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Got recipe vietnamese roast crab/garlic noodles? [moved from San Francisco]

La Bouche Jan 2, 2002 12:21 PM

I love the garlicky roast crab and garlic noodles found at a couple of Euro/Vietnamese restaurants in SF. I have tried, to no avail, to recreate the "secret" sauce. I've tried combining garlic, butter, anchovies, sesame oil, nuoc nam, and parmesan cheese (for the noodles only), at home, but the flavor still eludes me. Has anyone had better luck at this? Would love to hear about other possible combos.

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    chowguy RE: La Bouche Jan 2, 2002 02:52 PM

    There is no Euro/Vietnamese food. Either Euro foods or Vietnamese foods. The same thing goes for Euro/American. Either American or Euro foods.

    Vietnamese like to use the words 'French-Vietnamese' on their restaurant names just for marketing purposes only. People tend to use fancy names to attract customers. You can tell from vietnamese foods that there's nothing french about it. Have you ever noticed french words on American perfume bottles? Why french words, you asked? They sound fancy and attract customers, not because the water used in the bottle of 'Calvin Klein' is imported from French.

    'Beef noodle soup' or 'Pho' is vietnamese food. It's a national dish. Can you order 'Pho' in a real French restaurant. Yet vietnamese restaurants still like to call themselves 'french-vietnamese' restaurant.

    In Vietnam, you never heard of a 'french-vietnamese' restaurant. In the US, i think practically a lot of vietnamese restaurants call themselves 'french-vietnamese.' Why? To attract non-vietnamese customers.

    So next time, don't mention the word 'french-vietnamese' or vietnamese will surely laugh at you.

    40 Replies
    1. re: chowguy
      Melanie Wong RE: chowguy Jan 2, 2002 03:01 PM

      And, what's your explanation of French roast coffee that's ubiquitous in Vietnamese cafes?

      Years of French colonialization had no effect on Vietnamese cuisine?

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        Limster RE: Melanie Wong Jan 2, 2002 03:18 PM

        This thread reminds me of a dish that I had at a Vietnamese place in Singapore years ago. It was a rich tomato-based beef stew - definitely a lot of French in it. Anyone seen a good version of that in SF?

        1. re: Limster
          PRSMDave RE: Limster Jan 2, 2002 04:33 PM

          Maybe you're thinking of bún bò Huê, Hue-style beef soup. It is very tomatoey yet also spicy, which is very typical. (Chili sauce prevails where ketchup fears to tread.)

          The next part isn't a direct reply to you, but rather to the thread (my apologies in advance):

          As far as the French Vietnamese thing goes, banh mi are called French sandwiches by every Vietnamese eatery I've ever seen that bothered to translate the name. (Bánh mì are mini-baguettes with roast pork or other meat, pickled vegetables - dd`ô chua, and a spread on them that is definitely garlicky but I'm not sure what else.)

          French-Vietnamese in the US usually means that it serves things besides the usual phô, bún, cha giò (imperial rolls) and com tam (broken rice... absolutely delicious). A Vietnamese friend of mine corrected me one day because I assumed that all Vietnamese food was pho or bún or com tam, and that the other Vietnamese food I saw (roast garlic crab, crab and asparagus soup, garlic noodles) was Frenchified and thus a product of California's mania for fusion cuisine.

          Viet Nam, like most places in the world, has seen many influences (including some odd ones - the national beer, bia ho*i, was introduced to the Vietnamese by the Czechs).

          It works both ways, by that way - dá chanh (Vietnamese fresh limeade) is very popular in the South of France.

          1. re: PRSMDave
            Fine RE: PRSMDave Jan 3, 2002 06:13 AM

            I know that in certain (non-Chinese) Asian cuisines, there is a name for the version of the local cuisine prepared by ethnic Chinese, who, of course, had a presence in most countries in the Orient. If memory serves me well, the Chinese interpretation of Malaysian cuisine is called "Nonya," for one example.

            Do any of you know if that's true for Vietnamese?

            As for this thread, the poster's motives seem a bit non-culinary, but it's an interesting subject to ponder, vitriol aside.

            I no longer recall and am too lazy to look it up, but it seems very likely that, just as the ingredients and techniques of neighboring (if not always neighborly) nations influenced modern Vietnamese cooking, so must the longtime presence of the French. Surely there must have been restaurants during the French colonization that were "pure" Vietnamese, "pure" French, and hybrids of each, just as there are dishes almost universally considered Indian that were actually English Colonial concoctions.

            1. re: Fine
              Deven Black RE: Fine Jan 3, 2002 09:10 AM

              I know little about either French or Vietnamese food, but I do know something about how culture, and food is certainly a part of culture, evolves.

              Culture is dynamic and accumulative. Yes, one can say that a piece of music, a work of art, or a dish of food is "traditional" to one culture in a particular period of time, but it is important to recognize that whatever object of culture one is considering is a product of all the influences, both internal and external, operating on that culture at that time, and that that specific time no longer exists.

              As a culture moves through time it collects influences. Early in human history, when cultures were relatively isolated from each other, this happened at a very slow pace. As human exploration of foreign areas increased the exchange of cultural influences increased as well. Colonization, often seen as the imposition of one culture on another, actually caused massive intermixing of cultures. Emigration and immigration change the cultures involved.

              As modes of transportation sped up, so did the exchange of cultural ideas. Now that information can be exchanged almost instantaneously our ideas of distinct cultures will have to change.

              In short, what most of us think of the culture of France, Vietnam, El Salvador, or the South Side of Chicago are artifacts of a moment in time now existing only in our collective memories.

              Mayonnaise once was French. Now it is universal and perhaps better for it. The boh of Vietnam (and is it the same all over Vietnam?) and the boh of New York cooked by a Vietnamese immigrant are different. They have to be. One can say that the NY boh is Vietnamese in origin, but it neither of Vietnam nor of New York. It is of a magical place called Vietnam/New York that exists in the space between the person cooking the dish and the one eating it.

              There is no such thing as "authenticity" for something as dynamic as cuisine. There are only approximations and memories.

              1. re: Deven Black
                PRSMDave RE: Deven Black Jan 3, 2002 11:37 AM

                Well said!

                I still think French-Vietnamese restaurants advertise themselves as such in order to distinguish themselves from, say, pho shops. They could call themselves Imperial Vietnamese and it would mean the same thing, yummy dishes from Da Nang and Hue. The food's the thing, you see, and it doesn't matter to me if it's called French Vietnamese or Antarctic Canadian food.

                1. re: PRSMDave
                  chowguy RE: PRSMDave Jan 3, 2002 01:23 PM

                  The food doesn't matter but how you call it does matter.

                  If McDonald's serve 'thai salads' with soysauce, would you call it Thai-Chinese-American McDonald's. Of course not. See, it does matter.

                  How do you explain french words on most American perfume bottles. For marketing purposes of course. The same thing goes for Vnese restaurants. It does not separate them from 'Pho' shops. Again this is a big misconception from the non-vnese. Just because you want to separate yourself from 'Pho' shops, doesn't mean you should call it 'french-vnese.' Would you call a hamburger joint, for example, french-american hamburger restaurant, to distinguish yourself from Burger King? I don't think so.

                  You never call Malay-singaporean-thai-american-italian-chinese restaurant. Why call french-vnese restaurant? Because the majority of non-vnese don't know this and vnese restaurants know how to capitalize on this misconception by advertising themselves as 'french-vnese' to attract non-vnese customers. Vnese customers already know that it's b.s. when you call yourself 'french-vnese' restaurant.

                  Culture has nothing to do with the foods. French also influence american culture. We use mayo, side-walk cafe, so and so, but do american restaurants ever call themselves french-american restaurant? I don't think so. Then why call french-vnese restaurant?

                  1. re: chowguy
                    Melanie Wong RE: chowguy Jan 3, 2002 01:46 PM

                    Chowguy, you're repeating yourself, talking in circles and not adding any more weight to your argument. Time to cool off and return to talking about chow instead of semantics.

                    You might find this recent article (linked below) which quote Big Dog Jim Leff on the phenonomenon of mixed cultural restaurants, e.g., Indian-Chinese. This is America, anything is possible.

                    Link: http://www.nationalpost.com/artslife/...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      La Bouche RE: Melanie Wong Jan 4, 2002 11:01 AM

                      This has certainly been a spirited discussion which I have enjoyed following, even though some of it regressed a bit.

                      For those of you who have offered suggestions, I thank you very much. I have taken note of those suggestions and will work on the "secret sauce" again. Check back in two weeks, and I will let everyone know what I came up with.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        edwardpark RE: Melanie Wong Jan 4, 2002 11:31 AM

                        This has been an interesting debate, or *would be* if we'd actually gotten anywhere. I've gotten in the "fusion food" debate many times with all sorts of people. Sometimes it's interesting to search for the root of a dish, a cuisine or sub-cuisine.

                        I understand chowguy's frustration -- there are restaurants out there that are jumping on a marketing bandwagon. Aux Delices on Polk claims to be a French-Vietnamese restaurant, but the menu doesn't look all that different from a many Vietnamese restaurants that don't claim French influence. And I've seen several Thai restaurants lately that proclaim "Thai and Fusion" but again there's not much obvious "fusion" on the menu ... At least that I'm aware of! How would I know? If I only had the time to research all this!

                        To break it down, every food is a fusion. Tofu, it is commonly believed, came from China. So when I have tofu in a Thai or Vietnamese or Japanese or California Hippy restaurant, am I to call it "Chinese-fusion," blah blah? This is silly. So are claims I've heard that "oh San Francisco invented fusion cuisine" or "Fog City Diner invented fusion cuisine" -- (HA!! Oh, Michael Bauer, we do love you). Consider: Singapore. Or countless other international cities. They've been doing bona-fide East/West fusion before San Francisco was born.

                        Either a product of friendly cultural interaction or colonial oppresion or just a happy accident, fusion food is as old as food itself.

                        I think this is an interesting debate, entirely appropriate for San Francisco, but this is certainly no place to get huffy and attack fellow hounds' intellect.

                        As for the crab noodles, I made some last night. We tried some different cheeses and settled on a hard Spanish goat cheese over the usual parmesan. We had a California wine, and some Chilean asparagus. We talked about how good it was but it could have used some Thai fish sauce. And then we sprinkled some Basque pepper on it and the dish just shined! (Igo, available at Yum Food Shop on Market, brought to us by the man from Pastis and Fringale).

                        Here's some fun 'fusion' places in SF:

                        Link: http://www.bayinsider.com/restaurants...

                  2. re: Deven Black
                    Rochelle RE: Deven Black Jan 3, 2002 12:44 PM

                    well said, thank you

                    1. re: Deven Black
                      Jackie Avery RE: Deven Black Jan 3, 2002 12:59 PM

                      Thank you, that was so elegantly written. Your voice of reason stopped my head spinning from that tangled thread!

                    2. re: Fine
                      Limster RE: Fine Jan 3, 2002 01:53 PM

                      About the Nonya - it's a cuisine that was born when the Chinese and Malays intermarried in S E Asia and starting using dishes and sauces from each other.

                  3. re: Limster
                    asdff RE: Limster Jan 2, 2002 11:08 PM

                    so is indian, singaporean, laotian, thai? They all have beef-stews. Would you call an indian restaurant french-indian just because they serve beef stew?

                    would you call a real french restaurant indian-french if they serve the ingredients that the indians use?

                    1. re: Limster
                      blackrosedragon RE: Limster Mar 4, 2009 04:55 PM

                      NO she is not talking about Bun Bo Hue she is talking about. Bo Kho...The best bo kho (Beef Stew) in San Francisco is at a coffee shop in the tenderloin. It's call Hoang Dat on Geary street. Between Larking and Polk. They serve it with a piece of bread.

                    2. re: Melanie Wong
                      Leslie Brenner RE: Melanie Wong Jan 2, 2002 04:08 PM

                      Or that they serve baguettes in Vietnam.

                      1. re: Leslie Brenner
                        stett holbrook RE: Leslie Brenner Jan 2, 2002 04:34 PM

                        Or Vietnamese sandwiches for that matter.

                        1. re: stett holbrook
                          HLing RE: stett holbrook Jan 2, 2002 10:26 PM

                          Yes, not to forget about that Pate in Vietnamese sandwich?

                          1. re: HLing
                            Melanie Wong RE: HLing Jan 2, 2002 10:46 PM

                            and, let's not hold the mayo! (g)

                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                              kjdfk RE: Melanie Wong Jan 2, 2002 11:00 PM

                              just because pate is used in their sandwich, that doesn't make it french.

                              so what do you call if they also use mayo, soysauce, pate in their sandwich? would that make american-french-chinese sandwich? I don't think so.

                              I'm sure many non-french restaurants use pate. So does that make them french restaurant?

                              1. re: kjdfk
                                Melanie Wong RE: kjdfk Jan 2, 2002 11:19 PM

                                If you don't know that mayonnaise is a French sauce, your opinions on this topic aren't going to hold much weight.

                                Paté in a sandwich may not make it French. At the same time, how could you say that it's NOT French if it's made from ingredients of French origin?

                                Since English does not appear to be your native language, perhaps you would make a better argument by telling us what you consider authentically Vietnamese rather than trying to prove what is NOT French. It's always harder and nearly impossible to prove what something is NOT.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                  chowguy RE: Melanie Wong Jan 3, 2002 12:16 AM

                                  So if mayo is used in sandwiches in american delis. would you call them french sandwiches?

                                  What ingredient in a vietnamese sandwich is of french origin?

                                  So if we use the ingredients of french origin, does that make it french? I don't think so. Vietnamese use soy sauce, imploy the technique that the chinese use in making the soy sauce, and use basically the same ingredients that the chinese use, so next time you eat at a vietnamese restaurant which use soy sauce, does that make it a chinese-vietnamese restaurant? I don't think so.

                                  American use the techniques that the french use in making perfumes. If Calvin Klein starts using french water (french ingredient, remember?) to make his perfumes, does that make his perfumes french-american, i don't think so.

                                  Sorry but poor uninformed opinions do not persuade me. just because we use french's techniques and ingredients, that doesn't make it french?

                                  Let's say If McDonald's starts using soy sauce in their BigMac, you wouldn't call it a chinese hamburger, would you? sorry but i don't find your reasons good enough.

                                  1. re: chowguy
                                    Fatemeh RE: chowguy Jan 3, 2002 03:50 PM

                                    Chow, it sounds like you have an issue not with the opinions of the "uninformed, uneducated" folks on this board, but with the sometime-French occupation of Viet Nam.

                                    THAT is why we are all saying that certain restaurants are "French-Vietnamese". No one argues that Pho 85 is Vietnamese, with little French influence. But you try to tell me that Le Colonial is not French influenced Vietnamese cuisine, and I will call YOU uninformed.

                                    Really, though, I can't expect you to know what the food at Le Colonial is like, because you have probably never eaten there, because they have a FRENCH name.

                                    1. re: Fatemeh
                                      chowguy RE: Fatemeh Jan 3, 2002 08:19 PM

                                      what did you eat at the Le Colonial that you consider french influence? I ate there once and at so many other vnese restaurants with french names, their foods are 100% vnese. Which dish did you eat that you would consider french influence?

                                      French/Italian/English also influence american. would you consider american restaurant as french-italian-english influenced american cuisine? I don't think so. Would you call your restaurant as french-italian-english restaurant? I don't think so. Then why would you consider Le Colonial as french-vnese restaurant? I want you to think who is the uneducated and uninformed here? These are the type of questions that separate the smart from the stupid customers.

                                      1. re: chowguy
                                        Fatemeh RE: chowguy Jan 3, 2002 08:57 PM

                                        I will not justify your rude remarks except to say this - you keep saying the same thing, which has been countered repeatedly.

                                        Your country endured a long French occupation. Stop lambasting the people of this board because you have a problem with history.

                                        Don't bother to post a response. I'm not reading this far down again.

                                        1. re: Fatemeh
                                          The Chowhound Team RE: Fatemeh Jan 3, 2002 09:07 PM

                                          This discussion has gone on far too long. It's going no where, and feelings are getting bruised. Chowhound is about food and having fun. This is NOT fun. Let's agree to disagree and get back to the chow.

                            2. re: HLing
                              kdjfk RE: HLing Jan 2, 2002 10:56 PM

                              So if i used a dash of soy sauce (not that i do) in a BigMac, would you call it chinese food?

                              VIetnamese use pate in their sandwich, would you call it french food?

                            3. re: stett holbrook
                              kjkd RE: stett holbrook Jan 2, 2002 10:53 PM

                              Vietnamese use the techniques that french use, along with so many american chefs who were trained in Cordon Blue.

                              You wouldn't call american chefs who were trained in Cordon Blue 'french chefs', would you?

                            4. re: Leslie Brenner
                              dkjfk RE: Leslie Brenner Jan 2, 2002 10:50 PM

                              so are baguettes in Safeway or Albertsons. Are they french?

                            5. re: Melanie Wong
                              Jackie Avery RE: Melanie Wong Jan 2, 2002 09:01 PM

                              Thats Right!
                              and most of the time it is the lovely golden french roast with chicory. Chicory in coffee was first enjoyed in Sicily. Sounds Euro to me!

                            6. re: chowguy
                              edwardpark RE: chowguy Jan 2, 2002 04:24 PM

                              suppose you're going to tell us that parmesan cheese comes from Asia too?


                              1. re: chowguy
                                Jim H. RE: chowguy Jan 2, 2002 06:16 PM

                                We can excuse your ignorance by assuming that you are too young to remember one of San Francisco's best French restaurants was Vietnamese...long before the so-called "war". I can't recall the name but it was in either North Beach or Polk Gulch, and the menu was decidedly French. I recall having Duck l'Orange. Maybe some old-timers can remember the name. Pho was relatively unheard of in those days.

                                1. re: Jim H.
                                  asdf RE: Jim H. Jan 2, 2002 11:04 PM

                                  That was real French restaurant. just happened to be owned by vietnamese and cooked by vietnamese. That was not a vietnamese restaurant, but real french.

                                  Many american chefs have french restaurants in SF. They were trained and cooked real french foods and they named their restaurants in french.

                                2. re: chowguy
                                  chowguy RE: chowguy Jan 2, 2002 11:17 PM

                                  vnese restaurants use pate, beef-stew, baguette but that doesn't make them french-vnese restaurant.

                                  If McDonald's introduces 'Thai Salads' along with other salads they already have, would you call them Thai-American McDonald's, I don't think so.

                                  Just because vnese restaurant use pate, beef-stew, baguette, that doesn't make them french-vietnamese restaurant. Unfortunately many do to attract the uneducated customers.

                                  1. re: chowguy
                                    zim RE: chowguy Jan 3, 2002 11:37 AM

                                    though this argument seems kind of silly, i think that denying the influence of the french on vietnamese food is somewhat inane (as subsequent posters keep piling on the evidence of french ingredients here and there)

                                    i do agree, however, with chowguys disinclination about the labeling - of "french-vietnamese food". It seems to me that all vietnamese places and food bear the mark of french colonial rule and so using the french in the labeling is somewhat redundant "vietnamese" alone would do just fine. after all, you do not label food as "portuguese goan" or as "malay-indian-chinese-singaporean"

                                    Also, in an earlier discussion of the pronunciation of pho someone mentioned that the name and pronunciation may have derived from pot-au-feu. Does anyone know if this is true?

                                    1. re: zim
                                      chowguy RE: zim Jan 3, 2002 01:04 PM

                                      Just because you use the same ingredients the french use, that doesn't mean you can call yourself french-so-and-so. This is why in Viet Nam, you never hear the word 'french-vnese.' because the vnese know it's b.s. Only in the US that vnese restaurant like to call themselves 'french-vnese' to attract the uneducated and uninformed customers. Vnese know too well that there is no such thing as 'french-vnese.' After all, french is a language of love. At lease that's what everyone thinks. That's why vnese restaurants usually use the word 'french' to attract non-vnese customers.

                                      .and Pho is a vietnamese word. That's not how it's written either. It's supposed to be written with accents.

                                      1. re: zim
                                        Limster RE: zim Jan 3, 2002 01:26 PM

                                        While I agree that your post makes sense, as a Singaporean, I do make distinctions between Malay, Indian and Chinese styled food in Singapore (and so do pretty much all Singaporeans for that matter). They've managed to steal a few accents from each other, but each cuisine still retains a certain unique identity. Put Malay and Chinese cooking together and you get Nonya food, cooking by straits chinese/malays - that's the only cuisine within the region with pork curry - no one else makes this dish.

                                        These "labels" are not arbitary, and come with cultural and historical roots. Also, on a more practical level, that's also how Singaporeans identify different cuisines. In Singapore, when my buddy tells me we're going to a Malay place, I know what we're getting - probably rice and a variety of curry dishes, chilli is going to fairly prominent. Ditto when they say Teochew Chinese - we start looking for dishes like stuffed sea cucumber, fried prawn balls and braised goose. At hawker centers, it's clear that yong tau foo (variety of stuffed tofu) is Hakka Chinese, while noodle dishes like mee siam and mee rebus are Malay. That distinction is clearly made in Singapore by Singaporeans. The criteria we use is historical and by sheer numbers - char kway teow is by and large made by Chinese, roti prata by indians. Chicken rice is made by the Hainanese Chinese and Malays. Main ingredients aren't that different. But I'll bet that most people could tell them apart in a blind tasting. Same goes for a Indian mee goreng vs. a Malay one.

                                        1. re: Limster
                                          zim RE: Limster Jan 3, 2002 02:10 PM


                                          as i wrote it, i knew the singaporean analogy was weak(I confess to looking for a triple hyphenated example to strenghten my point, and i instead diluted it). I guess the correct interpretation is it ask if the including the word in the label adds distinctive information about the food available (as it would in singaporean terms). Thanks for the corrective post

                                          i just finished reading "the glass palace" by amitav gosh (very good)in which he waxes absolutely lyrical about nonya food describing it as the last great food secret - unfortunately it remains so here in chicago. attached is a review from the nytimes of the book

                                          Link: http://search.nytimes.com/plweb-cgi/f...

                                          1. re: zim
                                            Limster RE: zim Jan 3, 2002 10:17 PM

                                            Actually, I agreed largely with the points that you made, but the point I was trying to add (and I unfortunately did not do that with clarity) was that sometimes, it's not what's in the food or how it's prepared that defines it as belonging under a certain label, but additional historical and sociological factors.

                                            (And the fact that I'm kinda homesick for that food...)

                                      2. re: chowguy
                                        blackrosedragon RE: chowguy Mar 4, 2009 04:52 PM

                                        You are so wrong about "French-Vietnamese"cuisines. No its not for marketing person. How the name came about. Was in the day of the war. Alot of french soldiers were in Vietnam. But of course the blend of vietnamese and french food was invented. There was no butter in vietnamese cooking back then. Why you think alot of vietnamese can speak French?? Alot of people were mix born half vietnamese and french. So alot of the food the vietnamese learn from the french and combine into their own. Just like the vietnamese coffee. Have you ever been to New Orleans and have their famous beignet. Would you be surprised it from vietnamese family???? They learn it from the French. So there is such a thing called French Vietnamese. lets say it was the influence during the war.

                                      3. l
                                        La Bouche RE: La Bouche Jan 2, 2002 05:04 PM

                                        I'm not interested in the marketing ploys of restaurants. If the food is delicious, they can call it anything they want. Obviously some people like to get on their high horse to show how clever they are. I was just trying to describe the types of places that serve Vietnamese Roast Crab and Garlic Noodles and I would like to try and replicate the sauce as closely as possible. That's it.

                                        1. r
                                          Rochelle McCune RE: La Bouche Jan 2, 2002 07:08 PM

                                          Its a funny thread we got going here. It never ceases to amaze me what will set people off.

                                          I have been watching this thread because I have the same problem as you. I have not been able to duplicate it at home either. And I've searched online for recipes but I get the feeling its so basic, nobody has published it which makes me feel like a loser for not getting it right. I may break down and beg for the recipe from a restaurant. If I find the answer, I'll definitely post it.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Rochelle McCune
                                            La Bouche RE: Rochelle McCune Jan 3, 2002 11:56 AM

                                            Dear Rochelle,

                                            It's nice to know that someone else has attempted to try to recreate the sauce. I love the challenge of tasting something and then trying to duplicate it and it sounds like you do too.

                                            I don't think we'll ever get the answer directly from the restaurant no matter how much you beg, as I understand the owners have a locked area of the kitchen where they create the sauce and none of the employees have any access to it.

                                            One thing about the sauce disturbs me a little, and that is when I've eaten the roast crab at the restaurant, it tends to coagulate a little once it starts to cool off. I hope that is just the butter and not some kind of animal fat such as LARD!! I know both are unhealthy in large quantities, but butter for some reason just seems nicer than lard!

                                            I've gotten a couple of suggestions, which I will try. I will keep you posted.

                                            1. re: La Bouche
                                              Rochelle McCune RE: La Bouche Jan 3, 2002 12:16 PM

                                              Yeah, I know that at Thanh Longh they won't tell me - believe me, I've tried.

                                              And we always try to stage our food there so at least we can finish the garlic noodles before they cool 'cause they do the same coagulation thing as the crab.

                                              Here's one of the things that I've been pondering - do they put garlic in the water with the boiling noodles? That might explain the why the noodles are so infused with garlic flavor & why the garlic is so light in color but not too bitter.

                                              So the recipe would be --- Boil the garlic & noodles. Drain, toss noodles in butter. Quickly, smash the garlic and make the magic ingrediant sauce. Pour over the noodles. Toss. Plate. Confound the patron.

                                              It would also explain why there is so much butter in the dish.

                                              1. re: Rochelle McCune
                                                dixieday RE: Rochelle McCune Jan 3, 2002 01:46 PM

                                                Do you think maybe they use garlic powder IN the noodles, or in the sauce? That might explain light color/intense garlic flavor.

                                                1. re: dixieday
                                                  Rochelle McCune RE: dixieday Jan 3, 2002 01:57 PM

                                                  Arrgh! Maybe. But I draw the line at making my own noodles so if they use it IN the noodles, well, it will be a lot harder to duplicate the dish.

                                          2. l
                                            Limster RE: La Bouche Jan 3, 2002 02:27 AM

                                            Dear La Bouche,

                                            Sorry for the "lively" digression that occurred -- I've not seen such a large departure from the main topic in ages. You're absolutely right in trying to set us back to the topic at hand, which is how to get that sauce made. In other words, if I understood you correctly, how do we cook dishes like Thahn Long or Jasmine House at home?

                                            I must first confess my inexperience at cooking vietnamese, but in a couple of ways it bears a resemblance to Chinese cooking, so I'll make a few educated guesses.

                                            I would suggest the following - use lots more garlic, some shallots, some finely chopped ginger. Other possible things to try - soy sauce, and a dash of white or black pepper. These are some of the standard seasonings I throw into a stir-fry, and I suspect that you'll be able to hit on the right combination.

                                            Another potential seasoning to try is sugar - just a tiny bit - not enough to make things sweet, but sufficient to make a difference to the palate.

                                            Good luck on your "experiments" -- I hope you'll return with interesting results.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Limster
                                              La Bouche RE: Limster Jan 3, 2002 12:03 PM

                                              Dear Limster,

                                              Thanks for the suggestions. I will try adding shallots and a dash of sugar. I already put tons of garlic, but somehow it never tastes or smells as fragrant. Maybe I overcook the garlic. I will try just heating it through to get rid of the "hot" taste of raw garlic.

                                              I am curious if you have tried these two dishes. You didn't mention it. If not, you really should. My husband who is very picky and hates to eat with his hands is addicted to them. So you see, solving the puzzle might improve my marriage!!

                                              1. re: La Bouche
                                                Limster RE: La Bouche Jan 3, 2002 12:59 PM

                                                I last had these dishes at Thahn Long about 5 years ago. Haven't been back - there's just too many places to try in SF. :)

                                                Yes - I think frying the garlic in oil to mellow out the flavor will be a good idea. Maybe frying even to the extent that they are almost crispy.

                                                I just made a fish dish recently, and topped it off with some garlic and shallots that I had fried until they were crispy - made a huge difference.

                                            2. s
                                              simon RE: La Bouche Jan 3, 2002 01:12 PM

                                              One of my friends got the recipe for garlic noodles from one of the family members of Crustacean a couple years back. Seems she went out on a date with him once, and he gave up the goods.
                                              What I recall her telling me was to saute some garlic in butter, add a splash of soy sauce, sugar, and msg (if you want). then toss with noodles and parmesan cheese. Let me know if this works.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: simon
                                                chowguy RE: simon Jan 3, 2002 01:27 PM

                                                you really think he gave up the recipe? I doubt it. Most of the stuffs he gave her, you can find the recipe in any vnese cookbook. What makes their noodles so good, is something i doubt he would tell her.

                                                1. re: chowguy
                                                  simon RE: chowguy Jan 3, 2002 01:43 PM

                                                  Well, we're all entitled to our opinions. I was merely trying to help the original poster with her request, rather than trying to stir things up more. So please, if you have any other suggestions, please do not hesitate to share them.

                                                  1. re: simon
                                                    chowguy RE: simon Jan 3, 2002 08:56 PM

                                                    sorry i didn't mean to put you down.

                                                  2. re: chowguy
                                                    phogirl RE: chowguy Jan 3, 2002 01:48 PM

                                                    jeez, chowguy, why are you so cranky? have some garlic noodles and chill out. Or at least take your snarky mood elsewhere.

                                                2. p
                                                  Pia RE: La Bouche Jan 3, 2002 11:34 PM

                                                  I've never tried to duplicate the noodles, but I've experimented with the crab. Mine has never been exactly like Thanh Long's, and I did want it to be a bit different. I think Thanh Long uses dried garlic granules, not fresh garlic, and I think they combine some hydrogenated vegetable fat with butter. And I agree with the others that there's probably sugar in the crab, definitely some in the noodles.

                                                  For the crab: use live crab. Kill it, clean out the gills and excess water. Chop up the body, crack the claws. Heat up the oven to 450F. (You could try pan frying, too). Grind a lot of garlic--at least 1 heaping tablespoon crushed garlic per crab-- with a lot of black peppercorns and salt. Mix with an equal amount or more of softened butter. Spread the butter over the crab pieces and bake until done.

                                                  Good luck, and do let us know what you find.

                                                  1. b
                                                    blackrosedragon RE: La Bouche Mar 4, 2009 04:41 PM

                                                    I have a pretty good idea of how it is made. But definitely I could tell you...there is no nuoc mam or anchovies or sesame oil in it. The big secret is they dont use fresh garlic. It's granulated garlic. Soy sauce is another ingredients but your gonna have to guess which one. Mix the soy sauce with water and sugar. Parmasaen cheese is right. But only add when ready to serve. There is msg also. Its the kind of noodle u use it must be the egg noodle fresh will be best. once boiled add salt and msg. It think I gave you enough info. Try it!! go to costco for the granulated garlic. believe it or not microwave is the bi secret. add all ingredients and put in the microwave and serve immediately.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: blackrosedragon
                                                      wolfe RE: blackrosedragon Mar 4, 2009 04:51 PM

                                                      Do you think in 7 years their search has been answered?
                                                      Here is an attempt at the recipe from 2008.

                                                      1. re: blackrosedragon
                                                        misspiggy RE: blackrosedragon Mar 5, 2009 12:54 AM

                                                        I complete agree with blackrosedragon that the secret is the granulated garlic. I have made this dish many a times with all the different ingredients mentioned on the post and the one that turns out the most similar to that of Thanh Long is the granulated garlic microwaved with the mix of butter and canola oil spread. I of course mix it with many other ingredients but the key is the granulated garlic and the mix of butter and another kind of oil that seems to be the things that make the difference. I have had many friends ask me for this same recipe because it taste so similar to the Thanh Long one.

                                                        As for the garlic noodles - I use to work at a restaurant that serves garlic noodles too and what they did was infuse their oil with lots of garlic. This mixture would sit for days and then when they made the noodles they would heat the butter and then put plenty of this garlic oil mixture into the butter and then mix everything together. It would also be topped with parmasean.

                                                      2. Eugene Park RE: La Bouche Mar 4, 2009 07:32 PM

                                                        Funny to see this thread resurrected after so long, as well as to read thru the 95+% of the replies that did little to address the OP's original question.......vbg.

                                                        I haven't eaten at Crustacean in years, but remembered that the noodles had a nutty overtone (to me). Wanting to try and replicate them, I figured out that the way to get the brown sauce with a nutty taste was to boil down Chinese shaoxing cooking wine. My sauce starts with some finely chopped garlic sauteed quickly in olive oil, then the shaoxing wine is added. When it comes close to boiling down to a sauce, add a good amount of butter. Noodles (I like to use Shanghai noodles) should be prepped by adding to boiling water, then immediately turning off the heat so they don't cook completely. After draining water, add the almost cooked noodles to the sauce mixture, toss a number of times to incorporate, then throw Parmesan cheese over it all and put the lid back on. Wait about 5 minutes for the cheese to melt and the noodles to complete cooking, and you're good to go.

                                                        Reading the link above, I'll tinker with the addition of oyster sauce and chicken stock or bouillon to see if this improves on things.

                                                        1. Melanie Wong RE: La Bouche Jul 23, 2012 08:46 PM

                                                          Today I spoke with a chef who claimed to have some knowledge of the secret to Crustacean/Thanh Long's garlic noodles. According to him, yes, granulated garlic is what gives the intensity of of taste. But this is not any ol' granulated garlic. He said that the garlic is roasted in oil, dehydrated and ground. This dried garlic plus some of the garlic-infused oil used in the roasting are added to the noodles.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                            AntarcticWidow RE: Melanie Wong Jul 30, 2012 11:45 AM

                                                            Interesting. I tried duplicating the garlic noodles years ago. I recall either mincing or putting the gloves through a garlic press, then slow cooking on low heat on the stove top in oil. Because fresh garlic burns and turns bitter easily I had to watch it closely. I ended up with a nutty garlic flavor that permeated the oil which transferred to the cooked noodles. I always felt that I had a close approximation of their dish.

                                                            I think my method would be ridiculous in a restaurant so the idea of using garlic cloves roasted, dehydrated and ground makes sense. If one does not want to spend the time cooking garlic on the stove top (as I did), they could roast whole heads of garlic in the oven until they are soft and buttery. And any garlic not used for garlic noodles can be spread on a sliced baguette with some oven roasted brie :)

                                                            1. re: AntarcticWidow
                                                              Melanie Wong RE: AntarcticWidow Aug 1, 2012 01:00 PM

                                                              Thanks for adding your experience. The roasting/dehydrating of garlic hadn't been mentioned and sounded credible to me as a way of getting that deep, nutty flavor.

                                                          2. Eugene Park RE: La Bouche Jul 24, 2012 07:02 AM

                                                            I add dried garlic powder in addition to the fresh garlic. I also add some sugar midway thru the cooking process.

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