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September COTM “Vietnamese”: Rice, Noodles, "Banh" & More

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 rice, noodle, banh and the other recipes 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 includes:


Chapter 4: Mrs. Red's Rice Cakes (Rice Noodles, Cakes & Rolls)
Chapter 5: Inviting the Ancestors for Tet (Just the recipes for Perfect Steamed Rice, Vietnamese Fried Rice, and Vietnamese Rice Cakes in Banana Leaves)


Chapter 8: Noodles from Morning Until Night (Other than Noodle Soup Recipes - please post on Soup thread)
Chapter 9: Indispensable Rice
Chapter 10: The World of Banh

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. From Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table:

    Sizzling Saigon Crepes (Banh Xeo) p. 117 is one of my favorite recipes from this book. Don't skimp on the oil when cooking. You'll need a nonstick or well seasoned cast iron skillet, as it will stick to stainless, which I learned the hard way. Absolutely fantastic combo of flavor and texture. Wrapping the crispy crepe pieces in green or red lettuce leaves makes it a little more manageable. Serve this with the table salad using perilla, basil, and rau ram or other vietnamese herbs. Their flavors add to the dish immeasurably. I've never tried it with mustard greens, and would love to hear if others have?

    Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs, Lemongrass Beef on Cool Noodles, Hanoi Rice Noodles with Grilled Pork p. 119-22 (Bun dishes) are a summertime staple in our house. I like the bun Thap Chua brand noodles she recommends elsewhere in the book. I've actually not made these recipes with pork, but have used beef sirloin, and subbed bison, chicken thigh and breast in the marinades. I especially like the pork recipe with caramel sauce made with chicken thigh sliced and ground. My family really enjoys the combo of little patties and grilled sliced meat. I've made it with the brown sugar substitution she mentions, but it is absolutely worth the extra time to make a small amount of caramel. (Keep any extra on hand in the fridge.) I sprinkle toasted cashews or sesame instead of peanuts on these dishes because of a peanut allergy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: amyzan

      I love the bun cha recipe! I believe the author says to put it all together in a bowl. But I eat it separately like they do in Northern Vietnam. Just have your bowl of nuac cham and meats. Have a separate bowl for the rice noodles and a separate bowl for the greens. Take some rice noodles and greens and add it to the nuac cham and meats. When you're finished with that, do it all over. I find it keeps the greens fresher and crisper and the noodles more springy, and tastes better that way. And for those of you guys who tend to eat really quickly, it slows your pace down a lot.

      I've made it using both pork and chicken. Pork definitely tastes better but chicken is healthier.

    2. Pressed Rice Logs (ItVK page 239)

      You make a somewhat mushy rice using a bit more water than usual, knead the rice in a damp towel until it’s like a ball of bread dough, shape the rice into logs, then set the logs aside for an hour to cool and dry. Nguyen says that for her parents’ generation this is “an old-fashioned food that conjures up memories of home” and that her dad would make it for road trips and picnics.

      Sounded like fun and it was easy enough to make, but cold rice just doesn’t do it for me. I had hoped it would make a novel hors d’oeuvres-type dish to serve with drinks when paired with the Caramelized Minced Pork (which I reported on in the Meat thread), but not to be. No need for me to revisit this one.

      3 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        JoanN, after following your reports for months, I'm thinking that your house is *the best* place to have drinks ...

        1. re: LulusMom

          Uh oh! Ya got me!

          I happen to live in a “destination” part of Manhattan so friends will often drop by before or after whatever else it is they’re doing. Since having a dinner party can be both time consuming and expensive, “stop by for drinks” is a great way for me to try new recipes or share finds with friends more frequently.

      2. Vietnamese Fried Rice (POtVT P137)

        Wow! This was unexpectedly delicious. I had some leftover rice but we had unexpected guest so I sent Mr GG to the Chinese takeaway round the corner for some extra.

        It's a very simple dish. You melt butter in a wok or large pan and fry chopped onion and garlic briefly until fragrant. Then add tomato ketchup, fish sauce and a little salt and sugar and cook until reduced. Add the cooked rice and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until hot. Add chopped sring onion and heat through. Garnish with coriander (I used rau ram).

        What a delicious dish. You could really taste the butter, and the ketchup and fish sauce added a savoury sweetness that was very seductive. A very homely dish that we all loved and I will definitely make again.

        46 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          thanks for posting this, gg - the type of recipe I would have ignored - in a cookbook that I love love love

          1. re: pitu

            I was really surprised by how good this was. Very different to Chinese or Thai fried rice.

            1. re: greedygirl

              I second the thanks for this post ... I had overlooked the recipe myself. I really do find that the ingredients list on these recipes don't give you any idea of just how good they're going to be. I totally take back my previous comments about not wanting to eat Vietnamese every day ... I'm fighting myself not to do so! I'm loving this book just as pitu is. Mine is a library copy, but next time I put in an order at Jessica's bisquits, this is coming home too.

              1. re: LulusMom

                I'm looking forward to trying this - when I lived in Bangkok as a child, our cook always added ketchup to fried rice, and while I know a lot of CH purists decry it, it gives it a "special" flavor! I love GG sending her husband to pick up more cooked rice from the take-away place.

          2. re: greedygirl

            By the way, greedygirl, what did you serve with this, or was it the main course?

            1. re: greedygirl

              Vietnamese Fried Rice (com chien), PVT, p 137

              I had this bookmarked, but after GG's post, I moved it up the list. I agree - simple and quick, but this Pham "family favorite" was a favorite in our house too. I halved the recipe, but shouldn't have - we would have finished a serving for four since I kept going back for more. I seasoned with the fish sauce to taste, so used more than the recipe called for since I love the stuff. It was a great side dish to an on-line Pham recipe for Thai Cowboy Steak. I used just the marinade (cilantro, garlic, brandy, oyster sauce, and soy) for ribeyes on the grill:


              1. re: Rubee

                I made this for dinner, and I have to say I was not enthralled, unfortunately. Now, I didn't have ketchup, so I used a good tomato paste diluted with a little vinegar. I think it definitely needed more fish sauce and/or salt, and I ended up adding a little soy sauce to my bowl. I did do a couple of other things, which I can see would dilute the flavors a bit - I added six shrimp about half way through, as well as about six slices of tomato (this was to half the recipe, by the way, though I did use two scallions). I also squeezed on some lime juice when it was done.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  This makes me nervous ... I'm making it for dinner tomorrow night for the first time (along with a grilled chicken from the same book). Normally wouldn't be too nervous, but I did the dumb thing and invited someone to dinner - hope she's not too picky.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    If you do make it, be sure to add the fish sauce to taste. I added much more than the recipe called for and really liked it that way.

                    1. re: Rubee

                      Definitely making it (along with an untried chicken recipe ... obviously lost my mind). We were talking last night about how incredibly good fish sauce is, and how it seems almost addictive. Smells horrible, but the taste ... Thanks for the tip. Will keep tasting.

                      1. re: Rubee

                        Yes, I'd say way more fish sauce - just added quite a bit with the leftovers for lunch, and it still wasn't enough. Also occurred to me that ketchup, which I didn't use, probably has quite a bit of salt. I'd be sure to serve it with a dipping sauce.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Hmmm, I replied to this post a couple of hours ago, but it obviously didn't take. I will def. add more fish sauce. Is there any particular dipping sauce you'd recommend with it? My favorite so far (only made 2) has been the sweet soy, and it makes sense to make a sauce given that I'm also making a grilled chicken dish from the book.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            I think there is one that she recommends in the recipe for the fried rice, but I don't remember which it was and don't have it handy. I'm curious to know what you think about the dish.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              You're absolutely right - she mentions soy-lime dipping sauce in the headnote. If I have everything called for in that recipe (which is likely) I'll go ahead and make it. Thanks for the heads up - I'd missed that.

                2. re: greedygirl

                  Finally got around to the Vietnamese Fried Rice. Served as a side to the grilled 5-spice chicken (also in Pham). Thanks to Rubee and MMRuth, I added lots more fish sauce. She calls for 1/2 tablespoon, but i put in a full tablespoon and then shook the bottle over the cooking rice a couple of times. I loved it. After last night's meal my husband said to tell you all that he really loves these books and this food.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Awww. That's nice. I'm very appreciative that our husbands are so willing to explore such varied cuisines in the cookbooks of the month. E is enjoying this month's Vietnamese too, especially the Vietnamese Fried Bananas with Ice Cream last night! (Pham - PVT, p 208).

                    1. re: Rubee

                      No question - we're lucky to have such willing guinea pigs.

                      I hadn't even looked at the desserts section of the Pham book ... uhoh!

                  2. re: greedygirl

                    My turn to try Pham's version of fried rice! I was intrigued by the addition of ketchup so had to try it out! In sum, we loved this homey dish.

                    I had about 2 c. of leftover cooked rice so halved her recipe, but did add proportionately more fish sauce as others suggested. I did add one egg at the end (after tasting the final product) because I prefer egg in fried rice, and it added the perfect softness that I wanted. The ketchup works w/ the fish sauce and sugar to create an umami dance in one's mouth. Umami = happiness.

                    Served this w/ leftover beef w/ cauliflower (see meat thread) and stir-fried baby bok choy w/ a hint of sesame oil.

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      I think I need to try this again with ketchup!

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I think you definitely need to use ketchup!

                        Really looking forward to getting into Vietnamese again after two weeks of (delicious) Turkish food. I have never eaten so many aubergines in my life!

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Welcome back greedygirl. Hope you had a wonderful time. As you can see, you started a trend on the fried rice.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            We had a fabulous time, thank you, and it's not nice being back in rainy, grey England. I am consoling myself with Vietnamese food though!

                            I'm so glad everyone is trying the Pham rice. I haven't stopped raving about it and made extra rice tonight so I can make it again tomorrow.

                          2. re: greedygirl

                            I agree about the ketchup. It's essential to this dish. I used to eat Japanese omu-rice with ketchup as a kid all the time. So ketchup and rice is not that foreign to me.

                            Next time, I may cut back on the butter or try a combo of butter and oil. I found the butter taste to be a bit overwhelming. And I did use the proper amount of fish sauce as stated in the recipe and thought it was fine. But perhaps that's why I thought the butter was overwhelming in this dish because I didn't use more fish sauce.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Tagging on my kudos for the fried rice. We loved the taste and will definitely be making it every chance I get. Served with a stir fry of leftover vegetables and ginger chicken. I totally forgot the dipping sauce, though.

                              1. re: Gio

                                I made the fried rice again last night, and didn't make any dipping sauce to go with, and didn't miss it at all. Love this rice.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  OK, I am going to buy some ketchup and make this for myself this week while my husband is in Haiti.

                                  BTW - re: the garlicky noodles w/ Maggi - where have people found the Maggi? I haven't had any luck yet, and won't be making it to the Vietnamese store this week.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    In the Boston area I've found Maggi in ordinary supermarkets.

                                    MM, I can remember my mother having a bottle in her pantry years ago. At the time I wasn't concertrating on cooking (or even food) so never gave it a thought. I don't really know what she used it in.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      By the way - I found the Maggi in the Vietnamese store - they had two, one made in China and one in Germany, and since I couldn't remember which one was recommended in the book, I just bought both. Still haven't checked the book ....

                                    2. re: MMRuth

                                      I'd never heard of the stuff, although when I did find it the bottle looked somewhat familiar. I found it at a local specialty foods store - they had 3 different sizes! While grocery shopping yesterday I gave a look in the sauces aisle and again in the asian foods section and didn't see it in either place, so I guess it isn't all that common here (in the south). I think you could sub soy sauce without much difference at all. Attached a photo, in case that helps you find it.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        maggi Seasoning Sauce

                                        INGREDIENTS: Water, salt, wheat gluten, wheat, and less than 2% of wheat bran, sugar, acetic acid, artificial flavor, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, dextrose, caramel color.

                                        maybe find it in a latin supermarket.

                                      2. re: MMRuth

                                        Have you bought that ketchup yet?? :-)

                                        I made the fried rice for the third time last night, and it seems to be a little different each time. I suspect it's because I eyeball most of the ingredients and have varying amounts of rice each time. Last night I decided to go all out and add some Chinese sausage to see what direction it would take it, but I must say, I prefer it without. I definitely like it w/ egg added at the end, but the sausage kind of distracted from the umami-goodness of the rice.

                                        I will say that I like to add a little more ketchup and fish sauce than Pham calls for, and I fry for longer than she suggests. I like my fried rice "well done" and kind of dry and crispy in some parts. Good stuff!

                                        1. re: Carb Lover

                                          I've made it several times as well and agree that it turns out a little different each time. I can't get enough of it!

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            Okay. I'm getting tired (read: envious) of reading about this. Don't have Pham and it's not online. Would someone please paraphrase the fried rice recipe for me? Add me to the list of those who don't have ketchup in the house, but I'll go out and buy it after all these glowing reports.

                                            1. re: JoanN

                                              It's interesting that so many of you don't have ketchup. I keep it on hand because I have a child. But it's good stuff!
                                              I'm at work and I don't have the book with me or I would paraphrase the recipe. I don't rememember all the ingredients besides rice, onions, fish sauce and ketchup.

                                              1. re: NYCkaren

                                                The only thing I can think of that I make at home that we would use ketchup (which my husband ADORES) on is hamburgers and I don't make them too often.

                                                Recipe for JoanN:

                                                3 T butter
                                                1 tsp chopped garlic
                                                3 T chopped yellow onion
                                                2 T ketchup
                                                1/2 T fish sauce
                                                Salt to taste
                                                1 t sugar
                                                4 cups cold cooked rice (long grain)
                                                2 scallions, cut into thin rings
                                                5 sprigs cilantro, cut into 2" lengths

                                                In a wok or nonstick pan, melt the butter (moderate heat) and add garlic and onions - stir about 20 seconds (until fragrant). Then add sugar, salt, fish sauce and ketchup and simmer 2-3 minutes - sauce should reduce slightly. Then throw in the rice and stir fry 4-5 minutes - add scallions, cook another 2 minutes. She suggests to add water if the pan is dry. Garnish with cilantro.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  I never used to have ketchup either, but I got a big bottle for the girl who looks after our cats while we're away and uses a lot of the stuff. It's going to be a pantry staple from now on though!

                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                3 Tbsp Butter
                                                1 tsp chopped Garlic
                                                3 Tbsp chopped Onion
                                                2 Tbsp Ketchup
                                                1/2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
                                                salt to taste
                                                1 tsp Sugar
                                                4 cups cold cooked Rice, pref. long grain
                                                2 Scallions in thin rings
                                                5 sprigs Cilantro in 2" lengths

                                                Saute garlic and onion 'til fragrant. Add next four ingredients. Slightly reduce by simmering. Stir in rice. When rice is hot add the scallions and cook another two minutes, still stirring. If it seems too dry to you sprinkle in a little bit of water. Garnish w/cilantro.

                                                1. re: mirage

                                                  Thank you, both. May not even wait until I have leftover rice to give this a try.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    I've been making the rice while I do other stuff in the kitchen - eat breakfast, read the paper, whatever, and that makes this so easy.

                                              3. re: greedygirl

                                                I'm having some leftover fried rice right this minute and it is heavenly ... I think my favorite combination was to serve it with the grilled 5 spice chicken.

                                              4. re: Carb Lover

                                                After I saw your first picture, it looked so good with the crispy edges on the rice, that I cooked my next batch "well done" too. I agree - I liked it even better that way. Thanks CL!

                                2. re: greedygirl

                                  My turn for this. Like pitu above, I would have skipped over this but for all the raves on the board. I really liked this, but didn't love it. But, there are a couple of factors regarding this and I'm going to re-make it.

                                  1) I served this with leftovers (homestyle pork with peppers from RCC and boiled cauliflower with ginger lime dipping sauce). The rice worked well with the cauliflower/sauce but not so well with the pork. the flavors didn't go well at all.

                                  2) I have allergies from HELL so my taste buds are slightly off.

                                  3) I didn't read the board prior to making the dish so I didn't up the fish sauce. I also didn't up it because of my out of whack taste buds.

                                  BTW, I made a half portion and used the same amount of scallions. I also used a small shallot in place of the onion. Also, one packet of ketchup is about 1 teaspoon. I really liked how the ketchup and other ingredients simmered and then lightly coated the rice. I also eyeballed most ingredients except for the ketchup.

                                  I will re-visit this dish and will serve with appropriate side dishes.

                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                    I'd say you probably needed a bit more ketchup as well. Glad you enjoyed it though - it's become one of my favourite things.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      Damn - I keep forgetting to buy ketchup!

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        I did use 3 packets of ketchup = 1T which is enough for half the recipe. I was really surprised that one packet contained so little ketchup.

                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                      I finally made this for lunch yesterday, using ketchup! I made the rice in the am and stuck in the fridge. It was much better than before, but still didn't completely wow me. Another 'hound pointed out to me that it might be because of my childhood memories of fried rice in Bangkok, which included ketchup, but also bacon and tomatoes. I may try adding those to this recipe and doing some tinkering! I squeezed some lime juice on, which I liked.

                                    3. Scallion Noodles (Pham pg. 115)

                                      These were surprisingly bland. Saute a bunch of sliced scallions and shallots with oil. Add cooked, drained noodles to it with soy sauce and salt. I added more soy sauce because there wasn’t that much flavor. A big disappointment.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        OY Vey! (¬_¬)
                                        I had planned this for tomorrow night. Hmmmmm..... perhaps I can add minced garlic & ginger??? Some garlic chili paste???? Saute in peanut oil??? Anything???...... SOS.....((+_+))

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          I've made these scallion noodles and have really liked them. Maybe, use the green onion/shallot mixture, but use this technique?



                                          I've only made it with the dried shrimp but I can see how it would be tasty without it as well.

                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                            Thank you for the links, BB!! I feel better about this recipe now,
                                            I'm taking eveyone's advice, up & down thread, and will report back.

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              NP. I forgot to write, in the Pham recipe, I don't think there is enough oil or soy. I did add more soy but it didn't really help. But, I really like that global gourmet recipe and have made it a number of times. It's similar in ingredients but there is so much more flavor to this dish. As to how much the dried shrimp contributes to that, I can't say, but other posters have stated that it also tastes great without the shrimp.

                                              Lastly, hot pepper or sauce never hurts either.

                                          2. re: Gio

                                            I have made it and enjoyed it quite a lot, but always add chili paste (mashed thai bird chili, garlic, and a little vinegar), hoisin, and cilantro. Simple accompaniment.

                                          3. re: beetlebug

                                            Scallion Noodles (mi kho hanh), p 115.

                                            I made these too, and agree with BB. I was also suprised that they didn't have more flavor, even with extra soy sauce. I used nice fresh scallions too. Pham does mention that this is originally a Chinese dish using scallion-infused oil.

                                            However, I served this as a side dish for Grilled Five-Spice Chicken (p.147) with Soy Lime Dipping Sauce (p. 29). We ended up spooning the dipping sauce on the noodles and that gave them a nice punch of flavor.

                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                              We made this last year and I remember we liked it - we served it with the Crab dish on p. 166 (which is excellent, by the way), so maybe that influenced our taste buds! Or maybe that is just a particularly good combination (one that Pham recommended.)

                                            2. Hanoi Rice Noodles w/Grilled Pork - Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, p. 121
                                              Chapter 4, Mrs. Red's Rice Cakes

                                              We enjoyed it tonight, but I wish it was warmer out - this would be a terrific hot weather meal. Using previously made caramel sauce, it is another very quick supper.

                                              My only quibble was the added salt. I usually omit salt when a recipe has this much fish sauce (in the marinade and in the sauce used for serving), but mindlessly threw it in, as the recipe directed, and it was a little bit too salty.

                                              Definitely will make this again when the weather is warm.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: mirage

                                                I've been omitting salt in her recipes that call for fish sauce - and then have tasted and didn't think I needed to add any more.

                                              2. Scallion Noodles, PVT, Pg. 115 combined with A. Nguyen's On-line Recipe

                                                After reading all the dire comments about this recipe I cheated. Er, no, I mean I adapted it to our taste. Yes, that's what I did. Adapted:
                                                In hot peanut oil 2 bunches of sliced scallions were fried till just beyond wilted then 4 minced garlic cloves were added and fried till golden. 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 3 T fish sauce, 1 t shrimp paste (could have used more), red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and a pinch of salt were combined and added to the pot. Noodles were cooked, drained, added and tossed in the sauce then 1/4 stick of unsalted butter was added and everything was tossed to blend. We allowed this to sit for about 10 minutes, tossed again and served. One word: YUM!

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Thanks for sharing your adaptation with us, Gio. It does sound delicious. I'd already chosen this recipe before I'd read the other (dire) comments in this thread. One question, since I'm adhering to my WW Core plan (again), I was thinking I would use Whole Wheat Spaghetti as my noodles. Do you have any thoughts on whether that might be a good idea or a bad idea?


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I made this last night as well - though the used the recipe from Pham w/o any adaptations. I really liked it, in part because I just love scallions. It isn't the most strongly flavoured dish, and if I were having it alone for lunch, I might doctor it up a bit. I think that spaghetti would be fine. I served it with the Steamed Mussels with Lemongrass, and while we did end up eating the noodles in a bowl with the mussels and broth, I had several bites of it on its own.

                                                    Edit: Meant to add - I didn't use fresh egg noodles, but dried Chinese egg noodles.

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      TDQ - As far as I can see - Any adaptation seems to be OK in this cuisine. I have not read that whole wheat is used - but the Nguyen recipe calls for Linguine, specifically, not fresh egg noodles. And remember, Vietnam has had so many cultural and cuisine influences someone, some where must have used whole wheat some time along the way.

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        I tried Pham's scallion noodles tonight alongside Pham's Southern Style catfish in claypot and Dunlop's (from Revolutionary Chinese) stir fried bitter melon. I used dried whole wheat fettucine as my noodle. I have to say, I don't think I paired this dish properly--the bitter melon really overpowered everything, including the scallon noodles. I think this dish would have been fine had it not been for my weird menu. I will probably try this again and try to match it a little better to the rest of my menu.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          I'm attaching a photo of the scallion noodles because, when I was looking at my photos I realized that I'd forgotten to mention that I'd used dark soy sauce because I was out of soy sauce (!). I had the scallion noodles and catfish for lunch the next day (sans the bitter melon) and I have to say, I really enjoyed the noodles. I think letting the noodles sit overnight was helpful, especially since I didn't not use fresh noodles as the recipe calls for and because I used whole wheat noodles.


                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            That looks wonderful, TDQ! (Love the plate..) My noodles were decidedly whiter than that but tasted OK. I think I'll try the dark soy sauce next time.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              Scallion Noodles revisited.... made it exactly according to the recipe but used the dark soy sauce and it was absolutely delicious. I'm loving these recipes.....

                                                    2. Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs (bun voi rau thom), Pham - PVT, p. 119

                                                      I love these noodle salads since they are so versatile and can be topped with anything - leftover grilled meat, seafood, sliced spring rolls, etc. I used the leftover grilled Asian-marinated ribeyes (Pham on-line recipe) I mentioned above.

                                                      I was making dinner for one so loosely followed the recipe. I cut up some cucumber, and then used a mix of fresh Asian herbs - cilantro, Asian/Thai basil, rau rom, and red perilla. I topped this with cooked rice vermicelli (bun) and cut-up steak, and then seasoned with nuoc cham (dipping sauce, p. 23) and scallion oil (p.32), and then tossed it all together. I garnished with some chopped peanuts. If making this, plan ahead as the noodles have to cool for about 30 minutes.

                                                      This made a delicious light supper - full of fresh flavorful ingredients with the nice springy texture of the rice noodles.

                                                      Recipe link:

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                        I made the Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs recipe last night, and served it with scallion oil, nuoc cham, and the slices of Honey Roasted duck and marinade/hoison sauce from that recipe. I used just red perilla and Asian basil as called for, but taking Rubee's lead, want to try it again soon with a greater variety of herbs, before the ones in my fridge go bad.

                                                        I have a question about the noodles though - I cooked them as instructed, drained, 'fluffed', but they were still a bit wet even after 30 minutes. I did pat them with some paper towels, but don't think that helped much. Any tips on that front?

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          It sounds like you may have overcooked them. According to the recipe link, it says to cook them for 4 minutes. I don't think I've ever cooked them for that long.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            As MissNeedle mentions, they may have been overcooked. After many first attempts with gloppy over-cooked Asian noodles, I don't follow the directions, but cook to taste. I think mine took about 3 minutes? I cook them until they're just soft, but still springy. I did blot them very well and "fluffed' them a few times as they dried.

                                                            Interestingly, I just asked mom what she does. She said she cooks and drains them, fills the pan with cold water and adds back the noodles, then swirls the noodles for a few seconds until they're cool and drains them well in a colander. She says she does this twice, and then lets them sit in the colander for about 30 minutes. I'm going to try it this way next time.

                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                              Thanks to both of you - I'll try cooking them for a shorter time next time, and also use Rubee's mother's technique - I had just rinsed them in the colander with cold water from the tap.

                                                        2. Vietnamese fried rice, PVK p. 137.
                                                          I increased the fish sauce, following advice here. I thought it was delicious! I served it with the lemongrass roast chicken (p, 142) and soy lime dipping sauce and the mustard greens with garlic (p. 198). A nice meal if I say so myself!

                                                          1. Garlicky Noodles with Maggi and Butter (p. 234, ItVK)

                                                            I'd never heard of Maggi before seeing this recipe (is this a well-known sauce to everyone else?) but heck, I like noodles, garlic and butter a whole lot and wanted a side for the Fish with tomato sauce from the Pham book. Very simple recipe - cook fettucine (she wants you to use fresh, I just went with the box in my pantry), drain, stir around with some maggi, then add to a pan of melted butter with sauted garlic and stir around to soak up the flavors. LOVED it. Very one note, but that one note was great. Salty, garlicky, butter goodness. We were thinking it would be a nice meal with some leftover chicken and maybe some spinach thrown in.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              I did finally end up making these for myself some time in December, and, well, they are awfully good. Not particulary a healthy or complete meal for lunch, but I enjoyed them both times I made them for myself.

                                                            2. Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp (bánh bèo tom chay), Pham - PVT, p. 105

                                                              Pham mentions this is a local specialty of Hue - small, steamed rice cakes topped with shrimp. The batter is made with rice flour, water, and salt. The topping is made by shredding/mincing raw shrimp (I used a food processor), which is cooked with shallots, fish sauce, and sugar. The cakes are steamed in shallow bowls, and then topped with Scallion Oil (p. 33), the flavorful shrimp topping, and drizzled with Light Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (p. 26).

                                                              These were addictive, and the components of the toppings are key. I halved the recipe and it made a lot of little cakes. Be sure not to overcook them - remove them when they are just set and shiny.

                                                              If you make these, make each one with just the 2 TB of batter the recipe called for. I used a ladle to fill the bowls about half way so the cakes were larger and I put more topping on them, but I can see where having the small rice cake would be a better ratio to the delicious topping. Pham mentions in the preface that a good bánh bèo "should fit perfectly in the mouth, not be so thick and intrusive that it throws off the balance of the toppings".

                                                              Link to Pham's recipe and discussion on Andrea Nguyen's website - the recipe is just slightly different from the book.

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                Those banh beo look terrific and are making me hungry! I've never tried making banh beo before, but they sound easy enough...

                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                  Are they pretty straightforward to make - have to confess that I was a bit intimidated by them. Do you need lots of little bowls? Thanks!

                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                    They're actually very easy. The batter (just mix rice flour, water and salt) has to sit for half an hour so that gives you time to make the shrimp topping and set it aside. I already had the scallion oil and dipping sauce made a few days before. It just took me a while because I didn't have a large steamer so could only fit 1-2 dishes or ramekins at a time. Then of course I got a bit impatient and put more batter than the recipe calls for. They were still good, but next time I'd follow the recipe amount. Be sure to give the batter a stir every time you fill the dishes as the flour tends to settle at the bottom. BTW , that salty-sweet shrimp topping is so good, I was tempted to snack on it plain.

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      Thanks! I know about being impatient with these kinds of things.

                                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                                    I made these last night and they were less than a success, I think because they were too thick. I used 2 T at first, then switched to 1 1/2 T, but with that batch (reused little bowls) I could not get them out of the bowls. Mine were also bigger than fitting perfectly in the mouth - which I'm not sure I understand since she calls for 3 to 4 inch bowls. I used the leftover topping for the shrimp toasts, which I sauteed with some shallots. I did use make the scallion oil, which I love, and topped with the dipping sauce. Also, I used a U.S. rice flour - she call for using a Thai one, I believe, so I need to look into this more. Lastly, we found the texture unpleasant - a bit rubbery, yet grainy at the same time. Not sure what I did wrong, but I'm going to look at Nguyen's discussion as well.

                                                                    I have a feeling this was more 'operator error' than anything else.

                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                      I read the recipe etc. in Nguyen's book and learned a couple of things.

                                                                      1. She says non-Thai rice flour tends to be grainier, which explains part the texture issue.

                                                                      2. She describes these as being 'dainty' and akin to blini - mine were not dainty, more gummy and leaden.

                                                                      3. She calls for using 2.5" dishes, with about 1 T batter, and also mentions that the finished pancakes should have shallow indentations - mine didn't.

                                                                      4. Her recipe has cornstarch and oil in it, which Pham's does not. Hers calls for a higher water to flour ratio.

                                                                      5. I should have rinsed and wiped clean the bowls before making the second batch, so I'm sure that's why they stuck. (Pham also says to do that - guess I was lazy!)

                                                                      6. Nguyen notes that you can cover the cooled pancakes with plastic wrap and keep at room temp. for 8 hours.

                                                                      7. Oh - she also has you preheat the little bowls in the steamer before adding the batter, and I wonder if that helps them not stick as much. She then calls for cooking for about 3 minutes, where as the Pham recipe says 4-5 minutes.

                                                                      So, I guess I'll get myself some Thai rice flour and try again!

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        Thanks for the comparisons, very informative. Be sure to report back if you try it again.

                                                                        The Thai rice flour does seem to make a difference. I just checked and mine is Thai, brand name Erawan. It definitely wasn't grainy, the cakes were actually kind of light and creamy. They didn't stick, and I had the little identations. Nguyen says they come from preheating the bowls in the steamer so the sides puff up more than the middle.

                                                                        Reading everyone's reports, I'm really tempted to buy Nguyen's book too. The charcuterie chapter sounds interesting also.

                                                                  3. Vietnamese Spring Rolls (cha gio), Pham-PVT, p. 92

                                                                    I really liked the flavor in the filling - egg, fish sauce, garlic, sugar, s&p is mixed with chopped bean thread noodles, wood-ear mushrooms, onion, grated taro or carrot (I used carrot), scallions, crab or shrimp (I used shrimp), and ground pork. It takes a while to prep the ingredients, and the noodles and mushrooms have to be soaked for about a half an hour beforehand. I rolled them all, covering in a damp towel as I went, and then cooked the batch in oil heated to 350 degrees.

                                                                    These were excellent. I wish I had bought smaller rice wrappers as I would have liked to have more for leftovers since they reheat well in the oven. Since I used more filling, I didn't end up with 30 as the recipe says. I prefer them the traditional Vietnamese way wrapped in lettuce with fresh herbs and nuoc cham, but didn't have any lettuce. Instead I served them with two dipping sauces - the nuoc cham (p. 23), and a sweet and spicy chili sauce.

                                                                    While we loved these, I didn't like the rice paper wrappers I bought. When I've made these before, I used the Red Rose brand and liked those as they were nice and thin. These were thicker, which made it much easier to roll, but I prefer the thinner wrappers since they are crispier. However, I checked the ingredients later, and it seems that the brand I bought also has tapioca in it. Here is some more info on Andrea Nguyen's website:

                                                                    Tapioca Paper vs Rice Paper:

                                                                    (edited: I should have put this under the "Starters, Snacks, and Salads" thread)

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      I think that Red Rose brand is good as well - I bought another brand and hated them (partly b/c they were almost all broken off at one end) - they got gummy and were harder to work with. Fed up, I threw away the package before making note of the brand. Those look wonderful!

                                                                      (P.S. - Maybe link to this from the other thread ....)

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        Good idea - just linked it.

                                                                        They did taste delicious, but I noticed with these wrappers, they also didn't stay crispy as long.I wish I had read Andrea's site beforehand - I had no idea tapioca was being added to rice wrappers. Oh well, I learned something new!

                                                                        I'm going to see how I like them in fresh rolls.

                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                          I only used mine for summer rolls. Interesting about the tapioca - I'll have to read about that.

                                                                      2. re: Rubee

                                                                        Shrimp and Crab Rolls (Cha Gio) (ItVK page120)

                                                                        I’m reporting on this here just because I think it might be helpful to have reports on both Pham and Nguyen’s recipes for cha gio in the same place, although Nguyen has her rolls in the Fish and Shellfish chapter.

                                                                        I had already bought rice paper before I read Rubee’s report and before seeing the discussions of rice paper on Nguyen’s Web site. In the book she says to look for either papers made of all rice or a combination of rice and tapioca starch, and that’s what I bought. Mine certainly look thin enough and handled well once I eventually got the hang of it, but cooked up less crispy than I expected. Not sure if that was the rice paper, amount of cooking time, or the temperature of the oil. Nguyen says that if they soften during the resting period, you should refry them. I did. And it helped. But I’d rather not have to fry them twice to get the crispiness I assume should be there.

                                                                        Nguyen’s filling includes wood ear and shiitake mushrooms, cellophane noodles, onion, scallions, grated jicama, shrimp, crabmeat, and ground pork. The recipe says it makes 20 to 24, but I only got 18 so I obviously made them a bit too large. I served them with Basic Dipping Sauce (page308), which is lime juice, unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar, sugar, water, fish sauce, Thai chiles, and garlic and it was perfect.

                                                                        These have great potential. The flavor was marvelous. I just need to work on some fried-wrapping texture issues, including trying Rose brand rice paper and seeing if I can get the rolls crispier and a bit less greasy. I’d like to able to do these for a dinner party, but for me at least, this was a better-part-of-the-day project, partly because it took me nearly half the batch before I felt as though I had the timing of the soaking and the rolling procedure down, but also because I had to clear off most of my countertops to find the space to lay everything out. All the chopping for the filling is time consuming, too, and there’s really no way around that. Nguyen says you can make the filling a day ahead, so that would help.

                                                                        I was pleased to see in rereading your post, Rubee, that the cooked rolls reheat well in the oven. I’m going to try that. Nguyen recommends refrying them, something I’d really prefer not to do. I put a handful of uncooked rolls in the freezer and am eager to see how/if they cook up. I would love it if anyone reading this who has experience with preparing cha gio in advance would jump in with some advice.

                                                                        I’m also curious, Rubee, now that I’ve made these, what it is that you mean by preferring them “the traditional Vietnamese way.” What, exactly, is wrapped in lettuce? The cooked filling alone? The fried rolls cut up?

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          I'm impressed that you and Rubee both made cha gio! Although they are one of my favorite Viet foods, my mom has always made them for me so I know of no other way. My mom actually uses the Filipino lumpia wrappers instead of rice paper; however, I really like rice paper when done right (ie, small and crispy w/ a nice salty bite).

                                                                          I can attest to the fact that they both freeze and reheat well since my mom will usually give me a big bag to freeze when I see her. Fresh is best of course, but freezing is possible. She stacks them into a squarish shape, double wraps well w/ foil, and then encloses in a plastic freezer bag. Whenever I want a quick snack or don't feel like cooking dinner, I pull them out of the freezer and put them straight into the toaster oven at 350F until they are hot and crisp, about 10-15 min. Best to eat frozen ones within a month.

                                                                          The traditional way of eating cha gio is wrapping the entire roll in a piece of lettuce (I like red leaf) along w/ fresh herbs of choice (eg, mint, cilantro, rau ram) and dipping in nuoc cham. I also really like cha gio cut into rounds and placed on bun (rice vermicelli noodles) w/ cucumber, peanuts, shredded lettuce, herbs, and nuoc cham. Total comfort food for me...

                                                                          Ok, I think it's time that I stop depending on mom entirely for my cha gio and make Andrea's recipe! Thanks for the inspiration!

                                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                            Definitely give it a go - I made them from the HSSS recipes at some point, as was pleasantly surprised at how easy they are.

                                                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                              Thanks especially, Carb Lover, for the freezing and reheating info. I really (really!) want to make these for a party, and standing half the day rolling and frying on the day itself just wasn't going to cut it. I'm intrigued by the "traditional" way. Will have to try it next time I find rau ram.

                                                                            2. re: JoanN

                                                                              I bought some rice paper from the Asian supermarket intending to use it for salad rolls (the ones where you just soak the rice paper and use it straightaway). Does anyone know if you can use the same stuff to make fried spring rolls?

                                                                              I cheated last week when we had a Viet-themed BBQ (hard to believe looking at the weather outside today) and bought frozen spring rolls from the Asian shop. They were pretty good, but I should really have a go at making my own.

                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                I used the same rice paper for both.

                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                  This was my first experience using rice paper, but Nguyen makes no distinction between papers used for cooked rolls and those used for uncooked ones. I feel quite confident you could indeed use the same papers for fried spring rolls.

                                                                            3. Rice Rolls with Shrimp and Wood-Ear Mushrooms (banh cuon), Pham-PVT, p. 107

                                                                              This is my favorite Vietnamese dish, and I ask my mom to make these every time there's a family gathering. Though nothing tastes like mom's cooking, I was really happy with these. I don't have the rice flour crepes down yet - some were too thick, some were too thin - but drizzled with nuoc cham (p. 23) and garnished with fried shallots (p. 33), these had all the flavors and textures I love. I used ground pork instead of shrimp (suggested in the recipe and what mom uses) along with onion, shallots, fish sauce, sugar, and w. pepper for the filling. These were so good (don't skip the condiments), and I wished I had made the full recipe instead of half. The two of us polished off the whole batch in a matter of minutes. I'll have to practice to get the the hang of making the rice crepes/rolls, but these were good enough that next time mom visits, I'm going to make her a batch. Delicious. One of my favorite recipes from the book, and E agreed. I'm going to be making these often.

                                                                              1. Rice Noodle Bowl with Stir-Fried Beef, Nguyen, p. 224

                                                                                I cobbled this together last night after realizing that I needed to marinate my Hopkinson lamb chops overnight. I defrosted some steak (not flank steak), and sliced it while it was still slightly frozen, which made it easier to slice it thinly, and then put it in the marinade, where it probably sat for two hours, though that is not needed. I didn't use the right noodles, but rather some Americanized "stir fry noodles" that I wanted to use up (you just soak them in boiled water for about ten minutes). The preparation is really pretty quick - I put the sliced lettuce/cucumbers/bean sprouts/mint/cilantro in the bowls, then did the stir fry (onions & garlic, then beef), and then quickly threw the noodles into the wok to heat them up a bit, though that is not called for. I garnished with chopped peanuts and some fried onions (rather than the Crispy Carmelized Shallots). Before I stir fried the beef/onions, I did a quick stir fry of bok choy, to serve with this. It's a great one dish meal. We used a lot of the Basic Dipping Sauce that she calls for, though I think I prefer Pham's dipping sauce. Definitely something I'll make again, and she gives lots of suggestions for other toppings that can be used.

                                                                                1. Panfried Noodles with Beef and Vegetables (Nguyen, p.230)

                                                                                  So, a year after purchasing this book, I finally cook something out of it. If this recipe is any indication of the treasures held within these pages, then I am in for a treat, because let me tell you, this was *fantastic*!

                                                                                  Rice noodles are cooked, drained, tossed with oil, and set out to cool and dry a bit. They are then pan fried until pale gold on either side. Beef is marinated in fish sauce, soy sauce sugar, and cornstarch, then stir fried with onion. Blanched veggies (I was in fridge-emptying mode, so used cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas,and bell pepper) are stir fried briefly along with the beef, onion, and tomato, and then the sauce, oh the glorious sauce, is poured in. This liquid is mainly water tinged with hints of oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and soy. Everything is thickened with a cornstarch slurry and then poured over the noodles. Black pepper is generously scattered over top.

                                                                                  I honestly thought that this would just be ho-hum; it didn't smell that wonderful while cooking. But something about that pepper....it creates something magical. I plunked my often-used bottle of chili-garlic sauce next to me at the table, and didn't even touch it. Kept reaching for the pepper grinder though.

                                                                                  I doubled the recipe, less the meat, and upped the veggies a bit. This was enough for 4 with leftovers (though I doubt they'll make it through the night). My only complaint about this is that the noodles were extremely oily. Perhaps all of the oil is essential for developing the crispy crust, but I'm pretty sure this would be excellent just with boiled noodles. I also found that the cornstarch amount listed wasn't quite enough; the sauce remained thin. I thickened it up to a gravy-like consistency so that it clung to the veg and noodles.
                                                                                  This one is going into regular rotation. The entire family devoured it.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                    Both books are so wonderful, and the food is addictive (at least it was for me).

                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                      I love love love this book, but haven't tried this recipe yet (just reminded me - I made her delicious tuong goi cuon/sauce this week; need to report). Thanks for the inspiration, can't wait to try it!

                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                        This dish, coupled with all the praise you ladies have been giving the recipes, is really putting this book at the top of my list. There are many items in there that I am now getting very excited about! I can't wait to explore more!