Friday, January 14, 2011

Bun Mang Vit - Duck and Bamboo Vermicelli Noodle Soup

My dad is a major hoarder! Everyday he would come home with bags and bags of goodies or junk. Most of the time it's just whatever cheap he can find from Big Lots or K-mart. One day he drag home five frozen ducks from Aldi, yes I'm talking about the discount supermarket chain. Apparently they were only $6 for a whole duck! That weekend I came home for a visit and sure enough my mom put out the duck to thaw. She boil the duck in water to make a broth for Bun Mang Vit while I used the meat to make Goi Vit. Yes we were all skeptical but it turn out fantastic. The meat was tender and juicy, so much better and cheaper than what we would find at Meijer or even the Asian store. My dad was very happy that we all enjoyed the duck, in fact early the next morning he went back to Aldi to buy whatever was left. Since my mom had enough duck to last the whole winter I couldn't help snatching a few to take back with me.

Bun Mang Vit is one of my mom's favorite soup, my mom is a soup person so she has a lot of favorites. I consider it to be an easier soup to make because there is less ingredients to work with and less preparation. The hardest part about making this soup is probably working with the duck. Whole duck have a lot of fat, it's best that you trim most of it out or the soup will be very heavy to eat. I don't have much experience butchering a duck either as you will see in my pictures. The broth is made by simmering a whole duck with smashed ginger root and sliced bamboo. Since duck alone will not give enough natural sweetness to the broth, you can use additional pork bones or a can of chicken broth.  I prefer using dried bamboo from Vietnam over fresh bamboo from the States. I compare dried bamboo to pasta because you can achieve a chewy "al dente" texture. The smell of fresh bamboo can be really strong and I don't want it to overwhelm the broth. The broth to this soup is very simple, similar to a chicken broth with hints of ginger and bamboo. I always make a bowl of gingered fish sauce for Bun Mang Vit, it's great to dip the meat in and a teaspoon in every bowl enhances the soup.

Ingredients: (Makes about 4-5 bowls)

1/2 duck
1/2 lb of dried bamboo (don't use too much because it will expand)
1/2 lb of pork neck bones
1 large ginger
1 whole onion
mushroom seasoning
rock sugar (the size of your thumb)
fish sauce
vermicelli rice noodle
green onions
bean sprout

1. Rinse the dry bamboo with cold water.  Transfer to a pot and cover the bamboo with water.  You will need to boil the bamboo until tender.  Dry bamboo will give out a yellow/orange color.  If you want to achieve a clear broth, you'll want to change the water a couple time until the water doesn't turn too much color anymore. When the bamboo has soften, you'll want to discard any parts that are too chewy and then cut them into small strips.
2.  Par boil the pork bones and then rinse with plenty of water.  Set aside for later use.
3. Wash the duck with some salt and cut out as much fat as you can. Place duck in a 6 qt. pot (or a bigger pot if you are planning to use a whole duck)  and then fill with water.
4. Add some salt and let it come to a boil. Remove as much scum as you can.
5. Roast the ginger and onion in the oven.  Peel the skin after roasting. Smash the ginger in a mortar and pestle, this will bring out a lot of the juice. Add the smashed ginger and onion to the pot and let the duck cook fully.
6. Once the duck is fully cook, remove and let it cool down.
7.  Add the pork bones to the duck broth and fill the pot with more water.  Let pork bones simmer.
7. Add rock sugar , salt, and mushroom seasoning to the broth.  Continue to taste and add more salt if necessary.
8. Cut the duck into smaller section. You can throw meat back into the broth but I like to have them separate so I can eat it with the ginger fish sauce or eat it as a salad. I usually throw the bonier piece back into the pot.

9. Add the bamboo to the broth.  Taste with fish sauce if necessary.
10. Mince the green onions and cilantro.
11. Wash the bean sprouts.
12. Prepare gingered fish sauce.

Ginger Fish Sauce:

1/2 lime
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1/4 tablespoon of sugar
1 section of ginger

1. I like to smash the ginger and chili together with a mortar and pestle.
2. Add the sugar, fish, sauce, and lime juice and mix.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Goi Cuon Thit Ba Roi - Vietnamese Summer Roll w/ Pork Belly

I'm sure many of you are already familiar with Goi Cuon so I won't write too much about it. Like I have said before I love just about anything roll in rice paper. This particular Summer Roll has thinly sliced pork belly, shrimp, vermicelli rice noodle, lettuce, cucumber, and Chinese chives. Most Vietnamese restaurant serve Summer Roll as an appetizer along with a hoison-peanut sauce, I always ask for nuoc mam cham (diluted fish sauce) instead. I'm one of those people that really appreciate a good batch of nuoc mam cham. I actually base restaurant on how well they prepare their nuoc mam cham. I really do see a correlation between how well restaurant cook their food and how well they prepare their fish sauce. Making the perfect fish sauce for dipping require a balance between sugar, lime, chili, water, and fish sauce, and if you can master that you definitely can balance the flavor in other food. I sure have a lot to say about nuoc mam cham therefore I will save that entry for another time.


pork belly
tiger shrimp
vermicelli rice noodle
rice paper
lettuceEnglish cucumber
Chinese chives
nuoc mam cham

1. Boil a portion of pork belly in water until it is fully cooked. Remove, let it cooled, and then slice thinly.
2. Boil the dry vermicelli rice noodle in water.
3. Cook shrimp the shrimp, in water or microwave, and then cut in half.
4. Wash the lettuce and chives and let it dry.
5. Thinly slice the cucumber into flat strips.

To Roll:

1. Have a bowl of hot water ready.
2. Reconstitute the rice paper in hot water and wait until it's flexible again.
3. Add the remaining ingredient be careful not to over stuff. Fold the two side toward the middle and then roll foward.

Serve with nuoc mam cham and enjoy!

Com Tam Suon Bi Trung - Broken Rice w/ Pork Chops, Shredded Pork, and Egg

My room mate mistakenly brought a bag of broken rice instead of the regular jasmine rice. I took it as a sign to finally write an entry about Com Tam. While I was in Vietnam, I love waking up to the smell of grilled pork chops. One of my grandparent's neighbor actually sells Com Tam for a living. Com Tam is a plate of broken rice topped with grilled pork chops amongst other things. The usual suspects for Com Tam is usually bi, cha, and trung opla but I have seen grilled shrimp, tofu, stuffed bean curd, and Chinese sausage. Whenever we are making Com Tam we like to set up a buffet of toppings and then you would just go around the table and build your Com Tam platter the way you like it. I like mine with just pork chops, bi, cha, and lots of good fish sauce.


broken rice
4-5 pork chops (don't get them too thick)
tomatoes/cucumber/lettuce (optional)
pickled vegetables (optional)
prepared fish sauce
cooking oil
2 stalk green onion
minced lemongrass
minced garlic
brown sugar
oyster sauce
vegetable oil
mushroom seasoning

1. Marinade the pork chops with 1 tablespoon of minced lemongrass, 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/3 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1/4 tablespoon of brown sugar, a pinch of mushroom seasoning, 2 tablespoon of honey, 2 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.  Marinade over night if you can.
2. Make the bi.
3. Cook a batch of broken rice the same way you would make regular rice.
4. Finely minced the green onions.
5. Heat up 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add the green onion and sauteed until fragrance but do not let it burn.
6. Pan fry your pork chops and eggs to your liking.
7. Place some broken rice on a plate, brush some of the green onions and oil on the rice. Add the pork chop, bi, eggs, slices of tomatoes and cucumber, and lettuce. Brush on additional green onions and oil. Serve along with a bowl of prepare fish sauce, enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vietnamese Herbs

Herb is a very important element of Vietnamese cuisine. Herbs are not just for garnish but it enhances the taste and smell of each dish. A bowl of pho is not the same without a couple leaves of Thai basil. You simply cannot replace Vietnamese coriander with any other herb when you make Goi Ga. Each herb has a specific aroma and taste that compliment and complete a dish. In this entry I will only reference the best usage for specific herbs when preparing Vietnamese food. I do not have pictures for everything yet but will continue to update. Please visit Vietherbs if you would like more detailed information and pictures.

Hung Que (Thai Basil)

Soup: Pho, Bun Bo Hue
Salad: Goi Du Du, Bo Tai Chanh, Goi Ngo Sen, Goi Xoai Xanh
Others: Banh Cuon, Cha Gio

Rau Ram (Vietnamese Coriander)

Soup: Banh Canh Cua, Canh Ca Chua
Salad: Goi Ga, Goi Vit, Goi Do Bien, Hen Suc Banh Trang, Ga Xe Phay
Others: Seafood, Hot Vit Lon, Tiet Canh

Tia To (Vietnamese Perilla):
Usually an accompaniment for soups with seafood and it does goes very well with blood cubes.

Soup: Bun Rieu, Canh Bun, Bun Oc
Others: Doi Tiet

He (Chinese Chives)
Soup: Canh Dau Hu, Hu Tieu, Mi
Others: Goi Cuon, Gia Xao, Mien Xao, Mi Xao

Ngo Gai (Sawtooth Cilantro)
Soup: Pho, Mien Ga, Chao Long
Salad: Goi Do Bien, Tiet Canh

Ngo (Cilantro)
Chopped cilantro is often mixed together with green onions to topped off most soups

Ti La (Vietnamese Dill)
Soup: Canh Ca Ca Chua, Canh Khoai So
Others: Cha Ca Thang Long