Category Archives: Cooking

N is for Nghệ / Turmeric

“After women give birth,” my Vietnamese mother-in-law explained, “they get coldness. Turmeric heats the body and protects against colds or flu. Also,” she said, “turmeric makes the skin soft and beautiful again. Any woman who just had a baby should apply a turmeric … Continue reading

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V is for Vả Figs

We tend to think of Vietnamese cuisine as a single entity, but really it’s made up of many regional dishes and ingredients. The cooking of Huế features a variety of such foods, and a variety of locally grown fig is one … Continue reading

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Sweet and Sour Tamarinds for Tết

Hard work. Peeling sour green tamarinds to make sweet and sour Tết preserves. My sister-in-law and I have already spent a couple of hours on this, and we still have hours to go. When tamarinds are ripe, the shells separate … Continue reading

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J is for Jackfruit (Mít)

Jackfruit grow on short stalks right from the trunk and branches, and they are the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, bigger even than the durian. While a typical fruit might weigh anywhere from 15 to 20 kg, they can reach … Continue reading

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In a Việt Kitchen

One thing I have in my kitchen that neither my husband’s mother nor anyone in his family even owns is cookbooks. My mother-in-law has never followed a written recipe. She cooks according to what’s in season, what’s suitable for the season … Continue reading

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H is for Hạt Dưa: Watermelon Seeds (and also for harmful and hazard)

Crick, crack, snick, ptooi. The sound of a group of people cracking seeds brings to my imagination a pack of squirrels let loose at a bird seed factory. Tết is the season of melon seeds. Snacking on them practically becomes … Continue reading

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G is for Ginger / Gừng

Sao mặt bạn nhăn như khỉ ăn gừng? Why are you wrinkling your face like a monkey eating ginger? (A Vietnamese expression) I don’t know what I’d do without ginger. I use so much of it that I grow it … Continue reading

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F is for Fish Sauce, Flavour, Phan Thiết and Phú Quốc

The Vietnamese alphabet has no letter F. But it does have the letter PH, as in phở, and also Phan Thiết  and Phú Quốc, two places famous for fish sauce. The former is a southeastern coastal city. The latter is … Continue reading

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E is for Eggs: Fertilized eggs, quail eggs and sunny-side-up eggs.

The first time I tasted an egg from a bird other than a chicken, I had just moved out of my parents’ home into my first apartment. While buying groceries to stock up my new kitchen, I spotted a display … Continue reading

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D is for Rock Sugar: Đường Phèn (From My Vietnamese Pantry)

(This blog post originally appeared 2012/08/31, but I’ve updated it here to include with my A to Z tour of Vietnamese foods and ingredients.) . Ngọt như đường cát, mát như đường phèn. Sweet as sand sugar (refined sugar), cool … Continue reading

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