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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Canh cu sen duoi bo (Lotus root and oxtail soup)

It has been really cold and miserable these last couple of days. Most of the time, I would whip up a stir-fry or salad for dinner. But tonight, I wanted something else. I wanted something mum used to make, so I cooked a simple soup of lotus root and oxtail. I often recall my mother making this soup, it would not only warm up and nourish the body but heart and soul as well. It's something that I always love having and it's something that always bring back fond memories.


1 oxtail (cut into large chunk)
1 kg lotus roots
2 onions
2 carrots
1 knob Ginger
2 tsp salt


1. Wash an drain oxtail and add to stock pot with 3 Lt of water.
2. Bring water to a boil and skim off any impurities. Lower heat to a simmer and Keep skimming any impurities that rises to surface.
3. Peel onions and roughly slice ginger and add to stock. Simmer for 2 hours and season with salt.
4. Peel carrots and lotus roots. Cut carrots into large chunks and lotus roots into 1cm slices.
5. Add to stock and cook for another 30 minute or until carrots and lotus roots are cooked to your liking.
6. Taste and test for seasoning.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bo Kho (Vietnamese beef stew)

This weekend, I have some dear friends over for dinner. Being winter, I wanted to make something that is warm and hearty. Something we can share and that we all enjoy eating. Most of all something I can make ahead of time so I can entertain when the guess arrives, instead of being in the kitchen. Bo kho was the first thing that comes in my head. What can be better for those cold winter nights than a rich, hot bowl of Bo kho with hot crusty bread. With fall of the bone tender ox tail, coupled with it's rich and spicy gravy sauce. I could happily eat it again the next morning, if there where any leftovers.  



1 kg gravy beef
1 ox tail
2 stalk of lemongrass(cut into battons)
1 large knob ginger(roughly sliced)
3 star anise
1 cassia bark
1/2 tbsp white pepper
2 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp oil
1 onion, dice
3 clove of garlic, crushed


2 tbsp hoisine sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 packet Bo kho seasoning
2 tbsp cooking wine
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce

3 Ltr water
1 tbsp cornflour
1 kg carrots


1/2 onion thinly slice
1 cup shallots chopped
1 cup coriander chopped
Bunch of basil leaves
Hot crusty French baguettes

dipping sauce

lemon juice


1. In large mixing bowl, combine the ginger, lemongrass, gravy beef, ox tail with the spice and marinate for at least 2 hours.
2. In a large casserole pot on high heat, sear the ox tail and gravy beef in small batches with a little oil and set aside.
3. Turn down heat to medium and saute the onion and garlic, add little more oil if needed.
4. Add the meat back into the casserole with the seasoning and mix well and top up with water enough to cover meat.
5. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for at least 3 hours until meat is tender and fall of the bone.
6. Add the carrots in and cook for half an hour prior to serving. Taste and test for seasoning.
7. Thicken sauce with cornflour slurry (1 tbsp of cold water and 1 tbsp of cornflour).
8. Enjoy with hot crusty baguettes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Basic stock

Chicken stock

1 kg chicken bones or 1 boiler chicken
2 onions
3 litres water
1/2 tbsp salt


1. Wash and remove skin from chicken
2. Add chicken to stock pot with 3 ltrs of cold water.
3. Bring to boil and skim of any impurities that rises to surface.
4. Reduce to gentle simmer and add the onions in.
5. Let it simmer for 2 hours and occasionally skim of any impurities the rise to surface.
6. Season with salt.

Pork and chicken stock

1 kg chicken bones or 1 boiler chicken
1 kg pork bones or pig's hock
2 onions
4 litres water
1/2 tbsp salt


1. Wash pork bones and remove skin from chicken
2. Add both to stock pot with 4 ltrs of cold water.
3. Bring to boil and skim of any impurities that rises to surface.
4. Reduce to gentle simmer and add the onions in.
5. Let it simmer for 2 hours and occasionally skim of any impurities the rise to surface.
6. Season with salt.

Gio ga (Vietnamese chicken and cabbage salad)

This is an amazingly delicious salad that can be whipped up in no time. Like most Vietnamese dishes, it relies on the freshness of produce, texture and balance. I only use free range chicken for this salad, not only because it taste better but it also has a slightly firmer texture that I like. This beautiful crunchy salad can be eaten on it's own or the way I like it, is with congee made from the poaching liquid. The contrast between hot and cold, soft and crunchy, sweet and sour is just amazing. This is everything I love about Vietnamese food, it's simple, dead easy and delicious.


1 kg chicken (free range), poached and shredded
1/4 cabbage, finely sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 cup herbs (Vietnamese mint, mint and coriander), roughly chopped

2 tbsp sugar
2.5 tbsp white vinegar
pinch of salt

1 cup Nuoc cham
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crispy eshallots
2 chilli chopped


1. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, salt and sugar. Stir until sugar and salt dissolves, add the red onion to the vinegar.
2. In a large bowl, add cabbage, herbs, chicken and vinegar mixture. Gently toss to well combined.
3. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle roasted peanuts, crispy eshallots, chilli and serve with Nuoc cham.

Goi cuon (Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls)

This is one of my favourite dishes and one of the most popular with the Vietnamese, Because it's so simple to prepare but so delicious. The combination of pork belly and prawns, coupled with fresh herbs and hoisine sauce is just amazing. It's also a fun dish to eat and it gets everyone involved in the process, this is very typical of many Vietnamese dishes. I Hope you give this a try, it's dead simple and amazingly delicious.



200g cooked prawns
200g cooked pork belly
1 bunch mix herbs
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 cup of bean sprouts
2 cups cooked vermicelli noodles

Dipping sauce

1 cup of hoisine sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp vinegar

Crushed roasted peanuts
Ground chilli


1. In bowl of warm water, dip each rice paper and take it out straight away so it's just enough to wet the surface, set aside on plate and repeat the process with a couple more. This allow the rice paper to become gelatinous and pliable (about 30 seconds). Do not soak your rice paper! I repeat, do not soak your rice paper ok.
2. On top 1/3 side closest to you, place little bit of the herbs and lettuce on the bottom. followed by pork, bean sprout and vermicelli noodles. Roll up spring roll about 1/3 way through, then fold in the sides. Finally, add the prawns in and roll up tight.
3. To eat, dip in hoisine sauce with crushed roasted peanuts and chilli.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Banh uot cha lua ( Vietnamese steam rice flour rolls with Vietnamese ham )

Banh uot is made from a mixture of rice flour, tapioca starch and water. You can easily make your own but I usually opt for the convenience of store brought ones. This is a delicious and very quick dish to prepare, no cooking at all. All you need is some fresh herb mix (mint, basil and perilla), cucumber, bean sprouts and Cha lau ( Vietnamese ham ). In addition I like to have mine with 'Nem chua' (Vietnamese cured pork). Plus a generous splash Nuoc Cham and finish of with some beautiful and crispy fried eshallot. Btw, you should always have this in your pantry. It's not an option, it's a must. That is it, dead simple and super delicious.



1 tray of banh uot
1 cup bean sprout
1 cup of mix herbs (mint, perilla and basil)
1/2 cucumber
1 roll of cha lau
1 nem chua

Nuoc cham
Crispy eshallots


1. Place a cup bean sprout on a serving plate, then cut about 1 cup of rice flour rolls into bite size and place on top. Microwave for 1 minute to soften bean sprout and warm up rice flour rolls, then set aside.
2. Roughly chop up the herbs and Julianne the cucumber and scatter around the rice flour rolls.
3. Cut the cha lau and nem chua and place on top.
4. Serve with crispy eshallots and nuoc cham.


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