When talking about Vietnamese food, many of you probably think of our spring/summer rolls, ‘phở’ or other types of noodles. But even to us Vietnamese, they are mostly eaten out. Our daily family dinner is, on the other hand, very simple once you know the basics. A proper dinner normally require 3 dishes: vegetable soup + fish/meat/seafood dish + stir-fried vegetables, and most of the time served with fish sauce or soy sauce & chillies. Rice is a MUST!
Our cooking revolves around a few main, basic ingredients: fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, shallot, pepper, spring onion and coriander. I’m not quite sure how it is for other families, but all the people I know don’t use salt for their cooking, instead this special type of ‘salt’ called bột canh. It’s a mixture of a few powder (I have no idea which ones) to gives off a sweeter, more flavourful and more balanced salty taste than sea salt. Granule has lately also become a necessity in every house’s kitchen, but most people don’t use just granule to season, I think they have a rather weird taste. So to season something, we often use a basic mixture of: chopped garlic + bot canh + granule + fish sauce + pepper + tiny bit of sugar (Southern people have a sweeter tooth than Northern ones). There, with this ‘magic’ combination you probably know how to make at least 10 dishes already.
But I’ll be cooking only 2 dishes today. After all, I live alone, eat alone, then wash up alone, why the need to make more fuss? For the soup, I have artichoke with pork ribs. I only learnt of this very recently (didn’t even know artichoke was edible before, ha!) and got hooked. And the other one: fried eggs. When I was young, adults always say ‘fried egg is the easiest thing to do’. But really? I do not think so! While it might seem super easy, I got it burnt on countless occasions before mastering the ‘rolling technique’. I’ll show you in a bit after my ‘years’ of practice, lol 😀
If you wanna try some new cuisine for your dinner, then shall we crack on?
Meal for 2
Artichoke and pork ribs soup
- 1 big artichoke + some lemon juice
- 350 g pork ribs
- 1 1/2 l water
- 1 1/2 tsp ‘bot canh’ (or salt, your call)
- 1 tsp chicken granule
- dash of fish sauce (optional)
- 2 spring onions, chopped, to garnish
- coriander, roughly chopped, to garnish
- To prepare the artichoke: first prepare a bowl of cold water, squeeze in a few drops of lemon. Then cut the top of the artichoke, about an inch (or more) then cut it by half. Scoop out the purple leaves and the fuzzy bits around the heart. Dip it into the lemon water to prevent discolouring. Done!
- Next, chop then wash the ribs & pour water to just cover them, bring to a boil and discard. This is to remove dirt and any unpleasant ‘pork’ smell.
- Wash the ribs again then add 1 1/2 l of water, bring to a boil then add bot canh/salt + granule. Dip in the artichoke, bring to a boil again then lower the heat to medium low, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Add a dash of fish sauce, pepper, spring onions and coriander.
- Turn off heat and serve.
The essence of a Vietnamese soup also lies in spring onions & coriander. It’s the combination of their smell that makes this soup what it is. So even though I say ‘to garnish’, don’t leave it out if you can.
Pan fried rolled eggs
- 3 eggs
- 1-2 spring onions, chop the green part
- 1/2 tbs fish sauce
- 1/4 tsp granule
- pinch of sugar
- pepper to taste
- vegetable oil
- Whisk everything together. (How easy is that?)
- On medium high, heat the oil in a frying pan
- When it is well heated, pour the egg mixture into the pan. You need to hear the sizzling sound at this point
- Take the pan and swirl the runny egg around so the inside cooks more quickly
- Lower the heat a bit and cover with lid for a few minutes, until the egg mixture is beginning to set. Then you start to roll
- First fold the corner of the egg, keep it there for a minute to set, then continue to fold, stop at each step for a minute so that the eggs hold together.
- Then voila, cut into smaller pieces and serve
My eggs are still a little too brown. And these do taste much better than they look, I promise! Apologies for my very bad photography today too 😦
Oh, and don’t forget the rice! Thai Jasmine Rice is the best ^^ I tried out the brown rice the other day and I’m doing my very very best to swallow this down >”< Maybe they aren’t meant to be cooked & served like I did. Any tips on serving brown rice, everyone?