Archive for the 'Banh Bot Loc' Category

Bunches of Lunches: Cơm Trưa

One of the luxuries of Vietnam is being able to dine out for nearly every meal due to the low cost of food. On average, The Astronomer and I each spend approximately $1-$1.50 per meal depending on the eatery and what we order. Although a part of me misses cooking up a storm, it’s easier and far more delicious to frequent restaurants and street stalls rather than bargaining, buying, and preparing raw ingredients in Saigon.

For the most part, The Astronomer and I have avoided eating out for breakfast because we prefer chomping on cereal and PowerBars in our apartment to eating hot soups street-side. However, lunch is a completely different story.

Here are some snapshots from lunchtime outings during the past few weeks:

August 3, 2007—While exploring our ‘hood during a rainy Saturday morning, we stumbled upon a friendly man dishing up goi du du kho bo (green papaya salad with beef jerky, basil, and fish sauce vinaigrette – 5,000 VND) and goi coun (spring rolls with pork, vermicelli noodles, herbs, lettuce, and mam nem dipping sauce – 6,000 VND). The green papaya salad was spectacular, especially the spicy jerky. The spring rolls, on the other hand, contained a bitter herb that was overwhelming. We also weren’t fans of the potent anchovy and pineapple dipping sauce.

August 6, 2007—A mechanic pointed The Astronomer and I to the Banh Canh Cua eatery. We shared a bowl of the restaurant’s siganature dish, banh canh cua (13,000 VND), and a sampler plate of the restaurant’s offerings that included banh beo, banh nam, banh bot loc, and banh ram it (10,000 VND). The banh canh was very different from my family’s version due to the employment of fresh noodles, which contributed to a thicker and starchier broth. The sampler platter was terrific!

August 9, 2007—Around the corner from our office is an outdoor restaurant serving worker’s lunches. We’ve eaten here twice mainly due to proximity. The rice is often too dry and the flies buzzing around quickly kill an appetite. On our first visit, The Astronomer had the braised fish and a fish patty, while I had tofu stuffed with ground pork and an omelet. Our lunch plates include a small bowl of soup with mustard greens, which The Astronomer hates but I rather like. The food here isn’t stellar, but it’s definitely decent and inexpensive at 15,000 VND per person.

August 11, 2007—My grandma’s younger sister, Ba Sao, invited The Astronomer and me to her house for lunch the other weekend. She prepared her famous egg rolls, thit kho, braised fish with tomatoes and turnips, and bi coun (spring rolls with shredded pork and lettuce). Everything was delicious! The Astronomer probably ate twenty egg rolls and the braised fish rocked my world. I hope to learn a few recipes from her during my year in Vietnam.

August 12, 2007—There’s no such thing as a bad bowl of pho in this country! This random pho joint called Pho Bac Ha is located off the uber-busy CMT 8. The Astronomer ordered the pho ga (15,000 VND), while I had the pho bo (12,000 VND). Nothing super special here, just a solid bowl of pho.

Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ – Ho Chi Minh City

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August 2 and 15, 2007
Cuisine: Vietnamese

252/68B Ly Chinh Thang Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: 9312975
Website: none

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Banh Beo (12,000 VND)

8

Cha Gio (15,000 VND)

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Bun Mam (15,000 VND)

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My Quang (15,000 VND)

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Bun Thit Nuong (15,000 VND)

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UPDATE: Banh Bot Loc (12,000)

UPDATE II: Bun Bo Hue (16,000 VND)

Bún Bò Huế – Yen Do is quickly becoming one of my favorite eateries in the city. A short walk from the East Meets West office, Yen Do serves up cuisine from the city of Huế, which is regarded as the culinary capital of Vietnam and also the birthplace of my ong ngoai (grandpa). The restaurant is named after Huế‘s most famous dish—Bún Bò, which The Astronomer and I have yet to sample during our two visits.

As per usual, we stumbled upon this restaurant hungrily during lunch time. On both my first and second visits, I ordered a bowl of My Quang. My Quang‘s broth is orangey, mild, a bit sweet, a little spicy, and used sparingly in this uncharacteristically dry noodle dish. The noodles are wide like fettuccine and yellow due to the employment of turmeric or saffron. The yellow noodle trend seems to be unique to Vietnam because the My Quang I’ve had in the states uses regular rice noodles. Banh trang (sesame crackers), pork slivers, spring onions, peanuts, braised shrimp, and cha (pork forcemeat) add a variety of tastes and textures to this complex and hearty dish. My Quang is served with a plate of fresh herbs; I like to add thin shavings of banana flower into my soup. I did not grow up eating My Quang and have probably had it twice in my life before coming to Vietnam, but I just can’t get enough of it these days.

On The Astronomer’ first visit he ordered a bowl of Bun Mam, which he declared the best noodle and broth combination he’d had so far. The dish’s dominant flavor is fermented fish, which is oftentimes too strong for the untrained palate, including some Vietnamese folks, so I was very impressed that The Astronomer enjoyed it so much! To supplement his noodles, he ordered a plate of banh beo, which are steamed rice and tapioca flour morsels topped with dried shrimp, mung bean paste, and eaten with sweetened fish sauce. Banh beo is definitely one of The Astronomer’s favorite dishes.

On his second visit, The Astronomer ordered bun thit nuong, which consists of vermicelli noodles topped with grilled pork, peanuts, bean sprouts, herbs, and fish sauce. The “chef” also added an eggroll for good measure. On these hot Saigon afternoons, bun thit nuong is a cool alternative to the regular broth and noodle dishes. Additionally, I ordered five eggrolls for us to share. The eggrolls were the best I’ve had thus far and the ratio of meat to wrapper was better than average. I have adopted the Vietnamese way of eating eggrolls, which involves wrapping them in lettuce leaves and dipping them in fish sauce. The flavors are really fabulous.

UPDATE: My aunt Phoung came to Saigon last week from San Diego and I took her to Yen Do for lunch one day. We ordered a plate of banh bot loc and they were awesome. I hate to admit it, but they were even better than my grandma’s! Most of the time, the overly-chewy texture of banh bot loc makes me choke, but these were pleasantly chewy.

UPDATE II: The restaurant’s signature dish was quite good. The gio heo tasted just like home.

Bánh Bột Lọc – Clear Shrimp and Pork Dumplings

Translucent, almost gelatinous cakes of sticky tapioca flour filled with sauteed whole shrimps and sliced fatty pork. Topped with scallions and crispy rendered pork fat and served with fish sauce.

For filling

  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 10 large shrimps (with heads)
  • 1/2 pound pork belly or pork back
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon nouc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pepper

For dough

  • 30 ounces tapioca starch
  • Boiling water

For topping

  • 1/8 pound pork fat
  • 2 scallion stalks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Make filling

Cut pork into small pieces that contain meat, fat, and skin. Set aside.

Remove the small and large shrimp’s tails, legs and veins, but leave their peels intact. The shrimp’s peel adds to the dish’s flavor and texture. For the larger shrimps, do not remove their heads. The shrimp heads contribute to the filling’s intense orangey color.

Sauté the pork in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat until just cooked. Add the shrimp (large and small) to the pork along with vegetable oil, fish sauce, salt, and sugar. Cook until all liquid has been absorbed. Lastly, add a generous amount of pepper to the filling.

Make dough

Place the tapioca starch into a large mixing bowl. Add enough boiling water to the starch to form malleable dough. Start with half a cup of water and gradually add in a little more until dough is formed. Knead the dough for approximately five minutes or until the water and starch is combined. The dough should be smooth and pliable.

Assembling and cooking Banh Bot Loc

Using a small portion of the dough, form a flat circle that is approximately 3″ in diameter and 1/8″ thick. Place one shrimp and one piece of pork in the center of the dough and fold in half. For the larger shrimps, cut into smaller pieces. Repeat with the remainder of the filling and dough.

Cook the banh bot loc in boiling water for 5-8 minutes or until translucent. Once the banh bot loc has been removed from the boiling water, place them immediately in a cold water bath for 3 minutes and then drain. Repeat until all banh bot loc has been cooked.

Make topping

Saute pork fat on high heat. After 15 minutes, crispy pork fat will form within the liquid fat. Drain the liquid fat leaving only the crispy pork fat. Set aside. Chop scallions into thin slices and sauté in vegetable oil. Add in crispy pork fat and combine. Spread the onion, oil, and crispy pork fat mixture atop the banh bot loc and serve immediately with fish sauce.

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