Every time I visit the US, I resolve to do 2 things. To stay away from Indian food and to eat Vietnamese food every chance I get! I think outside of dal and roti, it might be my favorite cuisine yet! Its healthy and very vegetarian friendly. On this recent trip I stayed pretty true to this resolution...except of course when my cousin's mom-in-law (my cousin is married to a Punjabi gal) was cooking up true blue authentic Punjabi fare, I just could not pass it up! So aside from this one digression, I pretty much ate all non-Indian food. Not only did I get my fill of Vietnamese food, I came back armed with all the ingredients, the know-how and the determination to reproduce it in my Hyderabadi kitchen! Plus my recent Williams and Sonoma cutting board, knife and garlic press purchases, motivated me even more to head to the kitchen and start cooking in seriousness!
My husband's favorite is pho - a rice noodle soup in a steaming hot broth, garnished with bean sprouts, fresh mint, cilantro, basil, lime wedges, sliced chili peppers and fried tofu! And a dash of sriracha or hoisin sauce to pep things up a bit. My favorite is the spring roll, which is basically fresh herbs, chives, julienned red peppers and carrots, tofu and rice noodles all wrapped up in a moistened rice paper, and served with a peanut dipping sauce.
So how did my first experiment with Vietnemese cooking go...? Pretty good I think....here are some pics of the entire process...the prep work is a bit tedious, cutting and dicing all those veggies, but at the end it is so worth it.
Star anise, the first time I have used this and it made my kitchen smell just wonderful...it has a fragrant, spicy aroma!
Coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, onions, stock cubes, cilantro
Veggies...scallions, bok choy, mushrooms, green papaya, red peppers
Getting the stock going.....ahhh the smell! I also threw in some bok choy stalks for good measure!
Ingredients for the peanut sauce.....rice wine vinegar, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, peanut butter
Rice paper wrappers
Veggies ready to be wrapped
Ta da.....rice paper spring rolls with sauce
The best thing about this meal besides the fact that is is healthy and easy to make, is that it is almost entirely fat free! I didn't use a drop of oil in the cooking today! This was the recipe I used for the pho, and this one for the spring rolls with some minor variations..you can pretty much put whatever veggies you want. The rolls were a bit tricky at first to moisten and wrap, and I had to toss a couple of wrappers, but once you get the hang of it is is as easy as pie. The peanut sauce was a concoction of all the ingredients....adding more or less of each to taste. I also added a bit of honey to sweeten it. Bon Appetit!