A delicious and simple recipe for a Chinese-restaurant classic which you can make at home.
One thing I miss about living in Australia is being able to visit the local Chinatown, whether it be for a traditional Dim Sum breakfast, a browse through the colourful aisles of the Vietnamese grocer, or a visit to the Chinese bakery for their light and fluffy cakes. Something I deeply miss are the restaurants where you can buy one of the Chinese roast ducks on display, as well as their crispy pork belly, or the ever popular Chinese barbecue pork (also known as char siu pork).
Growing up in Australia, I ate my fair share of meat pies, especially as the daughter of a baker. Pepper steak pies were my favourite, with a layer of mushy peas under the puff pastry lid, and always a big dollop of tomato sauce (ketchup) on top. On other days, chicken and vegetable pies, which my mother made using shredded rotisserie chicken in a classic white sauce, would be my after-school snack of choice. And then there were the pasties and sausage rolls … In short, if it involved puff pastry, you would see me eating it.
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 salty and sour element – a flavour combination which is essential to many Vietnamese dishes. It’s a noodle salad which is bold, fresh and full of flavour.
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 only make so much at one time anyway.
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.
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 tomatoes, and some traditional Vietnamese specialities such as finely shredded pork belly and a steamed pork and egg custard. And if you’re really hungry, you could also order this dish with a fried egg on top, sunny-side up. Some restaurants even offer a small bowl of clear soup on the side to make this truly a complete and satisfying meal.