Saturday, 11 July 2009

Shrimp On Crab Legs (Càng Cua Bọc Tôm)

* 10 Crab legs or several hard -shell crabs Shrimp paste, prepared as -for Shrimp on Sugar Cane
* 1/4 c Vegetable oil
-----NUOC CHAM-----
* 1 Clove garlic
* 1/2 Fresh hot red chili pepper -or 2 dried
* 2 ts Heaping, granulated sugar
* 1/8 Fresh lime
* 2 tb Fish sauce (nuoc mam)
* 2 1/2 tb Water, more if necessary

Crab claws, alone, are sometimes available in fish stores. If they aren't, boil several hard shell crabs and use the claws; you can use the bodies in many other dishes.
The crab claws in fish stores are already partially peeled and serve not only as a handle but are edible as well. If you prepare your own claws, peel the upper section around which you mold the shrimp paste.
Boil the crab legs or crabs for about 10 minutes, then drain and cool; remove the claws from the crabs, if using, and reserve the bodies for another purpose.
Have the shrimp paste ready; preheat the oven to 350F.
Pour the oil into a bowl. Dip your fingers into the oil and pick up 2 tablespoons of the shrimp paste. Mold it into an oval around and halfway down the crab claw, covering the part of the claw where it was attached to the body; this will leave a claw tip extended to serve as a handle. Place the claws on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with Nuoc Cham and watercress.
NOTE: In Vietnam, this dish is always barbecued over charcoal. If you wish to prepare it this way, cook for 10 minutes on each side.

NUOC CHAM Directions:
This exciting sauce is almost always served at Vietnamese meals, just a Westerners serve salt and pepper. It's base is nuoc mam (bottled fish sauce). Freshly prepared, it is a constant delight, and so addictive to Western palettes that it will appear with meals other than Vietnamese. To best appreciate the results of its superb blending qualities at the table, use it sparingly at first, gradually adding more until the result is just right for your palate.
Peel the garlic. Split the chili pepper down the center and remove the seeds and membrane. Cut into pieces and put into a mortar, together with the garlic and sugar. Pound into a paste. Squeeze the lime juice into the paste, then with a small knife remove the pulp from the lime section and add it as well. Mash this mixture and add the fish sauce and water.
If you find this a trifle strong at first, dilute it with an additional 1/2 tablespoon of water.

Beef noodle soup

1 kg Beef shin bones
350 g Gravy beef
5 cm Fresh ginger, thinly sliced into 2 in length
1 teaspoon Salt
2.5 liters Water
6 Black peppercorns
1 Cinnamon sticks
4 Cloves
6 Coriander seeds
2 tablespoons Nuoc cham sauce
400 g Thick fresh rice noodles
150 g Rump Steak, thiny sliced
3 Spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 Medium onion, very thinly sliced

Place the bones, gravy beef, ginger, salt and water in a large pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently, uncovered, for 3 1/2 hours.Skim off any scum that forms on the surface. Add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds and nuoc cham sauce. Cook for another 40 minutes. Remove the gravy beef and set it aside to cool. Drain the stock, reserving all the liquid and discarding the bones and spices. Return the liquid to the pan. When the gravy beef is cool enough to handle, cut it against the grain into very fine slices. Set aside. Close to serving time, plunge the noodles into a pan of boiling water and cook them for about 10 seconds only, otherwise they will soften and fall apart. Drain the noodles well and divide them among large individual soup bowls. Arrange the toppings on a platter in the centre of the table. Bring the beef stock to a rapid boil. Place some slices of the cooked meat as well as a few slices of the raw steak into each bowl of noodles. Ladle the boiling stock over the top, sprinkle over the spring onion (scallion) and onion slides and serve. Each diner chooses their own toppings and can also add sauces such as sweet chili sauce and hoisin sauce to their dish.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sour Fish Head Soup (Canh Chua Dau Ca)

2 Scallions, white part only, -crushed with the side of a knife
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ts Salt
2 tb Plus 4 teaspoons fish sauce -(nuoc mam)
1 lg Fish head or fish carcass, -split down the center
1 qt Water
1/2 c Canned sliced sour bamboo
1/4 Fresh pineapple, cut in a -lengthwise section and -sliced
1 ds MSG (optional)
2 tb Mixed chopped fresh -coriander (Chinese parsley)
Scallion green


An excellent way to get twice the pleasure out of your fish purchase. You can use either the fish head of the fish carcass if you wish. To the people of the South, this is as much their traditional dish as Southern Fried Chicken is to our southerners++and it will meet with instant praise
Sprinkle the scallions, black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons fish sauce over the fish head. Allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and drop in the sour bamboo and pineapple slices. Cook at a lively boil for 5 minutes. Drop fish head into the actively boiling water and, keeping at a boil, add the 2 tablespoons fish sauce, remaining teaspoon salt, and a dash of MSG. Boil the fish head for a total of 10 minutes. Transfer to a soup tureen, sprinkle on the coriander and scallion green, and serve.
NOTE: If the fish head is dropped into water that is not boiling, it will fall apart.
Makes 4 servings.
From "The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam", Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerma

Vietnamese Chicken Curry

1 Stalk fresh lemon grass or 1 tb Dried
3 1/2 ts Curry powder
Fresh ground black pepper
1 ts Sugar
4 ts Salt
3 lb Chicken, cut up
7 tb Vegetable oil
3 Sweet potatoes or
3 White potatoes, peeled and -cubed
4 Cloves garlic, chopped
3 Bay leaves
1 lg Onion, cut into wedges, -separated
2 c Water
1 Carrot, 2-inch slices
2 c Coconut milk
1 c Milk or water *
* If you use canned coconut milk, you must use water.

This is a real Vietnamese curry. Although adapted from the Indian, which is always made with white potatoes, the Vietnamese version has the option of using white or sweet potatoes, the latter being greatly favored by the Vietnamese. The Indian in- fluence is greatest in the South, where curried dishes are more popular than elsewhere in Vietnam.
This is usually served with noodles as a party dish. When it is part of a family meal, it is eaten with rice. Bach serves this to her children for breakfast, when it is served with French bread - another influence on the cuisine of Vietnam.
If you are using fresh lemon grass, simply remove the outer leaves and upper two-thirds of the stalks, then cut the remainder into 2-inch lengths. If you are, using, it must be soaked in warm water for 2 hours, then drained and chopped fine.
Combine the curry powder, black pepper, sugar, add salt and marinate the chicken in the mixture for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil and fry the potatoes over high heat until brown. (It is not necessary to completely cook potatoes at this point, only to brown them.) When well browned, remove from the pan and set aside until ready to cook the curry. Pour off most of the oil from the pan, leaving 2 tablespoons for cooking the chicken.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high flame. Fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add the bay leaves, onion, and lemon grass; stir briefly and add the marinated chicken, stirring long enough to sear the meat slightly. Add the 2 cups of water and carrot, then cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes; uncover and stir, then cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover and add the prefried potatoes, the coconut milk, and the milk. Cover again and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve with rice, Rice Sticks, or Japanese Alimentary Paste Noodles.
From "The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam", Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerma

Barbecued Shrimp Paste on Sugar Cane (Chao Tom)

1 servings
1 tb Roasted rice powder
Scallion oil
Crisp-fried shallots
1 tb Roasted peanuts, ground
1 lb Raw shrimp in the shell
1 tb Salt
6 Garlic cloves, crushed
6 Shallots, crushed
2 Ounces rock sugar, crushed -to a powder, or
1 tb Granulated sugar
4 Ounces pork fat
4 ts Nuoc mam
Freshly ground black pepper
Peanut Sauce
Vegetable Platter
8 Ounces 6 1/2-inch rice -paper rounds (banh trang)
12 Piece fresh sugar cane, or
12 oz Sugar cane packed in light -syrup, drained
12 8-1/2 ea inch bamboo skewers -soaked in water for 30 -minutes
Vegetable oil, for shaping -shrimp paste
8 Ounces extra-thin rice -vermicelli


Although this dish can be baked in an oven, I strongly suggest you grill it over charcoal, for the result is far superior. The dish may be prepared over 2 consecutive days. On day one, prepare the dipping sauce and condiments.
The Vegetable Platter and shrimp paste can be assembled the following day. Fresh sugar cane may be obtained at Caribbean markets; canned sugar cane is available at Asian grocery stores. Prepare the roasted rice powder, scallion oil, crisp-fried shallots and roasted peanuts. Set aside. Shell and devein the shrimp. Sprinkle the salt over the shrimp and let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly with cold water. Drain and squeeze between your hands to remove excess water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. Coarsely chop the shrimp.
Boil the pork fat for 10 minutes. Drain and finely dice. In a food processor, combine the shrimp, garlic, shallots and sugar. Process until the shrimp paste pulls away from the sides of the container, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides. The paste should be very fine and sticky. Add the pork fat, roasted rice powder, fish sauce and black pepper to taste to the processor. Pulse briefly, only enough to blend all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, prepare the Peanut Sauce and Vegetable Platter. Cover the rice papers with a damp towel and a sheet of plastic wrap; keep at room temperature until needed.
Peel the fresh sugar cane; cut crosswise into 4-inch sections. Split each section lengthwise into quarters. (if using canned sugar cane, split each section lengthwise in half only, then thread 2 pieces lengthwise onto a skewer.) Pour about 1/4 cup of oil into a small bowl. Oil your fingers. Pick up and mold about 2 tablespoons of the shrimp paste around and halfway down a piece of fresh sugar cane. Leave about 1 1/2 inches of the sugar cane exposed to serve as a handle. (If using canned sugar cane, there is no need to leave a handle. The skewers will serve as handles.) Press firmly so that the paste adheres to the cane. Proceed until you have used all the shrimp paste.
Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat the oven to broil. Meanwhile, steam the noodles, then garnish with the scallion oil, crisp-fried shallots and ground roasted peanuts. Keep warm. Pour the peanut sauce into individual bowls and place the Vegetable Platter and rice papers on the table. Grill the shrimp paste on the sugar cane over medium coals, turning frequently. Or Broil, on a baking sheet lined with foil, under the broiler, about 6 inches from the heat, for 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Transfer to a warm platter.
To serve, each diner dips a rice paper round in a bowl of warm water to make it pliable, then places the paper on a dinner plate. Different ingredients from the Vegetable Platter, some noodles and a piece of the shrimp paste, which has been removed from the sugar cane, are added. The rice paper is then roiled up to form a neat package. The roll is dipped in the Peanut Sauce and eaten out of hand. The remaining sugar cane may be chewed.
Note: If both types of sugar cane are unavailable, use skewers. Shape the shrimp paste into meatballs and thread 3 or 4 on each skewer. Yield: 4 to 6 servings. From "The Foods of Vietnam" by Nicole Rauthie

Fresh Spring Rolls (Goi cuon)

Fresh Spring Rolls
For Filling:
3-4 oz dried thin rice stick noodles
Boiling water, as needed
3/4 lb boneless pork loin, in one piece
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For Assembly:
12 dried large rice paper rounds, each 8 1/2 inches in diameter
12 large red-leaf lettuce leaves or other soft, pliable lettuce, stiff stems discarded
1 large carrot, peeled and finely julienned, then tossed with 1 teaspoon sugar until softened, about 10 minutes
1 small cucumber, peeled and finely julienned
12 fresh mint sprigs
12 fresh cilantro sprigs, plus extra leaves for filling
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts


Prepare the dipping sauce; set aside.
FOR FILLING: Place the noodles in a bowl, and add boiling water to cover. Let stand for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and set aside.
Place the pork in a saucepan, add water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until opaque throughout, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut across the grain into very thin slices about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Set aside.
Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add salt to taste and the shrimp. Boil until they curl slightly and are opaque throughout, 1-2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise, pat dry and set aside.
FOR RICE PAPERS: Dampen several clean kitchen towels with water. Fill a pie plate with cold water. Spread a damp towel on a flat work surface. Dip 1 rice paper round at a time into the water and spread it flat on the towel. Continue dipping and laying the rice papers in a single layer. When you run out of room, lay a damp towel on top of the rounds and continue, always alternating a layer of rice papers with a damp towel. Let the rice papers stand until pliable, about 1 minute or longer.
TO ASSEMBLE: Place 1 pliable rice paper round on the work surface and position a lettuce leaf on the lower third of it, tearing the leaf as needed to make it fit and leaving uncovered a 1-inch border on the right and left edges. Take a small amount (about one-twelfth) of the rice stick noodles and spread in a line across the width of the leaf. Arrange one-twelfth each of the pork slices, carrot and cucumber, and 1 sprig of mint on the noodles. Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper over to cover the ingredients, then roll up tightly one complete turn. Fold in the left and right edges to enclose the filling. Across the top length of the roll, place 1 sprig of cilantro and 2 pieces of shrimp, end to end and cut side down. Finish rolling up the rice paper to contain the shrimp and form a taut spring roll. Set seam-side down on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel. Make the remaining rolls in the same way. The rolls may be made several hours in advance; cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Divide the sauce among individual dipping saucers and then divide the peanuts evenly among the saucers. Serve the rolls with the sauce

Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)

Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)
1 serving
2 oz Cellophane noodles, -soaked in warm water for -20 minutes, then drained -and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 lb Ground pork
1 lg Onion, finely chopped
2 tb Tree ears, soaked in warm -water for 30 minutes, then -drained and finely chopped
3 Cloves garlic, finely -chopped
3 Shallots or white part of 3 -scallions, finely chopped
1 cn (7 ounces) crabmeat, -cartilage removed and meat -flaked with fingers
1/2 ts Freshly ground black pepper
20 Sheets dried rice papers -(banh trang)
4 Eggs, well beaten
2 c Peanut oil
Vegetable Platter
Carrot Salad
Double recipe of Nuoc Cham
Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Cut a round rice paper sheet into quarters. Place the cut rice paper on a flat surface. With a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg over the entire surface of each of the pieces. Before filling, wait for the egg mixture to take effect, softening the wrappers; this takes about 2 minutes. When you become adept at this, you can work on several wrappers at a time.
When the wrapper looks soft and transparent, place about 1 teaspoon of filling near the curved side, in the shape of a rectangle. Fold the sides over to enclose the filling and continue to roll.
After filling all the wrappers, pour the oil into a large frying pan, put the spring rolls into the cold oil, turn the heat to moderate, and fry for 20 to 30 minutes, until a lovely golden brown. (This is Bach's special method of keeping spring rolls crisp).
To serve the spring rolls, proceed as follows:
Arrange the ingredients for the vegetable platter (lettuce, mint leaves, coriander, and the cucumber slices) according to the directions preceding. Have ready the carrot salad and a bowl of nuoc cham. Each person has a bowl into which he places a bit of lettuce, 2 or 3 mint leaves, some coriander, and 2 cucumber slices. Each person then adds 1 or 2 spring rolls to his bowl, sprinkles with the nuoc cham, and eats the spring rolls and vegetables together, using chopsticks or a fork.
Additional carrot salad may be added to taste.
Another very popular serving method calls for placing the vegetables on a lettuce leaf, adding the spring roll, and rolling it into a cylinder. Holding the cylinder with his fingers, each diner then dips it into his own small bowl of nuoc cham.
NOTE: We have found that frying the spring rolls in peanut oil keeps them crisper than frying in any other oil.
From "The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam", Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman, Barron's, 1979.

Vietnamese Hue Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue )

* 1 lb ham hocks
* 6 stalks lemongrass, crushed and sliced thin
* 2 tablespoons nuoc nam
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* 1 teaspoon black pepper
* 4 ounces boneless sirloin
* 4 ounces boneless pork loin
* 16 ounces rice noodles, cooked
* 1 cup bean sprouts
* 4 sprigs Thai holy basil (regular basil ok)
* 4 sprigs fresh mint
* 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
* 4 teaspoons sambal oelek or hot chili sauce
* 4-8 fresh Thai red chili peppers (amount optional)
* 1 lime, cut into quarters

Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil; add ham hocks and lemongrass.
Skim constantly for 10 minutes then cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours.
Strain the broth, reserving ham hocks if you desire them.
Add nuoc mam, sugar, salt and pepper, sirloin, and pork loin to the broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until meat is cooked and tender; remove meat.
Thinly slice meats into small pieces
To serve, place a portion of noodles in serving bowl, top with some bean sprouts, pork, beef, and some ham hock (if using), and ladle the broth over; add herbs, chili sauce, chilies, and lime juice to taste.