…tasty bites to stimulate your taste buds..

Archive for the ‘Vietnamese’ Category

Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Spareribs

I have been MIA from the blogging world for a while.  It feels good to be back!  Today, I am making brown sugar glazed pork spareribs, one of Vu’s favorite dishes.  This dish brings me back to my undergraduate days at UC Davis when I was living with two other girls, Kc and L.  We would cook together, then gathered around the dinner table and enjoyed our creations while chatting about classes, college drama, and everything in between.  Kc, one of my closest friends, showed me how to make this dish.  It is definitely one of the simpler Vietnamese dishes but incredibly delicious.  The meat falls off the bone with a hint of sweetness while your olfactory bulb picks up the scent of the sesame oil.  Every since Kc taught me how to make this dish, I have cooked it on a monthly basis, if not more often. I hope you find these pork spareribs as satisfying as I did.


1 lb pork spareribs
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp of brown sugar
Green onions for garnish


Cut the pork into bite size pieces and boil on medium high heat for 20 minutes to soften the meat and remove any excess fat.

In a frying pan, add the sesame oil and turn on medium high heat.  Add the strained pork pieces and let them brown for about 5 minutes.  Add in the fish sauce and let the meat cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the brown sugar and let the meat caramelize for 10 minutes taking care not to burn them.

When ready to serve, garnish with green onions and enjoy it with rice.

Cafe Sua Da Vietnamese Iced Coffee

The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 19th century, and it has become an essential morning ritual of many Vietnamese.  Since then, you can find a coffee shop at every street corner in Saigon.  Early in the morning, men would fill up the coffee shops to get their morning fix before heading to work.  Some read their newspaper while other people enjoy coffee over a game of Chinese chess.  Today, coffee shops have become more modern, where young people can hang out and listen to the latest musicians.  Unlike my husband and mom, who are addicted to coffee, I like to drink mine on the weekend.  My favorite brand of coffe is Café Du Monde.  Using a metal filter, the coffee is extracted with hot water, slowly dripping until the last drop.  The sweetness of the condensed milk when mixed with the black coffee creates an unbelievable flavor.  I slowly sip it, savoring every drop.  If you are coffee lover, you will fall in love with Vietnamese coffee.


2 tbsps of coffee (Café Du Monde)
2 tbsps of condensed milk (Parrot)
½ cup of hot water
½ cup of ice


Pour the condensed milk in a cup.  Remove the filter’s top screen and fill with coffee.  Put the screen back on and turn until you feel a bit of resistance.  Pour the hot water into the filter and put the lid over the top.

Let the coffee drip for about 15 minutes.  When the dripping stops, mix the coffee and condensed milk together.

Let it cool before adding ice.

Chao Vit Vietnamese Duck Porridge

My stomach has been feeling funny for the past few days so I made chao vit, or duck porridge, for dinner.  Whenever I was not feeling well, my mom would make a huge pot of chao.  Chao is made with a duck based broth and rice, so simple yet satisfying.  The broth can be made from chicken, pork, or just water.  Many people cook the rice directly in the broth, but I strained the broth to remove all the fat, and then added in the rice to make a healthier soup.  I probably removed 2 cups of fat.  When paired with toasted gio chao quay (Chinese donuts), they soak up the soup and add a wonderful texture to the meal.  I added a handful of bean sprouts to my chao, squeezed a few drops of lime juice, and topped it with pepper, a few pieces of red chili, cilantro, and green onions.  The crunch of the bean sprouts, the sourness of the lime, and the kick from the chilies brought so many flavors to the chao.  It was a comforting and satisfying meal!


One 5-lb duck
10 cups of water
1 tbsp of salt
1 bulb of ginger, sliced
2 cups of cooked rice
2-3 tbsps fish sauce
Gio chao quay (Chinese donuts)
Pepper to taste
Bean sprouts
Lime wedges, red chili, cilantro, and onions for garnish
Nuoc mam cham (fish sauce) for the duck


Place the whole duck in the pot filled with 10 cups of water.  Add the salt and ginger.  Bring the pot to a boil and let simmer on medium heat for 45 minutes.

Remove the duck from the broth and strain the broth to remove any excess fat.  Add the rice to the pot.  Use a hand blender, blend the rice until finely ground.  Continue cooking for another 30 minutes to let the porridge thicken.  Add in the fish sauce and season to your liking.

While you are waiting for the porridge to finish cooking, chop the duck into small pieces, prepare the fish sauce, and toast the Chinese donuts.

Add a few pieces of duck and a handful of bean sprouts before ladling the porridge to a serving bowl.  Garnish with green onions, cilantro, pepper, and red chillies.


Nuoc Mam Cham Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is an essential staple of Vietnamese cuisine.  This flavorful dipping sauce is eaten with countless dishes such as bi cuon (pork rolls), egg rolls, banh xeo (Vietnamese crepes), many noodle dishes and drizzled over fried fish.  The chili and garlic add a huge kick to the sauce.  Without nuoc mam cham, the flavors of many dishes would fall flat.


1 cup warm water
¼ cup sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tsp of finely chopped chilies


In a small bowl, whisk the water, sugar, and fish sauce.  Add the garlic, chilies, and vinegar to the fish sauce and stir well.  Store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge up to two weeks.

Pho Bo Vietnamese Beef Noodle

Today, I am going back to my roots and sharing with you one of my all time favorite dishes, pho bo, or Vietnamese beef noodle.  Pho is a northern Vietnamese dish that has become well known worldwide.  Whether you are traveling in Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada, or America, you will likely find a restaurant with this wonderful soup.  If you can find a Vietnamese community, you can find a pho restaurant.  I grew up on pho, eating it for breakfast and lunch from the street vendors near my house.  And during the cold, rainy nights, it was the perfect soup for dinner.  My dad, a northerner, passed on his family recipe to my mom who came from south Vietnam.  Pho has a wonderful broth, flavored with star anise, Saigon cinnamon, charred onion, ginger, and many other spices.  The original recipe does not call for chicken stock, but my mom, who has more than 50 years of cooking experience under her belt, passed on her secret that one can of chicken stock adds even more flavor to the soup.  The daikon also adds a hint of sweetness lessening the amount of sugar needed.  Similar to many other Vietnamese noodle dishes, pho is served with lots of greens, mainly hung que (Thai basil) and ngo gai (which I do not know the English translation).  I also like the texture of bean sprouts in mine.  It adds a bit of crunch.  And of course, a bowl of pho is incomplete without the hoisin sauce and Sriracha!  People like to add brisket, tendon, tripe, and flank to their pho, but I enjoy mine with round steak and bo vien.  I am happy to share with you my mom’s recipe and hope it will send you in the right direction on your pho adventure.


A handful of spices (fennel, clove, coriander seeds, star anise, cinnamon)
1 large white onion
2 pieces of ginger, halved lengthwise
1 lb of daikon
1 tbsp of salt
2 lbs of beef bone
6 cups of water
1 can of chicken stock
¼ cup of fish sauce
3-4  tbsps of sugar
Rice noodles
1 lb of round steak cut in thin slices (ask your local butcher to prepare for you)
1 lb of meat balls  (bo vien from Kim Son)
Green onions and cilantro (cut in small pieces)
Bean sprouts
Hung que (basil leaves)
Ngo gai
Lime wedges
Hoisin and Sriracha sauces


Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Place the ginger, onion, and spices in the oven and broil for 10 minutes.

Clean the beef bones with warm water and place them in a large stockpot.  Add the daikon, ginger, onion, spices, salt, and water to the pot.  Cook on medium heat for  three to four hours.  Remove any scum.  Strain the broth and transfer to a clean stockpot.  Add the chicken stock, fish sauce, sugar to the new pot and adjust the seasoning to your liking.  Let it simmer for another hour.

To cook the rice noodle, in a clean pot, bring water to a boil.  Immerse the rice noodle in the boiling water for a few seconds so you do not overcook the noodle.

When ready to serve, place the bean sprouts and noodle in the bowl.  Place the steak and meat balls on top.  Add the hot broth to the bowl, and garnish with cilantro and green onion.

Serve with hung que, ngo gai, lime wedges, and condiments.

Mangosteen the Tropical Jewel of Southeast Asia

It is amazing that 2011 is finally here.  Vu and I felt blessed for these past 365 days filled with so many great memories, meeting new friends, seeing old ones, spending time with families, and getting the chance to do what we love.  Although we do not believe in New Year’s resolutions, we both believe in having a healthy lifestyle, eating a lot more fruits, vegetables, and home cooked meals.  To start off my first post for 2011, I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite tropical fruits, “mang cut” or mangosteens.  I fell in love with mangosteens ever since I could eat solid food.  Not many people are familiar with this tropical jewel.  With a hard purple shell on the outside, it does not look appealing, but when you break the fruit opened, your taste buds are introduced to a balance of sweetness and tart. The texture is refreshing and unlike any other fruits that you would be familiar with.  Being an ultratropical fruit, mangosteens are not widely available in the US.  I was lucky enough to find mangosteens at my local Vietnamese supermarket, Thuan Phat, in Linda Vista.  You will likely find supermarkets in Orange County, the bay area, and Seattle that carry this tropical jewel.  Nowadays, you can get them for $6.99 per pound, but my taste buds are never satisfied with one pound and I usually end up eating three or four.  Now that you have been introduced to mangosteens, I hope you get the chance to taste them.  We look forward to another great year and more opportunities to share our culture and kitchen adventures with all of you.

Ripe mangosteens are soft to light touch.  Do not squeeze them too hard or you will damage the flesh.

To open a mangosteen, make a horizontal cut from west to east then use your fingers to pry the halves apart.

Continue breaking away the shell and enjoy!

“Che Chuoi” Banana with Coconut Milk and Tapioca Pearls Dessert

I have been craving “che chuoi” or banana with coconut milk and tapioca for a while.  Besides being one of my favorite desserts, che chuoi has 6 ingredients and takes less than an hour to make.  When I was little, my mom would pick me up after school, and we would stop by a street vendor for che chuoi before heading home.  Nowadays, I get my che chuoi fix from Che Hien Khanh in Westminster. Che chuoi originated from South Vietnam and has become a popular dessert.  The best banana for this dessert is “chuoi sap” which boasts a unique texture and retains its firmness after cooking instead of becoming mushy or falling apart.  I have not seen “chuoi sap” sold at the local Asian supermarkets so I substituted burro bananas for my recipe.  Che chuoi can be eaten hot, at room temperature, or chilled, but I like my right off the stove.  This dessert is perfect by itself or you can serve it at the end of your dinner party.


1 ½ tbsp tapioca pearls (bot bang)
3 burro bananas
1 can of coconut creme (Savoy brand)
¼ cup of water
3 tbsps granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
toasted peanuts


Soak the tapioca pearls in water for 30 minutes

Cut the bananas in small pieces

Bring the coconut cream, sugar, and salt to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the bananas and simmer for 15 minutes.  Then add the tapioca and let everything cook for another 10-15 minutes until you see the tapioca pearls become clear.

Garnish your dessert with toasted peanuts.

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