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September COTM “Vietnamese”: Meat & Charcuterie

September 2008 Cookbooks of the Month:

Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham and Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen.

Please post your full-length reviews of "main course" meat recipes, as well as charcuterie recipes, here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book or author and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. This thread includes:


Chapter 5: Inviting the Ancestors for Tet (Recipes for Beef, Pork, etc.)


Chapter 5: Classic Meats
Chapter 6: The Art of Charcuterie

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

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Caramelized Minced Pork (ItVK page 131)

    This was the first of Nguyen’s recipes I wasn’t crazy about. She says it’s eaten in small quantities with lots of rice and says that when she was a child her father made rice logs (which I did and report on separately in the Rice thread) and they would press the logs into the minced pork and eat it out of hand.

    Finger food! Yeah! And caramelized pork. I thought, how could you go wrong? But the pork was actually too rich (I never *ever* thought I’d be typing those words; I guess “small quantities” is the operative phrase here) and a bit too salty, the rice logs too cool (even though the apartment was really warm), and the pork didn’t really stick to the rice. I was excited by the idea of this but the result was disappointing.

    The photo is awfully fuzzy, but I think you can get the idea.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Caramelized Minced Pork - agree with your review. Had high hopes, but turned out to not be very special. Mine was actually undersalted. Even with added salt, just ended up tasting like some lightly flavored stir fried pork. Maybe it needed more caramel?

      1. re: JoanN

        Caramelized Minced Pork

        I actually really, really loved this dish! So simple, yet so deeply flavoured. I did up the caramel sauce a bit (an extra tsp) and maybe used a little less meat, but thought this was just grand. The pork became quite brown -in fact I thought I had burnt it- but it was just very, err, caramelized. The darkened, chewier bits were quite prized and we sought them out. Served with chicken and rice w/herbs, daikon/carrot pickle, and nuoc cham. A fantastic combination for a wonderful meal. I will make this again.

      2. Shaking Beef p. 154 Pham ItVK
        I'm not much of a beef eater or cook, but we were in the mood for a salad with strips of beef on it, and a friend had talked a lot about this dish being great at a restaurant...
        I made it *without* the pineapple. It's basically a quick stir fry, with beef marinated. I love thai basil, and a lime juice dressing..
        it's very nice over mixed green salad, and/or the watercress, and rice.

        8 Replies
        1. re: pitu

          I've made this a few times - it's delicious. I've used canned pineapple.

          1. re: pitu

            Oh good! I'm making this tomorrow night. I rarely eat beef (and even rarer for me to cook it) so this will be a treat for my husband. I'm planning on doing it without the pineapple.

            1. re: pitu

              My turn on Pham's Shaking Beef.

              I've enjoyed this in restaurants, and the recipe is as good as I've had. I was unable to get watercress so just served it over field greens. I used more beef than she calls for (probably just over a pound for 2 adults and a toddler) and that was just about right for us. Served with baguette and we were very, very happy with the meal. We skipped the pineapple.

              1. re: LulusMom

                That looks tasty! What cut of beef does Pham call for? I have Nguyen's book but don't think there's a shaking beef (bo luc lac) recipe. I'm hoping to try her stir-fried beef w/ cauliflower soon...

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  Thank you! Pham calls for either beef sirloin or flank steak, I went with flank.

                  Good luck with the beef w/ cauliflower, I hadn't even noticed that one in the Nguyen book (although I've had it less time so I haven't spent as much time pouring over it).

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    Hi CarbLover!

                    There is a bo luc lac recipe on Andrea Nguyen's website:

                    Wok-Seared "Shaking" Beef - Thit Bo Luc Lac

                2. re: pitu

                  I just (kind of) made this for dinner. I ordered some things over the phone, including the sirloin, from the market around the corner, so that I could pick them up while walking the dog, but when I got home, I had ground sirloin, not a piece of sirloin. I decided to make it any way and, while I'm sure it would be better w/ the pieces of sirloin, it was still pretty darn good. I used half a jalapeno instead of the other peppers, mint and a little cilantro instead of asian basil, and served it on watercress, with the tomatoes, and rice on the side. I hope I have enough rice left to make the fried rice tomorrow. I also omitted the pineapple - just not my thing in savory dishes.

                  1. re: pitu

                    I made this the other night and it was not a success. I omitted the pineapple but that wasn't the problem.

                    The recipe states to marinate the beef, then to heat the oil and add the garlic for 5 sec. No problem here.

                    Then, it says to add the beef and to stir fry until just charred on the edges, about 2-3 minutes. This was an issue. My beef (sirloin) threw off a lot of water. There was no charring to be seen or taste anywhere. My oil was hot and it was the requisite amount. My beef cubes were the correct size. Essentially, this was more like browning meat v. stir frying meat. I even kept it on a bit longer to have the juices run clearer, but then the meat was overcooked.

                    Also, the dressing, in her proportions just wasn't enough for the beef (and I used exact amounts for beef and dressing).

                    It was a disappointment and I'm not quite sure where I went wrong.

                  2. Lemongrass beef on cool noodles, bun bo xao, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table,
                    page 120

                    This recipe is quite straight forward. I tripled the recipe to have left overs though the week, though I don’t have much left.

                    I cut the beef in thin strips, one inch long and marinated it for approx. 30 minutes in lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce and oyster sauce. Then I fried one thinly sliced red onion and stir fried the beef for few minutes. After marinating I realized that I was supposed to stir fry the garlic and not marinate the beef in it, it a little too late.

                    Taste wise? I think it was too garlicky, I shouldn’t have tripled the garlic along with tripling everything else. I think that garlic needed the much needed frying. DH liked it a lot and took a couple of extra servings, even though he is usually not a garlic fan and I am the one who loves garlic. In the beginning of the meal I thought that other than being garlicky it lacked something else too – maybe just black pepper or some spice, but by the end of the meal I liked it better.

                    I served it with the cool noodles she suggests.

                    1. Beef Stew with Star Anise and Basil (PotVT, pg 155)

                      This was the first recipe I chose for this month, mostly because I am trying to clear out our freezer and thought I could sub 2 # of veal for the beef. This dish would have probably been much better with actual beef, but it was a fun experiment and now I have a bit more room in our small freezer.

                      The recipe seems simple enough. You start by making an annatto seed oil, which you use to brown the meat in the beginning, and again at the end to saute your additional shallots, garlic and chilis.
                      From what I could gather, this oil was purely for color, and I'm not sure I would bother making it again if I chose to make this stew again. It was mostly tasteless and really just made a mess on my stovetop, in my dutchoven and on my t-shirt. Anyone have experience with annatto? It seems like using tumeric to me, very subtle flavor, and mostly for color.
                      The stew part of the recipe is straightforward. You add your meat to the shallot/garlic mixture in your saucepan(I used a dutchoven), brown briefly and add your liquids. I doubled this recipe in order to use up my veal, so I used a mixture of 1:1 chicken stock and water, 6c total, then you add fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar and a bunch of bruised lemon grass. Bring to a boil, then simmer 40 min. Easy-peasy.
                      While everythings simmering, you toast the star anise, grind or mortar it(I used my spice grinder and sifted it to remove any larger residue, not something she mentions but I was glad we did this step when I saw what was left in the sifter), then you add it along with some curry to the above mentioned shallot/garlic saute in annatto oil with a healthy dose of chopped thai chilis.
                      15 minutes before the meat is tender (it was actually pretty tender within a half hour), you add sliced carrots which should be blanched for 3 min. We skipped the blanching step and also added about 8 small new potatoes, cut into lengthwise quarters.
                      I'm glad we added the potatoes as the liquid was quite brothy, and I think this gave us some satiety we wouldn't have had otherwise.
                      Once the carrots/potatoes are tender, you stir in the sauteed spice mixture, a bunch of Thai basil leaves and serve it in bowls with a plate of cilantro, more Thai basil and thinly sliced yellow onion for each person to garnish with as they see fit.
                      Honestly, the garnish plate was my favorite part of this dish, I love adding fresh herbs to Vietnamese food, ie, in Pho or lettuce wraps, so this really appealed to me.
                      Overall the dish was not my favorite though, it was way too salty for one, and I measured everything pretty carefully, unlike me, but I wanted to stay true to the recipe specifically for COTM. The meat wasn't so salty, but the broth was enough so for us to both leave it largely behind in our bowls.
                      Also, I would add more chilies at the end, or better yet, add them to the garnish plate so people could control their personal heat.
                      We served it without rice or noodles as she suggested, it would have been delicious with either I'm sure, but we're trying to shed a few pounds, so we decided to forgo the carbs. -And now I'm craving some steamed rice or those scallion noodles like crazy!
                      Instead, I stir fried some bok choy and oyster mushrooms in our wok, following the recipe for mustard greens on pg 198. So quick and easy, I should do this more often with all sorts of veg.
                      While we were eating, I was really trying to like everything, but after going for a walk and coming back into the apartment, the cooking smells hit us, and we both suddenly agreed it was not our favorite thing.
                      Now to find a great fish/shrimp/lettuce wrap recipe for tomorrow night. You've all made them sound SO good! Ooooh, or that poached chicken dish...hmmmm.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: rabaja

                        thx for the full report - i was eyeing that recipe....

                        1. re: rabaja

                          Thanks for your long report. Sorry the broth was too salty since that should be tasty for absorbing into rice or baguette. How much fish and soy sauce does the recipe call for?

                          Nguyen has a "beef stewed with tomato, star anise, and lemongrass" (p.151) in her book. No annatto or curry is used. I could see how the annatto would make a big mess and not be worth the hassle. I've not made Andrea's beef stew but have had the pleasure of eating it at her house (she lives in my town), and it is really delicious! Nguyen calls for chuck roast that simmers for about 2 hrs. total. Grass-fed beef worked very well, and warm toasted baguette was the perfect accompaniment.

                          1. re: Carb Lover

                            Re: the salt - I read something similar to what you wrote in Pham's book.

                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              The recipe called for 2T of fish sauce and 1T soy. Since we doubled everything, including the stock/liquid, I went ahead and doubled these ingredients as well. Maybe I shouldn't have, but in any case, if I made it again I would probably do one less T of each.
                              And yes, ditch the annatto. Also, the tomato addition is a nice idea, will have to try that soon.
                              That's so awesome that Andrea lives in your town! A friend of mine knows her as well and thinks very highly of her book. I will probably choose my next few recipes from ItVC.

                            2. re: rabaja

                              I made this for a dinner party last night, with a couple of small changes. I also doubled the recipe. I didn't make the annatto oil, but instead heated the vegetable oil, added the aromatics, and then the beef. I wasn't thinking carefully, as I didn't dry off the beef, and dumped all two pounds into the dutch oven. As a result, it did not brown nicely. I added in maybe two table spoons of caramel sauce and stirred for a minute or too before proceeding with the recipe, though I adjusted the sugar called for later on accordingly. I used dried Thai bird chilies. I added fewer carrots, as I'm not a fan of cooked carrots. I did look at the Nguyen recipe on line, and liked the idea of marinating the meat a bit, and also that it has tomatores. We all loved this dish - thought the house had a wonderful aroma too it. I served it with rice, stirfried bok choy with a little caramel sauce, the Pham eggplant salad, summer rolls (with some chicken in them) to start, and sorbet to finish. Oh - and mini banh mi before we sat down at the table.

                              I did think my meat was a little less tender than I'd have liked it to be, but I think that is a function of the market from which I bought it.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Meant to add - I doubled the recipe for 5 people, so used 2 lbs of meat, and there were no leftovers. The recipe says that it serves 6, with 1 lb of meat.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  I made this again for a dinner party on Monday, and it was just as good. I used meat from the proper butcher this time, and it was a lot more tender. I served pretty much the same menu, though we also had the Pham cucumber salad, as well as demitasse cups of the corn and shitake soup before sitting down. No photos, again. Next time I want to try the Nguyen one with the tomatoes.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    I made this last night and we loved it too. I used beef shin (not sure what chuck roast is to be honest) which takes longer to cook, so there wasn't much liquid left after an hour and a half of stewing. I'd add more next time. I also overdid it a bit on the chillies - I've just got a box of CSI-stylee latex gloves for cutting chillies etc and got a bit carried away - so it was quite hot!

                                    I didn't bother pre-cooking the carrots - I just slung them in with the stew for the last 40 minutes or so of cooking time.

                              2. re: rabaja

                                Beef Stew with Star Anise and Basil (PotVT, pg 155)

                                I made this dish this evening, and it was a big hit with hubbie! I also really enjoyed it.

                                Like Rabaja, I'm not sure the annatto seed oil adds a lot other than colour, it was pretty subtle when I tasted it on its own. But the colour is very nice.

                                Hubbie is a bit of a chile wimp, so I used less bird's eye chiles, and replaced a few of them with milder red jalapenos. It was still tasty. I also used regular basil instead of Asian Basil, as I forgot to buy Asian basil. Whoops! Because Pham recommends using mint as a substitution because regular basil is too strongly flavoured, I used half mint, half regular basil. It still was delicious.

                                Re: saltiness of the sauce, I think the saltiness gets tempered by the addition of rice or noodles. The saltiness is intentional, as the assumption is that you will be having some kind of starch with this dish. So if you are avoiding carbs, you would need to cut down on some of the saltier elements like the fish sauce and the soy sauce. But it is terrific with rice!

                                I made the twice cooked eggplant dish as a vegetable side, not the best choice as both dishes are brown, and it makes the plate look a little monochrome. Oh well, still learning.

                                I really loved this dish. I have to say, for someone who was hoping to cut down her meat consumption, I am failing miserably. Pham's meat recipes are really great, it makes it hard to cut down.

                                1. re: moh

                                  My Vietnamese friend is a vegetarian, and she said that one of the things about this food is that any of the sauces can be used on any protein. I had raved so much about the ginger chicken that she made it for herself with tofu and liked it very much.

                                  Your stew has a gorgeous color!

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Thanks LulusMom! I bet this sauce would be great with tofu. It would certainly cut down on cooking time a lot, making it an even easier weekday meal.

                                    1. re: moh

                                      One of the amazing things I'm finding with these books is how great the food takes for so little time.

                              3. Grilled Garlicky Five-Spice Pork Steaks (ItTVK p.143)
                                I made this the other night using 2 pounds of pork chops instead of pork steaks. I used the marinade ingredients that were recommended. Grilled the pork chops on my Food Network indoor grill. While the pork shops were moist but I was hoping the marinade would carmelize a bit more than it did. I was tempted to add some of the caramel sauce that I made from her recipe but for this first go round, I wanted to follow the recipe as written so I would know what the end result would be. The flavor was good and I served the chops with rice. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to get that caramelized texture on the outside of the chops?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: dimsumgirl

                                  Grilled Garlicky Five-Spice Pork Steaks (ItTVK p.143)

                                  We made this last night and served it with Nguyen's roasted eggplant with scallion oil (page 81), and, Nguyen's simple dipping sauce (pg. 309). dimsumgirl, perhaps I am misunderstanding, but I wasn't really expecting this dish to caramelize, and it didn't. I think the marinade is just supposed to soak in and flavor the meat, as well as perhaps tenderize it a bit. I think what you're going for in this dish is char, not caramelization... Is that what you were thinking?

                                  Anyway, we did this recipe exactly as written, except that I substituted Splenda for the sugar and we did ours over a gas grill instead of over charcoal (which she says gives the best results.) Also, she says to marinate 1/2 hour to 8 hours and we marinaded overnight. We lost our nerve and didn't actually char the pork, but I think it would have definitely added something. Nevertheless, We thought this dish was fantastic and will definitely do this again.

                                  Also, the simple sauce was indeed simple and definitely added something to the pork, so, I do recommend that. You might as well chop the chilies for the simple sauce while you're chopping them for the marinade for the pork.

                                  Lonely looking photo attached. My husband had conservatively served himself 2 eggplants (he's not a fan of eggplant in general) and a piece of pork when I prevailed upon him to snap this photo. (He'll do anything to keep the meal moving along!)


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    TDQ: Your pork looks more browned than mine did but I only marinated for an hour before cooking on an indoor grill. Thanks for the encouragement. The dish was definitely tasty and next time I will turn up the heat on the grill to see if I can get more char. Great idea to pair it with eggplant!

                                2. Beef stewed with Tomato, Star Anise, and Lemon Grass (Bo Kho), ITVK, page 151

                                  I'm posting this in meats because this is from the "classic meats" chapter, but, it's really more of a soup, so, I'll cross-reference this to the soups thread.

                                  This was a lovely dish and very similar in concept, I think, to Pham's, Beef Stew with Star Anise and Basil (PotVT, pg 155), about which Pham says (paraphrasing) is such a popular dish that everyone has her variation on this recipe. I chose Nguyen's over Phams because I had a ton of CSA tomatoes to use up and Nguyen's called for 2 cups.

                                  This was a very lovely dish with anise and carrot being the predominant flavors. I personally would have double the amount of lemongrass... We liked it a lot and will probably make it again.


                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I just reheated this for lunch and the one thing I noticed is that I really should have skimmed the fat off of this before reheating and, now I wished I'd cut but just a smidge on the oil. Still delicious, though!


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I think your post has put me over the edge on trying the eggplant. I love thte stuff, but sometimes find it kind of a pain to deal with. But so many good reports ... gotta try it.

                                      PS - tell your husband he can send his leftover eggplant my way anytime.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        It's really good and, if you cook the eggplant long enough the first time around, it's quite easy!


                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I made this a few weeks ago and loved it. The flavors of the lemon grass and other spices really came through. Moreover, I couldn't believe how much flavor there was from a water based stew.

                                      What also helped is that I had homegrown lemongrass, thai basil and tomatoes and CSA carrots. I did add extra carrots because I like them in stews.

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Made this the other night and had a somewhat different take on it than you did, TDQ. Although there was indeed a lot of liquid, my result was very definitely stew-like rather than soup-like. Also, I made it the day before I was going to serve it and refrigerated it overnight in order to skim the fat and was surprised at how very little fat there was. I used the amount of oil suggested, but trimmed the meat very well. I wonder if that might have made a difference.

                                        I agree with beetlebug that the flavors came through brilliantly, even though unlike her all my ingredients, including the meat and the lemongrass, came from Fairway. Had leftovers for lunch today, and now I’m sorry I didn’t double the recipe. What a treat it would be to have some tucked away in the freezer.

                                        1. re: JoanN

                                          Oh, I completely agree it was more of a stew than a soup; I just thought that a "stew" should belong in the "soup" section rather than the "meats" section of the book.

                                          I can no longer remember the cut of beef we used--I'm sure we trimmed, but, clearly we didn't! Good to know that proper trimming can solve the fat problem. On the other hand, I remember very clearly the lemongrass I used. I bought it at my local farmers market--let's just say, it wasn't the most beautiful lemongrass ever. Based on both yours and beetlebug's comments, I'm now thinking maybe it was old?

                                          Anyway, we love this stew. I can't believe I didn't post his comment here, but my husband says it's the best thing I've ever made him.


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I didn't know how strong my lemongrass was, so I'm sure I used more than called for. Maybe that's why mine had a stronger lemongrass flavor than yours did. Regardless, this thread just reminded me that I have a container in the freezer. Yeah!

                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Made this to eat during the football games yesterday - we liked it very much, but I'm not sure I'd repeat it. The flavors did not penetrate the meat as much as I would have liked, though that will have hopefully improved for today's leftovers. Mine tasted heavily of tomato and some star anise. Didn't really get much lemongrass flavor.

                                        3. Beef Stir-fried with Cauliflower, p. 137, Nguyen ItVK
                                          Thit Bo Xao Bong Cai

                                          I made this dish a few days ago to accompany the tomato egg drop soup (see soup thread for that report). I sometimes get cauliflower in my CSA box and run out of ideas for using it, so I was happy when I stumbled upon this easy recipe in Nguyen's book. The recipe comes together very quickly, so it's perfect for a quick weeknight meal after a long day at work.

                                          Basically, you marinate sliced flank steak in a little cornstarch, sugar, black pepper, fish and soy sauces as you are prepping the other ingredients. The beef is then stir-fried w/ sliced onions and garlic and put aside. Blanched cauliflower is then stir-fried till done and the beef is added back in along with more black pepper. Garnish w/ some cilantro. It's similar to the Chinese beef and broccoli except with cauliflower instead and not as saucy.

                                          Husband helped me throw together the beef marinade and kind of screwed up measuring the sugar since he used a TB measure for tsp. I told him to adjust all the other ingredients accordingly, so we essentially had 3x the amount. It didn't look like much and I had 1/4 lb. more beef than the recipe calls for, so I just used the whole thing and it was fine.

                                          Overall, the taste on this one was pretty good but didn't wow us like the tomato soup. Lots of black pepper is key. Flank steak was the perfect cut for this stir fry, as it was very tender and flavorful. I think I should have blanched the cauliflower a touch longer since it tasted better to me the next day when it had softened more. Next time, I'll try adding a splash of shao xing wine and/or a little ginger for another flavor facet.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                            Looks really good. Do you think more of the marinade (sauce) would have made you like it more?

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Maybe...but I don't like goopy sauces that weigh the food down either. I think the main issue is that the cauliflower was not soft enough the first night. When it's cooked longer and softer, it integrates better w/ the tender beef.

                                          2. Spicy Red Beef Curry-- from Pham's Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking book (page 150). I know this is not one of the books we are using this month but hope that it is okay to post about it since it is Mai Pham's recipe. I made this last night a few minutes after we got home for a week away. Used what I had in the freezer and this looked like a good option.

                                            I used about a pound of flank steak, thinly sliced and marinated it in a little soy sauce and rice wine (deviation from the recipe which does not call for marinade). Chopped a shallot. Heated the wok, added shallots, two twpl of red curry paste (I had Mae Ploy red curry paste in the fridge so that is what I used). Stirred the mixture for about a minute and added one small can of coconut milk, 1/2 tsp each of cumin, coriander and paprika. Cooked for about 2 minutes and added 1/2 cup chicken soup stock, 2 T. fish sauce and 2 T. sugar. Although the recipe called for kaffir lime leaves and bamboo shoots, I had neither on hand so omitted them. I made a pot of white rice to go with the curry.

                                            The dish was tasty and satisfying. I was looking forward to the leftovers but there were none. I would definitely make this dish again!

                                            1. Does anyone know if I can subsitute skirt steak for flank? Flank isn't commonly found here in the UK, and I have skirt in the freezer. Thanks.

                                              4 Replies
                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  I think you'd be fine substituting skirt steak for flank for quick cooking recipes. In my experience skirt is more tender than flank (though I love the beefy taste of flank)

                                                  1. re: NYchowcook

                                                    I agree - I was thinking about how the grains run opposite in them, so might be worth thinking about when cutting it up.

                                                2. Grilled Lemongrass Pork Riblets, Nguyen, p. 145


                                                  Unlike most of the recipes in these two books, you need to plan this one ahead as it needs 24-hour marination. Well worth the forethought.!

                                                  I had the guy at the meat department cut the spareribs in half lengthwise - way easier for him with his machine. With my trusty cleaver I then divided the lengths into "riblets" but I cut after every other bone. I thought that size would be easier to manage on the grill than singles.

                                                  We served it with the suggested Russian Beet, Potato and Carrot Salad. I forgot to cut up the cucumber, nor did I include the soy-chile dipping sauce. No problem. Totally fingerlickinggood without it.

                                                  My daughter suggested that this should be our go-to rib recipe.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: mirage

                                                    Thanks for your report on these riblets. Pork ribs are on sale at my local market so I picked some up and had them cut per your recommendations. They are marinating now and I don't know if I have the patience to wait the full 24 hours. That caramel sauce is amazing stuff. I am eager to see how this turns out.

                                                    Per Andrea Nguyen's recommendation, I picked up some corn at the farmers market this morning to grill alongside the ribs. By the way, I should post about an event that Nguyen is doing in October.

                                                    1. re: dimsumgirl

                                                      I think the corn will be great with the ribs.

                                                      I meant that the meat guy cut the entire length of the racks of ribs in half, not each rib halved lengthwise. Upon re-reading my post I see I was a bit confusing.

                                                      1. re: mirage

                                                        Yes, I had the meat guy cut the whole rack in half as well. And the yellow corn that was barbecued was great with it-- we rubbed the barbecued ears of corn with butter and sprinkled on some cotija cheese.
                                                        The ribs were great and there is enough leftover for me to take ribs and corn to share with the office for lunch today. I will definitely make these ribs again. Thanks for your post which inspired me to try this recipe!

                                                    2. re: mirage

                                                      I made these today for a Viet inspired BBQ (probably the last of the year - sob) and they were indeed great. I still have some left which I'm going to cook in the oven for dinner tomorrow.

                                                      1. re: mirage

                                                        Didn’t love these as much as everyone else. Good, but they didn’t knock my socks off as have so many other recipes from this book. I’m sure it was mainly because I cooked them in the oven, but also because I have a heart-stopping weakness for traditional Chinese ribs with hoisin sauce. These flavors just didn’t satisfy the craving. Probably my fault that I expected them to do so.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          I would like your recipe for Chinese style ribs. Wouid you share?

                                                          1. re: mirage

                                                            I wish I had one to share. I’ve tried at least half a dozen different recipes and none are as good as those I get from a hole-in-the-wall take-out place near my mom’s house.

                                                            The closest I’ve come is from a book called “The People’s Republic of China Cookbook,” and that’s for Barbecued Pork Cantonese Style, not ribs. I’ll type that out for you if you’d like, but you should know that it requires hanging the pork strips on hooks from the upper rack of the oven with a drip pan below. I made the hooks by cutting and bending wire coat hangers with a pair of pliers. I did it a few times in my younger, no-challenge-too-obscure days, but have settled for take out ever since. Ah, youth!

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              I've got a couple of recipes that require hanging the pork - have yet to try it, though. Thanks anyway! Maybe I'll get to it soon....

                                                      2. Pan Seared Tomatoes Stuffed with Pork, Nguyen, p. 133

                                                        I was a little worried that the pork filling would taste bland, but I shouldn't have worried. These were excellent - I made 7 of them as one tomato half broke, and there was only one left with only two of us eating. I do think you don't need as much oil as she calls for, and she is certainly right about using a spatter guard. We took her advice and made the 'dirty rice' - sauteeing cooked rice in the pan after removing the tomatoes. I also added a little shredded Thai basil, and the rice was great. I served it with some stir fried bok choy.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          I love stuffed tomatoes, and these are on my list too. Luckily, Mr GG can't get enough of this food!

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            Pan Seared Tomatoes Stuffed with Pork, Nguyen, p. 133

                                                            I made these a few nights ago, and we really liked them as well! Andrea uses the Italian meatball technique of adding water-soaked bread to help bind and create a soft, smooth consistency. In fact, while eating them, I was reminded of very tasty meatballs encased in a tomato cup.

                                                            I had some ground turkey on hand, so used 1/2 lb. ground turkey and 1/2 lb. ground pork which worked out just fine in terms of flavor. My ground pork was fairly fatty so I'm glad there was ground turkey to offset. I agree that you can get away w/ using less oil, just enough to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. I didn't have any problems w/ oil spattering since I cooked in my high-sided 8 qt. Le Creuset dutch oven which seemed to be the perfect vessel.

                                                            I used early girl tomatoes that were fairly small so ended up with 16 tomato cups instead of 8. I also made the suggested "dirty rice" sauteed in all the lovely dark pan drippings. It was good, but mine looks quite a bit darker than yours, MMRuth. Served all this w/ sauteed baby bok choy.

                                                            This dish is a childhood comfort food of mine so my mom has her version and I have some basis for comparison. The link below has my old report, general recipe, and photo for my mom's version. Hers has more stuff in the filling, uses egg instead of soaked bread, and uses the tomato innards for a sauce. I missed having the sauce. I also found Andrea's presentation of the tomato facing down a bit odd since my family serves w/ the tomato cup upright and meat visible. Makes for a better presentation IMO.

                                                            Report on my mom's recipe:

                                                            So next time I will make a hybrid of the best parts of both recipes. Bread, no eggs. Keep the filling simple like Andrea's but add a little chopped cilantro, scallion, and bean thread noodle. Fry meat side down first for about 5-10 min. After meat has browned, turn over and add innards to make a sauce. Partially cover to finish cooking. Remove tomatoes and season sauce. Simmer until desired consistency. Serve w/ white rice.

                                                            Photos of Andrea's recipe:

                                                          2. Carmelized Minced Pork IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 131

                                                            A tasty treat that was very easy to make and perfect for those evenings when you want something simple and Quick.

                                                            My adaptatons were:
                                                            Ground bison instead of pork
                                                            Brown sugar instead of the Carmel Sauce

                                                            The minced meat is cooked slowly with additions of chopped onion, fish sauce, carmel sauce and sugar. Chopped scallions are incorporated at the end and then the mixture sits for a few minutes to become slightly crispy. Delicious and different. I think this could be made into patties and fried....

                                                            Served with Steamed rice and Water Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic, pg. 179

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              I made this last week but I made some major mistakes in it. Instead of 2t of caramel sauce and 2 1/2 T of fish sauce, I misread it and through in 2 1/2 T of BOTH! So, to take away some of the sweetness, I added more fish sauce to try and balance it out. Ultimately, my pork never really carmelized so I didn't get the intended result.

                                                              But, even if I made it correctly, I'm not sure I would have liked it. Even with the extra flavor, I thought it was kind of bland. Bland may not be the right word because the pork tasted much better mixed with white rice. I can't quite explain it. Also, I'm not used to cooking this much ground pork at a time (Goins' pork burgers being the exception), so seeing this huge skillet of meat really threw me off. I'm still used to Dunlop's miniscule amounts of ground pork (usualy 1/4 lb). Psychologically, I was having issues.

                                                              I may revisit this again with the correct proportions of ingredients. But, I think I am going to make half the amount to get over the quantity of meat issue I had.

                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                Knowing we would be making the pork steaks the next night I couldn't, in all good conscience, cook pork two nights in a row, thus the bison. Even though bison is a much leaner meat there was a nice meaty flavor that seemed to be enhanced by the sauce. I never did make the carmel sauce... time ran out. Perhaps the brown sugar lent a different flavor component than the carmel sauce. I don't know. But I do know that we'll make this again when we're in a hurry.

                                                                Sorry your experience was different, BB. The whole month was fun, though, wasn't it??

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  Absolutely. And, I'm way behind on my posting, I hope to catch up this weekend. But, I'm always happy when other people post on the dish first so I can tag on.

                                                              2. Grilled Garlicky Five-Spice Pork Steaks, IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 143

                                                                The steaks are marinated in a flavorful sauce with includes Lottsa Garlic (Yay!), chopped shallot, 5-spice powder, canola, fish sauce, S & P & sugar anywhere from 2 to 24 hours --- ours marinated for about 2 1/2 hours. We grilled them on an indoor grill pan. DH has the sniffles and didn't feel like firing up the Weber....
                                                                They were quite good and very tender. I didn't slice them into small pieces as she suggested. Served with the Simple Dipping Sauce on page 309...her preferred sauce. I also stir-fried Asian eggplants and Serrano peppers straight from the farm. DH had a baked sweet potato to round out his meal.

                                                                I also roasted some apples with minced garlic, S & P, cayenne and white wine. It's a Mark Bittman recipe and frankly I was a bit sceptical but the finished dish was delicious! Curiously, he has the apples paired with grilled pork steaks so it was inevitable that I would make them. Another winner meal. Another great combo.

                                                                This is the last meal of the COTM for September, but I know that I'll be revisiting both books for many months to come.

                                                                1. Beef Stir-fried w/ Chinese Celery, Nguyen, p. 139
                                                                  Thit Bo Xao Can Tau

                                                                  I had Chinese celery from my CSA box so honed on this recipe. It basically is the same method of preparation as the beef w/ cauliflower that I previously made. Seems like other veggies like broccoli, carrots, or kohlrabi could be substituted. Once again, it was very easy to put together. Nguyen usually calls for 3/4 lb. flank steak for her beef stir-fries, but I always round up to 1 lb. and then double her marinade recipe.

                                                                  Overall, we enjoyed this dish but I wasn't wowed by it. I did like it better than the one w/ cauliflower though. The celery seemed to complement the beef flavor better IMO. I think our celery was a little old and tough since it took longer than 3 min. for it to become sufficiently tender. Like the cauliflower dish, I suspect I may like this better the next day.

                                                                  Husband commented again how he prefers a more saucy rendition w/ stronger Chinese flavors of soy and oyster sauces. I personally like that it's not super saucy/goopy, but I'm going to play w/ the marinade and tweak it to better suit our tastes. I'll probably amp up the flavors by adding equal parts soy and fish sauce and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little heat. I look forward to experimenting...

                                                                  1. Chicken Liver Pate, Nguyen, p. 168.

                                                                    I made this ahead of time (it needs to rest a day or two) for a dinner party, to serve in mini banh mi. Quite easy to make - has onion, garlic, pork fatback, chicken livers, ground pork, ground chuck, eggs, cognac, black pepper, salt, five-spice powder. Makes a lot of it,but it keeps for 10 days - I probably used about 1/3 for the banh mi, gave a way a third, and had some on banh mi last night, and some leftover still.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                      Just re-reading these thread because I feel like cooking a lot of Vietnamese this week. Wow, how did I miss this one? Those mini-banh mi look so delicious.

                                                                    2. Beef Flank and Ginger Simmered in Caramel Sauce (ItVK page 149)

                                                                      I remembered reading about this recipe when I came across some beef flank in an Asian market. I’d never seen it before. I had no idea what it was. So I bought some.

                                                                      I wish I’d taken a picture of it raw, because Nguyen has a detailed description of what it’s supposed to look like and even with it sitting on the counter in front of me I wasn’t sure whether or not I had what she was describing. She talks about meat separated by a tough membrane. This meat looked as though it was covered with skin rather than a membrane. So I cut it off. You’re supposed to take this very long, thin, piece of meat and figure out how to cut it into four half-pound pieces about 5 inches long and ½ to ¾ of an inch thick. I managed to accomplish that more or less. You roll the meat with the membrane (that piece that I removed?) on the outside and tie each piece up as you would a rolled roast. It’s cooked with ginger coins, fish sauce, caramel sauce, and water. Once done, the sauce is reduced and the meat is served warm with the sauce poured over it and the ginger coins on the side.

                                                                      Interesting experiment. The meat was tender and quite flavorful. But it was a bit of a pain in the neck and surprisingly unattractive on the plate. Nguyen calls the dish “elegant” when “sliced into beautiful spirals.” I’m evidently missing something.

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        Hmm, I've only seen flank steak. How is it different? Sounds like a combo of flank and skirt steak.

                                                                        So did you end up thinking it was worth it or not?

                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                          No, not flank steak. Not skirt steak. As Nguyen describes it, "The cut, known as rough flank . . . is long and narrow, with loosely textured meat separated by layers of tough membranes." The piece I bought was maybe 18-24 inches long, perhaps 8 inches wide, and covered with what seemed to me to be more "skin" than "tough membrane." I doubt this cut is available anywhere other than at an Asian butcher.

                                                                          Not sure how to respond to "was it worth it." I'm glad I made it. I was pleased to learn about a cut of meat I'd never heard of before and that is evidently quite common in Asian cuisine. It wasn't the least difficult to make; just a bit fussy with the tying up of the small rolls. And it was flavorful. But I'm beginning to think that rubber boots would be flavorful if simmered in caramel sauce and ginger. Would I make it again? No.

                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                          The picture sure does look elegant!
                                                                          Last weekend I was cleaning my freezer and discovered Beef flank and it got me thinking where did I buy this. It's nice to know that there is a recipe out somewhere for this specific piece of meat.
                                                                          Do you mind sharing the recipe. Maybe if I don't cut it for presentation, do you think then it is worth it?

                                                                          1. re: cpw

                                                                            Here’s a paraphrase of the recipe:

                                                                            Cut 2 pounds of beef flank into four half-pound sections, each approximately 5 inches long and 1/2 to 1/4 of an inch thick. Pat the meat dry and roll it up with the grain with the tough membrane on the outside of the roll. Tie the rolls with string. Slice a 3-inch piece of peeled ginger into 1/8-inch thick coins. Place half the coins in the bottom of a saucepan, place the meat rolls on top of them in a single layer, scatter the remaining ginger coins on top, and add 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of caramel sauce and bring to a boil. Skim any scum that rises. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for an hour. Remove rolls to a plate until firm enough to slice, but still warm. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce to about 3/4 of a cup. Snip string on rolls, cut into slices 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick, arrange on warmed plates, and spoon sauce over serving ginger coins on the side.

                                                                            I’m not sure what you mean by “if you don’t cut it for presentation.” Do you mean cook the meat without rolling it first? I have no idea whether or not that would work since this is the only experience I’ve ever had with this cut of meat. Nguyen does say, though, in the intro to the recipe, that beef flank is “a favorite for stewing and other types of long cooking.” She also says that it often appears in bowls of pho. So if you’re just looking for recipes containing beef flank, you may well be able to find Asian stew or pho recipes on the Web that call for this cut.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              Thanks for the recipe.
                                                                              Oops, in my mind I imagined that the meat has been cut for presentation.
                                                                              Do you think there is any significance to roll up the meat. To make my life simpler, maybe I'll just cut the meat into bite size piece and follow the rest of the recipe.
                                                                              I'll for more recipes too, but I think I like the combination of ginger and caramel sauce and ofcourse fish sauce.

                                                                              1. re: cpw

                                                                                I can't think why just cutting up the meat wouldn't work. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps the rolls, just because they're more dense, might take somewhat longer to cook. But if you keep testing the flank for doneness, you can just take it off the stove when it's the way you want it.

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Thanks! I'll probably make it in the next weekend.

                                                                        3. Panfried Rice Noodles with Beef and Vegetables, Nguyen, p. 230

                                                                          This dish was a mixed bag - the panfried noodles were a flop, so I didn't use them, but the beef and vegetables were delicious. You boil the banh pho, drain, flush with cold water, drain again, toss with salt and oil, and allow to dry and cool. Once cooled, you can put them in a ziplock bag, which I did, and just left them on the counter for later. The strips of flank steak get marinated in cornstarch, sugar, fish sauce and light soy sauce, and I did that ahead of time too. I also mixed up the flavoring sauce (sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, light soy sauce and water), and blanched/cut up the tomato, broccoli, carrot, bell pepper and onion (latter not blanched).

                                                                          I was making this for a small dinner, and while I usually don't make things I've not made before or that need last minute prep, with these guests I felt fine doing this. So, I heated up my very large non stick skillet with oil, added the noodles, threw in water, covered for the minute or two, removed cover, cooked for three minutes, and there was no way that I could see that this these noodles were going to form a pancake that I could the flip. It could be that the noodles were just too wet still somehow. So, I dumped them out on a plate, and went ahead with the stir fry. The meat was a big success, and fortunately I'd made a double batch. Even though the five of us had two steamed pork buns each, and I also cooked the chicken and ginger in caramel sauce, and served green beans, there was no beef left. Picture not great, sorry.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                            Sorry for your noodles! But it souds like a yummy party and the beef dish sounds mouthwatering.
                                                                            BTW I had pork buns on your suggestion from ssam the first time this past weekend. Totally loved them. I never imagined I can enjoy pork fat, but now I am dreaming about it.

                                                                            1. re: cpw

                                                                              Did you see my report about making the pork buns? It was much easier than I thought it would be.

                                                                          2. Char Siu Pork, Pg142, ITVK, Andrea Nguyen

                                                                            No one made this amazing char siu? I'm shocked! I'll never forget the flavor of the meat this recipe creates. Although I've not eaten char siu at a restaurant I have tasted the unmistakable flavor of 5-spice powder. And, I love it. Not too much, mind, but just enough to put a little exotic funk into whatever it touches. The recipe itself is relatively simple and easy given there's a long marination and several roasting interruptions to baste the meat. Everything rolls along easily and if everything is prepped the night before, which is what we did, quite doable for an weeknight meal... I think.

                                                                            To start, a hunk of boneless pork shoulder is quartered lengthwise then sliced into 6 inch strips. These are set into a large bowl with the marinade: Garlic, sugar, Chinese 5-spice, hoisin, honey, Shaoxing wine, light and dark soy sauces, toasted sesame oil. Marinate the meat 6 - 8 hours. (The night before we were going to cook I prepped the meat, put it into a bowl, covered, and set into the fridge. Did the same with the marinade. In the morning everything was put together, coated the meat well, covered and back into the fridge it went for the day)

                                                                            Forty-five minutes before you're going to cook take the bowl of meat out of the fridge and let come to room temp. Using tongs place the slices on a flat rack that's in a foil-lined roasting pan, and reserve the marinade. The meat will roast for about 30 minutes or till the interior temp is 145F. Every 10-ish minutes or so roll the slices around in the reserved marinade and continue cooking. That last part is the only fiddly thing that has to be done. The result is a tender, slightly pink piece of well seasoned meat w a heady sweet - spicy flavor all it's own. The end pieces had a bit of a char too.

                                                                            Rest the meat for 10 minutes then either serve hot, room temperature, or cool completely. We served it very warm with Fuchsia Dunlop's Shanghai Eggplant and a bean sprout stir-fry with grilled crusty bread. Yum Yum and Yum.

                                                                            With the remaining slices of this delectable meat I'll make Nguyen's Banh Mi on page 34 in a couple of days, with all the usual condiments... Can't wait

                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Anther fantastic-sounding dish. I'm putting this on the list, and Now!

                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                Sounds delicious! Wishing I could nibble on an end piece with a little char.

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Gio you're killing me this morning! This sounds incredible. Your description of the pork has me salivating. I can only imagine how incredible the aromas in you kitchen must have been. I will most definitely make this.

                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                    I agree, it sounds just wonderful; so much so, in fact, that I just put my pork in the marinade and am now perusing the rest of the cookbook for suitable sides.
                                                                                    Thanks again, Gio! I'm pretty excited for dinner....

                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                      Oh Gosh, you two... Now I'll be biting my fingernails while I wait for your reports.

                                                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                                                    Char Siu Pork, Pg142

                                                                                    Rest easy, Gio, as this was fantastic! I'm very pleased that the recipe was brought to my attention.

                                                                                    I only marinated for about 6 hours, which was plenty of time to imbue the pork with all the wonderful flavours going on in the sauce, which, by the way, smelled superb right off the hop. The neglected five-spice powder on my spice shelf was looking rather musty and dull, so I looked up a recipe and made a small batch for the ultimate in freshness (http://www.chow.com/recipes/10570-chi...).
                                                                                    The pork didn't get blackened edges the way I would have preferred, so I will either broil for the final cooking time, or, weather permitting, grill the meat instead. The remaining amount of marinade was placed in a pot and simmered to a thick syrupy consistency, which I served alongside the sliced meat, to much pleasure from the diners.
                                                                                    I only planned on serving half the meat and saving the rest for a banh mi and some fried rice, but I foolishly left the meat out on the counter and it managed to all but disappear throughout the evening. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to make it again!

                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                      Wow that's great to know Allegra, sounds delicious!

                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                        Whew! So happy to know you liked the char siu, Allegra. I thought the timing was perfect and am definitely going to make this again...

                                                                                        Many thanks for that 5-spice recipe. I zipped it right into Papperplate for future reference.

                                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                                        Your review of the Char Siu, Gio, had me looking for the first opportunity to make this and yesterday was the day. Made it specifically for the Banh Mi (photo here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5538... ), but couldn't stop nibbling and nibbling. Finally had to get it into the fridge fast or there wouldn't have been any left for the sandwiches. Yet another reminder of just how wonderful this book is. I'd put it aside for too long.

                                                                                      3. Multipurpose Meat Paste (Nguyen-pg 158)

                                                                                        I made this meat paste in order to do the 'chicken meatballs' recipes on pg 86. Really, it's just strips of white & dark chicken meat marinated overnight in baking powder, tapioca flour, sugar, fish sauce and oil. This is then mixed in a food processor to a pale pink, extremely sticky paste. I made a half batch, and had to divide the mix into two separate batches for my food processor.
                                                                                        With the chicken sitting overnight in the fish sauce, the funky odour of the fermented seasoning really permeated the meat, giving it a rather horrific, almost spoiled scent. But-in the pursuit of a good meal-I sullied forth with the recipe (no worries-the odour goes away with cooking).I highly suggest cleaning the appliances and tools with a disposable cloth or paper towel--this stuff clings ferociously to everything and is a serious ache in the bottom to clean.

                                                                                        I'll spare you the photo...