Sautéed Japanese Eggplant

I don’t recall ever having had this variety of Japanese eggplant back in the US, but this has become one of my vegetables of choice for its milder taste and ease of preparing. This dish is an ideal weekday meal because it is composed of easy to find ingredients and only takes 15 minutes to throw together. Though meatless, this savory-sweet dish is chock-full of flavor and will leave even the pickiest taste buds satisfied.

Lemongrass Tofu Noodle Bowl & Weekend in Normandy

Before lightly frying the tofu, the surface is dusted with turmeric and coated them with minced lemongrass and chili peppers. The fried tofu and vermicelli rice noodles sit on a bed of chopped lettuce and fresh aromatic herbs. The noodle bowl is dressed with a drizzle of a Vietnamese fish sauce mix before serving. This is an ideal summer dish that minimizes stove and prep time, yet doesn’t skimp on flavor.

Caramelized Ginger Chicken

Vietnamese caramelized ginger chicken perfectly marries savory and sweet flavors. Once the liquid reduces, it bathes the chicken in a glistening amber sauce imbued with a fiery ginger flavor. The sauce will no doubt have your taste buds popping and begging for more. This dish pairs perfectly with a side of steamed white jasmine rice.

Crispy Fried Shallots

Garnishes are indispensable ingredients that complement the symphony of flavors found in Vietnamese dishes. Fresh herbs, such as red perilla or basil, infuse our noodle soups, spring rolls and salads with a bouquet of flavors that scintillate our taste buds. More savory toppings like fried pork fat impart a crunchy succulence to dishes such as bánh bèo (steamed rice cakes) and cơm tấm bì (broken rice with shredded pork skin). Among the assortment of garnishes that dress our plates, I use fried shallots the most frequently in my kitchen.

Let’s Go Monkey in 2016

Generations before me fled in droves from a war ravaged Việt Nam over 30 years ago following the fall of Saigon. The country was shrouded in panic and confusion during the final hours of the war as the Americans pulled out. In the midst of the mayhem, people in South Việt Nam scrambled to leave the country, which was the debut of a decade-long mass exodus. My mom and her family were among the fortunate ones who left by plane days before the borders closed after the south surrendered to the north. Many others left by boat and embarked on harrowing journeys at sea, where hundreds of thousands perished. Those who were lucky enough to survive the perilous journey settled in countries in all corners of the world.

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