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September COTM “Vietnamese”: Poultry & Eggs

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" poultry and egg 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 (Poultry & Egg recipes.)


Chapter 3: Precious Poultry & Everyday Eggs

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. Ginger Chicken (PofVK) p. 143

    Killer recipe, absolutely killer. Chicken and ginger marinate for 30 minutes. Into hot skillet add garlic, onion, chilies, then the chicken, ginger, fish sauce and sugar and salt. She recommends a claypot, but I didn't have one so just kept using my dutch oven. You then add chicken stock (I just used canned broth) and either caramel sauce or brown sugar (again went the easy route and just used the brown sugar) and cook. Stir in scallions, garnish with cilantro. Somehow this just works perfectly. Both my husband and I have been dreaming about having this again, and we only had it 5 days ago. But I will again say what I said about another recipe - this simply does not make enough to serve 4 with its 2/3 lb of boneless chicken, even with rice and vegetable as she advises. I realize Americans have big appetites but this left both of us clamoring for more and it wasn't there. But ... make this!

    18 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      After a report like that, how could I resist? So I found a copy of the recipe online (don’t have the book), posted the link here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5538... , and made the recipe as written in the link. It was really very good, but I wasn’t blown away by it as was LulusMom. Then I reread LulusMom’s post and something she wrote made me think that perhaps the recipe as reprinted in The Seattle Times wasn’t exactly the same as the one in the book and that turned out to be true, so caveat emptor. I’ve paraphrased the original recipe below that link so others don’t make the same mistake I did.

      The recipe I made was still good, and if I didn’t know any better I’d make it that way again. But now I’m going to try it the *real* way, and I’m guessing I’ll like it even more.

      1. re: JoanN

        I'll have to look at the recipe to see the differences. I have to say, it seems to me to be one of those "sum bigger than the parts" recipes. I expected to like it, but it really surprised me.

        1. re: JoanN

          Okay. So this time I made the recipe the way it was written in the book, not the way the newspaper adapted (almost completely rewrote!) it. I made it with chicken thighs, not breasts; with chopped chilies, not a lesser amount of crushed red pepper flakes; and with caramel sauce, not added brown sugar and vinegar. And it was significantly better. The spicy/hot components were more in evidence and made for a much tastier dish.

          I’m really surprised the newspaper could get away with calling what it printed a recipe from PotVT. And perhaps this should be a lesson to us all when reading a recipe that’s been reprinted. The online version didn’t even bother to say that it was “adapted.” I know that when recipes are reprinted, they will often be rewritten to accommodate the style of the reprinter: green onions instead of scallions, for instance, or a suggested substitute for a hard-to-find ingredient. But The Seattle Times changed the ingredients and the procedure without giving any indication that they had done so and that’s just wrong. Shame on them.

          1. re: JoanN

            Oh good - I'm going to try making this tonight.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I made this last night and we really enjoyed it - I had to use jalapenos as they were the only hot peppers I could find in my neighborhood yesterday, and I think they were on the mild side - I should have added some red pepper flakes. Because I was making the Hanoi shrimp cakes as a starter, I made the dish ahead of time, but turned off the heat after the first 5 minutes and uncovered the dish. Then, about 20 minutes later, I heated it up again quickly until the sauce thickened - seemed to work well. I'll definitely make this again. I served it with jasmine rice (cooked my way) and the cucumber and eggplant salads on p. 81.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I forgot to mention that I used 1/3 lb of boneless chicken thighs, and 1/3 pound of boneless chicken breasts, and both were moist and tender. We ate most of it, but there was enough left for me, when combined w/ some leftover rice and eggplant, for lunch.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Uh-oh, so 2/3 lb of chicken really was enough for you with leftovers? I'm scared of the amount we must eat! There defnitely was not enough for 2 adults and 1 toddler here ...

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Not to worry - we had the Hanoi Shrimp Cakes (1/2 of the recipe - about 8 cakes) to start, plus the cucumber salad and the roasted eggplant, plus rice!

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      OK, I feel *slightly* less porcine. But honestly, with the rice and a veg, we still could have easily eaten double what she calls for.

        2. re: LulusMom

          My turn. This was delicious. I think it had more flavor than Nguyen's version below. They are slightly different from each other but same principle with the ginger and caramel sauce.

          I liked this better because of the sauce. There were a lot more bright flavors to it. The ginger just shined through with the fish sauce hot peppers and scallions. I also liked how there was only a little bit of caramel sauce (I used my weak Nguyen version) so there was more balance between sweet and savory. The broth with chicken was so tasty with white rice.

          I agree with Lulusmom though, 2/3 lb would not have been enough for 2 to eat. I served this with a repeat dish from Dunlop's RCC.

          I have a pic at home. I'll try and remember to post it later.

          1. re: beetlebug

            So glad you liked it so much too! And also nice to hear that someone else is finding the portions small. It's fairly consistent throughout the book (at least so far) for us, so I'm making sure I always almost double. I'd rather have leftovers than feel I hadn't served enough.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Ginger chicken (PofVK, Pham, p. 143)

              I finally received my book! I also made this last night, and I was very impressed at how easy and fast it was, and also how delicious it was. It is a very light meal, and I felt very virtuous after eating it (but then ruined this by scoffing down some chocolate later on). I also agree that the serving is on the small side, but at the same time, I appreciate that it is not a huge portion, it helps a lot with portion control. I am trying to cut my meat intake a bit.

              I love the caramel sauce, that is the coolest thing to make! But I did not find my sauce thickened very much at the end, it was still very liquid. But it was tasty poured on the rice. This dish will enter my daily cooking rotation for sure. I served it with Chopstick beans in garlic (p. 202 Pham, report on vegetables section).

              1. re: LulusMom

                My turn to make this and we loved it too. Lovely flavours, and quite spicy (which may have been because I used extra hot chilli flakes). I used roughly a pound of chicken and I'm having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I served this with roasted aubergine with scallion oil (p81) and my beloved Vietnamese fried rice.

                And look - Mr GG took a picture!


                1. re: greedygirl

                  I probably shouldn't report on this because I really blew the original recipe and although I used all the ingredients I actually roasted the chicken in the oven.... Mea culpa.

                  I kind of had to though. The Dear Boy took out 4 lbs of chicken instead ot just 1 lb. And, he wasn't about to stand at the stove for more than a few minutes. The result was a very flavorful roasted chicken thighs; with tons left over. I did marinate the meat before roasting, but used the brown sugar instead of the carmel sauce since so little was called for. I hope to make the carmel sauce this week-end. Promise.

                  I served this with steamed string beans and steamed rice. (With enough left over to finally make the fried rice tonight. Can't wait to taste that!!)

                2. re: LulusMom

                  Ginger Chicken (ga kho gung), Pham-PVT, p. 143

                  My turn to make this tasty chicken dish. Thanks to everyone who reported on this - I had skipped right over it when I first went through the book. Not much to add. I doubled the recipe, made the caramel sauce (p. 34), and used boneless chicken thighs. E, who up to now didn't like dishes with ginger, liked this a lot. I served it with Vietnamese Fried Rice (p.137).

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Diinner plans postponed last night, and I found myself with a block of tofu. Decided I might as well try the Gingered Tofu that way, since it had worked out so well for a friend, and bingo - it was great. My husband isn't thrilled when he hears we're having tofu for dinner, but he said "you know, this is great. I'm still going to kid you about tofu, but this is really really good." Followed the recipe exactly except used the tofu in place of the chicken.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I will join in the chorus to say that I loved this. My chile pepper wasn't hot enough and I'd prefer it spicier, so I'd add chile flakes next time and also boil down the sauce so it's more of a glaze. SO wasn't as fond of it for some reason. Served along with Nguyen's fabulous cabbage + egg stir fry - it still amazes me how much we like that dish.

                    2. Chicken and Ginger Simmered in Caramel Sauce (ItVK page 82)

                      Another recipe with Caramel Sauce, another recipe that will go into regular rotation. How come I didn’t know about these before? Only eight ingredients (including salt, water, scallion garnish, and the rice to serve it on) and less than 25 minutes start to finish. I made it with skinless, boneless chicken breasts instead of the recommended chicken thighs. Unlike the shrimp in caramel sauce, where you stir-fry the shrimp in a bit of oil and then add the sauce, the chicken is simmered directly in the sauce so it’s practically fat free. I mean, really. What more could you ask for?

                      I used half the amount of chicken but the full amount of sauce just because I’ve been loving her sauces and knew I would want more of it. Absolutely delicious. Don’t miss this one.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: JoanN

                        Wow, does that look good JoanN. I'm linking to the on-line recipe so I can try it too:


                        1. re: JoanN

                          I was worried about making that caramel sauce when I read the procedure. Was it difficult? Scary?

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Thank you for that JoanN... I had missed your report. I have made caramel & brittle in the past but her cautions made me wary. I'm going to have to do this because there are some recipes I do want to make. Thanks for the encouragement!

                            2. re: Gio

                              Gio - I'm not sure what book you have, but I used Pham's method (reported where JoanN reported) and it took 5 minutes and was oh so simple, and I've not made brittle, nor much caramel, in my life!

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                I have both books now and will be using Pham's method, you can be sure!

                            3. re: JoanN

                              I made this last night and it was delicious. It would have been even better if I didn't undercook my caramel sauce. Since my sauce was lighter than called for, the final dish wasn't as brown as JoanN's. But, c'est la vie. And JoanN's hint that this is fast and easy is so on the mark. I had precut my thighs, so when I got home, I just threw all the ingredients in the pot.

                              Picture to follow later.

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                You can see how mine is lighter.

                              2. re: JoanN

                                I made this last night, and it couldn't have been easier. I used boneless chicken thighs, but think that it will taste better with bone-in thighs. And I added some white pepper as I wanted another dimension.

                                I know I complained in another thread about how I think there's too much caramel sauce in restaurant preparations of meat prepared in caramel sauce. Well, I thought that the amount of caramel sauce in this recipe was perfect, and wouldn't change a thing.

                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  Okay. Having made both Pham and Nguyen's version, my preference is for the Pham's. It's a lot more complex, less sweet and much tastier (IMHO).

                                  And instead of using caramel sauce, I substituted jaggery instead. Worked beautifully.

                                2. re: JoanN

                                  Chicken and Ginger Simmered in Caramel Sauce - ItVK p. 82

                                  I finally got around to trying this recipe after hearing much about it. It did not disappoint. I have made this a couple times over the last few weeks and now that I have the caramel sauce made, it is a snap to pull together after work.

                                  Nguyen's extremely detailed description of how to make the caramel sauce were so thorough, I knew it would turn out. I've found this true of her Asian Tofu book too.

                                  I'll have to try Pham's recipe next to compare the two.

                                3. Poached Whole Chicken with Ginger-Lime Dipping Sauce (Pham, p. 135)

                                  This was delicious (although both my husband and I prefered the sweet soy sauce with chilies and ginger to the ginger-lime sauce). The smallest bird I'd been able to find was a bit over 3 lbs, and she calls for a 2 1/2 lb bird, so I was somewhat apprehensive about the timing, never having poached a whole chicken before (by somewhat apprehensive read: waking up in the middle of the night worrying that I'd somehow sicken my family worried). She wants you to put the chicken in boiling water for 10 minutes and then turn off and leave alone for about an hour. Since my chicken was larger, I left it in the boiling water for 15 minutes instead of just 10. It turned out wonderfully - very moist, even the white meat. After the hour, you take it out and cover with plastic wrap until it cools enough, and then cut it apart. I'm not a pretty chicken cutter - it was more like I tore it apart with the help of a knife, so no photos, but seriously good meal. Served with rice and sauted spinach. Will discuss sauces on appropriate thread ..

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Funny! When we made this we VASTLY preferred the ginger-lime sauce with the chicken. In fact I wrote "Eh" next to the sweet soy sauce ingredient line! Another reason to try both!

                                    1. re: mirage

                                      As they say - thats why they make vanilla *and* chocolate! On my husband's first taste he was going for the ginger-lime, but soon after he said "you know, I do like the other one better." And certainly the book's author agrees with you.

                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                      My turn to make this tonight and I agree - very tasty indeed. I really like this method of cooking chicken, which is very similar to the one the Fuchsia Dunlop uses for her cold chicken dishes. My chicken was a bit bigger than 2 1/2 lb as well, so I followed LM's lead and let the water boil for 15 minutes before switching off the heat. The meat was perfect - very tender and flavoursome.

                                      We also liked the sweet soy sauce with chillies and ginger better than the ginger-lime sauce, but both were very good.

                                      I have half a chicken left over, so I think I'll make some kind of Vietnamese chicken salad tomorrow. Can't wait!

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Oh yay! I'm so glad you liked it, and that the 15 minutes worked for you.

                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          Here I come with my version of this satisfying dish. The Dear Boy brought home a 4+ pound chicken....!!!! instead of 2 2 1/2 pounders. So - following the recipe, but upping the times boiled, brought us to 20 minutes boil time and 1 hour rest-in-the-water time. He almost ate the whole thing after letting it cool down.

                                          We made the 2 sauces and liked both of them, not equally but enough to use them again for other dishes. I preferred the ginger lime and he loved each.
                                          I served this with steamed jasmine rice and steamed green beans. The beans seemed to taste better with the sweet dipping sauce.

                                          I have to say, I Love this method of cooking the chicken and can see many variations on this theme come winter.

                                          Oh, BTW: I cooked the chicken in the large pasta pan with the steamer insert. It made it very easy to lift the chicken out of the pot and into the bowl to rest. Got this tip from Jacques Pepin. His grandmother, I think, used to make their potted chicken & vegetables this way.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            I'm going to have to make that for my husband when gets home - it does sound wonderful. What was the other sauce? (And, btw - did you check out p. 37?)

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              Good Morning, MM... Yes I did read the note on page 37. Boy, did I feel stupid after I did!

                                              The "other sauce" I made was the Sweet Soy Sauce with Chilies and Ginger; made with dark soy sauce since I still have not bought the Real SSS. That will happen this Wed. Some of the resulting broth from poaching the chicken was used to make the steamed rice. Absolutely delicious. There's a lot of broth left over which we are freezing. Love that poaching technique!

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Thanks. And, no need to feel stupid - it's the typo's fault!

                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                          LulusMom--I've had my eye on both the poached chicken and ginger chicken recipes you've reported on in this thread. Which did you prefer? (ie., which one should I try first?) I'm so excited they both turned out great.

                                          Fascinating, JoanN's experience with the "adapted" recipe. Interesting lesson for all of us, really...


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            That is a tough one, but for me the ginger chicken just somehow rocked my world. The poached chicken is still wonderful (enough so that my husband said "you're going to put _name of local mayalsian restaurant which serves a variation_ out of business!").

                                            I think it is worth trying the poached chicken, especially as a dieter, because it is such a great way to cook a chicken without adding any fat at all and with the breast meat still coming out beautifully moist. And, if I remember correctly, aside from the fish sauce there is no fat in either of the dipping sauces. That said, I don't really know how much fat is in fish sauce ... but neither of the sauces came across as oily to me.

                                            But if you're the type who loves poultry cooked with the sauce, the ginger chicken is pretty great, especially given how easy it is. My Vietnamese friend is a vegetarian, but after my raving about this recipe she asked for it, and made it with both chicken (for her family) and tofu and said it was a big hit with both. She wished (as I suppose looking back I did) that the sauce had been somewhat thicker, but I just loved it.

                                            Not sure this helps much!

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Thank you, it helps! I will probably do both eventually, but (long story) we have a bunch of frozen chickens in our deep-freezer. I only have enough fridge space to defrost one at a time and the chickens are large enough that it usually takes several days to defrost one, so, I wanted to choose wisely. I was sort of leaning toward the poached chicken, for the diet reasons you've already guessed, but ginger chicken is (or was, before they removed it from their menu, much to my disappointment!) one of my favorite dishes from my favorite local Vietnamese restaurant. So, I think you've cinched it for me. As always, thank you so much for generously sharing your thoughts and experiences!


                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                            I'm tempted to try the poached chicken tonight, but I only have bone-in breasts. I think I'll drastically reduce boiling time to maybe a few minutes and still let it rest for a while. Any thoughts?

                                            1. re: waver

                                              Just looked at a recipe I've used before for boneless breasts (which stay remarkably tender cooked this way) and it says to simmer for 12 minutes and let sit for 20 covered. Given my experience with a whole chicken, this seems like a lot to me, but again, I've done this other recipe and had the chicken stay very moist.

                                          3. Grilled Five-Spice Chicken (ga ngu vi huong), PVT, p. 147

                                            Mai Phan mentions the "enticing fragrance" while these are cooking, and she's right. This was a winner. Easy and flavorful. I wasn't sure how my husband would like this as he's not a huge fan of five-spice, but he had seconds. It could also be the blend I used (Penzey's - Chinese cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seeds, ginger, and cloves).

                                            The recipe calls for a cut-up whole chicken, but I used drumsticks. These were marinated for about a day in vegetable oil, soy sauce, minced ginger and garlic, sugar, five-spice powder, and salt (I left out the turmeric as E doesn't like it). Before grilling, toasted and freshly ground star anise is sprinkled on the chicken. I only did this for the pieces of chicken I was going to eat.

                                            Smelled wonderful on the grill, had great flavor, and was especially delicious with the soy-lime dipping sauce (p. 29). This is a definitely a repeat, and one of the dishes I plan on serving when I have family over for a Vietnamese dinner from this book later this month. I served it with Scallion Noodles (p. 115).

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              My turn on the Grilled Five-Spice Chicken from PotVT

                                              LOVED it. Just loved it. Marinated all day, left out the star anise. I bought it, smelled it and just thought "nah, I don't think that will really work for me." I know there is some in the 5 spice powder, but more would have been too much. I had invited a friend to dinner, was very unsure of her eating habits and had never tried the recipe. Originally planned to make the garlicky oven-roasted chicken Gio raved about, but oven *still* not fixed. Anyway, we were thrilled with this ... my guest went back for seconds and was enthusiastically dipping into the soy-lime dipping sauce, as did the rest of us. Another very simple recipe with a big, wonderful taste. Like Rubee I didn't use a whole chicken, just thighs and drumsticks. Grilled for probably 30 minutes instead of the 20 Pham calls for. Served with the dipping sauce and Vietnamese fried rice. A great meal.

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                I made this today and loved it as well. I made the recipe as written, using a cut-up whole free-range chicken, and with the toasted star anise. Just delicious, especially with the dipping sauce. Sadly there are no leftovers.

                                            2. Garlicky Oven-Roasted Chicken, IVK, Pg. 80

                                              Just under 4 lbs. of chicken legs and thighs were marinated for 4 hours....it could have been any where from 2 hrs. to 24 hrs.
                                              Marinade: 5 cloves minced garlic, sugar, salt, black pepper, light soy sauce, canola oil.
                                              Massage chicken with this, cover and set in fridge till ready to cook.
                                              In the meantime, line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. When ready, put the chicken skin side down on the foil and into the oven, middle rack, 400*.
                                              After 15 minutes turn chicken and continue roasting for 45 minutes or till skin is crispy brown and juices run clear.

                                              We loved this! Will make it again...it's so easy and delicious.

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Been dying to try this, but my oven has been out for the last couple of weeks. The guy is currently here fixing it (yay!) so assuming he manages, this will likely be on next week's menu (maybe with GreedyGirl's raved about fried rice). Thanks for the great report.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  You know - I think the "secret" to these dishes is to amp up the flavors to suit your own taste. She said 4 cloves garlic... I used 5... and go back & forth tasting and adding as you go. I've read that so often when trying to decide what to make. When I find a recipe I want to try, I read what both authors have to say about the ingredients then go to the Net and find other similar recipes .. in the same cuisine, of course. It's amazing how 5 cooks will have 5 different takes on the same basic dish.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Like you, I tend to like big flavors (hot sauce on my cereal? why yes, yes I will) so I tend to do the same thing. When I see 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne or hot peppers, I just kind of glaze over as I pour a bunch into the pot. Same with the garlic.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Although sometimes I feel as if I'm blurring the line between Authentic home cooking and a fusion/adaptation-to-suit-only-me kind of dish, I think, when all is said and eaten, home cooks all over the world use what ever is fresh/available/logical. I hope I'm not too wrong.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        I think you're absolutely right. The main thing for me is that this opens up my cooking so much - I've tried so many things thanks to taking part in this CotM fun, and learned so much and pushed myself to try things I probably wouldn't have done otherwise (even if I do want everything extra spicy!).

                                                2. re: Gio

                                                  we made this one last night using the recommended maggi sauce rather than soy. It was a great tasting dish and very easy - I used a little extra garlic too.
                                                  We will definitely make again maybe try the soy to see how it differs, but I liked it perfectly well as was.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Finally tried the Garlicky Oven-Roasted Chicken (ItVK, p. 80) although we had to use the grill instead of the oven since my oven STILL isn't working (deep breaths, deep breaths). I think that having to grill this must have had some effect ... I left the chicken in the marinade for over 24 hours but we still didn't really taste the garlic (which I'd amped up). Basically it just tasted like grilled chicken - a wonderful thing, but I was somehow expecting more. Basically I'd just say that this doesn't translate to the grill for some reason. Served it with the wonderful Pham fried rice and broccoli marinated in an asian salad dressing I'd made last week.

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      I love this dish - it's so easy and tasty. I used the suggested Maggi seasoning sauce. Served with my desert island dish - Vietnamese fried rice - Pham's cucumber salad and Asian slaw from Fish Without A Doubt. Really looking forward to the leftovers at work tomorrow!

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Garlicky Oven-Roasted Chicken, IVK, Pg. 80

                                                        Back again four years later. This chicken is still great after all these years. I made a couple of adjustments since the last cooking date; because of concern about GMO-laden canola oil I now use peanut oil when canola is called for. I used 4 whole chicken quarters just a smidge under 4 pounds. In the interest of time the chicken was not marinated but instead it was coated thoroughly with the marinade then roasted skin side down first. At the appropriate time the chicken was turned then basted with the pan juices. There was a bit of lemon zest left from a salad dressing we had made so it was strewn over top when the chicken was removed from the oven. Will do that again. The chicken rested for 10 min. A salad from the Divertimenti cookbook comprised of thin marinated nectarine wedges, Parma ham, and arugula was served along side.

                                                        The chicken and salad combination couldn't have been more delicious: skin was crisp, meat was falling off the bone juicy. Together it was a salty/sweet/lemony perfection.

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          You can get fancy cold-pressed rapeseed (canola) oil here, Gio, which may be the way to go. Hugh Fearnley Whatnot really recommends it.

                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                            I believe everything HFWhatnot says so I'm packing my bags. But after I try to find it here. Thanks for the suggestion...

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              Found in a flash: fancy cold-pressed rapeseed (canola) oil. Trip on hold.


                                                      2. Chicken, Lemongrass, and Potato Curry (ItVK, p. 83).

                                                        Made almost exactly as written, although I used skinless boneless chicken thighs and cut them into chunks instead of using skinless bone-in thighs. Oh, and I probably doubled the chilies. This is a very nice recipe, although there is nothing about it that seems to me to be especially Vietnamese (the lemongrass, I suppose). It reminded me a lot of the better kinds of curries you get in the caribbean or sometimes chinese restaurants. This was my first recipe from the Nguyen book, and I have to say that her serving sizes, based on this recipe, were a lot closer to mine. We had plenty leftover, and that is even after having seconds. Excuse me as I brag that my 2 year old was lapping this up, heat and all. A hit, although I'm now craving something with some fish sauce in it again!

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Pham, p. 138

                                                          Another dish that we loved. She says to use skinless chicken thighs, and doesn't mention whether boneless or not, but since I had a bunch of boneless thighs and some breasts leftover from another dish, I cut them into biggish chunks (much larger than bite sized) and used those. I used some leftover chili oil from Dunlop, rather than a chili paste, and a hot curry powder from Penzeys, rather than her recommended Three Golden Bells brand. Boy was this dish hot - we were both sweating! It calls for about 1 pound of sweet potato, but I only had about 6 oz left from something else and, since we're just learning to like sweet potato, that's all I used. We did like it in the dish, though we both assiduously avoided the cooked carrots. I didn't have Asian basil, so substituted mostly mint, and just a little bit of Italian basil. The dish definitely had a wonderful lemongrass flavor to it. I served it with Jasmine rice and had a lot left over this time.

                                                          Did Nguyen's dish call for regular potatoes? I might use those next time.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            Yes, the Nguyen recipe called for regular potatoes (boiling potatoes - I used small redskins), which I have to admit I love in curries (potatoes *and* rice? heaven).

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              Chicken Curry w/Sweet Potatoes

                                                              My skinless thighs still had their bones and I left them whole. I used S&B curry powder, a smidge more than a tsp of chile pepper flakes, and skipped the Asian basil, as I didn't have any. Served over jasmine rice. I liked this a lot. The carrots and sweet potato mixed nicely with the curry sauce and the chicken was moist and tasty. Easy and delicious, like most of the recipes in this book.

                                                              Next time I make this, though, I will use more chicken - the sauce is fabulous with the rice, but there is certainly enough to increase the quantity of chicken. Maybe double it.

                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Pham, p. 138

                                                                OK, this probably doesn't fit in this thread because I decided to follow my Vietnamese friend's advice and sub tofu for the protein. I really worried - sweet potatoes, carrots AND tofu in a meal for my husband??? AND he'd been invited to a big work dinner, but turned it down so he could eat with us at home? Yikes. But you know what? It was wonderful. He said "if it wasn't for the curry and the spice, I wouldn't be pleased, but this is great." I used one box of tofu (what are they, something like 14 oz?) and added it at the end with the sweet potatoes, but other than that I followed the recipe. Served with baguette instead of rice (she suggests doing this) and it was just wonderful. Surprised even me how much we liked it.

                                                              2. re: LulusMom

                                                                I made the Nguyen dish last night. Like you, I used skinless boneless thighs because that's all I had. I just used a lb of them and added more potatoes (used yukon gold).

                                                                Honestly, I wasn't too impressed with it. I thought the flavors were flat. I used half Indian madras curry powder and half Japanese curry powder. I then added some fish sauce, palm sugar and topped it off with chopped peanuts which spruced up the flavors tremendously.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  Just wanted to mention that I took a look at Pham's recipe for the chicken curry last night. I haven't made it, but it really sounds better than Nguyen's recipe based on the ingredients. I think I'm going to try that soon (even though it's October now).

                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                    Not to worry - you're allowed to keep cooking! I still like the idea of revisting some of the previously done books one month.

                                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                                  It's so great that Lulu loved it. A true chow pup.

                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                    I'm so proud of her ... she LOVES this stuff. Swells a mother's heart.

                                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                                    We reaaaaallly enjoyed Nguyen's Chicken, Lemongrass and Potato Curry. We'd been hankering for a yellow chicken curry and this totally fit the bill. I used skinless chicken breasts and Penzey's hot curry powder. Might try adding some Kabocha squash next time.

                                                                  3. Has anyone made the roast chicken with lemongrass from the Pham book? I was thinking of trying it this week.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                      It's on my list, but my oven is *still* broken (don't get me started about the venerated Viking). Let us know how it goes.

                                                                    2. Honey-Roasted Duck Legs (ItVK page 94)

                                                                      I seem to have a problem with this book. Every time I make something new I think it’s the best recipe so far. But really, honestly, this is the best so far. And I’ve liked nearly all of the others. A lot.

                                                                      This is kind of like an ultimate Peking Duck without the pancakes. You marinate duck legs in salt, Shaoxing rice wine, and ginger juice for 15 minutes then steam the legs in the marinade. After the legs are steamed, you can refrigerate them overnight or continue with the recipe. The steamed duck legs are roasted, then dipped in a glaze made from garlic, ginger, five-spice powder, salt, light and dark soy sauces, and more Shaoxing wine, roasted again, dipped again, and roasted again. It sounds more complicated than it is. When you’re finished with the dipping, you add a bit of hoisin sauce to the glaze and warm it up to make a dipping sauce.

                                                                      The duck is fat free, with crispy skin and moist meat, and the dipping sauce? I think I could drink the dipping sauce straight. It’s just outstanding.

                                                                      Please. Someone else make this and tell me if I’m just inordinately in love with this book and losing my judgment. But this was just marvelous and I’d make it again in a heartbeat.

                                                                      I served it with Mixed Vegetable Pickle (as recommended) and Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-Fry, each reported on separately, and rice.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        You're killing me JoanN. I just may have to buy ANOTHER cookbook. It sounds, and looks, fantastic.

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          That looks terrific, JoanN! I'm glad to hear about your "problem" of being biased towards Nguyen's book and its recipes. I was reviewing it from cover to cover last night and was so struck by its level of detail and thoughtfulness. The duck leg photo definitely caught my attention, as they looked so deliciously sticky and bronzed. I have got to try that and the garlic chicken...

                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                            How do you think this would work with both legs and breasts? Thanks.

                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                              Can't offhand think of any reason it wouldn't work at least as well. And it would certainly make the meat easier to carve. I think Nguyen's rationale for using only legs is, as she says in the intro to the recipe, that they can be purchased so inexpensively at Asian markets.

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  I love duck, but it is so hard to find down here.

                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                I made this last night, using two legs and two boneless breasts. I had to jerry rig my wok to act as steamer - I put the round wok burner thing inside the wok, then put a ceramic tarte plate on top of it to steam the duck, and that seemed to work well. As JoanN says, the recipe sounds complicated, but it's not difficult, and, I'm sure, will seem less complicated next time I make it.

                                                                                The breasts - they were far too overdone, and I hadn't thought to cook them less. But, I'm not sure where to cut the cooking time - maybe reduce the steaming (about 30 minutes) and the roasting time before applying the marinade (about 35 minutes)? With the former, I'd worry about not getting out as much fat as I'd like too, and with the latter, not getting the crispy skin. Any tips would be appreciated.

                                                                                I didn't make the pickles as the one JoanN made requires overnight sitting before serving, and I couldn't find any daikon nearby for the Daikon/Carrot pickles. Instead of serving it with rice, I served it with Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs, as I'd finally made it to a Vietnamese market and was able to pick up a bunch of different Viet herbs. I served scallion oil, Vietnamese dipping sauce and the marinade on the side, and we just added those to our noodles, tossed, and added the duck slices on top.

                                                                                To start, I served the Corn and Shitake soup that she recommends.

                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                  That's really too bad about the breasts. Sorry to have steered you wrong, but I had checked a couple of other duck recipes and the timing didn't seem to be that far off. I guess the only way to work it out for sure would be to use a meat thermometer. My tendency would be to steam for the full amount of time but cut down on the roasting.

                                                                                  Doesn't sound as though you liked the dipping sauce made with the marinade as much as I did, but then, you had a lot more going on with your meal than I. I had plenty of rice and stir-fried asparagus with mushrooms leftover. I poured the leftover dipping sauce over all of it and had a couple of terrific meals out it.

                                                                                  That Corn and Shiitake Soup was on my list as well. Sounds wonderful. I hope I can get to while there's still corn in the market.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    Not a problem! We very much liked the dipping sauce w/ the marinade - I made the other two since they seemed to "go with" the Noodles w/ Fresh Herb dish, but there is almost none of the marinade sauce left! I think in the corn soup recipe she mentions that people often use frozen or canned corn for it.

                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                  JoanN, I have both books (in fact, two by Pham) and I have to agree with you that I just LOVE Andrea Nguyen's book. It is such a pleasure to work with both for the techniques and for the recipes!

                                                                                3. All right, so I made the lemongrass roast chicken, Pham p. 142.
                                                                                  You rub the bird with lemongrass, garlic and red pepper flakes and let her hang out in the refrigerator. The recipe called for 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes or "to taste." I would have liked the full tablespoon but I know my audience and I thought that would be too spicy so I used half. You roast the chicken at 350, and you make a paste with oil, cilantro and more lemongrass to spread on the chicken during the last 10 minutes. You serve it with the soy lime dipping sauce, p. 29.
                                                                                  I loved it. The lemongrass was subtle but fragrant. And I was right about the pepper flakes. My friend who doesn't like his food too spicy said it was just right.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                                    Lemongrass Roasted Chicken, p. 142, Pham, PotVT

                                                                                    I made this for dinner tonight and we liked it a lot! The delicious savory scent of roasted chicken still lingers in the air...

                                                                                    I marinated the chicken overnight and, like you, reduced the red pepper flakes just a touch. The dipping sauce had a nice kick to it though. The cooking time was spot on (75 min. total), but I might increase the heat to 375F next time to help it cook faster and crisp the skin more effectively. I'm wondering if increased heat would make it burn or taste acrid, but it's worth a try since I like very crispy skin and didn't really get that at 350F.

                                                                                    The flavors of lemongrass, fish and soy sauces, pepper flakes and sugar were perfectly balanced. I was afraid that 4 TB of lemongrass might be overpowering but not at all. The cilantro-lemongrass paste brushed on at the last 10 min. of roasting was a nice touch, although it only needs about 1 TB of oil and not 3, IMHO. The flesh was juicy and tender. The soy lime dipping sauce is potent but complements the dish nicely.

                                                                                    Served w/ jasmine rice and sauteed pea shoots. Would definitely make this again.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        Much thanks, LulusMom! Beautiful and tasty...

                                                                                        PS. I made lots of rice in order to have leftovers to make more of Pham's fried rice again! :-)

                                                                                  2. Grilled Chicken ITVK, pg 81

                                                                                    Quick and easy. Throw together the marinade, let boneless chicken thighs marinate 30 minutes, grill for 12 minutes, serve it with dipping sauce. You're supposed to use thighs with the skin-on, but my husband brought home skinless, so, that's what we used and it worked out fine. Served it with steamed brown rice and steamed broccoli. Very simple and tasty.

                                                                                    We also tried this with the "Salt Pepper and Lime Dipping Sauce" from ITVK pg 311, which I did not adore, but that's because she has you determine your own proportions and I obviously got them wrong.


                                                                                    1. Chicken Stir-Fried with Lemongrass and Chilli, ITVK, p 90

                                                                                      My Nguyen book was waiting for me at the Post Office when I got back from holiday and so I couldn't wait to dive in!

                                                                                      This was pretty easy to make. I marinated cubes of boneless chicken thigh in salt, sugar, curry powder (I used a Vietnamese brand I found in a market) and the obligatory fish sauce for no more than half an hour. I then briefly stir-fried a couple of bird's eye chillies, chopped shallots and lemongrass in oil before adding the chicken and some cubes of red pepper. The recipe calls for you to sear the chicken on one side for about a minute, then flip it over a sear on the other side. I tried to do this but am not sure all the chicken was evenly seared! It didn't seem to matter. I then added half a cup of coconut milk and simmered until the coconut milk was almost gone.

                                                                                      This was really quite spicy, and the flavours melded together beautifully. We both really liked it, and it was a nice change after two weeks of aubergines, lamb and tomatoes!

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                        I made this earlier this week and haven't posted it. I really liked it as well. I used and indian curry so it was probably a little stronger. Next time, I would also add more lemongrass (I grew my own and didn't know it's potency level).

                                                                                        But, unlike you, my coconut milk never disappearred. It was pretty saucy. This isn't a problem for me because I like the sauciness to go with the rice.

                                                                                        I really liked this dish and thought it was delicious. With the recommended portion of chicken (I think 1.5 lbs) and 2 other veggie dishes, it made a meal for 4-5 servings.

                                                                                        Pics to follow.

                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                          I think this is the pic. Note to self, don't wait so long so that all the pics look the same.

                                                                                        2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                          Stir-Fried Chicken with Lemongrass and Chilies (PotVT, p. 145).

                                                                                          Interesting difference between the Pham recipe and the Nguyen one. Pham doesn't call for coconut milk or curry. We liked it a lot (starting to sound/feel like a broken record). I think it could use more spice. I could tell while tasting that my chili hadn't been as hot as I'd like, so I added chili flakes, and we still wanted more at the table. Also could add more fish sauce next time. You really taste the lemongrass in this, refreshing, but still good comfort food on a wet, grim evening.

                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            Made Nguyen's version with chicken breast today and it was delicious. I left it a bit saucy, which I figured was preferable. First time I used frozen Hawaiian Sun coconut milk and it was wonderful - sweet and creamy with no off flavors.

                                                                                          2. Egg, Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes, Nguyen, p. 98

                                                                                            I thought these looked more like some kind of fritter in the photo, but, of course, since those are the only three ingredients, I should have known better. I made have a batch - you just mix up the three ingredients and drop dollops (I used a 1/4 measuring cup, about half full or so) into a heated oiled nonstick pan. They were really quite delicious dipped in a little soy sauce, and another quick and easy recipe. I think I should have let them brown a little more.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                              MMRuth, we seem to be attracted to the same recipes.

                                                                                              I made these too, during the two weeks I was cooking Vietnamese (and mostly failing to report). We loved them. Delicate flavor, underneath a crispy exterior. Super fast, and very satisfying for a light dinner.

                                                                                              I doctored my soy sauce with lime juice, a splash of fish sauce and chopped green chilis.

                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                Does any one have their book handy - would love the ingredient list so that I can make these for my Mom.


                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  1 pound medium shrimp, peeled
                                                                                                  5 eggs, beaten
                                                                                                  2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
                                                                                                  neutral oil for frying
                                                                                                  Fish sauce or light soy for serving

                                                                                              2. Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Hoisin-Garlic Sauce (Nguyen-pg 86)

                                                                                                Whew. This is one long-winded, time consuming recipe-at least if one must prepare all the other components and recipes-within-the-recipe as I did.
                                                                                                First, make the multipurpose meat paste-which needed 8+ hours of marinating, then pureeing to a pallid paste-and add fatback (I cut from a couple of pork chops to obtain the ingredient as was suggested in Nguyen's book, Asian Dumplings). Another step, toasting and grinding rice, is needed and the powder is added to the bowl, and the whole thing is mixed together.
                                                                                                The next step is to form balls out of the paste with spoons, which is nearly impossible considering the texture of the meat. It was like trying to shape cream of wheat cereal into balls--it clung to everything it touched and lost its shape almost instantly. I did whatever I could to avoid touching the meat paste, as it was so unappetizing and unpleasant enough just to look at, let alone get on my hands-and I am rarely squeamish about anything. I eventually gave up trying to shape the meat and dropped it onto a baking sheet in blobs, eye(meat?)-balling the amounts, and placed it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm it up. This seemed to do the trick as I could then roll them without losing half the chicken between my fingers.
                                                                                                The balls get seared in a pan in order to keep their shape, then threaded onto skewers and placed in the oven to finish cooking, where due to the magic of science and the baking powder, they puffed up into ping pong balls and obtained a lovely golden skin. The chicken spheres are then to be set out at the table, snipped in half, and arranged by the diners onto rice paper with a lettuce leaf, various herbs, and a drizzle of hoisin-garlic sauce (another recipe-pg 310).

                                                                                                The verdict? My spouse and I liked but didn't love these. The offspring, however, couldn't get enough of them. The meat had a spongy interior that wasn't a favourite, and the skin was a bit chewy, but wrapped in the rice paper with all the condiments it worked very nicely. The meat was a tad on the salty side, but there was a lot of flavour in what seemed like minimal ingredients. Because this took so much time, I don't know if I would go out of my way to make this again. If I happened to be making some meat paste for another recipe I would set some aside to give it another go.
                                                                                                I made just over a half-batch of the recipe and ended up with 44 meatballs, and still have piles of leftovers.