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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sau ta - Dracontomelon fruit

A lot of preservation methods were created because almost people can’t wait for the fall to enjoy dracontomelon (Quả sấu). However, the ripening season of dracontomelon fruits is the fall so it is more amazing to try it this time. Dracontomelon can be eaten fresh with fish sauce mixed with sugar and chili. When added with fish sauce, it is great to enjoy with meals. Some people prefer it plain in a cold beverage with sugar. The most popular dishes of sau are ô mai sấu (salted dry dracontomelon or sugared dry dracontomelon), a simple and cheap but delicious specialty of Hanoi.

Whether green or ripe, locals are so accustomed to eating the fruit. Green quả sấu is a popular ingredient in soups and drinks. When using it to create basic sour soup, simply boil water spinach and add some quả sấu. To make it tastier, boiled pork or fish is added along with onions and herbs. Though tamarind is a known ingredient to sour soups, the unripe quả sấu, often as large as the tip of a thumb and with a very soft seed, exudes a more distinctive taste and fragrant which it lends to the soup, making unique hearty bowls of sour soup.
It can also be consumed in many other ways. When its peel is shaved off, it is cut into strips and soaked in sugar water, and some crushed ginger is added to conjure up a slightly sour and sweet taste. This can be added to water and some ice to get a sour, fragrant, sweet taste.

When ripe, it arrives at a deliciously sour taste that is good for creating drinks, foods, and snacks. The ripe quả sấu is soaked in salt and sugar to make drinks. The soaking process also helps preserve the quả sấu for a longer time to allow consumption even up to a year when properly stored.
Another popular process is to soak the quả sấu in sugar instead of salt. This is done by shaving off the peel, soaked in lime water for a while, removed and cleaned with cold boiled water. They are then placed in a jar. Boil sugar water and crushed ginger, allow it cool and then pour into the jar with quả sấu. Then they are stored into the fridge after two days. This results to a unique drink with a sweet taste from the fruit and a little spicy and fragrant due to the ginger.

This fruit is served on sidewalk shops or you can find street vendors who sell variety of fruits. You can buy them as a gift for your family or your friends

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nom (salad)

Nom is one of the most common meals in Vietnam, in not only parties but also in daily meals. This dish is a combination of a variety of fresh vegetables, usually used in salads in Western countries. The make-up of Nom, however, is slightly different.

The main ingredients of Nom include grated pieces of turnip, cabbage, or papaya, and slices of cucumber with grated, boiled, lean pork. Other auxiliary ingredients include grated carrot, slices of hot chilly, and roasted ground nuts. These are used to make the dish more colourful. All are mixed thoroughly before being soaked in vinegar, sugar, garlic, hot chilly, and seasoned with salt.

The presentation of the dish is also very meticulous. The mixture of ingredients is put into a dish before being covered with vegetables.
To try a mouthful of Nom is to enjoy a combination of all the tastes life has to offer, including sour, hot, sweet, salty, and fragrant tastes. The dish helps with digestion at meals and parties. It can become an addictive aid to assist the real connoisseur enjoy more food.
This food is quite cheap and delicious. You can find it easily at traditional markets around Hanoi.

Vermicelli - Mien

Along with Pho and Bun, Mien is a favourite food to many foreigners. Mien has a similar shape to Bun; however, this Chinese originated noodle is not made of rice flour; seaweed and cassava flour are used instead. Thanks to this, Mien is a less-calorie food as well as a vegetarian favorable by on-diet people. Basically, main components of Mien’s broth is the same with Pho, however, its spices are sourer and maybe more fishy because Mien usually eaten with sea-foods. Mien Luon (Mien with eal) is the most popular type of Mien in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi. Broth to cook this special Mien is made of eel’s bones and gingers; then sliced fried eel would be added later. Fresh uncooked vegetables are recommended to eat with Mien Luon to eliminate the fishy taste of it. Other variables of Mien are Mien Ngan (Mien with goose meat), Mien Cua (Mien with crab meat) or Mien Ga (Mien withj chicken). 

Mien can be used with soup or stirred in oil, such as Mien Xao Thit (Mien and pork stirred in fat) , Mien Xao Long Ga (Mien and chicken tripe stirred in fat), Mien Xao Cua Be (Mien and sea crab meat stirred in fat).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Salted dry fruit - Apricot

Apricot is an ideal nosh to enjoy on a beautiful day in Hanoi. There are two main types of making apricot which are saltef dry and sugared apricot. It usually made from all crop of kinds of sour fresh fruit like plum, apricot, pineapple, lemon, tamarind, etc. 

Apricot (Ô Mai)
Apricot is produced for traditional method, since choosing material, the companies also send staff to gardens in Hung Yen, Hai Hung, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau in order to gather all crop of kinds of sour fresh fruit like plum, apricot, tamarind, kumquat, pineapple, canary, lemon. Apricot has smooth yellow colour with sweet- smelling after plusing sugar, ginger, adding chili and stiring liquor ice. That secret of recipe still make Hang Duong, an ancent street, famous for selling the most delicious apricot in Hanoi.\

Apricot (Ô Mai)

This Traditional Vietnamese Food is for instant all year and you can enjoy with a pot of tea and a few friends to chat. This is also valuable present from Hanoi people giving to their friends.

Apricot (Ô Mai)

How to make dried apricot?

If you would like to make dried this Traditional Vietnamese Food, you can use the following recipe and you can make the perfect nosh. First, you soak the apricots in water to cover overnight. Then, place them to cook in the same water. Cook until tender. Mash them or chop in blender. After that, peel, core, and cut the pineapple into small pieces. Cover with water and cook until tender. Measure the fruits and juices. Last, place equal amounts of sugar with the measured fruits into a heavy kettle and cook slowly until thick and clear.

Apricot (Ô Mai)
 Do not miss this traditional Vietnamese food for one walking day. And this nosh is also one of amazing gifts for your family and friends, especially girls and women in hometown.

Vietnamese chicken Noodle soup (Phở)

Hanoi Chicken Vermicelli Soup People now consider it as the traditional Vietnamses food and it is very easy to find this dish around the city.

All items will be put in the bowl – the mix of rice vermicelli with shreds fried egg, pork ham stips, Vietnamses mint, checken floss, some slices of red chili and finally the soup. The preparation for clear soups, thin omelet, super thin pork ham require quite a long time. You can fall in love with its perfect taste. Some lemon juice and shrimp paste will definitely make this dish tastier and richer
Vietnamese chicken Noodle soup (Phở)

Hanoi capital in the old days, this dish traditionally prepared on the fourth day of our Lunar New Year (Tết), when we have a meal to see off our ancestor. All the left-overs in the kitchen from ham, chicken, shrimp, and pork to some veggie have been used for this dish. That is why everything has been cut into shreds.

Today, Hanoi Chicken Vermicelli Soup seems simplified a lot, from the ingredients to the cooking process, esp. in South where is far away from the origin place. This Traditional Vietnamese Food requires long preparation. How to keep the soups clear, how to make thin omelet, to cut it and Vietnamese pork ham into super thin shreds as you see from the photo. And also how to tear the cooked chicken meat into small strips, but we missed shrimp floss this time.

Vietnamese chicken Noodle soup (Phở)

Otherwise our color picture would look nicer with red shrimp floss, yellow egg shreds, pink pork ham strips, green Vietnamese mint and ivory chicken floss. Soup for this dish is chicken soup base; to keep it clear during cooking process would take time and patience to do so. Among different kinds of soup for rice vermicelli I probably prefer the taste of chicken soup than the others, pork or beef.
Vietnamese chicken Noodle soup (Phở)

Pho, a typical dish of Hanoi people, has been existing for a long time. Pho originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam, apparently southeast of Hanoi in Nam Định Province. It is a popular street food in Vietnam and Pho is the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. Pho is primarily served with either beef or chicken.

Pho is traditionally served as a breakfast food, so you'll find pho sellers all over town from before dawn to mid-morning on the street. Pho is the Hanoi street food as well. It is the characteristic of Hanoi cuisine.