Wednesday, September 2, 2015

So You Think You Know Chopsticks?

This information was gleaned from a charming little book called Chopsticks! An Owner's Manual (Conari Press, Berkeley, Calif.) by Hashi-San.

Legend has it that chopsticks were invented in China by two poor, hungry peasants who had stolen a piece of meat. They beat a hasty retreat into the forest to cook their meal but didn't have time to bring knives. The clever thieves grabbed a pair of sticks each from the forest floor and used them to rip off pieces of the still-sizzling meat from the fire.

Confucius is credited with encouraging the spread of chopsticks by writing that "the honorable man allows no knives at his table." That is why food is typically cut into bite-sized pieces in Chinese cooking, and as the author says, "... out of necessity, a table without knives became a table with chopsticks."

Chopsticks have been used in China for over three thousand years. It is interesting to note that they were using chopsticks while most of the world was still eating with their fingers, and at least two thousand years before the invention of the fork.

The use of chopsticks spread from China to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. In Vietnam, To find out more detailed about how to use chopsticks with Hanoi culture. Don't hesitate to join Hanoi food culture by taking the hanoi food tour with locals. Here you will be taught how to use by guides. They failed to catch on, however, in Thailand and Cambodia, presumably because those countries drew their influence more from India, Asia's other culinary giant.

It is curious indeed that the great explorer Marco Polo--although he spent more than 20 years traveling throughout China--never mentioned chopsticks in his journals. But then he never mentioned the Great Wall of China either even though he would have crossed it several times.

The Japanese have a saying for a thing that is hard to understand. They insist that "understanding what you are saying is like ladling soup with a chopstick." No confusion there.

A Japanese Buddhist monk named Kukai, who lived in China for many years, is credited with introducing chopsticks to Japan. Apparently, he handed them out to everyone he met (the author calls him the "Johnny Appleseed of chopsticks"), telling them that if they used them, Buddha would help relieve the stress of their lives.

Chinese folklore says that people who use three fingers to manipulate their chopsticks are easygoing by nature. Those who use four fingers are well omened. Those who can manage to get all five fingers involved and still keep them under control are said to be destined for greatness.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Asia on my mind

The Asian cookbook shelf has been expanding as fast as the grocery shelves in recent years. But Asian flavors and spices are also appearing in books that are not specifically Asian in concept, a trend that is mirrored on restaurant menus from coast to coast. Here are two excellent books by two intrepid cooks and travelers that are decidedly not Asian and yet offer some tantalizing dishes from that side of the world.

In Mark Bittman's newest book, The Best Recipes in the World (Broadway), he offers over 1,000 recipes from just about every corner of the globe, including Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the Americas. What seems to unite all the recipes is that they are unpretentious, everyday foods even though many of them are considered the classic dishes of Southeast Asian, Japan, and China, and many have new twists and subtle improvements. The recipes call for mostly common fruits, vegetables, meats, and so on, and even the spices and other exotic ingredients are not so hard to attain these days. This is a grand book that looks to have been many years in the making, and obviously is the product of a man with a wide-open palate and an insatiable curiosity about how the world eats.

Clifford A. Wright's new book, Some Like It Hot (Harvard Common Press), is a wonderful collection of hot and spicy dishes from Asia and around the world by a tireless researcher and avid cook. Wright himself points out in an introductory sidebar that this book probably would not or could not have been written as recently as 15 years ago. Many of the heretofore exotic ingredients would simply have not been available to the majority of American consumers. Wright offers 350 authentic recipes from the "hot zone," or a geographical band running around the globe that extends from roughly the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. The author also gives us a glossary of spicy ingredients and an exhaustive guide to online resources for all sorts of related ingredients. This is a must-have book for anyone interested in Asian cooking, chiles, chile-based cuisine, or world cuisine in general.

Another great book to have for reference is Ken Horn's Asian Ingredients (Ten Speed Press). It is both an extensive illustrated guide to the fresh and preserved products that make up the Asian pantry and a cookbook, It is an indispensable source of information on many of the exotic ingredients of the East, with delicious and relatively simple recipes to illuminate their uses.

The following recipes are from Nirmala Narine, a spice merchant and intrepid traveler who sells spices and spice blends from all over the globe. The dishes are to be included in her forthcoming cookbook that will focus on street food from around the world especially hanoi street food tour. Her web site is These dishes perfectly illustrate the Asian way of transforming simple foods with the use of spices, and can translate well to the prepared foods counter.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Thanks to bar manager Jon Christiansen, the Banhs' cocktails have an evocative bent. This drink is named for 13th-century Vietnamese military commander Tran Hung Dao and uses lime, fresh herbs, pineapple, and fragrant tea--all as popular in Vietnam as the hero himself.

1 tsp. loose-leaf oolong tea
1/4 1cup sugar
10 to 12 fresh mint leaves
4 or 5 fresh red shiso leaves (optional)
2 tbsp. litchi puree, such as Funkin, or 4 canned litchis,
whirled well in a blender to yield 2 tbsp.
2 to 3 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup each aged rum and pineapple juice (preferably fresh)

1. Make the oolong tea syrup: Bring 1/4 cup water to a boil in a
small saucepan and add tea. Cover and steep 5 minutes. Strain into
a cup, then pour in sugar. Stir until it dissolves. Let cool.

2. Fill two cocktail glasses with ice. For a pretty effect,
tuck a couple of mint and/or shiso leaves along the inside of
the glass.  Fill a cocktail shaker one-third full of ice, then
add 6 to 8 mint leaves and, if available, 3 or 4 shiso leaves.
Pour in 2 tbsp. cooled oolong syrup, the litchi puree, lime
juice, rum, and pineapple juice. Shake vigorously.

3. Strain into the glasses and serve, topped with another mint
leaf or two.


This salad gets its unmistakable sweet-salty crunch from caramelized shallots, an addictive staple in Vietnamese salads. It's key to slice them uniformly, or they won't cook evenly.

3 large shallots, sliced crosswise into 1/4-in.-thick rings to yield 1 cup, plus 1 tbsp. minced shallot
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 tbsp. each Champagne vinegar and rice vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
About 2 tbsp. lemon juice
About 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
About 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 1/2 English cucumbers
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp. roughly chopped Thai basil (optional)
1 tbsp. roughly chopped red or green shiso (optional)
1 tbsp. finely diced cu kieu (Vietnamese pickled leeks) or mild
cucumber pickles, such as cornichons or Claussen dill

1. Toss shallot slices to separate them into rings. Have ready a
slotted spoon and a double layer of paper towels. Heat oil to
275[degrees] in a small, deep heavy saucepan and drop in shallot
rings. Using a deep pan makes deep-frying virtually spatter-free.
"When we fry large quantities of shallots in the restaurant, we
use deep rondeau pans and fill them only 20 to 25 percent full,
so we don't have to clean up a big mess," Eric says.

2. Cook shallots, stirring often, until they turn a uniform light
brown--this will take about 8 to 12 minutes. They'll brown faster
toward the end, so be careful; Sophie suggests turning off the heat
when they look almost done. Lift shallots from oil with slotted
spoon and drain on paper towels (see photo at right). Reserve 2 tsp.
shallot oil for vinaigrette; let cool. Save the rest for stir-fries
and salad dressings.

3. Make vinaigrette: Whisk vinegars, sugar, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp.
salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper together in a bowl until salt and sugar
dissolve. Add reserved shallot oil and the minced shallots and
whisk well to blend. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and
lemon juice.

4. Slice cucumbers into 1/4-in, slices with a knife or on a
mandoline. Toss cucumbers and tomatoes with vinaigrette. Add
mint, Thai basil, and shiso if using.  You don't want to chop
the  Leaves too fine, or they'll wilt in the vinaigrette,"
says Sophie. Eric notes that Vietnamese love crunchy textures.
"They'll say, Wow! That was so crunchy!' and mean it was tasty."

5. Arrange salad on a platter and top with pickled leeks and
fried shallots. .Make ahead: Fried shallots, up to 2 days,
stored airtight at room temperature.
PER SERVING 143 CAL., 33% (47 CAL.) FROM FAT; 7.7 G PROTEIN; 5.4 G FAT (0.5 G SAT.); 20 G CARBO (3.4 G FIBER); 340 MG SODIUM; 0 MG CHOI.
PER SERVING WITHOUT RICE 1S4 CAL., 64% (98 CAL.) FROM FAT; 8.8 G PROTEIN; 11 G FAT (1.36 SA1.); 4.76 CARBO (1.3 G FIBER); 693 MG SODIUM; 52 MG CHOL.
PER COCKTAIL 201 CAL., 0.3% (0.7 CAL.) FROM FAT; 0.2 G PROTEIN; 0.1 G FAT (0 G SAT.); 33 G CARBO (0.4 G FIBER); 2.2 MG SODIUM; 0 MG CHOL.
PER SERVING 95 CAL., 57% (54 CAL.) FROM FAT; 1.8 G PROTEIN; 6.3 G FAT (0.7 G. SAT.); 9.76 CARBO (1.26 FIBER); 70 MG SODIUM; 0 MG CHOL.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Specialty dishes shouldn’t miss in Da Nang

When you get a chance to visit Da Nang. You probably swim the famous beach and relax at the coastline for a first priority. But don’t forget dishes here to mark your trip unforgettable. 

Mixture Jackfruit

This dish is extremely familiar to youth Danang. Mixture jackfruit has sweet flavour by young jackfruit and crispy pigskin, add aroma of peanuts, onion and spicy bit of chilli, herbs ... all make appealing taste. A plate of mixture jackfruit price 10000-20000 dong

Fried Chip Chip

This is kind of delicious, cheap seafood extremely characteristic of Da Nang. Besides steamed rice rolls like Hanoi dishes listed in the menu of hanoi street food walking tour, fried spicy chip chip is also common practice. Sweet taste of chip chip plus pungent smell of lemongrass, spicy chiliv, strong taste of spices to make a dish must try try when traveling Danang. This dish are available in many seafood eateries, with price 25000-30000.

Jellyfish Salad

Jellyfish Salad has the simple processing. After washed with boiled water then drain, mix  Jellyfish Salad with green bananas, green mango, peanuts, add some herbs. Can be served with pancakes, dip either a fish sauce or soybean sauce. Jellyfish salads are very suitable with hot summer weather because of cool flavour sold near the beach, in Con Market, Han Market .... with 20,000-30,000 dong
per plate.

Mai fish

Mai fish have similar shapes to anchovies but sparkling silver fish scales surrounded and especially no blood should not smell fishy. Clean Mai fish’s scales, cut off head and tail, use a scalpel along the keel fish, invertebrates withdrawn, as re-using lemon juice, squeezed dry and set aside. Vegetables like carrot julienne, sliced onion, water mint, laksa leaves finely chopped, roasted peanuts ... to mix salad, creating dishes with bold flavors Central. The diner near the Dragon, or the beach Pham Van Dong has sold many mai fish salad, a plate costs about 30,000-40,000 VND for 4 people to eat.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Stir-fried Snails with Lemongrass and Chili Recipe (Ốc Xào Sả Ớt)

Seafood is always mentioned when Vietnamese choosing noshes, especially snails. Snails can be cooked with chili and lemongrass. The combination between snails and lemongrass will create an amazing flavor when chewing. Besides, it can also be enjoyed with Tamarind Sauce.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bánh Pía - Pia Pastry Soc Trang

If you have a chance to join Mekong delta tour. You shouldn't miss one of highlights in Soc Trang province - Pia Pastry (Bánh bía) taken to Vietnam by Chinese people at 17th century is one of traditional dishes in Soc Tang. 

Pia Pastry was on top 50 Best Vietnamses Food in 2011. Not many people know that this type of cake originated from China and but it had not been popular until Soc Trang bakers distributed it around Vietnam. Pía pastry is similar with moon cake; however the cooks put the yolk and durian inside the cake. On the surface of the cake, the producers put the red mark of the producer’s address and name. Almost every travelers who has a chance to taste this special cake all agree that it is one of the best desserts in Vietnam.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bánh Chưng - Square rice cake

Luna New Year or Tet Holiday is an important and sacred time of Vietnamese people. Today I would like to introduce one of traditional Vietnamese food in Northern Vietnam at this time. It is Square cake (Banh Chung) irreplaceable cake of Vietnamese people in the Tet Holidays and King Hung’s anniversary (10th March Lunar).

For the Vietnamese, making "Banh Chung" is the ideal way to express gratitude to their ancestors and homeland.
“Banh Chung” was invented by the 18th Prince of Hung Emperor in the contest of looking for new Emperor. According to the legend, 3,000-4,000 years ago, Prince Lang Lieu, made round and square cakes, the round Day cake symbolizing the sky and the square Chung cake symbolizing the Earth (under the ancient Vietnamese perception), to be offered on the occasion of Spring