24 Nov

Your first full view of a typical Vietnamese meal: soup, meat and rice

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From time to time, I travel to visit friends all over the place. They are often so kind to host me for a few days while I am in town. Many of them are not Vietnamese so to return the favor, I prepare a simple vietnamese dinner. Dinner is the best time of the day to connect, isn’t it? At the beginning, I struggled a lot, because I always missed here and there some ingredients. I could only make one part of the diner and other will cook others to complete the diner. Or even when I could find all the ingredients, I was afraid the dish would not be welcomed. Frankly, other than Phở, Bánh Mì and a few more dishes, the rest of Vietnamese cuisine is quite un-discovered and recognised internationally. Luckily, each time passed, I gained more confidence, not on myself (maybe a little), but mostly on vietnamese foods, my friends loved them, they finished their dishes and asked for more. I can now, somehow, be able to prepare a decent Vietnamese dinner using what there is in a local supermarket. Therefore, I would like to introduce to you what a daily-basic Vietnamese diner/lunch combine of and share with you how to prepare one of them, without fish sauce (the one ingredients I find really hard to find) Fun fact: Phở is not something mom cook everyday even though we (or I) can eat it anytime. A daily-basis Vietnames diner/lunch, therefore, includes. rice, 2. legumes/vegetable soup or stir fried or both and 3. a savory dish (meat or fish). That’s way, we have everything: rice to fill us up, legumes/vegetables to keep us healthy and meat/fish to give us some energy. 1. Rice is the heart of every meal, we eat at least for lunch and dinner, my parents or previous generations have it also for breakfast. If you hear someone saying: “oh, in Vietnam, each household has a rice cooker”, it’s properly not a cliché but a fact, or at least, it’s true for all metropolitan areas. In Vietnam, we are quite picky about what type of rice but here, everything would do the job . My only note would be not to put salt when cooking the rice like with pasta or rice when you eat with not-vietnamese dishes. We also like rice that is not so soft, but not hard rock like risotto, or all separated like Indian rice, anything in between is nice. 2. Legumes/vegetable soup: the broth is often made fresh, from pork or chicken’s bones or minced meat, then add the legume/vegetables cut in big or small cubes/slices, a bit of fish sauce and pepper to taste, 10’ max. If you are a vegetarian, to create the sweetness, you will need to boil one of these legumes in big pieces before cooking your vegetable: white radish, celery, tomato. Noted that our soup is liquid, not creamy, we dont blend everything like most of western soups, we enjoy/ use to have the soup with big junk pieces to chew (overcooked vegetables is considered badly cooked, like overcooked steak), so knowing which vegetable takes how long to cook is sort of an art… 3. Savoy dish: fishes are a bit more difficult and complicated to cook, and we dont often find those fishes here in Paris, but for meat dishes, a bit of marination of garlic and shallot with fish sauce or soya sauce, to sear shortly or to slow cook are the common method of cooking. Pork goes well with shallot, garlic for seafood and beef, ginger for chicken are some common rules of thumb as well. Shallot goes well with most types of meat/fish. And here is a very simple receipt if you would like to try a bit: Zucchini soup and seared marinated-pork eat with rice Ingredients: for 4 persons


Zucchini soup: – 3-4 zucchinis – 100 gr minced pork or more if you are a fan of meat, less if the other way around, or replace them with the legume broth cubes if you are vegetarians. – Garlic, shallot (or normal onion), salt, pepper, legumes broth if you dont have fish sauce. Seared marinated-pork: – 4 nice cuts of pork (steak size and style is the best), it can be pork belly or steak, a bit of fat will maintain the juiciness. – Soya sauce (fish sauce will give a really dense taste but soya sauce is more accessible and milder on taste) – Pepper, garlic and shallot Preparation: Marinate the pork, preferable at least 4 hours before cooking: by chopping all the garlic and shallot, mixing well with soya sauce and pulling over the meat. Please make sure that the mixture goes everywhere and in between the meat. Leave it covered and come back 30’ before dinner or your desired cooking time. Cooking: Zucchini soup: – Peel the skin off but not completely (one strike off, one strike on), because the skin gives bitterness, but peeling them all off will also remove the crunchiness. – Cut the zucchini in a cube of 1-2 cm – Stir fried chopped garlic and shallot in hot oil, then add the minced pork, season with salt, then add the zucchini. Stir thoroughly so all the ingredients are well incorporated. – Lastly, add about 2 bowls of water, legume broth and bring to boil with half cover. Turn off after 10’, season to taste and pepper. Remember you can always add more water later but can not remove them. Seared marinated-pork: – Once it’s about time for dinner, turn on the fire, add just a bit of oil to coat the pan, then place the pork in, each piece needs less than 5 minutes in both sides, the thinner the faster it cooks. Voila, they are not so complicated, aren’t they? Please let me know if you have any questions. Bon appétit 

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