Straight outta Costa Mesa! Filing my third Scouting Report, “East Borough: When pasta gets the full-on pho treatment,” on the Los Angeles Times‘ Daily Dish.
Archive for the 'Vietnamese' Category
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While Chef LeFevre is best known for his way with seafood (and bacon cheddar biscuits), Chef Phan is a pioneer of “modern Vietnamese cooking.” The chefs found common ground this evening in their mutual appreciation for bold, Southeast Asian flavors and ingredients. In spite of their different backgrounds and strengths, the menu gelled harmoniously.
This unique kitchen collaboration was made possible by Common Threads, an organization that both chefs support, which is dedicated to educating children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being and to fostering an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking.
The “four” course, family-style dinner began with a hamachi crudo with crispy shallots and Thai basil from Chef Phan.
I’ve eaten crispy shallots on top of just about everything from noodles to crepes and sticky rice, but never atop raw fish. The thin, caramelized bits paired beautifully with the thick-cut yellowtail.
Chef Connie Tran’s bi-monthly pop-up exploring Vietnamese food traditions brings together classic Vietnamese dishes with a smattering of twists that a Vietnamese grandma probably wouldn’t approve of, in a good way. Filing my second Scouting Report, “BEP Kitchen is for Vietnamese food lovers seeking to go beyond pho,” on the Los Angeles Times‘ Daily Dish. Bon appetit.
With the help of Grandma and my aunts these past couple of years, I’ve learned how to prepare almost every noodle soup that I giddily slurped as a child and hungrily craved as an adult. Grandma taught me how to tame pho bo and bo kho from her home kitchen, while my aunts showed me the ins and outs of bun rieu and hu tieu through detailed emails and patient telephone calls.
I’ve amassed quite a repertoire of recipes on this site over the years, preserving a small piece of family history in the process and guaranteeing that all future cravings are swiftly satisfied.
Most recently, Grandma and I tackled bun bo Hue, a complex and heady beef noodle soup scented with lemongrass, packed with pork trotters, and littered with congealed pigs’ blood.
While the city of Hue is known for its spicy fare, Grandma’s version of the former imperial capital’s famous noodle soup is quite tame because she’s needed to refine and adjust it over time to placate the palates of her American-born, spice-averse grandchildren. What can I say? My cousins and I were weak when it came to heat when we were younger.
The most magical part of making bun bo Hue happens around hour three when the beef, pork, and lemongrass broth is transformed into the familiar fiery orange soup. Grandma uses a sizzling mixture of vegetable oil, scallions, fish sauce, and paprika to impart the broth with its characteristically bright hue and rich, umami flavor. Never in a million years would I have guessed that a jar of paprika resided in Grandma’s cupboard for this very recipe.
A heavy dose of fermented shrimp paste, along with a touch of sugar and salt, add the finishing touches to the broth. The soup is ready to be served when the slices of beef and the pigs’ feet are both perfectly tender, after approximately 4 hours total.
- 2.5 pounds pigs’ feet, cut into chunks
- 2.5 pounds beef shank
- 2 1/2 tablespoons salt, separated
- 9 stalks lemongrass
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 bunch scallions, white parts only, halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste
- 1 tablespoon monosodium glutamate, optional
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
For garnish and noodles
- 1/2 pound congealed pork blood
- White onions, thinly sliced into half-moons
- Cilantro, chopped
- Bun Bo Hue noodles
To prepare the broth, begin by cleaning the pigs’ feet under running water to remove any bits of bone debris that the butcher left behind. Don’t forget to run your fingers beneath the skin where unsightly debris may have gotten trapped.
Place the cleaned pigs’ feet and beef shank in a large stockpot filled with enough water to submerge them and bring to a boil. The shank and feet are full of impurities, so once the water comes to a boil, dump it out and collect the feet and shank in a colander.