Category Archives: Food

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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T is for Tôm Chua (Sour Shrimp)

The cuisine of Việt Nam’s old imperial city of Huế features a number of local specialties that aren’t so well known in the rest of the country. The lightly fermented shrimp condiment called tôm chua, sour shrimp, is one of … Continue reading

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M is for Mãng Cầu (Custard Apple)

It’s mãng cầu seaon in Huế right now. I spotted these ones next to a pile of bright pink dragon fruit at the market. My mother-in-law knows how much I like to eat them, and often buys them in threes just … Continue reading

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Discovering Cơm Hến (Clam Rice) in Việt Nam

Feeling quite chuffed that my short essay about a lesser known specialty dish from Việt Nam (called cơm hến, clam rice) has been shortlisted for the Third Annual I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest. The essay, Discovering Hến Rice in … Continue reading

Posted in Creative Non-Fiction, Food, Memoir, News, Viet Nam, Writing Contests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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

Posted in A to Z, Cooking, Food, Photos, Viet Nam | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

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

Posted in A to Z, Cooking, Food, Photos, Recipes, Viet Nam | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments