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If Martha Made Vietnamese

When T&J came to us, we made an intentional effort to get to know as much about the Vietnamese culture as possible, or at least as possible as it is for a Caucasian family living in the middle of suburbia.  One way I've found to do this is through food.  Then a wonderful thing happened... we all fell head-over-heels in love with Vietnamese food!  Right down to the little people in the house, we all adore the amazing flavor combinations, flavors like cinnamon and lemon grass wafting through the house, rice noodles and fresh herbs...  And on top of being super yummy, Vietnamese food is really good for you too!  So I try to cook Vietnamese food at least a couple times a month.


With only a couple exceptions, the below recipes will require a trip to the local Asian market.  But I assure you, if this pasty-white soccer mom can find a couple unusual ingredients in the Asian market, so can you.  And it's a fun field trip for the whole family in it's own right, and usually leads to a fun day of cooking all together.  


Several of the below recipes are also posted on the recipe site, Tasty Kitchen.  I've included a link to make it easy to print the recipe.

Phở 
This is hands down the most frequently requested Viet dish in our house and a regular.  Phở is a beef noodle soup and is indisputably the most stereotypical Viet food.  It is served with a rice noodles and most commonly with beef in a clear beef broth. There are probably as many phở versions as there are Viet women in kitchens making dinner for their families.  Click here for post.


This is a chicken variation of traditional beef pho.  It is one of my favorites to have the flavors wafting through the house.   Translated it pretty much means chicken noodle soup but of course Vietnamese. And as with all phở, it's largely all about the fresh toppings... basil, mint, hoisin sauce, Sriracha, bean sprouts, lime juice squeezed in! Maybe that's why my kiddos like phở so much, because they get to "assemble" their dinner at the table, and I mean who doesn't like that!  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  


This is a quick, throw-it-all-together soup, that is so easy and fast to make.  And it's very light, so perfect for lunch and/or to pair with an entree.  I like to throw this one together when I don't have the time or energy to make phở.  It's also my go-to soup after someone has been sick or fighting a cold... without the chilies of course.  Click here for post.

Along with pho, this is the most comon Vietnamese food made in our house.  If you're a guest in our home, you'll get put to work rolling them up too.  Fresh spring rolls, also called salad rolls, typify Vietnamese cuisine. IMO, what makes these rolls delicious is the simplicity of the ingredients. Fresh herbs and flavors, combining together. A great appetizer or a light lunch. And easy enough to make vegetarian by leaving out the meat and still tasty.   Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

This is the fried version on the Vietnamese spring roll, kinda like and egg roll. It is filled with a stuffing of ground pork, veggies, and noodles, fried till golden brown and served with nuoc cham, the stereotypical Vietnamese dipping sauce. Makes a great appetizer or side dish. To make it even easier, the shredded jicama, carrots, mushrooms, and noodles are all easily available in your local Asian grocery store.  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.

A traditional Vietnamese appetizer, or as I call it, a little piece of heaven!  There is a beef mixture in the middle, wrapped up in a grape leaf, then grilled or broiled.  My mouth is watering already!  When I was pregnant with Boo, Papa would drive 40 minutes across town, one way, just to pick these up for me!  They're not too hard to make, so now we make our own!  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

The first time I made this, I asked my family what I could do better next time, and they said: make more! The ingredients are easy to find at the Asian grocery, and it’s easy and fast to make, too.  I have never cooked with watercress before.  It sounds like one of those things that's really healthy.  And now I know it delicious.  KInda has a zip to it.  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

A wonderful light yet filling chicken salad, perfect for lunch or a summer dinner.  This delicious, flavorful salad is perfect for a warm evening or brunch with girlfriends. Chicken, napa cabbage, and a tangy dressing topped with peanuts, make it so yummy. It has Asian flavors, but will appeal to a wide audience.  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

This is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich. Kinda like VietNam’s counterpart to the American hamburger, but it’s French-Vietnamese fusion food, so it’s so much more yummy! The ingredients are easy to find at your local Asian market and everyone loves this one, including my young kiddos.  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.

Cà phê sữa đá, or translated it means "iced coffee with milk" for all the coffee lovers.  Or maybe it's for the dessert lovers.  Better yet, it's for both!  Here's to amping you up!  This drink is pretty much like a dessert.  It is rich and sweet and kinda like melted coffee ice cream.  But I'll give you fair warning.  Do NOT drink this before bed!  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

Nước Chanh & Gừng  (Lemonade with Ginger)
Lemonade with a ginger kick.  Perfect for a hot summer day.  One of the Crazy 9 favorites for a special occasion!  When I have left over ginger from a recipe, this is a go-to drink.  Click here for post.
Bò kho is traditional Vietnamese beef stew. It’s comfort food. Probably every Viet kitchen has its own version. This version is a combination of the basics. It’s not as thick as an American stew, but more hearty than a soup with beef, carrots, and traditional Viet flavors like bay leaf, ginger, and anise. Sop up the rich broth with a French baguette like the Vietnamese do or serve with rice.  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

This was one of the first Vietnamese recipes that I attempted, so know that it's not hard.  In fact, it's quite easy.  And now it's a regular at our house.  I love everything about lemon grass.  And aside from the aroma, it makes me feel almost like I really know what I'm doing.  As usual, I prefer French crusty bread to sop up all the yummy broth.  Papa prefers noodles.  Click here for post.

This grilled beef has been marinated in a tasty lemongrass marinade.  It is served on rice noodles and topped with a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce.  Click here for post.


In our house, this is simply referred to as a "bun bowl."  It is a room-temp noodle dish mixed with fresh veggies and sliced pork hot off the grill.  It's what the kiddos usually get when we go to a Vietnamese restaurant.  I can not express how amazing it is!  It's a mixture of hot and cold, crunchy and soft, salad and entree, meat and veggies, sour and sweet...  Served in a bowl, we pour a dressing over top, mix it all up, and slurp it up.  Does it sound like they are all my favorite?  This one really is my favorite... or at least one of them!  Click here for post.


A curry with traditional Viet flavors, including lemongrass and ginger.  Easy to make and easy to adjust the amount or spiciness.  Accompany with white rice or my favorite a baguette of crusty French bread.  Yummmmmm!  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

For those that want to try something a little different, a wonderful summer salad (kinda like a big relish) with lots of julienned green papaya as a base.  Yes, you actually buy a green, unripe papaya and chop it up!  Shrimp and pork are added and also a tangy Veit dipping sauce for a dressing.  Top it with peanuts and fried shallots, and it's just a wonderful combination of flavors!  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

This pork is a popular Chinese and Vietnamese cross over dish!  Just like the crazy 9s!  It's often seen in Chinese restaurants with red food coloring in the marinade resulting in the pink outer layer around the pork, (You know what I'm talking about, right?  The pork bits in the fried rice that have a neon-ish red/pink hue on the outside?)  No need to actually add food coloring.  It's just as tasty without it.  Click here for post.  

Hey, don't forget about dessert, my favorite meal of the day!  The first time I had coconut sorbet, topped with chopped peanuts, I fell in love!  This recipe is wonderful on a hot day, and is so easy to prepare ahead and serve after a spicy meal!  It's a special treat in our house!  The kiddos usually throw this together when I'm making dinner.  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.  

Many Vietnamese foods use this dipping sauce.  And not having it would be like a salad without dressing.  It can be thrown together in just a couple minutes.  Click here for post or here for Tasty Kitchen recipe.
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