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  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)
- Fresh cuttlefish: 1kg
- Celery and leek: 300g
- Red pepper: 2
- Lemon: 1
- Seasoning: 2 teaspoons
- Clean the cuttlefish and score its surface with a knife
- Boiling water in a pot and add a dash of seasoning and crushed ginger. Add and scald the cuttlefish
- 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
- Decorate the dish with coriander
- 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
Prepare the broth:
Char onion and ginger. Use an open flame on grill or gas stove. Place onions and ginger on cooking grate and let skin burn. (If using stove, turn on exhaust fan and open a window.) After about 15 minutes, they will soften and become sweetly fragrant. Use tongs to occasionally rotate them and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin. You do not have to blacken entire surface, just enough to slightly cook onion and ginger
Let cool. Under warm water, remove charred onion skin; trim and discard blackened parts of root or stem ends. If ginger skin is puckered and blistered, smash ginger with flat side of knife to loosen flesh from skin. Otherwise, use sharp paring knife to remove skin, running ginger under warm water to wash off blackened bits. Set aside
Parboil bones. Place bones in stockpot (minimum 12-quart capacity) and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to boil. Boil vigorously 2 to 3 minutes to allow impurities to be released. Dump bones and water into sink and rinse bones with warm water. Quickly scrub stockpot to remove any residue. Return bones to pot
Simmer broth. Add 6 quarts water to pot, bring to boil over high heat, then lower flame to gently simmer. Use ladle to skim any scum that rises to surface. Add remaining broth ingredients and cook 1 1/2 hours. Boneless meat should be slightly chewy but not tough. When it is cooked to your liking, remove it and place in bowl of cold water for 10 minutes; this prevents the meat from drying up and turning dark as it cools. Drain the meat; cool, then refrigerate. Allow broth to continue cooking; in total, the broth should simmer 3 hours
Strain broth through fine strainer. If desired, remove any bits of gelatinous tendon from bones to add to your pho bowl. Store tendon with cooked beef. Discard solids
Use ladle to skim as much fat from top of broth as you like. (Cool it and refrigerate it overnight to make this task easier; reheat befofe continuing.) Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and yellow rock sugar. The broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. (If you've gone too far, add water to dilute.) Makes about 4 quarts
Assemble bowls: The key is to be organized and have everything ready to go. Thinly slice cooked meat. For best results, make sure it's cold
Heat broth and ready noodles. To ensure good timing, reheat broth over medium flame as you're assembling bowls. If you're using dried noodles, cover with hot tap water and soak 15-20 minutes, until softened and opaque white. Drain in colander. For fresh rice noodles, just untangle and briefly rinse in a colander with cold water
Blanch noodles. Fill 3- or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. For each bowl, use long-handle strainer to blanch a portion of noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water, letting water drain back into saucepan. Empty noodles into bowls. Noodles should occupy 1/4 to 1/3 of bowl; the latter is for noodle lovers, while the former is for those who prize broth
If desired, after blanching noodles, blanch bean sprouts for 30 seconds in same saucepan. They should slightly wilt but retain some crunch. Drain and add to the garnish plate
Add other ingredients. Place slices of cooked meat, raw meat and tendon (if using) atop noodles. (If your cooked meat is not at room temperature, blanch slices for few seconds in hot water from above.) Garnish with onion, scallion and chopped cilantro. Finish with black pepper
Ladle in broth and serve. Bring broth to rolling boil. Check seasoning. Ladle broth into each bowl, distributing hot liquid evenly so as to cook raw beef and warm other ingredients. Serve with garnish plate
Note: Yellow rock sugar (a.k.a. lump sugar) is sold in one-pound boxes at Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. Break up large chunks with hammer
Variations: If you want to replicate the splendorous options available at pho shops, head to the butcher counter at a Vietnamese or Chinese market. There you'll find white cords of gan (beef tendon) and thin pieces of nam (outside flank, not flank steak). While tendon requires no preparation prior to cooking, nam should be rolled and tied with string for easy handling. Simmer it and the beef tendon in the cooking broth for two hours, or until chewy-tender
Airy book tripe (sach) is already cooked when you buy it. Before using, wash and gently squeeze it dry. Slice it thinly to make fringe-like pieces to be added to the bowl during assembly. For beef meatballs (bo vien), purchase them in Asian markets in the refrigerator case; they are already precooked. Slice each one in half and drop into broth to heat through. When you're ready to serve, ladle them out with the broth to top each bowl
  Culinary Art of Ancient Hue Court
When speaking about the cuisine in Hue, people usually mention both the traditional and court culinary art.
The feast of ancient Hue court is divided into different categories, such as the worshipping feast for great ceremonies, the feast for mandarins or envoys and the feast for new doctoral laureates. The number of dishes in each type of feast is also different. For instance, a great feast includes about 161 dishes while a precious feast has 50 dishes, a hefty breakfast feast with 12 dishes and a vegetarian feast for worshipping at the pagoda with 25 dishes
Spring rolls are decorated with roses made of tomatoes
The ingredients for making court dishes are the same as that for making daily dishes. However, the technique of cooking as well as the artistic dish arrangements are very selective and require the cook’s creativeness. All the dishes are refined to offer the best ingredients for good health and always reach the pinnacle in fragrance and taste, not to mention the meticulous presentation
Visiting Hue today, tourists can enjoy various dishes of the Hue royal style in hotels or restaurants, such as Tinh Gia Vien Restaurant owned by artisan Ton Nu Thi Ha, a descendant of the Nguyen Dynasty. Here, night parties of the ancient court are reproduced, leaving a long-lasting impression on tourists
  Chicken Dishes
Chicken is a mainstay in the diet of the Vietnamese. Compared to other meats, it is relatively inexpensive and can be prepared in countless ways. Chef Cao Ngoc Duc who has specialized in preparing chicken dishes for 15 years says chicken is not only delicious but high in protein
Proof to the meat’s versatility, Cao Ngoc Duc graciously described various methods to cook chicken
For example, boiled chicken is the most popular dish, having a yellow skin and sweet taste. It is customarily served with salt mixed with lemon. Roasted chicken is prepared using five spices plus lemongrass and chilli so the dish is delicious and crispy. Soya-sauce is a condiment that accompanies this dish. Chicken simmered in medicinal herbs is good for health. Also, there are other dishes, such as the sweet and sour fried chicken, chicken fried with cashews, or vermicelli, lemongrass and red pepper, and ginger. Chicken can be grilled with honey and cooked with coconut sauce, fried with fish sauce or mixed with vegetables. Chicken hot pots include chicken hot-pot with medicinal herbs, or with mushrooms and with common sage-brush. Chicken is also an indispensable ingredient to make noodle soup, rice gruel, etc

Chicken fried with cashew
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- Chicken: 350g
- Cashew: 100g
- 1 carrot, 1 chayote, 5 perfume mushrooms, 1 small root of ginger, spring onion, 1 tablespoon each of oyster sauce, soya sauce, cooking oil, wine, 20g each of wheat flour and arrowroot powder, 10g of garlic, 100g of Da Lat green and red chilli, salt, pepper and 1 chicken egg
- Slice the chicken into bite size cubes, mix with pepper, seasoning, a dash of egg yolk and spray with arrowroot powder and slightly fry in boiling cooking oil
- Cut carrot and chayote into canarium-shaped pieces, spring onion into pieces, ginger into slices and mushrooms in halves
- Fry the crushed garlic then add all the other ingredients. Add the oyster sauce, seasoning and soya-sauce to suit your taste. Lastly, add a dash of arrow-root powder and cooking oil. Place the dish on a large plate or in a pineapple
  De-boned Chicken Thighs Steamed with Pineapple
The dish has a special taste because the chicken is blended with the aroma and sweetness of pineapple
Ingredients: (serves 4)
Chicken thigh: 4
Fresh ginger: 2 roots
Celery and leek: 100g
Fresh pineapple: 1
Honey: 2 teaspoons
Seasoning: 2 teaspoons Pepper
Clean the chicken thighs, de-bone and marinate them with seasoning, pepper and honey for 15 minutes
Clean the celery and leek and cut them into 8cm pieces. Slice ginger and pineapple. Put all the prepared ingredients on a large plate and steam until the chicken’s thigh is soft
Served hot with rice, fried vegetables and soup
  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)
Rice vermicelli noodles are delicious and easy to prepare. Let’s see how rice vermicelli dishes are prepared step by step!
Before cooking, simply soak rice vermicelli in warm (not hot) water for just two minutes. Then, in order to have a delicious bowl of rice, you should add different kinds of ingredients and vegetables. You can choose one of various ingredients that can be served with vermicelli such as: grilled pork meat, fried rice cakes, snails, fried eggs, lean meat pie, chicken, and crab soup, etc
Do not be so surprised if you see that each region and locality, even each restaurant, has its own vermicelli dishes with their own recipes. There are a variety of ways to enjoy rice vermicelli, each dish having its own unique taste, for example: “Bun Cha” (vermicelli and grilled chopped meat),“Bun Rieu” (vermicelli and sour crab soup), “Bun Bo” (vermicelli and beef ), “Bun Oc” (vermicelli and snails) and so on
Let’s try the very delicious taste of Bun Cha and Bun Oc! Bun Cha (Vermicelli and grilled chopped meat) includes rice vermicelli, grilled pork and spicy, raw vegetables and well mixed fish sauce. For a dish of Bun Cha, you take a dish of rice vermicelli, a dish full of vegetables and a bowl of fish sauce combined with vinegar, sugar, hot chilly, garlic and pepper. The sauce will then contain all the essential tastes, sour, hot, salty and sweet. Grilles of well cooked pork would be opened and the contents dropped into the bowl of fish sauce. There are two kinds of Cha (grilled pork) used, depending upon the cut of the meat. If the pork is cut into small pieces, it is called Cha Mieng (piece of grilled pork). If it is minced prior to being shaped into small cubes, it is named Cha Bam (minced grilled pork). Bun Oc (Rice vermicelli with fresh water snail) has fresh water snails as main ingredient. These snails will have been kept in clean fresh water for about ten hours before being boiled for the dish, to allow sufficient time for the snails to release any organic matter they may have in their shells. The boiled snails after being taken out of their shells would be cleaned. The soup for the dish is made from the water in which snails have been boiled in. To the soup is added tomatoes and several kinds of flavour and vinegar
Rice vermicelli are a part of different Vietnamese cuisines. Walking along some streets and stopping at one rice vermicelli vendor in Hanoi or Sai Gon, you will have chances for tasting various dishes of rice vermicelli with unforgettable flavor!
  Banh Khuc
The cake is a rice ball made of glutinous rice mixed with cudweed (khuc)-most important ingredient and filled with green bean paste, pork, and spices
Cudweed grows during lunar January and February, when the drizzling rain lasts all day, and it can be found along the edges of rice fields. There are two kinds: “nep” and “te”. The latter is more flexible and fragrant and is preferred for making the cake
First, the cudweed is washed, ground and then mixed with husked glutinous rice. Green beans, that are flayed and turned into paste after being cooked, are then added to the mixture. Finally, the cakes are sprinkled with grains of glutinous steamed rice
As time goes by it is increasingly difficult to find cudweed as fields are eaten up by development. For now, you still can find “banh khuc” in Hanoi. However, some bakers may not be using cudweed and may substitute it with cabbage or water morning glory
Wishing to have the chance to satisfy your hunger for “banh khuc”, you can visit cake stall at 69 Nguyen Cong Tru Street, that has been churning out “banh khuc” for years. Ms. Nguyen Thi Lan, the seller, has to hire locals in rural areas in Hanoi or in neighbouring provinces to seek out the elusive cudweed. In winter, it grows in abundance so enough has to be collected to last the summer. The surplus will be dried and stored.
If you are in the old quarter of Hanoi, you might hear someone cry “Ai banh khuc nong day?” (who wants hot “banh khuc”?). You can stop them and ask if the “banh khuc” is from Ngoai Hoang village in Ha Noi, a place that is famous for having the most delicious and tasty “banh khuc”. Then, you can buy one for tasting. The cake should be served hot and dipped into a mixture of roasted and crushed sesame seeds and salt...
  Rolled Rice Pancake or Bánh Cuon
Among other members of the extended noodle family, bánh cuon 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 cuon is a light dish traditionally eaten as breakfast in Hanoi but now can also be found as a late night snack
To eat, dip a section of rolled noodle goodness into the accompanying warm fish sauce broth, brightened with a squeeze of fresh lime. You can also pick the leaves off the herbs and add them to the dipping sauce, grabbing a leaf or two as you dip, or you can follow each bite with a chaser of herbs. Bánh cuon are often eaten with different sides of pork sausages, including sheets of an orange hued, roasted cinnamon sausage called cha que
Where to find it?
A short walk north of Hàng Da Market and Hàng Đieu street will bring you to Bánh Cuon Thanh Vân, just look for the bánh cuon station—two large covered steaming pots—out front along the sidewalk. Just take a look! The practiced hands keep the bánh cuon rolling out with experiences, alternating seamlessly between spreading the thin batter on the linen base of one steamer, then at right time, turning to the other to peel the delicately steamed pancake off the linen base with a bamboo stick. By the time the batter is spread on its newly emptied linen base, the pancake in the first steamer is ready and waiting. With only 6 tables nestled inside the small open storefront, the pace never slows. Serving 7AM-1PM and 5PM-11PM
No. 14 Hàng Gà street, between Hàng Mă and Hàng Vai (the Hàng Vai corner is lined with bamboo ladders and poles). It is located on the west side of the street, not far from where the street name changes from Hàng Cót to Hàng Gà
Quán An Ngon, No.18 Phan Boi Châu Street, also does a very respectable version of bánh cuon
  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)
Imagine that you are one of the guests…
While you sit down at the table, the waiter starts laying there some seasonings includes a bowl of well - stirred shrimp paste sauce mixed up with lemon. After dropping the liquor, he will decorate the bowl with a few slices of red fresh pimento, a plate of grilled ground nuts of gold yellow color, various species of mint vegetables onions in small white slices
To many customers, the sight of such seasoning already greatly stimulates their appetite. A few minutes later, fried fish, yellow in color and flagrant in smell put on a plate of anethum vegetable, is brought in. But that is not all. A few seconds more, as soon as a cauldron of boiling fat is brought in, the waiter starts pouring it on each bowl of grilled fish, thus producing a white smoke and sputtering noise
Now, this is the time for picking and choosing what you like from the dishes on the table; sticking them into your bowl. Everything in all dishes should be eaten together. Let’s taste…
In the whole of Vietnam, there are 3 suggested Cha ca La Vong restaurants:
N014, Cha Ca street- Old Quarter in Hanoi
N087 Nguyen Truong To street, Hanoi
N03 Ho Xuan Huong street, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC
  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!
Ingredients and production process: Only the fresh small fish makes good-quality fish sauce, which is found in clear color and good smell. In Vietnam, fish sauce is very popular and can be any of various mixtures based on the liquid of salted, fermented fish. First, small fish and salt are put in wooden boxes to ferment. Then, it is slowly pressed so as to yield the salty, fishy liquid
This extremely pungent, strong-flavored and salty liquid can range in color. For the pure fish sauce, fresh anchovy fish sauce is selected and mixed with salt by applying the unique Vietnamese traditional process. Fermentation is started once a year, during the fishing season. After about 3 months in the barrel, the liquid drips from an open spigot, to be poured back into the top of the barrel. Six months under the sunlight will make the fish sauce of much better smell
The unique characteristic of fish sauce is salty flavor and fishy smell. An interesting characteristic of fish sauce is that it loses its fishy odor once mixed with other ingredients. It is commonly used for cooking and dipping seafood and many other Vietnamese foods as well. In Vietnam, it is generally called nuoc mam (well known by these brand names: nuoc mam Phu Quoc or Phu Quoc fish sauce, and nuoc mam Phan Thiet or Phan Thiet fish sauce).
  Culinary Matters in Vietnam
Vietnam is one of those countries that has all the recipes that are bound to disconcert most Europeans. However, most of these specialties are expensive luxuries which you are hardly likely to eat by accident. A Western foreigner undoubtedly requires some courage to eat grilled dog, roast cat, mouse, snake or silk caterpillars, but when these dishes are skilfully cooked they really are something special
Medicinal or aphrodisiac qualities are attributed to many of these specialities. This has led to the development of veritable gastronomic rituals. The most exciting is probably the snake meal. The still beating heart is swallowed, as is the blood, with rice liquor. Subsequently the snake is elaborately cooked and eaten. The more poisonous the snake, the more beneficial to your health and the more expensive it is. You can also stick to taking snake medicine or - highly recommended - drinking snake liquor. If these specialities do not appeal to you, you can content yourself with everyday Vietnamese food; you won't be disappointed
In Vietnam there is never any need to search long for something to eat, the streets are lined with all sorts of restaurants and hot-food stalls. The large cities now offer practically everything. You can choose between foreign and Vietnamese food, expensive and cheap restaurants, between modern, air-conditioned rooms and little stalls at the side of the street consisting of nothing but a table and a coal stove
The restaurants and street stalls are full at virtually all times of the day. City-dwellers have breakfast on the street, enjoying soup or sticky rice with egg. At midday, people eat 'people's rice' or 'dust rice', as they call the food sold by the cheap stalls on the street corner. In the evening it is common to meet up with friends and acquaintances. Even if you don't go for a meal, then at least you will have a drink together. The young men sit in Bia Hoi (beer gardens), the girls at the Che stands sipping at a dessert-like drink made of dried fruit, coconut cream or sweetened bean paste
By contrast, the choice is rather limited in the countryside, although the Vietnamese culinary trademarks - pho (noodle soup) and nem (spring rolls) - are available everywhere
For a long time there was little to eat in Vietnam, and meat was a rarity. So it is not surprising that meat dishes are now extremely popular. Vegetables are for the poor. Thus, if you are a guest, you must be given only the best, which usually means the meat with the most fat. If as a foreigner you go out to dinner and order vegetables, you are likely to be regarded as stingy. For if you are a foreigner you must be rich, and rich people don't eat vegetables if they can avoid it, surely?
And don't be worried about formalities when eating. Vietnam isn't Japan. As long as you don't stick the chopsticks vertically into the rice (a deadly omen, for the ancestors are offered incense sticks in this way), almost anything goes!
In a Vietnamese house, you sit on the floor or on the large family bed. If you are celebrating - and visitors are always a cause for celebration in Vietnam -several meat dishes, fish and river creatures, soup, salad and fruit will be prepared. Each person helps him- or herself with chopsticks and eats from a separate little bowl.
Rice or rice noodles are only served after the meal, just to fill you up. Each dish is based on the famous - or notorious - fish sauce nuoc mam. If this is not strong enough for you, you should try the crab paste, mam tom, mam tep, which can be smelled for miles
And don't forget: meals are never dry. You are always offered beer and rice liquor, either pure or flavoured with herbs. And not only the men drink. The women also often enjoy a few glasses of herb liquor, with the reassuring excuse that it is healthy. In Vietnamese it is therefore called ruou thuoc (medicine wine). Beer has recently become the second national beverage next to rice wine. Foreign beers like Heineken, Carlsberg, Tiger or Henniger are available, but the home-grown beers like 333 or Bia Hanoi are also popular and of good quality. Coca Cola has managed to conquer the Vietnamese market too, although it hasn't yet quite displaced the wonderful fruit drinks like coconut milk
And when you can no longer eat or drink any more, there is green tea
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