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Vietnam Specialities

Cuttlefish Steamed with Ginger
•    This nutritious and delicious meal combines the sweetness of cuttlefish with pungent taste of ginger. It is very suitable to serve the dish on cold days.
•    Ingredients:  (serves 4)
1.    Fresh cuttlefish: 1kg
2.    Celery and leek: 300g
3.    Red pepper: 2
4.    Lemon: 1
5.    Seasoning: 2 teaspoons

•    Preparation:
1.    Clean the cuttlefish and score its surface with a knife.
2.    Boiling water in a pot and add a dash of seasoning and crushed ginger. Add and scald the cuttlefish.
3.    Cut the celery and leek into 8cm pieces and slice ginger. Put the prepared ingredients and cuttlefish onto a plate and steam for ten minutes.
4.    Decorate the dish with coriander.
5.    Served hot with seasoning mixed with pepper, lemon juice and red pepper or mustard.

Beef Noodle Soup
•    Makes 8 satisfying (American-sized) bowls

For the broth:
•    2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total)
•    4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces)
•    5-6 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
•    5 star anise (40 star points total)
•    6 whole cloves
•    3-inch cinnamon stick
•    1 pound piece of beef chuck, rump, brisket or cross rib roast, cut into 2-by-4-inch pieces (weight after trimming)
•    1 1/2 tablespoons salt
•    4 tablespoons fish sauce
•    1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (duong phen; see Note)

For the bowls:
•    1 1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh pho noodles ("rice sticks'' or Thai chantaboon)
•    1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)
•    1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water
•    3 or 4 scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
•    1/3 cup chopped cilantro (ngo)
Ground black pepper
•    Optional garnishes arranged on a plate and placed at the table:
•    Sprigs of spearmint (hung lui) and Asian/Thai basil (hung que)
•    Leaves of thorny cilantro (ngo gai)
•    Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
•    Red hot chiles (such as Thai bird or dragon), thinly sliced
•    Lime wedges

Bun (Rice Vermicelli)
•    The best rice noodles have only two ingredients: rice or rice flour, and water. Rice vermicelli are thin, translucent noodles that are similar to cellophane noodles, with which they are often confused (rice vermicelli are made from rice; cellophane noodles are made from bean starch).
•    There are different varieties of vermicelli depending on their shape: bun roi (stirred vermicelli), bun mam (twisted vermicelli), bun la (vermicelli paper), and bun dem tram (shreded vermicelli).

Rolled Rice Pancake or Bánh Cuốn

•    Among other members of the extended noodle family, bánh cuốn almost ranks first. It is a paper-thin steamed rice flour pancake, much like delicate sheets of fresh rice noodles.
•    The pancakes are plucked off of the linen steamer base, and immediately rolled with minced pork and mushrooms, then piled on a plate, sprinkled with deep fried shallots, snipped with scissors into bite sized sections, and topped with fresh herbs such as cilantro or Vietnamese basil.
•    A plate of bánh cuốn is a light dish traditionally eaten as breakfast in Hanoi but now can also be found as a late night snack.

Grilled Minced Fish or Cha ca La Vong
•    The long history…
In ancient days, there was a street selling paints, called the Paints Street. The Doan family, located at house No, 14 of this street, hit upon a new idea that sold fried fish pie served with soft noodles and seasoning. Encouraged by the appreciation of customers, the family specialized in this trade and the shop was called as "Cha ca La Vong store" as a wooden statue of an old fisherman (La Vong) holding a fishing rod and a string of fish stands at the door.
•    As the specialty grew famous with every passing day, the street was renamed by the people as Cha Ca Street (fried fish pie street).

Fish Sauce – a Famous Vietnamese Condiment
•    Whoever coming to Vietnam and most Southeast Asian countries (such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) is much fond of a special condiment - Fish sauce (or nuoc mam in Vietnamese). It is a staple ingredient of numerous food like curry and sauces, and is derived from fish that is allowed to ferment.
•    The origin of fish sauce in Vietnam dates back to ancient times as a primary source of protein. Early fishing boats were unable to venture into the deep ocean to catch larger fish for more fish meat. Instead, they mostly stayed close to the shore and net small fish. Later on, it was found that they could produce a richer protein sauce by layering these small fish in barrels with salt. Since then, there appeared such a delicious sauce!

 

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