I recently started watching The Cooking Channel. It’s a newish channel from the FOOD TV network. There are older shows from FOOD TV, but then there are new shows featuring not so famous chefs yet (or not as famous as on FOOD TV).
One of my new favorite shows though is Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam. This chef Luke is Vietnamese, but he grew up in Australia, so he has an Australian accent!
The show revolves around him visiting different parts of Vietnam and the next thing you know, he’s pulling up a little stool, and using ingredients from the nearby market or food vendor, he whips up a great meal.
Now, I have never in my life made anything Vietnamese at all, but all the ingredients look so good, I may have to try my hand at it. I did want to share with you some things I learned about stocking a pantry with Vietnamese essentials. Most of them can be found in the asian section of your grocery store, but if you can’t find these ingredients, you can actually find them on www.amazon.com OR www.veryasia.com
So, here are the things you need to start cooking!
Toasted sesame oil – a little goes a long way and should be used sparingly.
Hoisin sauce – this comes in a jar, it’s used as a dipping sauce and it’s made from soybean paste, garlic and sugar.
Lemongrass – this is used in soups, stir-fries. Before using, remove the outer leaves and dark leafy tops.
Rice Vermicelli – dried and fresh vermicelli noodles are used in Vietnamese cooking. Fresh vermicelli is called bun and is served alongside curries or grilled meats. Dried vermicelli is extra thin and should be soaked in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes, then boiled for just a few seconds. You can use it in soups and spring roll fillings.
Rice: Jasmine rice is used often as well as sticky rice (called glutinous rice) which is used in desserts. The glutinous rice should be soaked for several hours, then drained and steamed.
Thai Basil (can’t use Italian basil – totally different taste). Thai basil is lemony and fragrant, it’s used in many dishes. most common in the noodle soup pho.
Lime leaf: Kaffir lime leaves are used to flavor soups and stews. They are glossy and dark green in color and can be bought frozen, fresh or dried. You can substitute lime peel for this ingredient in recipes.
I’ve enjoyed reading more about Vietnamese cooking and can’t wait to get started. I found out there are 2 Asian markets in my town I’ve never been to, so I’m going to have to stock my pantry. It seems as though most of the things I’ve seen chef Luke prepare on the show are totally healthy too!
Has anyone else dabbled in cooking Vietnamese food? What do you make?
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