add in a can of hot water. Stir to dissolve the condensed milk.

Add 2 cans of whole milk and 1 can of plain yogurt to the bowl. Mix it well together.

Strain this mixture through a mesh strainer to ensure it’s smooth.

Laddle this mixture into cups or jars.

Put the cups or jars into a pot wide enough to hold all of them. Add just-boiled water and hot tap water from the sink to the pot to submerge up to 1/2 milk level in the cups. Cover the cups with towel paper so the evaporated water is absorbed into the paper and doesn’t fall back down into the cups. Then cover the pot and let it sit at room temperature for 7-8 hours. After that, take them out, dry the cups, cover, and chill them in the frigerator. Freeze them as desired.

Makes 8 cups.

To make ice yogurt, crush some ice and put it in a tall glass. Add in a cup of yogurt, squeeze in juice from a wedge of lime, and 1 tbsp of condensed milk. Stir it up, this makes a great healthy, delicious breakfast drink.

To make fruit yogurt, in a glass, add in your favorite fresh fruit then pour a cup of yogurt to the top. Ganish with a mint leaf. Great for dessert!



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Lena on August 22nd, 2011

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Vietnamese enjoy strong coffee over condensed milk. Coffee shops are amlost every corner in Vietnam, and they have become the staple on how Vietnamese people socialize, from young to old, to meet with friends, coworkers, either one or in the group before work, afterwork, and evenings. They could spend hours everyday at the coffee shops, waiting for their coffee to brew, slowly sip their coffee and enjoy the conversation.

Vietnamese brew coffee one cup at a time in small filters
(called the Phin) devices that sit on top of the cup or a thin tall glass. The advantage of this method is that the coffee steeps in the grounds for the proper length of time despite the small volume. The French Press is commonly used to brew Vietnamese coffee, and also a great way to brew it, since the grind is also perfect for the Press.

To brew Vietnamese coffee, you need to have Vietnamese coffee filters, which can be bought at a decent price below:

French Press Cafe Du Monde is the most popular brand, since it’s rich and dark in color, perfect for Vietnamese coffee, though you can find using other French Press Coffee is perfectly fine as well or get it at 5% OFF at CoffeeForLess.com with coupon code: CFLESS for great coffee at an excellent price.

Watch the video for the simple instructions on how to brew and make Vietnamese coffee (with my comment below for the best taste):

This is how I would brew Vietnamese coffee:

2 tbsp condensed milk
2 tsp ground coffee
1 pinch of salt
1 glass of ice

In a tall thin glass, add 2 tbsp of condensed milk. place the drip pot on top of the glass.

Add 2 tsp ground coffee in the drip pot, use the filter, twist it couple times to release aroma and press it down. Add 1/5 boiling water into the drip pot and let it soak for 3-5 minutes. This is an important step as by doing this, coffee is soaked up, expanded, and water is just enough to soak the coffee, without dripping any drop, prepare the coffee to release its full flavor when you add boiling water in. Without doing this, the coffee is not prepared enough to release its full aroma.`

Fill the drip pot full with boiling water over soaked coffee. Add a pinch of salt to increase the flavor and let it drip for 3-5 minutes until done.

Mix the coffee with the condensed milk and serve hot or over glass of ice.

Enjoy! How about with some cookies:


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Lena on August 8th, 2011
nem chua, cured fermented meat

nem chua, cured fermented meat

Nem Chua is one of significant Vietnamese appetizers that can’t be missed at special occasions such as engagement parties, wedding ceremonies and receptions. It also commonly served during Vietnamese New Year Tet, where relatives and friends gift each other rolls of nem chua wrapped nicely in banana leaves or plastic wrap. To make Nem Chua, you can use 99% lean beef or lean pork shoulder. Since it’s cured, I prefer beef over pork. You can choose either one, it’s up to you.

To make Nem Chua, make sure you make it right after getting back from grocery shopping, because you want the meat to be as fresh as possible. When you go grocery shopping, choose a good piece of beef or pork shoulder with minimum fat as possible, then ask your butcher to put the meat through the grinder on its finest setting for three times. Keep it in a bag of ice to make sure the meat is fresh and doesn’t release liquid. Make it right away as you get home.

Nem powder seasoning mix is available at the Vietnamese store. Usually one package is used to cure 1 lb of meat. If you plan to make it for any specially occasion, triple the amount or it’s great to gift some to your parents, siblings or friends. Vietnamese love this dish. It’s great to serve with a cold glass of beer.

Nem Chua Recipe:

1 lb beef, removed all fat, finely ground
1/3 lb pork skin (precooked and cut variety)
1 package of Nem powder seasoning mix
3 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked white pepper

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (will use later, use to wrap when cured)
4 bird’s eye chilies, finely sliced lengthwise (will use later, use to wrap when cured)

In a large bowl, combine the grounded beef, pork skin, sugar, salt, pepper and nem powder. Mix well and knead the ingredients together, occasionally lifting the mixture and throwing it down hard into the bowl. This slightly aerates the mixture and gives the desired texture. If you have an electric mixer, use it to thorough mix it.

With a plastic wrap, line a tray just large enough to hold the mixture, then ladle the meat mixture into the tray. Use a spatula to spread it evenly and press the meat down. Cover with plastic then place a same sized tray on top and press it down as hard as possible. You want to release any air bubbles from the meat and compress it hard.

Don’t worry if the meat will get blackened. Nem powder will cure the meat and it will turn to pink color when cured.

Leave it in refrigerator for 3 days to cure the meat before serving.

To serve, take it out from the refrigerator, allow it to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before slicing into 1 1/2 by 1 1/4 inch rectangles.

Use plastic wrap, arrange a sliced chili and a slice garlic across the top of each piece, then wrap it up. Keep doing it until done.

Crack a cold beer and enjoy!

Served as an appetizer.


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Sweet and Sour Pork Chop/Ribs or Sườn Xào Chua Ngọt is an adapted version from the popular dish originated in China and made its way into Vietnam via the Chinese influence in Vietnam. To make this dish, you can use baby back ribs or country style ribs, ask the butcher to cut them into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide. When you prepare this dish, cut it into 1 1/2 inch cubes to increase the meat flavor when you marinate or sauteed. If you marinate ahead of time, about 3 hours, then you can just coat it with flour and deep fry the ribs and toss it with the sweet and sour sauce. If time is short, then sauteed the ribs first before frying to intensify the flavors.

1 lb baby back ribs or country style ribs, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp cooking oil

In a pot, bring a pot of water to a boil (estimate enough water to cover the ribs). Add 1 tsp of salt and ribs to the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes. This will remove the impurity/foam from the ribs and lightly cook the ribs.

In a wok, heat up 2 tbsp of oil and add garlic. Stir fry until garlic is fragrant, add ribs in. Quick stir fry ribs in garlic oil to absorb the flavor, then add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tsp sugar. Cook over high heat until the sauce is gone, stir occationally. While the sauce is reduced, move on to prepare the sweet and sour sauce.

Sweet and sour sauce:
2 tbsp oil
1/3 yellow onion, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, cubed
1/2 green bell pepper, cubed
1 6 oz can of pineapple, cubed
1 tbsp ginger, slivered
1 tsp ketchup
3 tbsp plum sauce
3 tbsp chicken broth
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbsp water to thicken the sauce

Heat up 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a wok, then stir in yellow onion, garlic. Until the oil becomes fragrant, add remaining ingredients in and simmer the sauce until it is thickened. Set it aside.

Deep Fry Ribs:
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp tapioca starch
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1/2 cup water

Mix the batter, make sure the batter is thick enough to coat the ribs. Adjust the batter accordingly. Add the ribs into the batter to coat them and deep fry until ribs become golden brown and crispy.

Heat up the sweet and sour sauce, and toss in the ribs for about 30 seconds. (Don’t simmer too long, you want to keep the ribs cripsy.) Turn off the stove and laddle over a bed of watercress, tomato and cucumber slices. Garnish with some pepper on the top. Serve hot right away.

Serve over steamed rice.

Serves 3


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Lena on July 20th, 2011

Flan is a sweet custard dessert, in Vietnamese, we call it bánh flan or kem flan. The dish is eaten throughout the world. After chilling the flans, make sure to serve them within 24 hours while the flans are still fresh and have a crunch in them, otherwise the caramel will liquify. The recipe below has a coffee flavor, you can skip the coffee if you don’t have it handy or don’t like it.

1/2 cup sugar + 3 tbsp water

6 eggs
6 egg yorks
1 14-oz can condensed milk
1 can hot water (use the condensed milk can)
1 can whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
2 tbsp of instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp water
1 stick of cinnamon

Make the caramel:
Place the sugar in hot pan on medium high heat and add 3 tbsp of water. Allow the mixture to slowly brown in a few minutes, stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. As soon as it begins caramelizing, keep stiring to help prevent burning. When it becomes rich golden color, remove it from the heat.

Transfer the caramel to the ramekins, aluminum or metal cups: pour 1 tbsp of caramel sugar into each cup to cover the bottom.

Make the coffee sauce:
Add condensed milk, hot water, whole milk to a warm pan over a medium high heat. Add vanilla powder, dissolved coffee, and a cinnamon stick. Allow it to come to a boil then turn off the heat. Let it sit for a few minutes to infuse the flavors.

Whisk the eggs and egg yorks in a large bowl, then slowly add a small amount of the coffee sauce and whisk it well. Add the remaining coffee sauce and mix it in well.

When the sauce is well combined, pour it through a strainer into another bowl to remove any lumps.

Place the cups in a roasting tray, then pour in the hot coffee sauce to fill the cups.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the roasting tray into the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting tray about 1/2 the height of the tray. Bake for 45′ to 1 hour until it is set. Give it a little shake to see if it has set and remove it from the oven.

Remove the cups from the tray and allow them to cool for a couple minutes. Then transfer them into the refrigerator to allow them to chill for couple hours before serving.

When the flans are chilled, use a small sharp knife to loosen flans from the cups. Work it around the edge of the cup and carefully turn it over and place it on a serving plate.

Makes 8.


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