How-To, Recipes

Mom’s Pickled Mustard Greens Recipe_ Dưa Cải Muối của Mẹ

When the Lunar New Year – Tết came in Vietnam, my mother was always busily preparing roasted duck, pork, chickens and many dishes. She never forgot, even though the weather was chilly and sometimes rainy, to take the time to go to the crowded, lively open market, where she would always seem to find the perfect mustard greens just ripe for pickling for Tet Day.

My mother seemed to know how to balance many different tastes and flavors. I think you will love this recipe because it blends so beautifully with the salty Vietnamese dishes like caramelized fish, pork or shrimp.

Today, even though I live very far from my Mom, I would like to share a part of her with you by giving you one of my favorite recipes that she always made for me. Thank you, Mom.

Ingredients:

  • 3 big mustard greens
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 liters of water
  • 3 bulbs of shallots
  • 4 green onions

Pour water into a pot, add salt and brown sugar and cook till it boils. Turn the heat off then wait till the brine cool down to warm level that you can touch by finger. Pour the brine into a jar with cut mustard greens, shallots and green onions. Cover the lid. Leave 2 days to be served.

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Mustard Greens
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Mustard Greens and Shallots
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Washed and Cut Mustard Greens, Shallots and Green Onions
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The Vegetables with Brine in a Jar
mom pickle1
After 2 days
Recipes, Uncategorized

Water Spinach With Garlic – Rau Muống Xào Tỏi

It was an early afternoon in fall. I came home from school. As usual, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a bamboo basket, ready to go to our garden to pick some veggies for dinner. Our garden is also our family’s farm, where we plant our seasonal veggies both for the family to use and to sell. It took 5 minutes to walk to the garden. The sun was still shining but it would soon turn dark.  The wind blew gently and brought along with it the smell of white champaca from my granduncle’s garden when I passed it. I called my dog – my lovely friend and also my companion – Mi to go with me. I was a secondary school girl and scared of creepy snakes when I went into the garden alone. Mi always ran eagerly in front of me and would clear the way for me. He would jump in a big bush or play with crickets in a sweet potato bed without fear while I was picking veggies.

For Vietnamese, sautéed veggies is a must dish in a daily meal. The simple recipe, but good for all kind of veggies, is sautéed with garlic.

  • 1 pound of water spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of salt and sugar for blanching
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice (optional)

Wash the spinach and discard any bruised leaves thoroughly. Cut the spinach into easy-to-manage lengths.

Boil a pot of water and add 1 teaspoon salt and sugar to the pot. This tip keeps the spinach green after blanching. Drop the washed spinach into the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute, then drain water.

Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Fry all garlic for 30 seconds, take half of fried garlic out, leave for later. Add the blanched spinach and stir-fry, add teaspoon of fish sauce and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, keep frying for 2-3 minutes. Turn of the heat, add the rest of garlic and stir well. Transfer to a dish.

Serve right away, with a tablespoon lime juice poured on top (northern style)

rau muong xao

Other sauteed veggies with the same recipe.

brocoli xao toiswiss chard

How-To, Recipes

How To Make Vietnamese Vegetarian ‘Fish Sauce’ – Nước Mắm Chay

Fish sauce (nước mắm) is a MUST in many Vietnamese dishes to give that umami flavor, that essence, to the food. Spring rolls without the sweet and sour sauce dipping sauce, nước chấm, is nothing at all. But for Vietnamese vegetarians who do not eat fish, how does one make fish sauce for those dishes? In my years living in Vietnam and having Vietnamese vegetarian friends share their food with me, I found that their food still had that wonderful flavor that is quintessential Vietnamese! But how? I found out that they made a special vegetarian “fish sauce” to complete these dishes and I want to share that “secret” with you:

nuoc mam chay

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ litters of filtered water
  • ½ pineapple, pilled the skin, cut into small pieces.
  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • ½ cup of sea salt
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of vegetarian seasoning

thanh phan nau nuoc mam chay2

Put all ingredients in a big pot. Bring to boil on high heat. Then reduce heat to simmer, skim the surface to remove all impurities. Continue to cook with low heat for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, turn off the gas, let it cool down to room temperature. Then cover a big clean pot with cheese cloth to filter all the liquid. Pour all the filtered liquid into a large enough glass jar and store in the fridge to make sauces later.

nuoc mam3

Cooking

Green Papaya Salad

This dish brings me back to the memories of my childhood. I still remember when I was in elementary school, there was an old woman who sold green papaya salad from a small rustic bamboo table in front of her house. When breaktime came, we rushed out of school to buy a snack, the green papaya salad! As I quickly inhaled my small crunchy, sweet and sour snack, I remember staring at my friend who was slowly savoring every bite of her green papaya salad!

1 green papaya, shredded
1 sweet potato, shredded and deep fried (optional)
1 small box mixed cherry tomatoes, cut into half
½ bunch of cilantro
¼ cup of roasted peanuts, chopped

Dressing
1 chili, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp sugar
2 lime juice
1/3 cup of water

• Peel and shred the papaya. Soak it in cold water for 15 minutes, with 6 cubes of ice to make it crunchy. Drain the water. Put the papaya in a bowl with shredded and deep fried sweet potato, cut tomatoes, cut cilantro, roasted and chopped peanuts.
• To make the dressing, combine the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice in a bowl then stir well, add a cup of water then add chopped garlic and chili.
• Pour the dressing over the salad and gently stir. Ready to serve.
Green Papaya Salad