Aka what you do in the de Bodard household when dealing with a hungry baby… This is very much a fusion dish: the original is a Vietnamese version of a Chinese dish, and I’ve substituted the egg noodles with wholewheat rotini, which are easier to get hold of in France and add intriguing taste to the mix.
It’s a good dish for recycling meat or shrimp or crab leftovers (I used pork here, but you can substitute chicken or shrimp or crab quite easily).
Meanwhile, chop the spring onions (green and white part) into rings.
In a wok on medium heat, heat up around 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. When hot, add the spring onions and shallots (there should be enough oil that the spring onions are thoroughly covered). Stir for a minute, until fragrant.
Add the noodles and the soy sauce, mix well.
Add the pork. Taste: it should be salty with a kick; if not, add more soy sauce.
I’ve had to cut back on the cooking due to tiring easily, so this is courtesy of the H, who is our official cook for anything like trout. It’s actually very easy and I’m ashamed to be posting a recipe for it, but hey, if it helps…
Wash the trouts thoroughly under water to remove the last traces of the guts.
On a wooden chopping board, sprinkle a handful of flour, and dip the trouts in them until they’re covered with a thin layer of flour.
Pre-heat oven to 175°C.
Put about half the almonds in an ovenproof dish, then the trouts, then the rest of the almonds. Cook until the trouts are done (about 20-30 minutes depending on how large your fish are. Your fishmonger will probably know).
I am not calling it ” bolognese”, mainly because actual Bolognans (and actual Italians) would have a fit… The key to the dish is having plenty of umami, and the tomatoes certainly provide that! I use capuliato di pomodoro, diced tomatoes in olive oil which my mom provided to me and that basically keep forever (mine are a bit old and probably only suitable for this, their taste is a bit less intense than it used to be. Again, I’m pretty sure actual Sicilians will be having a fit–I never was quite certain what the use was for capuliato, but I strongly suspect it’s not meant to be used to boost mediocre canned tomatoes). If you don’t have capuliato, can I suggest ketchup? And if you don’t have the soybean paste, which is probably not a staple of your kitchen, you can substitute it with a bit more carrot or a bit more capuliato.
The finished dish in my Vietnamese soup bowls (yes, we ran out of hollow plates!)
This is a classic of Vietnamese/Chinese takeaway in France: a slightly sweet mixture of chicken and lemongrass threaded on skewers and grilled for better flavour. I didn’t actually have a grill handy, so ended up doing this on my stove; and also didn’t have actual chicken thighs so replaced them with breasts (and how did you guess, I didn’t have skewers either. Still tastes good, believe me!). The minimum marinating time is 2h, but this benefits from a little more if you can afford it.
Cut the upper two things of the lemongrass stalks (if applicable, remove leaves). Remove outer layer of lower third. Mince the rest into very small pieces. Mince the shallot and garlic. Mix everything but the chicken together to obtain the marinade.
Cut the chicken into medium pieces (think skewers). Then put pieces in marinade and leave to marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight if possible).
Grill until cooked.
Or heat up a wok on a stove on medium heat; put a dash of oil, the chicken and marinade in the wok, and cook covered until the chicken is done. Then crank the heat up and wait for the marinade to caramelise, turning the chicken so that it is coated in caramelised marinade.
Serve with rice and with a tart/fresh vegetable (tomatoes, broccoli…).
Aka bún thịt nướng, grilled pork with vermicelli. A classic of salad dishes–there are many recipes for this as there are people. This version makes good use of lemongrass and soy sauce (you can add oyster sauce into the mix, but I’m not a big fan of using oyster sauce with lemongrass and fish sauce, I find it tends to be a bit overwhelming).
As with bò bún, this is a salad: you have to serve the noodles cool (and please please don’t heat up the salad or whatever arrant nonsense I’ve seen people do in Chinese/Vietnamese takeaways). Choice of herbs is up to you: mint is what I can most easily find and use in other dishes, coriander or red perilla (tía tô) or even rau răm would probably work as well (I don’t have easy access to Asian herbs, which is why I tend to stick to mint and coriander in my dishes).
Mince the shallot, garlic and lemongrass very fine. Mix the sugar, pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce and cooking oil to obtain the marinade.
Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, more if possible.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Get the pork out of the fridge and to room temperature.
Bake the pork in ovenproof dish for 20-30 minutes, until thoroughly cooked. Then turn the oven to broil/grill setting and grill on both sides until the meat is nicely browned. (alternatively, grill the meat until cooked).
Boil enough water to cover the rice vermicelli, and pour over them. Leave to cook for 2 minutes, then drain and leave to cool.
Wash the salad and the soy. Dry the soy well. Crush the peanuts into little fragments with a mortar and pestle.
In each bowl, put: a quarter of the rice noodles, a quarter of the salad, and a quarter of the soy. Then add the pork, mint and roasted peanuts.
Serve with nuoc cham, and let each guest mix their salad!
Cheating a bit with this one: I adapted it from Rasa Malaysia. The original recipe had a bit more water in the sauce and required draining the vegetables thoroughly; I’m afraid I could never quite manage that (unless maybe popping them in a salad spinner…), so I skip the water part and rely on a bit of the water from the blanched vegetables to dilute the sauce.
Served here with chả lụa and rice (a bit of a fusion dish since I don’t really think bok choy is much of an item in South Vietnam; but it’s way easier to find here than some of the more typical stuff).
In a wok over moderate temperature, fry the garlic until it turns light golden brown. Tip in a bowl and set aside. (the garlic will continue cooking in the bowl for a bit, so it’s essential to get it from the wok before it looks cooked).
Wash the bok choy, and separate the leaves. Cut in half lengthwise the leaves which look a bit thick (usually the first 2-3 outer layers). Blanch the bok choy in boiling water for 30-40s, until the leaves look slightly wilted (veggies should still be a bit crunchy at that point). Drain and reserve.
During blanching time, quickly mix the ingredients for the sauce in the wok. Tip the vegetables into the wok and drench them in sauce, then top with the garlic.
(aka chuối nướng: grilled bananas) OK, so I know fully well that this isn’t really how you do grilled bananas. Normally there should be sticky rice sprinkled with grated coconut that you wrap around the bananas before wrapping the lot in banana leaves and throwing it on the grill. However, grated coconut is rare in this house (and let’s not even mention banana leaves…). So let’s see about the stripped-down version, which only has three main ingredients and requires very little work to turn out awesome…
(the picture was taken with the leftover sauce; normally it should be more bananas draped in sauce, rather than a Frankenstein soup halfway to chè stage. Promise, next time I’ll try it with the sticky rice)
Put the coconut milk and salt in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. After it has started simmering, add the cornstarch diluted in the water, bring to a boil and wait for the sauce to thicken. Take off the heat, and wait till it cools. The sauce should be a teensy bit sweet; if it’s not, add 1 or 2 lumps of sugar to taste.
Cut the bananas in half along the horizontal axis. If using large ones, also cut them in half vertically.
In a frying pan, put a fair amount of oil, and panfry the bananas until they turn soft and slightly browner (alternative version, just cut the Cavendish vertically, don’t touch the small ones; wrap the bananas in foil and put them in an oven, broiling for a few minutes at 275°C).
Remove and serve, putting the coconut sauce over the bananas and the crushed peanuts.
Aka one of my Sunday lazy dishes: I buy the wontons pre-made from the XIIIe Arrondissement, and then make the soup come together fairly quickly. The version in the picture lacks a bit of vegetables: I’d usually throw in two handfuls of fresh spinach/ arugula, or one bok choy (all per person), in addition to the spring onions–except of course I seldom have greens left in my fridge on a Sunday evening! It’s a fairly effortless dish that only requires a bit of attention while it’s simmering on the stove.
I’m pretty sure the traditional recipe for this doesn’t include the sesame oil or the five-spices, but I really like the taste of the broth with those two ingredients thrown on.
1 tablespoon instant chicken broth (my chicken broth says: 2 teaspoons for 4 cups water, so if you want to use other sources of broth, I suspect it’d be 6 cups canned broth?)
6 cups water
1 teaspoon five-spices
1 10cm kombu piece
1 5cm ginger chunk
1 white onion
2 garlic cloves
1.5-2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 bok choys, or 4 handfuls of fresh spinash or arugula
2 spring onions
Dash of sugar
Using a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and ginger into a rough, chunky paste. Cut the onion into wedges.
In a saucepan, warm some cooking oil, and fry the ginger/garlic mixture until fragrant (about 30s-1min).
Add the 6 cups water, the kombu piece, the onion, the white part of the spring onions, the five-spices, and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Then bring to a boil.
When the water starts to boil, remove the kombu.
Leave to simmer for thirty minutes. Taste and adjust: it should have a strong salty kick but not make you instantly thirsty–if it’s too salty, adjust with some sugar, else add fish sauce. Don’t forget the noodles and wontons that are going into the soup are fairly bland, so the broth itself needs to have a kick if you want to taste anything!
Bring the water back to a roiling boil, and add the dried egg noodles, the bok choy/spinach/arugula and the wontons. Leave to cook for about 3 minutes after the water comes back to a boil (if, as often happens for me, the noodles cook before the wontons, fish the noodles out to avoid having the taste boiled out of them, and set them aside. I put them straight into the serving bowls).
Prepare two serving bowls: cut the green part of the spring onions into thin rings, and line the bowls. Then split the noodles, greens, and wontons between both bowls. Pour the broth over, and carefully mix to have the spring onions come back to the surface (careful, you don’t want to burst those wontons). Sprinkle some sesame oil on top (I usually go for anything from half a teaspoon to a teaspoon, depending on the mood).