Chả Hấp Chay | Steamed Tofu Pâté

Chả Hấp Chay (steamed tofu pâté) is a vegetarian take on the classic Vietnamese chả trứng hấp, which is a steamed egg meatloaf with ground pork. This meatless version is composed of tofu, onions, wood ear mushrooms, beanthread noodles, and fermented tofu, which imparts a satifying umami flavor. The steamed tofu dish is vegetarian and vegan friendly and best enjoyed with a side of steamed white rice and sautéed greens.

Tofu & King Oyster Mushroom Stew

Similar to bò kho in flavor (beef stew) but much quicker to make, fried tofu and king oyster mushrooms are simmered in a broth seasoned with lemongrass, chilis and a blend of spices. The king oyster mushrooms add a satisfying meaty texture, while the combination of chili peppers and spices gives a bold depth of flavor. The dish packs such a punch that you may even forget that you’re eating a vegetarian dish!

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.

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.

The French King Cake: Galette des Rois

New Orleans was my hometown during my early childhood. We only lived there until I was six years old, so my recollections of life in the Big Easy have faded into fragmented blurs. One of the few things that I do remember about Louisiana is eating king cake during the mardi gras festivities, which is as ubiquitous as strings of beads during that time of year. I actually wasn’t particularly fond of eating the cake, which was often topped too generously with icing and colored sugars. I was only interested in finding the tiny plastic baby buried within the cake, because whoever found the prized baby would be crowned king for a day.

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