Mmmmmm … something

I read cookbooks like novels, not always first page to last but flipping through them as though revisiting old friends.  There are many I turn to when requiring distraction and inspiration, especially when I’m sick and feeling unquestionably anti-food.   With luck my salivary glands and stomach get moving – in a good way – and even if I don’t have the wherewithal to make a grand meal then I will want something good, all the same.  [Yes, medically approved marijuana does have a similar effect as an appetite-invigorator but a pile of cookbooks is better for the lungs … I really don’t like smoking the stuff, so experiments are in order for funky butter].

Being a list freak I always have a notebook beside the bed to jot down ideas for experiments and possibilities.  Lately I’ve been turned on by Vietnamese and South-East Asian food.  Yum, spicy and fresh and full of delectable flavours and textures.  Very tempting.

My current favourite cookbooks [which I may write up properly] are Mai Pham’s Pleasures Of The Vietnamese Table and Pauline Lan The Nguyen’s Secrets Of The Red Lantern for yummy home-style Vietnamese; and James Oseland’s Cradle Of Flavor [sic] and Celine Carnegie’s Authentic Tastes Of South-East Asia, for S-E Asian food.  Flicking through the pages makes me emit Homer Simpson-esque sounds of “Mmmmmm …. something ….”

Top of my list of Viet dishes to try are the street food and market stars of Bun Cha [pronounced Boon Chah], char-grilled pork on rice noodles with nuoc cham sauce; Banh Xeo [pronounced Baan See-ow], rice flour crepes filled with wok-seared pork and prawns, sprouts and onions, and wrapped with herbs and lettuce before dipping ini spicy sauces; Bun Rieu [Boon Ree-yoo], a luscious crab dumpling, prawn and pork noodle soup; Pho Bo [Fuh-Baw], the famous beef noodle soup; and Cha Gio [Cha Zaw], deep fried spring rolls made with rice paper. 

Just about all foods in Vietnam are accompanied by a platter of many different herbs, sprouts, greens, extra chillies and dipping sauce for DIY purposes.  Sounds like good stuff, eh?

I’ve made inroads with a couple of soups namely Bun Rieu, which I’ve yet to get right, and Hu Tieu Bo Vien, a hearty noodle soup full of beefy goodness.  There’s also Goi Cuon, rice paper rolls filled with poached pork and prawns, rice noodles, herbs and lettuce;  I made a slight variation of my own with the ingredients on hand, a divine piece of salmon fillet.  Since Viet cuisine is all about making use of available produce and “riffing” on the basic procedures, I doubt I’ll be struck down by a lightning bolt … however I will post a correct recipe soon.

I’ve also put up a non-Asian recipe, for Sausage and Vegetable Frittata, an Italian open face omelette which can be adjusted to your own preferences and what you have in the fridge.  I like it with sausage, capsicum, zucchini and potatoes [with oodles of garlic of course] but it can be made ultra-basic with just zucchini; it all tastes damn good.

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