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September COTM “Vietnamese”: Starters, Snacks & Salads

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 starter, snack and salad 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 3: Sweet and Sour and the Yellow Moon (Salads and Savory Snacks)


Chapter 1: Gifts to the Mouth (Starters, Snacks and Special-Event Salads)

I think there are salads in some other chapters in both books - my suggestion would be to go ahead and post those on the other thread that includes the chapter the salad is in, and if you feel so inclined, post a link to it here.

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. Stuffed Squid with Ginger-Lime Dipping Sauce (ItVK page 41)

    Oh, man! These are just so good I hardly know where to start.

    I guess with the recipe, which I cut in half but otherwise made as directed. You stuff the squid with a filling of chopped squid, onion, ground pork, shiitake mushrooms, cellophane noodles, minced ginger, fish sauce, black pepper and sugar and then pan-fry them. It was fussier to prepare than I had expected from reading it mainly because the squid tentacles aren’t easy to “finely chop” (time to have the knives sharpened?) and cutting soaked cellophane noodles into quarter-inch lengths, if one actually tried to do it, would be tedious beyond belief.. She suggests soaking the dried shiitakes for much longer (at least 8 hours) than any other recipe I’ve ever seen, so you do need to plan ahead. And she warns you that “the initial searing of the squid can be fairly dramatic, so you may want to have a splatter guard handy.” Yep. Right. Even with the splatter guard my stove looked as though I’d been cooking fried chicken for a marching band (wear an apron!).

    She says you can serve it warm or at room temp. Because it needs almost constant monitoring for the ten minutes it’s frying, it’s not a dish I’d be likely to make for guests at the last minute if I wanted to serve it warm. But that’s how I ate it, it was just outstanding. Good squid flavor, wonderful balance of texture and flavors, and really pretty to boot. That Ginger-Lime Sauce is just heavenly. I’m sure I’ll be making it again to serve with simply grilled fish dishes. I have two stuffed squid left over and will be eager to see how/if they rewarm, because I’m definitely making this again and I’m definitely making it for company.

    Some notes: (1) I cut the “wings” off the squid because I thought they’d cook better and look prettier if I did so. She doesn’t say to do it, but I’d definitely do it that way again. (2) Slice cooked squid with a serrated knife. (3) The Ginger-Lime Sauce is simply marvelous, but mine was a bit heavy on the lime and light on the fish sauce. Next time I’ll taste with more discretion now that I know what I’m looking for. (4) I made half the filling but was only able to fill 4, not 6, squid, so either my squid were too large or my filling measurements were off. I suspect the former. Didn’t seem to make any difference, but could be important if I had expected a specific quantity to serve guests. (4) I had read Candy’s report here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3923... so tried dusting two of the four squid with Wondra. Must say, once they were cooked I couldn’t tell which ones had been coated and which hadn’t so I won’t bother next time. Also referring to that message, I didn’t find the measurement for the cellophane noodles to be off. I guess different noodles weigh different amounts. For me, half the weight called for seemed about right.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      This sounds quite similar to a "Squid Sausage" recipe I posted in this thread:


      I wonder if lightly steaming the squid first, then lightly frying would lessen the "dramatic" frying effect.

      1. re: JoanN

        Coming back to report on the leftovers.

        I had two stuffed and cooked but unsliced squid in the fridge. I brought them more-or-less to room temp and then heated them, about 6 minutes per side, in a preheated 400F or so oven. They were still wonderfully tasty (made a fresh batch of dipping sauce), but the outer squid rings toughened up quite a bit. Just fine for me, but I wouldn’t want to serve them that way to guests, so I’ll either have to plan the meal so I can cook them more or less last minute or just serve them at room temperature, which she suggests as an option.

        1. re: JoanN

          My turn to make these and we both thought they were terrific. My plan was to make half a batch, but a full batch of filling. I bought 6 cleaned squid, but realized that I'd forgotten to get any tentacles. So I chopped up about one and a half of the 'bodies' and added them to the stuffing. I used up almost all of the full batch of stuffing, stuffing 4 squid. I had trouble getting mine nicely brown all over - I think the toothpicks got in my way, and next time I'd use the full amount of oil called for, which might help.

          Thanks for the tip about using the serrated knife. I think these would also be nice served whole as a main course.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Oh, that looks really good, MMRuth and JoanN! I haven't made that recipe myself but my boss has made it following Andrea's recipe, and it's delicious! He had some leftover filling so made her suggested pork omelet which was good too. That dipping sauce is wonderful for a ginger lover like me.

            I'm planning to make the corn and coconut fritters tonight...

            1. re: Carb Lover

              I made the pork omelet for lunch yesterday - forgot that I need to post on it.

            2. re: MMRuth

              Glad you liked these as much as I, MMR. I'm looking for an excuse to make them again. I'm curious, though. Your filling looks much finer than mine. Did you chop by hand or machine? Not sure which texture I'd prefer, but may try machine next time and see if there's much of a difference.

              1. re: JoanN

                I bought ground pork at Citarella. Oh - and I snipped the noodles with scissors - not quite 1/4 inch, but I tried! And I didn't soak my shitakes for 8 hours. Just not that organized.

                Also, I discovered that one can just pull the squid wings off - them seem attached to one another and the 'body' with a thin membrane.

          2. From Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table:

            Vietnamese Sandwich p. 94, but what I make isn't a banh mi thit because of substitutions. I'm allergic to pork, so make the pate with ground turkey thigh, adding a step to grind it in the food processor once cooked. I like the smoother texture on the sandwich. I also sub chicken breast or thigh for the pork shoulder and don't use sausage, so this isn't the classic sandwich this recipe would make. Some people would say it's no comparison, but I'd never know! We eat this several times in the summers when it's hot out, as it's filling but the spices in the pate, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and chiles make it refreshing. It's important to get the right kind of baguette, not something bready in baguette form. You want a soft interior and thin, shattering crust for the best sandwich.

            Hanoi Shrimp Cakes (Banh Tom) p. 99 are absolutely delicious! I daresay this recipe is better than what's served at many of the restaurants here, more delicate and crispy. Highly recommended.

            17 Replies
            1. re: amyzan

              I have made those shrimp cakes a number of times - they are a HUGE hit with guests.

              1. re: mirage

                me three on the Hanoi Shrimp Cakes - and they are nearly as good with all sweet potato instead of shrimp/s.po. as in the recipe

              2. re: amyzan

                Hmm, this is great to know. I don't eat pork so have always missed out on banh mi (much to my dismay). I may well try these using your method.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  In NYC, I've had wonderful banh mi with fried sardines - you might want to try that as well.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    In San Jose, the banh mi shops had veg, chicken, tofu, egg, tuna, and probably something I'm forgetting of non-pork options.

                  2. re: amyzan

                    Re: subbing for pork.

                    Mai Pham has a "banh mi" recipe using grilled five-spice chicken. Traditional, schmaditional, it's darn tasty:


                    1. re: amyzan

                      What is great about banh mi, is you can fill with anything you want. And you can try additional toppings-

                      -Mayo or Kewpie (Japanese) Mayo
                      -Hoisin sauce
                      -Splash of soy sauce (some places finish with some sort of savory sauce)
                      -Fried shallots
                      -Ground peanuts
                      -Grilled onion
                      -Cucumber (I can't remember if she has cuke on hers or not)

                      Another thing is that when I make banh mi, I heat up the baguettes on the grill to get them a little crusty, and then after I slice open to add the fillings, I scoop out a little bit of the bread. Many restaurants will do this and it can balance out the sandwich a little bit, and would help if the bread is too bready.

                      1. re: P. Punko

                        I made an off the cuff banh mi yesterday, cutting them up into maybe one inch cross sections as something to nibble on before dinner. I didn't have time to haul everything stored in the oven out of the oven to heat them up, but I did remove a little of the insides thanks to your tip. Spread both sides with mayonnaise, spread one side with sambal oelek (which is what I had handy), added a slice of pate de campagne, some julienned cucumbers, shredded carrots marinated in rice vinegar and a little sugar, and a couple of cilantro leaves. They were quite tasty - not nearly as good as "real" banh mi that I've eaten, but a nice introduction to the Vietnamese dinner.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I think one of the things that makes them tastier at the places is that some places use special mayo- like Kewpie mayo and the MSG that it has. If I marinate the meat a little bit saltier, I like a little bit of hoisin on the homemade banh mi, or also when I used sliced flank steak. Tri-tip will also work. Just a good way to serve almost anything on a crusty/fluffy french roll.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I made these again for a dinner party, but this time made my own chicken liver pate from the Nguyen book. I also made the marinated daikon and carrots, using a combination of the recipes in the two books, but went with less sugar per Pham. I didn't take a picture at the party, but made them again for dinner last night, and made an 'canape' sized one for viewing pleasure. When I made them last night, I added some leftover prosciutto, as well as cucumbers from the Pham cucumber salad that were leftover. Couldn't find the Kewpie mayo at the Vietnamese market.

                            I did find that it was easier to slice the little ones if I put the toothpick in first, then sliced.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Just for referance: Kanman store on Canal St, in Chinatown sells Kewpie mayo.

                              1. re: cpw

                                Ah, thanks - didn't check there.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Kewpie is Japanese -- all the midtown/upper east side Japanese grocery stores have it.
                                  Although I don't miss it on bahn mi, truth be told.

                        2. re: amyzan

                          I made the shrimp cakes last night as well and we both loved them. I did have some technical issues - I don't have, I realized, a wide enough flat metal spatula w/o wholes, so I used a very shallow large metal cooking spoon instead, and half filled a 1/4 cup measuring cup with the batter, placed it on the spoon, flattened it with the back of the cup and then placed in the oil. What I found, after a couple of cakes, was that some of the residue of the batter cooked onto the spoon, so it became harder and harder to get the cakes into the oil. I served it with the dipping sauce and the herb salad. I generally have an aversion to sweet potatoes (probably due to the Thanksgiving candied yam dish) but loved them here. I did think that my match sticks were too long so I cut them in half. I made half the dish with no problems.

                          1. re: amyzan

                            Finally got around to trying my hand at banh mi last night (but with no pork). I have had this on my list of things to try for so long, and then when I read Wednesday's NYTimes food section (which had a feature article on banh mi) I knew it was time to try. From the bottom up I put: duck pate, cilantro, pickled carrot (didn't have any daikon around the house, so just used carrots), roast chicken pieces, fish sauce, jalapenos, cucumber, sriracha mayo. Thoroughly enjoyed them. Thanks to everyone back in Sept. for encouraging me to try them even without eating pork.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Duck pate - that is such a great idea. Glad you liked them.

                          2. Spicy Cabbage and Chicken Salad, IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 50

                            An interesting introduction to my journey into Vietnamese cuisine, and I liked it very much:

                            A salad of a small head of regular green cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced in v. thin ribbons; grated carrots; chopped cilantro; a small red onion which was marinated in white vinegar for 15 minutes then drained and added to the veggies. Two boneless chicken breasts are poached in water with a pinch of salt for a few minutes then taken off heat and allowed to sit, covered, for 20 minutes.
                            The dressing is:
                            2 Thai chilies, chopped
                            1 clove garlic, chopped
                            1/2 tsp sugar & a pinch of salt
                            3 T fish sauce
                            6 T Japanese rice vinegar

                            Because the cabbage I had was quite large I used half a head and the same with the onion. The fish sauce, I now realize, should have been Viet Huong's Three Crabs but I only had Golden Boy so I used that..... off to the Asian market again today. We had twice the amount of chicken but it shredded nicely and took on the flavor of the dressing beautifully. All in all this salad had a very pleasant taste and the aroma was wonderful..... not very salty at all but that may be because the fish sauce was light tasting. In future I think I'll try a variety of greens using the same dressing. She does say there's a lot of leeway for variety here. Thank goodness!

                            As Nugyen suggests, I served the salad with the Basic Rice Soup on page 67.

                            28 Replies
                            1. re: Gio

                              I love Vietnamese salads, especially if you use green papaya instead of cabbage. I find the sweet/sour/salty/hot combination addictive!

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                Thank you for that suggestion. I'd never think of that myself.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Gio, Green papaya salad is a traditional dish throughout SE Asia. Some Vietnamese versions are very similar to the traditional cabbage salad you made (which is awesome and refreshing), some have a different sweet and spicy dressing and are topped with beef jerky and sometimes liver. A Thai version, Som Tum, will be very spicy and has dried shrimp among other things. Lao versions can be very spicy and salty. There are lots of regional differences.

                              2. re: Gio

                                I picked up some Three Crabs fish sauce recently without looking at the label, since it was recommended. Turns out it has added fructose and hydrolized wheat protein. If hydrolized soy protein is a no-no in soy sauce - the reason we all go for naturally brewed - is there any reason I should accept hydrolysis in fish sauce? Some googling turned up a comment from Thai cookbook author Kasma Loha-unchit on her website in an article about fish sauce:

                                "I do not personally recommend Three Crabs Brand, which several Asian cookbook authors recommend, mainly because it does not appear to be a naturally fermented fish sauce but is, rather, a flavor-enhanced, processed food product. According to the label, hydrolyzed wheat protein and fructose are among the ingredients – both are additives that have not been adequately time-tested for their potential long-term effects on health. Their inclusion suggests that the sauce is made through the process of hydrolysis, whereby a catalyst (sometimes from chemical sources) is added to hasten fermentation, allowing the company to produce large quantities of the product in shorter periods of time than would be required in natural fermentation."

                                She goes on. See this page and scroll down to the graphic of the Golden Boy baby:

                                Golden Boy is one of the sauces recommended by both Kasma Loha-unchit and Nguyen.

                                1. re: andrewm

                                  Gosh - now I feel like an idiot! I have and have used Golden Boy which I like but DH came home yesterday with Three Crabs. Without even reading the label I opened the bottle, so now I can't return it. And I was so worried about using Maggi......

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    A lot of Asian cooking uses ingredients with flavor enhancers. Maggi, Golden Mountain, MSG, etc. Fish sauce and sauce are naturally flavor enhancers. Let us know what types of differences in flavors you detect.

                                    1. re: P. Punko

                                      Thank you P.Punko! This is all so new to me. I love what you had to say about the salad. I could eat salad forever.... in any form. I just have to translate it from the Italian to the Far East.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        You are very welcome!

                                        This post has a lot of info about the Laotian and Thai styles of papaya salad:


                                        Thai cooking has wonderful salads as well, and they are very flavorful even if you do not make them spicy.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Me too - love it.

                                            I reckon you could make a nice Vietnamese salad using shredded green papaya, daikon and carrot. I've got a special tool I bought in 'Nam for shredding the vegetables into nice long strips but it's not really necessary.

                                            One of the first things we ate when we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City was a Vietnamese beef salad, and it was one of the best meals of our trip.

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              I have a green papaya sitting my pantry as I type, so tonight I shall make The GP Salad! There's a recipe in the Nguyen book.

                                              P.Punko: Thanks for that link to the Chowhound page....very helpful.

                                              Alkapal: That Som Tum recipe looks wonderful.... gotta get some tamarind paste for some of the Vietnamese recipes and when I do I'll be making that salad.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                well, i hope your papaya is green (unripe) inside.

                                                i've found it is much easier to buy the already-shredded green papaya in the asian refrigerated produce section. not cheap, but worth it. usually makes a whomper batch!!

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  I have no idea about what's inside...... what if it isn't green inside?
                                                  Thanks for the suggestion about the already-shredded papaya. I'll be looking for that next time.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    well, then it'll be yellow or orange or red ripe papaya, and soft -- not crisp. http://www.fotosearch.com/DGT081/cb10...

                                                    cf. with green papaya: http://images.google.com/images?clien...

                                                    for ripe papaya, remove seeds, cube it and sprinkle with lime juice and salt for a refreshing snack! mr. alka and my BIL love ripe papaya; me, not so much. i think it has a little soapy mouth-feel.

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      I'm not that keen on ripe papaya either, although it's better with lime. It tastes slightly metallic to me.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        I have that information from Nguyen's blog, too..... plus we took a photo of green papaya to the market with us. I'm making the salad tonight with the green papaya and we'll just have to see how it turns out. My report above was for the salad I made a few days ago with green cabbage. It was delicious.

                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                        I'm not sure that green papaya isn't a different variety to the yellow/orange ones. I don't think a green papaya ever ripens, it just goes bad.

                                                      3. re: alkapal

                                                        In the markets in Vietnam I noticed that they had ready shredded everything - I wish they had that here! Green papaya is very expensive generally, I find, but totally worth it.

                                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                                      greedygirl, i've even used green cabbage (or even jicama) when i've gotten the craving and green papaya wasn't available.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        I much prefer green papaya though (and you can't get jicama here).

                                                      2. re: greedygirl

                                                        Oh yay! I'm making a beef salad from the Pham book next week!

                                              2. re: andrewm

                                                Re: andrewm's post about Three Crabs:

                                                Has anybody checked the label of a recently purchased 3 Crabs bottle? I'm very impressed by the article and don't want to buy anything with fructose or hydroginated anything. The article, however, was written 10 years ago and maybe 3 Crabs has gotten wise since then?

                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                  I have a bottle that I bought w/in the last year or so, and it contains fructose and hydrolized wheat protein.

                                              3. re: Gio

                                                I'm thinking I might try this with what I have referred to as the "magic" chicken -- one of those rotisserie chickens. I usually make a chicken salad from at least part when I get one, and this would be great. Also for leftover roasted chicken -- just shred it up.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Spicy Cabbage and Chicken Salad, IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 50

                                                  I think this is the 6th or 7th time I've made this scrumptious salad but because last night I chopped mixed greens instead of using napa cabbage I thought I'd briefly report it. A few things were done differently but really didn't change the outcome at all. I shaved the carrot instead of grating it, used Tamari instead of soy sauce, marinated the red onion longer than the recommended 15 minutes (only because I made the dressing while the onions were bathing), and used 3 chicken breasts and added a bay leaf to the water for the poaching liquid (so the resulting broth would have a little more flavor). The greens I used were about a quarter head red leaf lettuce, half a small Bibb lettuce and a handful of cultivated arugula.

                                                  This little salad is absolutely addictive for me. The dressing is mesmerizing. Instead of shredding the chicken I chose to slice the breasts on the bias and mix them into the dressing so the pieces were infused with the sauce. Then the other vegetables were tossed with the chicken and dressing. It was just Great. The salad was served with an Indonesian fried rice from the Mighty Spice cookbook by John Gregory-Smith: Nasi Goreng. The broth was stored for future use.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    I noticed your post on the Mighty Spice thread and wanted to read more about this salad. Thanks for posting this about the small changes. Somehow I seem to have missed this during Vietnamese month (probably the one that changed my taste/cooking the most), and will now put it on my must make list. There is something totally addictive about Vietnamese flavors (at least for me).

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Oh LLM you will love it, I'm sure. We have decided we like Vietnamese flavors immensely and have made a promise to cook from these two books more frequently...

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Well you've certainly bumped me in that direction too. I remember saying at the beginning of Vietnamese month "how many times a week can a person eat the same flavors?" and then wanting to cook from the books every single day.

                                                2. Made the Baked Shrimp Toasts - Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, p. 27 - today.

                                                  My friends and I loved them. I bought Pepperidge Farm "Very Thin" bread and used 16 slices, with one triangle left over, instead of the 12 called for. The recipe states that the paste covering the bread should be as thick as the bread. I don't think I covered it that thinly and still required the extra slices. Which is fine - I'm cooking the extras up right now for a snack for myself :-)

                                                  They cooked a little longer (about 15 minutes instead of 10-12) but I definitely didn't overcook them.

                                                  Edited to say the few leftovers I just cooked took about 12 minutes - I must have spread them thinner, though I hadn't thought so. So definitely watch them.
                                                  This recipe is an absolute keeper!

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: mirage

                                                    I finally got the ItVK book today from the library, and right away these caught my interest. Glad to hear they were such a hit. They're going straight on my "to make" list.

                                                    1. re: mirage

                                                      I made these on Friday night. I couldn't get the PF 'very thin" bread, so I sliced some regular slices in half, which I think did make them a bit thin, and I think they were a little over baked, even though I took them out earlier than called for when toasting. I did find spreading the shrimp paste on to the little triangles a bit finicky and tiresome, and next time I think I'd just cut the 'very thin' slices in half, and make them that way. Really delicious bites!

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        Did you find they needed a bit more seasoning? We thought a little more fish sauce was good.

                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                          I did think, now that you mention it, that they could have use a little more salt - and so I suppose fish sauce would have done the same thing.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            You're up late - watching the debate?

                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              Watched at some friends' house - combined with dog play date a bit of a circus. And you are up early! You should try making these shrimp things - but I wouldn't bother with the triangles of bread - just cut "decrusted" pieces in half - I think it must be much easier that way.

                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                Working a night and watched the debate as well. I'd much rather be at home making shrimp toasts but I'd vote for Joe if I could.

                                                      2. re: mirage

                                                        Old thread but I need to bump it and ask a question please. My daughter and SIL are coming for the weekend. I have enough broth for pho to make four not huge portions so was trying to think of something to serve with or before. My sole experience with Viet cooking is banh mi once and pho twice. These shrimp toasts sound great and easy to prep ahead of time (the topping anyway). Would this make an acceptable meal? BTW, they're tiny birds (the 'kids) with practically no body fat so I don't have to serve a gigantic amount of food. TIA.

                                                      3. Green Papaya Salad, IVK/Nguyen, Pg. 48

                                                        The GPS I made last night vaguely followed Ms. Nguyen's recipe, namely the dressing and most of the ingredients. The main reason for the salad was to taste, for the first time, a green papaya.

                                                        The dressing is pretty much like many others: lime juice, fish sauce (I used 3 Crabs this time), sugar, garlic, Thai chilies. I must say, I found no discernible difference between 3 Crabs and Golden Boy. I was expecting a much more pronounced salty flavor; of course I did not add additional salt. But overall, the dressing was flavorful...spicy and sour.

                                                        Now for the salad. Omitting the shrimp and the bit of pork, the ingredients I used were shaved carrot, cored and seeded tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and a minced jalapeño from the garden for good measure. When I sliced into the papaya, the flesh was firm and a lovely shade of ivory with light green overtones. I loved all the seeds that came spilling out. I wonder if they can be dried and planted in Spring. I'll have to see about that. The papaya was sliced from stem to stern in three sections. One section was shredded, one was shaved into thin strips and one was diced. This made an enormous salad. The dressing was poured over all and tossed several times while we cooked the other components of the meal. How did we like it? DH said it was blah. I kinda liked it but to my palate, the earlier Green Cabbage Salad was tastier. The papaya did not seem to absorb much flavor from the very flavorful dressing. Perhaps I'll slide it into the rotation including the shrimp and pork to see if that makes a difference.

                                                        We served this with grilled marinated turkey breast and steamed green beans, neither of which recipe came from the book - well, the beans Were bought at an Asian market.....

                                                        8 Replies
                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          gio, i don't have the cookbook, but try that recipe for som tum i linked to in my post (the dried shrimp give it a kick, and i think there is garlic, too). too bad yours was blah. if the dressing alone wasn't WOWI LOVE THAT, then the green papaya isn't going to really do much of anything, imo. it's always about that sweetish, lime-y salty slightly seaside umami punch. can you tell i'm in love with som tum?

                                                          btw, the papaya seeds can be made into a salad dressing, according to one of those recent links i provided (from the vegan website)....

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            Thanks alkapal! Yes, the dressing was wonderful. I guess I'll have to make it again using the shrimp. Perhaps Mr. G won't notice. HAH!

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              I agree that dried shrimp are a nice addition to papaya salad. So is the beef jerky Nguyen mentions in the notes. I love this salad but for me it is all about making it spicy with both fresh and dried chiles, and lots of herbs too.
                                                              We have a place here in SF that serves this with slivers of fried tofu, it is delicious! Chopped, roasted peanuts are nice too.

                                                              1. re: rabaja

                                                                at my thai place, they also serve it with peanuts crushed on top. i've ground in a mortar and pestle the dried shrimp, but my fave rest just smashes to bruise the little shrimps.

                                                                i like eating the som tum with my fave fresh rice noodles "drunken noodles" -- nirvana! ;-D

                                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                                  rabaja: Where in SF is the place that serves the green papaya salad with fried tofu slivers?

                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                    Out the Door in the Ferry Building.
                                                                    It's delicious if you can deal with the crowds.
                                                                    I usually get it and run...out the door!

                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                I haven't had Vietnamese style papaya salad but have had the Thai versions. In general, Vietnamese food tends to be more subtle than Thai food. So that may explain your "blah" comment.

                                                                Papaya salad is also very personal. So if you weren't happy with the salt content, you could add more fish sauce. I also find that using a mortar and pestle with your papaya salad (as in the video that alkapal linked to) helps to infuse the flavor into the papaya as opposed to just merely dressing the papaya shreds. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, I would just have the papaya sit in the dressing for a bit -- kind of different from dressing Western style salads last minute. I've also added salted crab to mine -- adds a wonderful dimension of umami goodness!

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  Thank you Miss Needle. I do have a mortar & pestle but didn't think to use it for this salad.....I guess I just have to experiment ..... and I value everyone's advice. Many thanks to all!

                                                              3. Cucumber and Shrimp Salad (ItVK page 46) served with Fried Shrimp Chips (page 37)

                                                                Nguyen seems to consider this a side salad and says it serves 4 to 6. Phooey! I say it’s a main course salad and it was only with great restraint that I didn’t eat the entire thing in one sitting.

                                                                I used half the amount of kirbys (maybe if I’d used the full amount it would have served two generously?), doubled the carrot, doubled the shrimp instead of using pork, and had no idea what “precooked bay or small salad shrimp” were so bought small shrimp, cooked them, and cut them into thirds. She says to make Fried Shrimp Chips and use them to scoop up bitefuls of salad, so I did.

                                                                The salad was just outstanding, very colorful with lots of different textures. And the dressing was spicy, sweet, hot, salty—just perfect.

                                                                She warns you that the shrimp chips cook in seconds, but never having made them before I was a bit taken aback, even after reading her warning twice, by how much they expanded and how quickly they cooked. She says not to let them brown, but I just couldn’t get them out the oil quickly enough so the edges did brown a bit. They were still tasty, though. And the best complement possible to the salad. Just loved it. All of it.

                                                                25 Replies
                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  Oh my Lord.... doesn't that look awesome..... I must try that. I have not read that recipe yet so don't know exactly what shrimp chips are. But tomorrow is another day and another learning experience.

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    They look to me like what we call prawn crackers, which you can easily buy ready-made pretty much everywhere.

                                                                    It is traditional in Vietnam to eat salads with crispy things, especially a kind of rice cracker with sesame seeds. I actually bought some in the Vietnamese supermarket for this purpose - according to the packet you can grill or fry them.

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      Look for packages similar to these:

                                                                      1. re: hannaone

                                                                        Those prawn crackers are good. But I think in this instance, the prawn crackers they're talking about are these:


                                                                        They are sold at the market in packages like this:


                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                          Haven't seen those in my local Vietnamese store - only the Viet and Thai versions of the Shrimp sticks which are a little larger and a little less dense than the Korean ones and have flecks of dried shrimp in the cracker. The packaging is similar to the Korean stix with the picture or drawing of a shrimp and the crinkle shaped cracker.
                                                                          Sometimes they are multi colored (red, pink, green, yellow) and are more of a "Cheetos" shape and texture.

                                                                          1. re: hannaone

                                                                            Wow! I haven't seen the ones you're talking about. Must be on the lookout for them!

                                                                          2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                            Actually, Nguyen says "As with all snack foods, not all shrimp chips are equal. The inexpensive colorful ones sold in boxes are pretty but not much else." She recommends Indonesian shrimp chips called "krupuk," and I just happened to find them in an Asian grocery. Those, after frying, are what are on the plate with the salad in the photo I posted..

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              Thanks for the clarification. Actually, I like the taste of those inexpensive chips as it's very subtle and reminds me of eating styrofoam without actually eating styrofoam. But I haven't heard of krupuk, and would be interested in trying that as well.

                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                Here, fyi, is a photo of the ones I bought with one of the uncooked chips next to the package.

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Alrighty then - am I looking for Prawn Crackers or Shrimp Chips? (p_q)

                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    Oh, the hell with it. Buy Sesame Rice Crackers and toast them, which is another of her suggestions for something crispy to accompany the salad. :-)

                                                                                    She does say, though, in her intro: "Shrimp chips, usually labeled shrimp crackers . . . ." So, ya pays yer money, ya takes yer choice.

                                                                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                  How do they make them all those pretty colours?

                                                                                  My local Asian supermarket sells them ready made in plastic bags I think, but due to the British obsession with crisps (chips) you can also buy them in regular supermarkets like Marks and Spencer. You also usually get a complimentary basket of them in any Chinese/Asian restaurant.

                                                                                  I don't recall being given prawn crackers with salads when we were in Vietnam. It was more likely to be rice crackers with black sesame seeds, like the ones in the picture below. I have some in the cupboard that I bought in a Vietnamese market in East London (which is where most of the Vietnamese live here, for some reason).


                                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                                I just sent this thread to my resident expert (my Vietnamese mom!) to see how she would explain shrimp chips/prawn crackers. Growing up, I do remember that she cooked with flat crackers that were fried and puffed up into chips/squares, not sticks.

                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                  Talked to mom. The pics that Hannahone posted aren't the right shrimp chips - those are snacks. JoanN's pics are the right ones. In Vietnamese they're "banh phong tom", krupuk in Indonesian, and keropok in Malaysian.

                                                                                  You're looking for thin disks or squares - shrimp "crackers", which, when fried, puff up into the "chips". They're often used to scoop the salads, etc they're served with. I had totally forgotten, but she reminded me that on her last trip to Vietnam, she brought me a package from Soc Trang, where she was born. Shrimp crackers from here are considered some of the best because of the shrimp industry in this region. I took a pic of the crackers:

                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                    Thanks so much, Rubee. That's great to know. Although I must say I've been liking these crackers so much I wouldn't have cared even if they were the *wrong* ones. I made some more again to have with the leftover salad. The leftover salad, by the way, held up surprisingly well. I always expect salads to be a wilted, weeping mess the next day, but the leftovers were almost as good as the first night.

                                                                                    I'll be heading out to visit my mom at the end of the week and she lives near a gigantic Asian market, which is where I bought the crackers in the first place. I'll see if they have banh phong tom from Soc Trang. It would be interesting to compare.

                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                      Thank you Rubee - and also you JoanN!!! Now that I've had you all trying to help me through this I'll go downstairs and re-read all the writings about the... the shrimp.......crackers in the Nguyen book.. My Pham book finally arrived and so I'll read anything I can find in her book as well.

                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Joan, bay shrimp are those teeny things abou three-quarters of an inch long that you see on salad bars, and I think they are only ever sold precooked. They have very little flavor, so your solution of cooking and cutting up shrimp was no doubt a much better choice for your salad, which looks scrumptious.

                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                    In the UK, shrimps are only ever the tiny ones, which are often used to make potted shrimps, which are delicious. The best ones come from Morecambe Bay in the north of England.

                                                                                    Everything else is a prawn!

                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                    That looks delicious Joan. What are kirbys, btw?

                                                                                    I cracked and ordered the Nguyen book but it hasn't arrived yet. It will probably come tomorrow, just in time for my holiday!

                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                      A kirby is a short, fat cucmber with fairly thin skin and smaller, less numerous seeds. It's often used here for pickling. Here's a Cook's Thesaurus link with a picture:


                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        Joan N: This is my lucky day! We just got 3 kirby cukes in our CSA box.

                                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                                      Made this for dinner last night. Added fresh mint, basil, and cilantro. Served on thin cellophane noodles to soak up the delicious dressing. Perfect summer meal. Next time I might add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        re: JOAN N'S POST ABOUT SHRIMP CHIPS

                                                                                        JoanN: That salad looks deeelish! The shrimp chips, however, are very much larger than any I've had in the past. Is that true or was the salad portion very small and I've just got the perspective screwed up?

                                                                                        The ones I've made were just about the size of large potato chips.

                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                          That was a full-sized dinner plate, the salad was a dinner portion, and yes--the chips were just huge. When I first put them in the hot oil, they sort of sank to the bottom, curled up a bit, and then unfurled--very quickly--into rounds that were at least 5 inches in diameter. No idea whether that's true of all shrimp crackers since these are the only ones I've ever tried.

                                                                                          But I'm out visiting my mom in New Jersey and she lives near a huge Asian market that has foods from all over Asia. Maybe it's time for a shrimp cracker taste-off?

                                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                                          I made this one last night as well - made about 1/2 the recipe for the two of us, we ate most of it, along with the stuffed squid and the shrimp/egg dish. I think my sauce wasn't quite spicy enough - maybe I should have let it sit longer. Also, I didn't chop up the serrano, but just sliced it. No chips for us with this. It is a lovely salad, and a wonderful Sunday meal on a warm September evening.

                                                                                          Oh - I used medium shrimp, boiled, slice in half and then cut up into pieces that I thought would be the size of bay shrimp (assuming those are the tiny ones like one finds on a Scandinavian open faced sandwich).

                                                                                        3. Banana Blossom salad with chicken (POtVT p83)

                                                                                          Well banana blossom is one of the few things that my local Chinese supermarket doesn't sell so I used shredded daikon and carrot instead. The dressing is pounded garlic, chillies and sugar mixed with lime juice, water and the ubiquitous fish sauce. I used leftover poached chicken from yesterday's dinner and tossed it with half the dressing. After it had marinated for 10 minutes or so I added it to the veggies, along with some sliced onion, fried shallots, rau ram and chopped roasted peanuts.

                                                                                          It was delicious, and every scrap got eaten, along with some Vietnamese fried rice, which I will report on in the approprite thread.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            Banana Blossom Salad with Chicken (goi bap chuoi ga), Pham-PVT, p. 83

                                                                                            I made some changes to this but agree with GreedyGirl that it was delicious. Mom was out for a visit and we ate this for dinner wrapped in rice paper rolls with lettuce and plenty of spicy nuoc cham.

                                                                                            I made the dressing in a mortar - garlic, chilis, sugar, lime juice, water and fish sauce - and used a Benriner mandoline to slice the banana blossom. Instead of chicken, I used poached shrimp, and tossed with cilantro and mint (instead of rau ram), cucumbers, peanuts, and fried shallots.

                                                                                            I can't seem to load pictures, so link:

                                                                                          2. Cucumber Salad, Pham, p. 81

                                                                                            Just a very nice cucumber salad - I prepped it ahead of time, mixing the liquids, salt and sugar in one bowl, and the cucumbers, shallots and chilis in another, then mixed together about 30 minutes ahead of time along with the cilantro.

                                                                                            Roast Eggplant with Scallion Oil, Pham, p. 81

                                                                                            This we loved - you roast the eggplant on a gas burner or barbecue (I did the former), then peel and cut up a bit after they've cooled. Then, you heat up oil, add scallions, then chilies, fish sauce and salt off the heat, and pour over the eggplant. I didn't have nice slender Asian eggplant, but some smallish fat ones - the dish had such a wonderful charred flavor.

                                                                                            19 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                              Cucumber Salad, Pham, p. 81

                                                                                              I had grand plans tonight for a big Vietnamese meal with several courses, but then life intervened and I ran out of time and didn't even have enough time to shop, let alone cook. So, we just picked up some pork chops at the grocery store that we threw on the grill, heated up the left over scallion noodles that I cooked from Pham last night, and then quickly chopped some cucumbers and threw this cucumber salad from just ingredients I had on hand... And it was very nice! We will definitely try again.

                                                                                              A couple of substitutions for the cuke salad (natch!)--I used Splenda instead of sugar. I think I could have pulled back on the quantity just a tiny bit, maybe 2 1/2 TBSP instead of 3 TBSP; I'm afraid I didn't have fresh lime (didn't have time to shop, remember?) so I just used a couple of packets of True Lime which I have a ton of (long story, but I accidentally bought 16 boxes of them on Amazon about a year ago, so, I use them for A LOT of things...); and I didn't have Serrano chilies, so I just used two of those Thai bird chilis (seeded of course). My husband thought the cuke salad was a wee too spicy, but I loved it.

                                                                                              Oh, and Pham's scallion noodles were terrific re-heated as leftovers. Yum!


                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                I'm sure you can all visualize what the cucumber salad looks like, but I snapped a photo anyway. Attached.


                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  I made this tonight to serve with leftover lemongrass ribs, Russian salad and my absolute favourite thing, Vietnamese fried rice. We liked it a lot - very refreshing and with nice kick from the chillies.

                                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                    I will buy ketchup tomorrow, I will buy ketchup tomorrow!

                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                      You must be the only person in the US without a bottle of ketchup in your house!

                                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                        Make that two people without a bottle of ketchup. Although, I do have those little take out packets, I've been meaning to look up the amount of ketchup needed for the fried rice recipe and see if I have enough little packets.

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          Ketchup is a fairly new addition to our cupboard too ...

                                                                                                            1. re: pitu

                                                                                                              Oh i could not live without Brooks catsup. It is a Canadian import and I can get it locally but contemplating a retirement move in a few years, I checked for it on Amazon and was relieved to find they carry it. There is nothing quite like their spicy, cinnamony flavor. Beats all others hands down.

                                                                                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                    Roasted Eggplant with Scallion Oil (ca tim nuong), p 81

                                                                                                    I made this tonight and we liked it too. I cooked two Asian eggplants on the grill, but not very evenly so I had to finish them up on the stove. I peeled them, cut them into chunks, stir-fried them until tender, and then pushed them aside, added the scallions, and then sliced chilies, fish sauce (I added a bit more to taste), and salt, and then mixed it all together. The recipe actually calls for making the flavored oil separately and then pouring it over the eggplant. This rounded out a very nice dinner tonight of grilled ribeye using an on-line Pham marinade for Thai Cowboy Steak, and Vietnamese Fried Rice (p. 137).

                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                      When I charred the eggplants on the gas burners, the eggplant was cooked through already - I take it yours were still not tender at that point?

                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                        I think it was my inexperience as a former city dweller with our new grill ; )

                                                                                                        Even though I used the elongated Asian eggplants, by the time the rounded end of the eggplant was soft and practically collapsed, the end closer to the stem was still a bit too firm. I think I need more practice - it's one of those infrared grills and I better learn how to use it!

                                                                                                      2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                        Roasted Eggplant with Scallion Oil, PoVT, page 81

                                                                                                        HA! I had the exact opposite problem as Rubee--I started my eggplants (I used the skinny Japanese eggplants) on the gas burners on my stove--let them go 6-7 minutes which is longer than the 4-5 Pham said it might take-- let them cool, then tried to peel them and realized they just weren't ready. So, then we took them out and cooked them on the grill until they were tender enough to peel. I think it takes longer on the gas burners than it does on the grill.

                                                                                                        Anyway, I very much enjoyed the finished product. We served it with "Grill garlicky five-spice pork steaks" from ITVK pg 143 (a real winner, by the way), and Nguyen's simple dipping sauce (p. 309), also a winner and very simple, which I will post about on the appropriate thread.

                                                                                                        Here's a lonely looking photo of a piece of pork and eggplant. My husband was the photographer last night (he'll do anything to keep the meal moving!) isn't a big eggplant lover, so, he was very conservative in dishing out his serving of eggplant ...


                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          I thought I was trailblazing with this recipe but it turns out you've all already made it!

                                                                                                          Anyway, I loved the smoky charred flavour of this and it was pretty easy to make. I used a regular but smallish aubergine and cooked it on the gas burner. I also found it took a little longer than Pham says to cook. An aces recipe.


                                                                                                        2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                          Eggplant with Scallions (Pham, pg. 81)

                                                                                                          I really liked this. I did have a problem with roasting the eggplant over my gas grill. Next time, I’m going to throw them on the grill or oven. I had so much trouble with the eggplant, that I didn’t think the dish would be good at all. But, it was tasty with the contrasting flavors between the scallions, chilies and fish sauce.

                                                                                                        3. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                          I made this eggplant salad again and it was a big hit. Again I used small fat purple egg plants - maybe 7 - 8 inches and charred them on the gas burners. I just left them there, turning occasionally, while tending to other dishes, and they cooked through perfectly.

                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                              I made both of these also, and loved both of them too.

                                                                                                              Just two notes:
                                                                                                              The cucumber salad is good to eat either just as soon as you've made it, or after it's had a chance to sit a while, as the recipe directs. But the chili flavor won't be apparent if you eat it immediately.

                                                                                                              I've made the roasted eggplant several times now, with various types of Italian, Turkish, and Chinese eggplants from my garden. They were all outstanding; you just have to adjust the roasting and the chopping accordingly. I do not, sad to say, have a gas stove, so I roasted them outside on my regular little grill. One time with wood chips, which added a wonderful smokiness.

                                                                                                              This week I'll be making the version with whole, tiny eggplants, leaving the tops on.

                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                Made both again for my dinner - loved both again. I did find that a couple of my eggplants took forever to get soft this time, which I recall others having issues with in the past.

                                                                                                              2. Table Salad, PVK. Pg. 80

                                                                                                                Green leaf lettuce & Napa cabbage sliced in ribbons, arugula/fresh mint/Thai basil/chopped cilantro, peeled/seeded/diced cucumber, cored/seeded thinly sliced tomato. Instead of using the lettuce leaves as a wrap for the other vegetables, I made a salad dressing similar to the lime dressing I made for the Chicken salad I made last week:
                                                                                                                4Thai chilies, chopped; 1 clove garlic, finely minced; 1 tsp sugar & a pinch of salt;
                                                                                                                3 T fish sauce; 6 T Japanese rice vinegar plus: 2 cloves minced garlic, , S & P.

                                                                                                                Very nice.... refreshing, I love the combination of lime juice and vinegar. I never would have thought to use 2 different acidic flavors together in one dish.

                                                                                                                1. I made the POmelo and Grilled Shrimp Salad from Pham and it was very good. I used more cucumber and carrot as it was our dinner. I had to use grapefruit, I think it would have been better with pomelo. I also did not add the water to the dipping sauce recipe, I like it undiluted. We enjoyed the meal and I'll make it again.

                                                                                                                  1. Since i have been cooking from this book for a couple of years now i have stayed out of the discussion. But, I must jump in here and suggest you all try those amazing corn and coconut fritters, p.36. I have been making them frequently and now while we can still get good corn is a great time to give them a try. Yesterday I bought an ebelskiver pan to try them out in. The first time I made them my DH and I were total pigs and ate thte whole batch.

                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                      Thanks for posting about that - I'll see if I can find the recipe on line (as I've ordered the book but not gotten yet, and am having a dinner party on Thursday). Would love it if you felt like chiming in on the 'master' thread about some of your favorite recipes.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                        Corn and Coconut Fritters (ItVK page 36)

                                                                                                                        Candy commands, and I obey.

                                                                                                                        I’d read through this recipe when I first got the book, but corn? coconut cream? flour? deep fat fried? That’s my calorie budget for the week! But I figured what the hell. I’ll eat pickled vegetables for the next four or five days..

                                                                                                                        You make a batter from the kernels of two ears of corn, the cream from the top of a can of coconut milk, an egg, AP flour, cornstarch, salt, and a bit of sugar and deep fat fry about 2 teaspoonsful for each fritter.

                                                                                                                        I cooked them in oil in a wok using a candy thermometer. But I was having difficulty regulating the temperature of the oil and the first batch sort of burned on the outside before it was cooked on the inside; the second batch was a bit undercooked; and the third batch was just right.

                                                                                                                        The dipping sauce is mostly Sriracha somewhat thinned with water with some sugar added. I like Sriracha. I can tolerate hot about as well as anyone I know. But in this instance I thought the dipping sauce overwhelmed the subtle flavor of the fritters. You lose too much of the sweetness of the corn with such a hot dipping sauce. Not sure what I’d substitute. In fact, not even sure it needs a dipping sauce at all. But if there is to be one, I think it needs to be lighter and more complementary to the corn.

                                                                                                                        These were quite wonderful and I’d probably be elated if they were served to me in a restaurant. But despite how tasty they were, the calorie count, the need for last-minute preparation and immediate serving, and my difficulty regulating the temperature of the oil would keep these from becoming anything other than an infrequent guilty pleasure.

                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                          I made Nguyen's corn and coconut fritters as one part of dinner tonight, and I thought the fritters were great! Corn and coconut is a great combo, and if I wanted some protein substance, I'd add some rough chopped par-cooked shrimp.

                                                                                                                          Everything came together very quickly, and the frying part was a cinch. I fried in my wok so it didn't use that much oil or splatter much at all. I had no problem regulating the temp.

                                                                                                                          Since it was just the two of us and I wanted to be efficient, I made them a little larger than 1.5" in diameter. My batter may have been on the loose side, but I liked their consistency and irregular shape. Uh, we had no problem devouring the whole batch.

                                                                                                                          I totally agree that the sauce is too spicy hot and overwhelms the delicate sweetness of the fritters. After tasting the sauce as written, I adjusted by adding more water, more sugar, and a little coconut milk. It still was too strong so I barely used the dipping sauce. I'd prefer a nuoc cham w/ lime juice next time. I'll definitely make these again! Thanks for prodding us to make this recipe, Candy!

                                                                                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                                            I recently bought an ebelskiver pan to make these in. Been to busy to try it out. But I thought the perfect little rounds would use less oil and turn out gorgeous plump little dumplings. Maybe next week. We are expanding the shop and i have been coming home wiped out from setting one shop and resetting the original. 1-2 more days to go. Gourmet foods in one with food tastings and equipment demos. Cooking equipment in the other. I am going to miss the "debate" this evening, just too tired to stay up. 9 hours straight of moving mdse and arranging. I can't wait to try the corn dumplings in the new pan and I think I can get away with less fat. I did find that it is realy important to let that batter rest for the full 30 mins.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                              Hi Candy. I hope that your schedule lightens up so you can do more cooking for yourself and try your new pan! I know what it's like when you're working so much that it's too tiring to cook, plan, shop, etc.

                                                                                                                              I fried these fritters in a wok which seemed to work well and not use too much oil. I admit to not letting the batter rest for the entire 30 min.--more like 20 min.---so will be more diligent next time. I saved the oil and will find another fried recipe...

                                                                                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                                                Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we'll have both shops, the gourmet shop and the cookware shop all reset, looking good and they will only need minor tweaks.

                                                                                                                                i did find that if I did not let the batter set I did not get enough rise but 20 mins, 30 mins. should not matter that much. I am really anxious to try the ebelskiver pan. It should produce really pretty little round dumplings.

                                                                                                                                With work at least i don't have to worry about the mysterious 3 lbs. that showed up on my scale last week :-) ! It has all been really physical, lift that cast of Minus 8 vinegar, build shelving, tote that barge remerchndise the jams and chutneys. It has been kind of shut up and get a move on! I do want to get back to cooking and enjoying food again, not just move it around.

                                                                                                                                Maybe I am getting to old for some of this. Another milestone birthday this month. Gee, I wonder if diamond studs are in the picture.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                  My birthday is later this month too! :-)

                                                                                                                                  To keep this on topic, do you like the sauce that Andrea suggests for this or do you use something else? Mine was so spicy hot, but my Sriracha is pretty old so the flavors may have gotten too concentrated. Rubee's sauce for cha gio below sounds good...

                                                                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                            I'm glad to read your comments, Joan. I was being tempted by these but, like you, not sure I want to deal with the vagaries of oil and the last minute part. But maybe :)

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

                                                                                                                          I posted the report at link below:

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                            Just thought I'd add a tip about the chili sauce I served with the spring rolls - something my mom taught me. This is so easy, but people flip over this. I've used it as a glaze for chicken wings, in sauces for ribs, dip for grilled shrimp etc.

                                                                                                                            It's only two ingredients: store-bought sweet chili sauce for cha gio (usually has sugar, chili, garlic, shredded carrot) and Sriricha to taste, so you can make it non-spicy for the wimps and fiery for those who like heat. Sometimes I add a bit of rice vinegar. Everyone always asks for the "recipe".

                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                              i always use the small triangular rice paper wrappers for my spring rolls (cha gio). I did find while making dozens for a party this spring that shallow frying in a skillet instead of a wok kept the rolls from sticking together. I made 5 doz. rather quickly this way. I used to use my wok, but the rolls would stick together like Siamese twins. Love those things and they do freeze well so when making them I will male several dozen at a time.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                When do you freeze them? Before or after cooking? I made a batch this afternoon, put a handful in the freezer before frying and another handful after just to see what happens. Nguyen only says that the best way to refresh leftover uncut rolls is to refry them. I loved these and would like to do them for a party. But I'd also like to do as much prep as possible as early as possible. Would you share more detail on freezing and cooking from frozen?

                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                  Hi Joan, six months later. How did that experiment go?

                                                                                                                                  My mom used to make large batches of spring rolls, and freeze them in smaller packets of wax paper and foil. Fried *before* freezing, reheated in the toaster oven after thawed, totally for convenience. Texture of the skin not as good that way, but acceptable.

                                                                                                                                  If she was using ground pork, she would cook it a little before assembling, if they were going in the freezer. I've noticed the frozen Chinese dumpling I buy don't bother to cook the pork, and freeze the dumplings raw, but they are meant to be steamed so I guess that's different. Totally different skins, obvi. Come to think of it, the commercial Viet rolls I've bought have been frozen raw, so that you fry them at home.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                    Both methods worked, but I've decided (I've made a couple of more batches of spring rolls since then) I prefer to freeze them after they've been fried. (As always, Mama knows best!) First, the frozen uncooked ones have to be thawed very carefully or they'll stick together. Next, if I'm serving them for company, having them precooked avoids the mess and constant attention required of uncooked ones since I have the option of either baking them (which is what I usually do) or just shallow frying them in a skillet. Also, I'm still not sure whether it's my papers (I’ve used a couple of different brands and sizes) or my timing, but sometimes the rolls don't get crispy the first time I fry them. By freezing them after cooking, it ensures there will be a second cooking resulting in a better chance of getting them nice and crispy.

                                                                                                                                    Are you saying that even if your mom were going to fry the rolls before freezing them she would cook the ground pork a bit? That would indicate to me that she planned to intentionally undercook the rolls so they’d be just right when reheated. Do you think that’s so? Or was it just extra-precautionary?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                      As I recall, the frying would be totally based on the skin, which would go all the way brown/crisp. Pretty much everything else inside the roll, including seafood, hardly needed cooking. Intentional undercooking sounds like a good ploy too...
                                                                                                                                      But I'll ask her for you!

                                                                                                                                      (/sigh) totally wish I had a packet of them in the freezer now . . .

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                        For chinese spring rolls, my mom always does the double frying. The first time is a very light fry. And, if she freezes, she lightly fries first, cools and freezes. I believe the meat (prior to stuffing) is cooked ahead of time. Then, she fries a second time, ensuring a deliciously crispy result.

                                                                                                                            2. Hue Chicken Salad (ga bop), Pham-PVT, p. 79

                                                                                                                              What a delicious lunch this salad made today. It's simple, just a few ingredients tossed with cooked chicken, but so bright and fresh and full of flavor. I had made a batch of poached chicken breasts earlier in the week to use for lunches (for this book and some of Dunlop's dressings). I cover them with water, bring to a boil, then turn them over, cover the pan, and take them off the burner to poach slowly for about 15-20 minutes. Tender and juicy every time.

                                                                                                                              Chicken is shredded and then "massaged" with black pepper, salt and sugar. This technique really seasons the chicken. Then simply toss with lime juice, thinly sliced onion (I used a Benriner mandoline), fresh chiles, rau ram, and oil. I'm going to use the leftovers in fresh/summer rolls for lunch tomorrow.

                                                                                                                              Recipe Link:

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                My Vietnamese friend Jennifer, told me that when making the chicken salad it is traditional to use the poaching liquid from the chicken to make a clear soup with a bit of rice in it to serve alongside the chicken salad.

                                                                                                                              2. Vietnamese Sandwich (banh mi thit), Pham-PVT, p. 94

                                                                                                                                The version in the book looked interesting because it includes a layer of ground pork seasoned with garlic, five-spice powder, dried chili, soy sauce and sugar. It was really tasty on its own too. I layered it with roast pork (a Nigella recipe with a rub of ginger, garlic, and rice wine vinegar), Marinated Daikon and Carrots (p. 38), cucumber, cilantro, and sliced chilis.

                                                                                                                                I thought this was good as something different, but my husband said he likes the ones I usually make. Mine usually include Kewpie Japonese mayo, and drizzles of nuoc cham (which I think is a key component). Also, I ran out of time and wasn't able to make it to the Asian market, so didn't get a chance to buy cha lua (Vietnamese sausage) or nice banh mi rolls. This is the first time not buying rolls in an Asian market; I bought a baguette at the local grocery store. The Asian rolls are nice and airy with a crispy crackly crust. The baguette was a bit too chewy and bready even though I removed some of the inside. I think it made a difference in why we didn't like this banh mi as much, especially as we loved the roast duck banh mi last week (pic below):

                                                                                                                                Roast duck banh mi:

                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                  Rubee, I've been contemplating making this subbing ground turkey for the pork. Do you think it would make a huge difference? Usually with lots of spicing (which this seems to have, it is less noticable.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                    I agree, I think ground turkey would be just fine with all the seasonings.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                      Thanks Rubee. That puts them back on the try list. I don't think I'm going to be able to put this (these) books down for a while ...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                        Me neither! I think I'm addicted to the sweet saltiness of the food. I decided not to buy Batali and will probably continue with Vietnamese for a while yet.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                          I know what you mean. I asked my husband how he felt about doing Batali, hoping he would demur, but he didn't, so I guess I'm buying one of the books!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                            Thats the thing ... that fish sauce mixed with sugariness somehow makes my mouth water just thinking about it. This month of cooking has been a revelation.

                                                                                                                                  2. Corn and Coconut Fritters, Nguyen, p. 36

                                                                                                                                    These were to nibble on before dinner last night. I used the 'solids' from a can of coconut milk for the coconut cream, and an ear of corn that had been sitting around for a while. Couldn't find my thermometer, and so used her chopstick method, which worked quite well. (Of course, when I went into the kitchen in the middle of the night to feed the dog some rice due to his digestive issues, the first thing staring me in the face on a shelf was that thermometer.) The batter was easy to make and you let it sit for 30 minutes. The spiciness of the chili garlic sauce (with some water and sugar) was a perfect contrast to the slight sweetness of the fritters, though I might add a little more salt to the batter next time.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                      Your's look so nice and puffed, MMRuth! As with most things that I fry, I sprinkled a little salt on them hot out of the pan, and they were just right.

                                                                                                                                    2. Nguyen, Fried Wontons - Hoanh Thanh Chien

                                                                                                                                      This was a joint effort among The Dairy Queen, my friend Michele and me. Actually, come to think of it--I just bought the ingredients. They did all the work. Although I did occasionally stand by the stove with a paper towel lined plate, ready for refill. We doubled the recipe. I think we ended up with about 70 pork & shrimp wontons, plus we made about 30 more stuffed with cream cheese and scallions for the teenagers in the room. (We had 8 for dinner, and not all that many were left over. *ahem*)

                                                                                                                                      The filling is essentially ground pork mixed with pea size chunks of fresh shrimp and chopped scallions. Maybe fish sauce too; can't remember. We mixed it up several hours before assembling the wontons, leaving the mixture in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                      Next step is to place a scant teaspoon in the center of the wonton skin, wet the inside edges of the skin, fold it into a triangle, and press the sides firmly to seal. Then they're cooked in 350 F vegetable oil, flipping with a chopstick , lifting out with tongs. I think it was Nguyen who recommended the chopstick test we used successfully to determine the readiness of the oil. Just hold a wooden chopstick tip in the oil. When the oil bubbles around the edges of the stick, it's hot enough.

                                                                                                                                      We used two different varieties of won ton skins, one slightly thinner than the other. The thin ones crisped up more and were darker; the thicker ones formed bubbles on the skin surface but the edges remained razor straight. I got the thinner one (unfrozen) at my local standard grocery, and the thicker one (frozen) at my local Asian grocery.

                                                                                                                                      Personally, I preferred the taste and texture of the thinner skins.

                                                                                                                                      These were, I have to say, pretty darn outstanding. The pork and shrimp mixture, tiny savory balls inside the crispy wonton, was addictive. There was a sweet-sour sauce recipe accompanying the won ton recipe, but we offered a good quality commercial spicy, sweet and sour sauce instead. They were good eaten on their own, or dipped in the sauce.

                                                                                                                                      As I said, there were at least 100 wontons for eight people and we had maybe a little over a dozen left over. I'd like to blame that on the two teenaged boys, but I'd be lying.

                                                                                                                                      It was when I was briefly warming up a couple of the leftover wontons for my husband and daughter the next day that I realized how much oil we all must have imbibed. Oh dear.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: clepro

                                                                                                                                        Those sound lovely. Her chop stick tip for the oil is a good one.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: clepro

                                                                                                                                          The won tons were absolutely addicting. And totally not Weight Watchers "core". Whoops. :). We were laughing that Andrea Nguyen was the Vietnamese Rachel Ray because Nguyen advices the chopstick test for oil-readiness, while RR apparently suggests the end of a wooden spoon test. I love this trick.

                                                                                                                                          I too preferred the thinner won ton skin because they had a little crunch to them. I will say that the thicker skins cooked more evenly--which explains the absence of the crunch-- and were easier to handle (ie., they stayed flipped in the oil when we flipped them). Since we had the Nguyen shrimp/pork filling in the thin skins and the cream cheese filling (delicious, also addicting and not core by the way; my first ever Minnesota "cream cheese" won tons) in the thick wrappers, we weren't 100% whether the fillings were influencing how the skins were cooking.

                                                                                                                                          Anything, thank you to clepro who did all the shopping and organizing and much of the prepping.


                                                                                                                                        2. Cabbage Salad wtih Shrimp and Pork (goi tom thit), Pham - PVT, p. 89

                                                                                                                                          This was another fresh tasty salad from this book. Cooked shrimp and chicken (instead of the pork) is tossed with cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers (I used a Benriner mandoline to slice everything very thin), rau ram (I used perilla and cilantro), fried shallots, and chopped peanuts. The dressing is made with onion, fresh chili, fish sauce, lime juice, salt, sugar and water. I also liked the technique of marinating the shrimp and chicken in the dressing for 5 minutes for more flavor.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                            I made the cabbage salad tonight (pham, p. 89) and we loved it (served two for dinner on its own). I skipped the pork and used leftover Thanksgiving turkey (Canada, eh) along with shrimp. I wonder if anyone else found the dressing a little too sweet? I didn't add as much sugar (3 tbs!) and still: very sweet, maybe because I cut back on the hot peppers? Also I missed out some of the salty sour fish saucy taste and added some nuoc cham at the last minute. I used Thai basil instead of rau ram. Apart from those modifications I made the recipe as written. Highly recommended, especially for using up leftover turkey! OK, now I really must get this library book back.

                                                                                                                                          2. Another recommendation from the Nguyen book. Nem Nuoing on page 86. If you have a food processor it is a snap to make. These are little chicken meatballs that are first fried and then baked. They get served like a sandwich in moistened rice wrappers with fresh herbs and dipping sauce. Truly yummy. I made a big batch of the chicken "pate" and froze what I didn't use. These are amazing. and a real treat don't miss these, the recipe and instructions look more complicated than the actual preparation. I plan to make the meatballs enmasse and then do the fry and after that freeze. When I want one of the "sandwiches" all I will have to do is defrost and bake. Last time I froze all of the pate in bulk and when I wanted to make more of the rolls I had to defrost all and cook all. This way will make it easier.

                                                                                                                                            BTW, if you visit Andrea Nguyen's website and go to her blog on the site, I sent her a recipe I found on line for squid rings with fresh dill and a chili lime dipping sauce. I have made this a number of times and it could not be easier if you but frozen squid rings. It is just the squid rings seasoned with fish sauce and chopped fresh dill. Allow to stand about a half hour, dredge with corn starch, fry first at about 325 and then before serving at 350 until golden. Serve with nuoc cham with plenty of fresh lime juice in it. i did 3 lbs. for a party a few weeks ago. They were inhaled quickly. Simple and great party food.

                                                                                                                                            1. Rice Paper-Wrapped Salad Rolls, Pham, p. 95

                                                                                                                                              I made these instead of the ones from the Hot, Sweet, Sour, Salty (?) book, which is hte recipe I usually used. I liked the addition of the pork shoulder to the shrimp. Cooked both the day before, then sliced the afternoon of the party. I did blanch the bean sprouts, though she doesn't say to, and omitted the lettuce, as I served it with the Vegetable Garnish Plate, and think it's fun to roll them in the lettuce. Also, I used 8.5 inch round rice paper, since I have lots of it, rather than buying the 12 inch ones, and so put a little less than called for in each. I served this with nuoc cham from her book, and the Spicy Hoisin Garlic Sauce from Nguyen, which I love - it has a couple of chicken livers in it.

                                                                                                                                              1. Baguette Sandwich (Banh Mi), Pg. 35, ITVK, Andrea Nguyen

                                                                                                                                                Using the left over Char Siu pork on page 142 we made this Holy Grail of a sandwich. Well, it is for some people. This version was quite tasty with flavors from daikon and carrot pickle, sliced jalapeno, cilantro, sliced red onion,shaved cucumber, wasbi mayo, and of course the spicy char siu. The bread was not the Vietnamese roll I would have liked but G had stopped at an Asian market on the way home and got a roll that worked quite well. A little crusty with a nice soft interior. I could have toasted the inside a little but didn't bother.

                                                                                                                                                The flavors of individual elements were noticeable at each bite along with a satisfying crunch. With everything packed into the roll it made a filling and satisfying light meal. More daikon and carrot pickles on the side and a handful of very spicy and crisp potato chips from TJ's completed the light meal. Must make more char siu, must make another sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                  I've made it with roast chicken in place of the pork and loved it. Used duck pate. Pretty heavenly.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                    Roast chicken makes a lot more sense than the sliced meatloaf I used once. It Was incredibly delicious, though. Joanne Chang of Boston's Flour Bakery has a recipe for "Vietnamese-Style Banh Mi Burgers" using beef and all the usual suspects.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                      Huh, that is an interesting idea. That one will be floating around in my head today, I have a feeling. Thanks for the info.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                        Here's a link to the burger recipe. I would use minced turkey or bison if I were making them...


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks Gio! This has me thinking about the much loved SE Asian Turkey burgers from Gourmet Today. Gosh I love those. Found a link for them, for those who don't have the book: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                    Baguette Sandwich (Banh Mi), Pg. 35, ITVK, Andrea Nguyen

                                                                                                                                                    Not much to add here, I agree with Gio's apt description of the 'holy grail sandwich'. For the meat I used a few leftover scraps of char siu pork that I managed to tear away from the ravaging hordes and the lemongrass beef skewers on page 28. Used fresh mayo (well, ailloi-the garlic was a welcome addition) which was wholeheartedly slathered over the airy baguettes I picked up at the Asian grocer.
                                                                                                                                                    I think my favourite part of the sandwich was the daikon/carrot pickle. I couldn't get enough of the stuff, and kept cramming the already-exploding bread with its tart/sweet crunchy goodness. I also loved the maggi seasoning in there--I was too timid with its initial application but upon realizing how delicious it was I went back with the bottle and generously doused the toppings with the umami-filled liquid. It pulled everything together nicely.

                                                                                                                                                    Now that I know how amazing the banh mi can be, I am eagerly looking forward to trying all sorts of combinations out there!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, that's the sandwich all right! So glad you liked it Allegra. And, did you know, AN has written a book solely on the Banh Mi sandwich? It's being proof read this summer. I can't wait for publication. I love her recipes and am sure this book will be a delight. Here she talks about the book and sandwich, plus the recipe:


                                                                                                                                                      In the freezer right now is another pork roast waiting for the char sui treatment so we can have another go-around with the sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                        Oh my, a banh mi-specific book by Nguyen? I (and the self-proclaimed sandwich fanatic spouse) will be awaiting this release with much anticipation! Thanks for the heads up...

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                      Baguette Sandwich (Banh Mi) (page 35, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen)

                                                                                                                                                      Made these last night with the Char Siu Pork (page 142) and the Everyday Daikon and Carrot Pickle (page 192). For mayonnaise I used a new-to-me French import, Delouis, which was just superb, and I used a Tom Cat baguette since I wasn’t running to Chinatown just for bread.

                                                                                                                                                      My grandson had two large sandwiches and declared them better than the ones at his local Vietnamese sandwich shop. And that Char Siu. Oh my!

                                                                                                                                                    3. Grilled Lemongrass Beef Skewers p-28 (Nguyen)

                                                                                                                                                      Made these tasty morsels a while back to stuff into banh mi. Thinly sliced beef strips are marinated in a mixture composed of shallots, brown sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, toasted sesame seeds, s&p, and fine shrimp sauce. Skewer and grill to lightly char.
                                                                                                                                                      This turned out to be a very simple recipe and we rather enjoyed it in our sandwiches, tho the shrimp paste flavour was too predominant for our liking. I did use Thai shrimp paste and now wonder if there is a difference in pungency between the varieties-perhaps I should have reduced. I also found myself wishing there was more lemongrass flavour in the blend, so I likely will add extra for next time.

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                        Grilled Lemongrass Beef Skewers (ItVK, page 28)

                                                                                                                                                        Made these, with the recommended Spicy Hoisin-Garlic Sauce on page 310 ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5538... which, much to my shock, contained chicken livers) for an all ItVK dinner party. Except for using flank steak instead of the recommended tri-tip or flap, I followed the recipe as written. My crappy, rental, soon-to-be-replaced range can't get food close enough to the broiler so these were overcooked and undercharred, but they were still great. Guests loved them. Some dipped the meat into the sauce, others spooned it over the skewers. My shrimp sauce was Koon Chun brand from Hong Kong and it blended well with the other flavors. Wish I had an outdoor grill; these would have been just spectacular over charcoal.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                          Had leftover flank steak and dipping sauce, so decided to whip up another batch of marinade for dinner tonight. Realized there seems to be no good reason for making the marinade in two stages as directed. I just dumped all the ingredients in the food processor and let 'er rip. Came out looking just the same, with one less bowl to clean.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I'm making Andrea Nguyen's Savory Meat Pastries (pa-te-so/pates chaud), p. 39. I can't understand her directions to cut them into diamonds. Has anybody made these before, or can explain this to me. Can't figure it out ;)