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Hot Sour Salty Sweet: beef/ pork

February 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on beef and on pork here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. The cumin beef paties are one of those things I keep going back to over and over. I tend to vary the vinegar depending on the mood I'm in. In fact last night I tried it with llime juice and I think it may become a permanent replacement.

    Edit....opps wrong book I'll just leave quietly by the back door! sorry!

    1. OK rob133 after 3 posts of OOPS wrong book, I'd love to know what book you were cooking from. Those OOPS recipes sound good!

      1. Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's other book 'Mangoes and curry leaves'. I cook from that two/three times a week. I got the Hot Sour book a few weeks back and it has yet to truly inspire me to cook from it. I tend to want to read it all, learn a little more about the type of recipes and the ingredients before I dive in to far to the cooking. I'm sure in a few months I'll be using it a lot

        1 Reply
        1. re: rob133

          O/T but I love those beef patties too, they are delish.

        2. We love the pork and greens with gravy. I don't fry the rice noodles, just mix them in at the end to soak up the gravy.

          4 Replies
          1. re: waver

            This has become my standard recipe whenever I get asian greens from our CSA, but I do quite a few variations. I normally use tofu instead of pork (but I do use the fish sauce as I'm not trying for a vegetarian version). I usually serve it with rice instead of rice noodles, and with sriracha instead of the vinegar/chile sauce in the recipe. I also usually add minced ginger and crushed red pepper with the garlic--I'm sure it's not authentic, but I like the added spice. But that basic gravy is pretty excellent and I never get tired of it.

            1. re: waver

              This is one of the great tastes, IMO. Awesome dish. Thanks for the tip on the noodles.

              BTW, the noodles we get are stuck together pretty firmly, and it can be difficult to get them to seperate. Any tips on that?

              1. re: uptown jimmy

                Are they dried or fresh? Have you tried soaking them in water?

                I use dried and soak them in hot water while the rest cooks (I guess I skipped that step above, sorry).

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  I have that same problem with this and similar fried noodle recipes. One thing that helped was to cook in VERY small batches, basically a one-person serving at a time in the wok. I found mine much less clumpy after that. I almost always use dried noodles, because this is the dish I make when I am lazy and want to use up scraps from around the house.

              2. I love the Green Wrapped Flavor Bundles - p.269
                We've been using lettuce and haven't tried them with the pickled cabbage. One of these days. But they're great with the lettuce.

                1. Vietnamese Grilled Pork Balls (nem nuong – Vietnam), p. 252 – I bought ground pork, marinated for about 2 hours, did the freezing thing etc. – don’t know how different it would have turned out if I had used pork slices to start. I made and used Roasted Rice Powder (p. 308) and for the pork fat I trimmed off the fat from some slices of black forest bacon that I had. Did them in the broiler – I think they were done in about 17 minutes – I really had to monitor them because I have a “bottom broiler” and I think they were a bit nearer to the flame than I’d have liked. Served room temperature – thing they would have been even better hot though. Served with both sauces.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: MMRuth

                    But how did you like them? And was making the roasted rice powder a pain?

                    1. re: prunefeet

                      I've made the roasted rice powder before to use in the laab gai, it is really simple to do. And it pops up in a lot of recipes in this book, so just make a batch to keep around. It definitely adds something to ground meat dishes.

                        1. re: prunefeet

                          Easy, especially if you have a spice grinder (or coffee grinder). This time I'm going to try making it in the mortar. Keeps indefinitely in a glass jar.

                          BTW, very cute avatar.

                      1. re: prunefeet

                        Sorry - yes - I thought they were very tasty. I used my coffee grinder for the rice powder.

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        I ground my own pork for these and about halfway through I thought "why on earth didn't I just buy ground pork?" It made kind of a sticky, yucky mess out of my food processor. If I ever get the meat grinder attachment for my KA mixer I might do it this way again, otherwise I'm starting with the ground stuff next time.

                        They were really good though--this is a favorite order of mine in Vietnamese resataurants but I moved somewhere that doesn't have one so I was glad to find another option. I made them in the summer and grilled them over charcol and we ate them hot with rice, shredded cabbage and carrots, and the nuoc cham sauce. Yum.

                        1. re: mizinformation

                          I "ground" my own pork tenderloin for the Morning Market Noodles by cutting into chunks and then just chopping with a knife. Worked fine. The most important thing is to get rid of the tendons and stuff that make the ground mean stringy.

                          1. re: mizinformation

                            I have the grinder for my kitchen aid and it is great. It is probably the best used attachment I have and it allows you to get away with fabulous things like medium rare burgers...


                          2. re: MMRuth

                            I made the pork balls today. I found very thinly sliced pork loin and marinated those and took the pork fat from a couple of fatty pork ribs. I had no trouble grinding it in the Cuisinart, but would probably use the kind of fatty ground pork you can find in Chinatown if I were to make these again. I used the Aromatic Roasted Rice Powder and served them with the Vietnamese Herb and Salad Plate (using Boston lettuce, kirbys, and a combination of mint, Asian basil, and rau ram) and nuoc cham. I could have dispensed with the mint; I thought it overwhelmed the other herbs. I liked the flavor of these well enough, but thought they were overcooked because they weren’t at all juicy. And I cooked them less than the 20 minutes called for as well. If I were to make them again, probably without the salad as an hors d’oeurvre, I’d make them a bit larger in the hope that they would be juicier and would try the nuoc lao (peanut sauce) which I think I might prefer.

                          3. No grinder, may have to get one anyway.

                            Thanks, that's my cat Faust...he looks like he's ready for dinner.

                            1. Aromatic Lemongrass Patties (mak paen - Laos), p. 251

                              A simple recipe for a weekday meal - pork is minced with shallots, lemongrass, and salt and pepper, formed into patties and cooked in a cast-iron pan. They would be even better grilled. I saved more time by using ground pork and the food processor. I put minced lemongrass and sliced shallots into the processor for a couple of pulses, then added the ground pork and pulsed for about 30 seconds. This is the first time I've used fresh lemongrass that I'm growing, the flavor seemed much more delicate. (BTW - it's easy enough to grow - I just put store-bought lemongrass in a glass of water. Usually a few will start roots. Just plant them in a pot and water them well). The recipe suggests serving with rice and a salsa, so I made the Rich Laos Salsa (p. 39). I almost skipped this condiment, but I'm glad I didn't. The pork is flavorful, but simple, and I really loved the addition of the salsa. I found myself slathering on more and more of this toasted chili-garlic-shallot-gingery galangal salsa on the meat. I served these lemongrass patties with Thai jasmine rice and the Simple Cucumber Salad (p. 72).

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Rubee

                                (I was just going through the book and threads tonight to plan on something this weekend; realized all the pics have disappeared so re-posting)

                                1. re: Rubee

                                  I'm happy to know that this cookbook has recipes for many traditional Lao dishes that are eaten in Laos and also by the Laotians of NE Thailand. That "Rich Lao Salsa" is one of the many Jaew (sauces) in Lao cuisine, which are eaten as dipping sauces for Lao sticky rice. I don't have the cookbook, but if it has a Lao roasted mushroom salsa called "Jaew Het", you should definitely try making it. It's to die for when eaten with warm sticky rice.

                                2. I made the tofu with chili oil tonight and was underwhelmed. The dish calls for tofu chunks, ground pork, smashed and sliced scallions, hot chili oil with Sichuan peppercorns and that's it except for the thickening cornstarch and water. I found it to have hardly any taste except for the chili oil which was mostly just heat.

                                  I even added a large clove of minced garlic, some chopped baby bok choy and some chopped up char siu. It was okay with the additions but not something I'll make again. I especially didn't like the cornstarch addition at the end. There was hardly any liquid and it turned into an overthick glop. At least there was hardly any of it since the amount of cornstarch was small. It looks so gorgeous in the photo. Sigh.

                                  Tomorrow morning, I'm trying Morning Market Noodles.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    Thanks for your feedback on the tofu recipe. I was thinking of making it, but may try a similar recipe in Land of Plenty instead. Let us know about those MM noodles!

                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                      Is Land of Plenty the Sichuan or the Hunan book?

                                    2. re: oakjoan

                                      I've made this twice with two different results. The first time it came out great. I think it is because I used fresh tofu, but only half the tofu amount in the recipe. (My tofu froze and I had to toss it). But, I used the full amount of the condiments. This version was extremely flavorful, part of which came from the silky, soft texture of the tofu itself.

                                      The second time, it wasn't nearly as good. I used boxed tofu from the regular grocery store and the full amount of tofu and sauce. This version was more bland because the flavors didn't meld together as well. I used a combo of silken tofu and firm tofu.

                                      Both versions had sauce though. And, I drained the tofu in both versions for a fair amount of time. I think the softer and fresher the tofu is, the better the result.

                                      Lastly, I think the first time I made the dish, the other dishes went better with it. The second time, I had another tofu dish with it, which had more flavor to it, detracting from this tofu dish.


                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        Yeah, the tofu usually available at most mainstream grocery stores is vastly inferior. I get mine at my favorite little Asian market, and the quality of the tofu really makes the dish. Good tofu needs very little to make it soooo tasty.

                                        And you gotta use the right tofu for the job, In this case, silken is a must.

                                      2. re: oakjoan

                                        I love that recipe. One of my favorites from the book. I always add a little extra stock to most of the "main dish" recipes from that book, FWIW. But that's a great recipe, much loved at our house, FWIW.

                                        1. re: uptown jimmy

                                          I got good tofu as I have a source (Berkeley Bowl) that has a huge selection. My problem was prob. that I stored it too long in the fridge and it got blah. I'm going to try it one more time with really fresh tofu and see what happens.

                                          Thanks for reminding me of something I should have noted right away, i.e., tofu in fridge for a week and a half....NOT GREAT.

                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                            It's a subtle dish, more about the lovely intersection between the chewey pork and silky soft tofu that any sort of "jump out at you" explosion of flavor. But we do love it round here.

                                            1. re: uptown jimmy

                                              Forgot to add: I think this is one of those dishes that is not nearly as good if you omit the Szechuan peppercorns. You can get them at most Asian markets if you ask.

                                      3. It's year of the pig, so for my Chinese new year dinner, I had a ton of pork dishes:

                                        Minced pork and Aromatic Lemongrass Patties (pg. 250-51)

                                        Both of these dishes were excellent. The minced pork was fragrant with a galangal and lemongrass paste that was stir fried into the ground pork and chopped shallots mixture. There were also a bunch of fresh herbs (cilantro and mint) that complemented the brightness of the paste itself.

                                        Lemongrass patties
                                        These were deceptively easy and simple. Like Rubee above, I made the lao salsa which was an excellent complement to the patties themselves. These patties were a huge hit and not just because I had my guests eat them as I frantically stir fried the other dishes. It's amazing how only pork, lemongrass, shallots, salt and pepper create such a complex flavor in a simple looking sausage patty.

                                        Hui Beef Stew with Chick peas and Anise (pg. 231)
                                        One of my few non-pork dishes. I wasn't wild about this dish, too many beef chunks for me. The other problem was that I chose poorly - it didn't really go with the rest of the meal itself. This dish is pure comfort food and the rest of the dishes were fairly light and bright of fresh herbs, lemongrass and galangal. But, the chickpeas and the sauce had a beautiful subtle flavor from the star anise. For those of you who are considering making this homey stew, cut the beef chunks significantly smaller than the authors recommend (2 inch chunks). I think the dish would be more appealing that way.

                                        My guests took the pics for me. Also, I can't seem to upload all the pics, so shutterfy links to follow...

                                        6 Replies
                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                            I love the look of that minced pork dish! All those herbs...will have to try that one.

                                            1. re: prunefeet

                                              FYI, it also reheated well. The flavors intensified slightly, although the herbs became wilted.

                                              Will post more about the rest of the meal in the upcoming days.

                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                I made this one too and really liked it posted pics in a different thread http://www.chowhound.com/topics/366666) . I think next time I would make it spicier and maybe add some veggies - eggplant maybe.

                                            2. re: beetlebug

                                              Hui beef stew w/ chick peas and anise, pg 231
                                              Made this last night and we really loved it. It reminds me of the sort of rustic stew dish that's very common in the small towns of western and northern china, but hard to find in the cities let alone in the states. I love dishes like this and wish I knew how to make more of them.

                                              I pretty much followed the recipe, but as I was using 7 bone chuck, i did add the bone to the pot, which probably improved the stock, and I reduced the stock quite a bit, no more than a cup or two of juice in the pot by the time i served it.

                                              1. re: qianning

                                                Hui Beef Stew with Chickpeas and Anise, p. 231

                                                I made this on Sunday for us to eat during the week. On Sunday night when the stew was freshly made I loved it. I was worried the star anise would dominate but it didn't. I started from dried chickpeas and they held up well in the long cooking time -- their broth was delicious and the texture good as well. Unfortunately, when I reheated the stew for dinner on Monday, the flavors had become a bit stodgy to my palate, or maybe I was already tired of it after being exposed to the aroma for a long period of time. I froze half the stew, hoping that when I come back to it later, I will love it again.

                                          2. Fried Beef Jerky (neua kaem - Thailand, Laos), p. 218

                                            I made this in stages since there are basically three steps - marinating, drying, and frying. I started on Saturday. I used lean bottom round roast, but decided to use the food processor to save time, and ended up slicing the steak too thin. Then I re-read the recipe and realized it says to cut it into thin strips. Didn't have cilantro roots so used stems instead. This, along with coriander seeds, lemongrass, garlic, black peppercorns, fish sauce, and a little sugar made a very tasty marinade. I marinated overnight and Sunday I dried them in an oven on very low heat for about 3 hours (because mine were thin, it took less time than the recipe mentions), and stored in a Ziploc. Last night I simply fried them in hot oil briefly. The recipe says about 30 seconds, mine were more like 10. I liked this - great flavor and texture, and the thicker pieces were the best since they had a slight chew and carried more of the flavor from the marinade. I would make this again (cutting the meat thicker), especially because they can be frozen after drying and then only need a few seconds to crisp up in hot oil. I served this with sticky rice and Stir-Fried Cabbage with Dried Chiles and Ginger (p. 157).

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. Vietnamese Baked Cinnamon Pate (cha que - Vietnam), p. 259

                                              This is a firm pork pate that is usually served at room temperature. I made it to use for banh mi, and also as a topping for noodles or the fried jasmine rice balls - which turned out fortuitous since my rice balls were a disaster, and I was able to save the meal by mixing cubes of pate with the other garnishes to make a meal. It's pretty simple. First marinate pork (I used thick lean center-cut boneless chops) with a little potato starch and fish sauce. Freeze for 30 minutes and process to a fine paste in a food processor with a bit of pork fat. It was really 'sticky' so I had to scrape down the bowl quite a bit. Lastly, bake about 40 minutes. It resulted in a firm smooth-textured pork pate with just a subtle hint of cinnamon that freezes well and can be used in combination with lots of other recipes.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                re-posting original pictures:

                                              2. The Lao pork dish with bitter greens is perhaps my favorite one here. It's very flexible, accommodating whatever bitter greens might be around in the markets. The bitter flavors with the lime leaf and dill and the pork fat are so compelling. Non-Asian food junkies seems to be less put off by this one too, especially if I tell them that it's essentially another version of pork and collard greens.

                                                I always use much more dill than called for in the recipe. I like that flavor to stand out. A web hunt helped be substitute for the sakhan that is described in the text: a combination of black peppercorns, szechuan peppercorns and dried chilis. The version in the book is really missing any spice. The last time I made this, I also made patties of my sticky rice and grilled them.

                                                There are also some other interesting modifications and suggested accompaniments in the Eating Asia article below.