Vietnamese Spaghetti Bolognese

vietnamese spaghetti bolognese

Recently in the kitchen, I have been busy rustling up various Vietnamese dishes, including one of my favourite soups called Bun Rieu – a pork broth flavoured with crab and tomatoes, and served with vermicelli noodles and a pile of aromatic herbs. I love to make a big pot of this soup so that we can eat it over several days, even if the sun is sweltering outside and we sweat uncomfortably while enjoying the

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Steamed Tofu with Soy, Chillies & Sichuan Pepper

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You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love tofu. In fact, I think I like it more than meat … Salt & Pepper Tofu is one of my favourite dishes ever, especially when it is fresh and piping hot. At other times, you will often find me adding tofu to most Asian soups and stir-fries. Recently, I started experimenting with recipes for steamed tofu and I love how it can be such a simple,

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Bun Cha – Vietnamese Pork Meatballs with Vermicelli Noodle Salad

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My latest contribution to Discovery, the in-flight magazine for Cathay Pacific, is currently out now on all Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights. This month’s foodie feature is the classic Vietnamese dish called bun cha, consisting of grilled pork meatballs served with an abundance of fresh herbs on a bed of vermicelli noodles. A Vietnamese dipping sauce, called nouc cham, is essential to this dish to dress the noodles and to add a

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Hot & Sour Soup with Chicken & Mushrooms

hot sour soup 1

This year, Chinese New Year is celebrated on 8 February 2016 to mark the Year of the Monkey. The equivalent Vietnamese celebration is called Tet, one of the most important events in my family’s calendar. As a child, my mother went to great lengths each year to prepare a feast which could feed our entire neighbourhood. The menu always featured a sticky rice cake filled with mung beans and pork, a turnip cake, endless

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Hoisin & Ginger Pork Ribs

hoisin ginger pork ribs 4

I wish I could be more comfortable eating ribs in public but, the reality is, I enjoy eating them more in the comfort and privacy of my home; somewhere where I can gnaw at the bone like a messy cavewoman and lick my fingers with glee. I think it is definitely a dish best eaten in the company of a few close friends (and certainly never on a first date), particularly since you can

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Chinese Almond Butter Cookies

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I used to wonder if my disinclination to play Lego with my son for more than 5 minutes made me a bad mother. I’m sure it must be fun as a child to build tall Lego towers, knock them down, and start over again. And again. And again. But any feelings of guilt dissipate when I am doing something together with my son which we both enjoy, which gives weight to the argument

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Sticky Chicken with Malaysian Salad

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I know all too well that planning meals ahead of time, doing the grocery shopping in bulk, and even cooking in advance, are the easiest paths to a stress-free suppertime, but being organised often takes time and time is a scarce commodity when there is a toddler and newborn in the equation. And so I often find myself at the supermarket without a clue as to what to cook for dinner, except that

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Pickled Chillies

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I first discovered pickled chillies at my local Chinese restaurant here in Zurich. Yes, Zurich. Despite having grown up in Australia where south-east Asian food abounds, and despite my countless trips to Asia since I was a wee tot, I only came across this delightful condiment during what would be the first of many stir-fries that I like to indulge in frequently at my local because I’m rather terrible at making stir-fries at

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Crispy Chicken Wings with Fish Sauce

crispy chicken wings fish sauce 2

My mother used to cook a lot with chicken wings when I was younger. I’m not sure if it was just because they were cheap, or if she merely enjoyed cooking them. I certainly enjoyed eating them. She would sometimes make soups and broths using just chicken wings, but often she would marinate them in lemongrass, chilli and garlic before grilling them until they were bronzed and crispy. Just how I would like

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Chicken Pho

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A fragrant and soul-soothing beef pho is often what I crave when only a steaming bowl of noodle soup will do. But when time is sparse and I don’t have 3 hours to potter about in the kitchen, a chicken pho is a rather wonderful alternative.

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Pork Ribs Braised in Young Coconut Juice

pork ribs braised in young coconut juice 1

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but my blog seems to feature very few Vietnamese recipes, despite the fact that I cook Vietnamese at home every second day or so. So in an attempt to rectify the situation and to bring some more balance to this blog, I hope to feature more Vietnamese recipes which are quick, easy and delicious to make at home.

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General Tso’s Chicken

general tso chicken 4

There’s Chinese food, and there’s American-Chinese food. I wasn’t even aware of the latter until we were posted in Chicago for a few years where lunch with colleagues was often at P.F. Chang’s or Big Bowl, two popular Chinese restaurant chains in the US. There, the menu often featured the likes of Sweet & Sour Chicken, Honey-Glazed Chicken, and Mongolian Beef; Chinese food which is rarely eaten by the Chinese themselves but which

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Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup

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Pho could perhaps be described as the national dish of Vietnam. But what many people don’t know is that it is predominantly a breakfast dish in Vietnam. In some parts of the world, breakfast might be a bowl of cold cereal to some. In Vietnam, however, they like to kick-start their day with an aromatic noodle broth, full of flavour and texture to awaken the senses.

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Vietnamese Beef & Carrot Stew

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With all of the French recipes I have been posting lately on this blog, I thought it was time to change the tune a little and post one of my favourite Vietnamese recipes. But as I set about preparing this post, I realised that this particular dish is actually a Vietnamese version of a French classic. Or is it?

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Chicken Liver Pâté with Green Peppercorns

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As someone who squirms at the thought of eating livers or offal of any kind, I happen to love pâté. Perhaps because it is a crucial component of a Vietnamese Banh Mi, a staple in my childhood diet, that I have long-acquired a taste for this velvety spread. A Vietnamese pâté is one of many culinary inheritances from the French colonial occupation, and the Vietnamese like theirs with a bit of texture and

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Chargrilled Lemongrass Beef with Hoisin Dipping Sauce

chargrilled lemongrass beef 4

From looking at the recent entries on my blog, you wouldn’t think that I cook a lot of Vietnamese food at home. The fact is, I probably cook Vietnamese food about 4 to 5 times a week! Of course, the frequency varies, but hardly a week goes by when I haven’t made something at least Vietnamese-inspired. After my mother, Luke Nguyen would have to be my greatest source of inspiration when it comes

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Chicken Curry Puffs

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A visit to most Chinese restaurants will reveal curry puffs on the appetiser menu and I am always a sucker for anything wrapped in pastry. I could sometimes quite happily forego the main dish and just sit down to a huge serving of curry puffs, but afraid of any negative reaction this could elicit in public, I’ve never quite gone that far. So making curry puffs at home, and eating them by the

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Pot-au-feu and Pho

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Pot-au-feu literally translates into English as “pot on the fire”. It is a classic French beef stew, a peasant dish at heart. Traditionally made from beef bones and stewing beef, the broth is typically served as a clear soup, preceding the main dish of sliced beef with vegetables which have been cooked in the broth. It is honest and hearty French fare. Although the dish may take several hours to cook, you are

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Keralan Fish Curry

Keralan Fish Curry 1

With spring just around the corner, my thoughts have been turning to more light and fresh meals. A cookbook which I frequently turn to during the warmer months is Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer (curiously re-titled as Nigella Fresh in the US). Not that it is necessarily a book which should only be opened once the weather starts to warm up  – I often cook from this book in winter, too – but I like

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Pumpkin Laksa

pumpkin laksa

I have long been a fan of Nigel Slater, his books having been instrumental in my initial forays into the kitchen, along with Nigella Lawson and, dare I say it, the Australian Women’s Weekly. One of my favourite cookbooks would have to be Appetite, a hefty book filled with amazingly delicious recipes but provided in a manner that encourages the cook to develop some intuition in the kitchen. Rather than call for, say,

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Vietnamese Yoghurt

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It is often observed in the Vietnamese culture, and also amongst other Asian groups, that a typical greeting when you see someone is not “Hi, how are you?” but, rather, “Hi, have you eaten yet?” Even when my mother calls me, if she’s not asking me first what the time is where I am (either because she’s never sure which country I am in or she’s just too lazy to look up the

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Chinese Braised Beef with Carrots

chinese braised beef

I always look forward to Autumn, that time of the year when the trees change their colours and their golden leaves line the streets with their warm tones in contrast to the biting chill that is beginning to pervade the air. I also love Autumn because I can start to pull out my favourite trench coats, turtleneck jumpers and knee-high boots, a welcome change in wardrobe when I can start to cosy up

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Artichokes with Garlic Mayonnaise

artichokes garlic mayo

I adore artichokes. As a child, my mother would boil a whole artichoke for my dinner on those nights when she was preoccupied with other things or, more likely, fed up with cooking and needed to give me a no-fuss dinner. Hard task given that I was a fussy eater for most of my life. But I always enjoyed my solitary meal of boiled artichokes which I would ceremoniously sit down to in

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Sweetcorn Soup

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Don’t look too closely at this photo. No, really! A close inspection of this soup might not be so pleasant on the eyes, nor the tummy … Having had a rather intense week at work, I have been resorting to Bill’s Everyday Asian when I haven’t been reaching for the telephone to order (another) pizza home-delivery. One particular evening, I felt that making this Sweetcorn Soup from scratch, using fresh corn, would be a welcome

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Vietnamese Pork Chops

Vietnamese Pork Chops

Here is another fabulous short-cut recipe from Bill Granger’s new book, Bill’s Everyday Asian. The Vietnamese have a popular dish called sườn nướng where the main component is a pork chop which is typically marinated with garlic, lemongrass and fish sauce. The pork is either grilled or pan-fried until it is golden in colour and caramelised, and served on a bed of plain Jasmine rice with accompaniments such as pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cucumber and

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Thai Sticky Chicken

thai sticky chicken 4

This is another fabulous recipe from Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking. In fact, this was the first recipe I tried from this book. I love marinated and grilled chicken and am always on the lookout for new recipes, though I think my mum makes the best version which I have tried endlessly to recreate and which comes close but, of course, it can’t quite compare. Like most Vietnamese mothers, mine works from taste memory

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Chicken Curry Soup

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One of my all-time favourite Vietnamese dishes is chicken curry with sweet potato. My mum makes this dish using a whole chicken which is first marinated in a special mixture of Vietnamese curry powder and other seasoning, and then slowly simmered on the stove with an array of aromatics until the chicken is tender and almost falls from the bone. Towards the end, she adds potatoes and/or sweet potatoes which has been deep-fried

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Chicken Noodle Stir-Fry

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I find it rather comical that I often look to non-Asian chefs for inspiration on Asian dishes. Take Bill Granger, for example. Most of his savoury recipes are Asian-influenced and, whilst they may not correspond exactly to what is served in Chinatown, they always taste fabulous. In fact, he has a way of scaling down and simplifying recipes so that the dish still reminds you of the traditional version, but it employs the

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Gado-gado

Gado-gado

After seeing the mouth-watering photos of this dish made by Carrie from thePatternedPlate, as well as reading other rave reviews about this yet-another Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, I couldn’t wait to try this dish. Gado-gado is essentially a salad dressed with a satay sauce. As far as satay sauces go, this is perhaps the most complex recipe I have ever come across! There are quite a lot of steps involved, not to mention quite a

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Crisp Silken Tofu in a Tomato and White Pepper Sauce

Crisp Silken Tofu in Tomato & White Pepper Sauce

I had to renew my work visa the other day, which necessitated a trip to the immigration office so that I could be fingerprinted and all the rest. The only thing worse than taking an hour out of my day to visit a government office was posing for my mug shot and realising that I would be stuck with that photo everytime I have to go through passport control in the next 12

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Fish Cakes with Coriander, Ginger & Chillies

Fish Cakes with Coriander, Ginger & Chillies

Further to my previous post, we still had another 1 kg of potatoes to get through, and as we are going away next week, I had to come up with a way to use those potatoes. And then, by chance, Carrie from thePatternedPlate posted her delicious recipe for fishcakes (or, as they are called in her Indian culture, cutlets). I was instantly sold! Not only were these fishcakes the perfect way of using

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Soba Noodles with Shitake Mushrooms and Bok Choy

Soba Noodles with Shitake Mushrooms and Bok Choy

Last night’s dinner was supposed to be Yotam Ottolenghi’s Mee Goreng from Plenty. Unfortunately, the trip to the supermarket for the necessary ingredients turned out to be very disappointing. I’m currently working in the mid-West in the US and while I should be grateful that the local supermarket even has an aisle for “Global Cuisine”, I think I might need to have a chat with the manager about their range of products. I

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Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

This dish was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Thai Chicken Noodle Soup from her most recent book, Kitchen. To be honest, I was rather skeptical of this recipe when I first saw it. I’m not sure how the Thai would feel about having this dish ascribed to their region as I suppose it is more “Thai flavoured” than authentically Thai. Nigella makes the same faux pas with a Vietnamese soup in Kitchen but I’ll

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Black Pepper Tofu

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This recipe comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty and was recommended to me by the lovely Carrie, another food-obsessed cookbook lover who has become an invaluable friend to me in the online world. When she first made this dish sometime ago and raved about how delicious it was, I knew it was something that I had to try. Having grown up on tofu as a child, I love it cooked in whatever shape or form and

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