September COTM “Vietnamese”: Vegetables & Vegetarian Dishes
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 recipes for the vegetable and vegetarian dishes found in the chapters listed below. 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 7: Return to the Grandmotherland (Vegetarian Favorites and Other Meatless Dishes)
Chapter 7: Vegetables for All Seasons
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!
Tangy Mixed Vegetable Pickle (ItVK page 194)
It seems as though a bit of some kind of pickled vegetable is a fairly ubiquitous condiment in Vietnam. I wouldn’t have thought to serve something like this with the Honey-Roasted Duck Legs, but it’s what she recommends. And it’s delightful. Not too sour, surprisingly sweet. And a wonderful counterbalance to the richness of the duck and sauce. The recipe makes a lot and it keeps for three weeks in the fridge, so I imagine I’ll be nibbling on it for quite a while. With great pleasure.
ETA: There were no chiles in this. It's not at all hot. I think if I were to make it again I'd add a few chopped Thai chiles just to give it a bit of heat. Just to see if it worked.
Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-Fry (ItVK page 181)
Simple and very good. Nothing unusual, but an easy, partially do-ahead, side dish with good but subtle flavor incorporating a couple of my favorite ingredients. Would definitely do this again whenever an easy, attractive veg dish is called for.
Chopstick beans in Garlic (PotVK, Pham, p.202)
This is a very easy and fast side dish to make. I used the long beans recommended in the recipe, and was greatly appreciative of the advice to search for the skinny ones. These beans are less fibrous than some regular green beans can be, and the flavour is more refined, less vegetal that green beans. The texture is very nice.
The direction about the egg through me for a loop. You saute chopped garlic in hot oil for 10 seconds, then throw in a mixture of a beaten egg, fish sauce and sugar. My concern was that the egg would immediately fry, and indeed, it did! I stirred it up, added my blanched long beans, water and salt, and let it cook, and in the end, there were little bits of fried, salty, fish-sauce flavoured egg amongst my beans. It was tasty, but looked a bit odd, not what I expected before I read the recipe. I am assuming that this was the intended effect?
I really liked this as well. I used string beans and they were delicious. What made this especially easy was that I blanched the beans earlier in the day so dinner was a snap. The egg directions were a bit confusing - I first added the fish sauce and sugar and then the egg. When I added the egg I stirred quickly and then covered. The resulting egg ended up being subtle and fluffy.
A nice different use of string beans for me.
Mustard Greens with Garlic, PVK/Pham, Pg., 198
This is pretty much a straight forward stir fry in canola oil and garlic...5 cloves! with added oyster sauce. Along with the Chinese mustard greens I threw in 2 handfulls of fresh mung bean sprouts because I Love Them. The greens were pungent and delicious. It was served with the Fish with Fresh Tomatoes. We like both dishes very much.
Twice-Cooked Eggplant with Garlic and Basil (ca tim xao rau que), Pham - PVT, p. 200
I ended up making a few substitutions to this recipe. My Asian basil was too wilted, and I spaced and used oyster sauce instead of mushroom soy. Fortunately, it still turned out to be a very good dish. Searing the sliced eggplant beforehand, as Pham says, makes it stay "firm and delicate" instead of mushy.
The sauce is made with garlic, shallot, fresh chiles, basil (I used what I had - a mix of rau ram, cilantro, and perilla), mushroom soy (I used oyster sauce by accident), soy sauce, and water, with cubed tofu. Once this is slightly reduced, add more herbs and serve. I liked this a lot, even with my mistake, so will definitely try it again to compare to the original recipe.
Twice-Cooked Eggplant with Garlic and Basil, Pham PVT p. 200
I made this tonight. I forgot to buy Asian basil, and I only read the bit about not using regular basil because it was too strongly flavoured after I already washed up the regular basil. So I used less regular basil and added some mint to the mix to dilute the basil.
I notice that I had much less sauce in my version than Rubee had in her version. When we added the 1/3 cup of water at the end, it evaporated very quickly, and the dish was very dry.
I also was confused by the directions to not fully cook the eggplant the first time around, and then add the eggplant late the second time around and heat through, then serve immediately. I found some of the eggplant could have used a bit more cooking.
I tried to use very high heat. I have gas, and my stovetop is pretty powerful, but I still was unable to get the great flavour of eggplant that you can get when you have high enough heat to get wok hai. So I was not as big a fan of this dish as I hoped. It was good, but not fantastic. I'm not sure I'll make it again, just because I can't get high enough heat to make the eggplant transcendental.