Cookbook 138: The Vietnamese Market Cookbook

I picked up The Vietnamese Market Cookbook by Van Tran and Anh Vu because I didn’t have a Vietnamese cookbook and I really love Vietnamese food. This cookbook didn’t disappoint. I cooked from it almost a year ago and I still remember how good the food was. A good mix of recipes, written in a conversational style, with information about how the recipe came to be included or how the recipe is important to the authors (I’ve left this information out, you’ll have to find the book to read it). Overall, 4.5 stars out of 5.

Temple Tofu

Temple tofu

Ingredients

  • 500ml hot water
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
  • 500g fresh firm tofu
  • 200ml vegetable oil, plus 2 tbsp
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp gia vi (or a mix of 2 parts sugar, 1 part sea salt, 1 part ground black pepper, 1 part garlic powder)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 750ml water
  • 2 lemongrass sticks, finely chopped
  • 4tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander

Method

  1. Heat a large pan, add the hot water, salt and the vinegar or lemon juice, and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the tofu and boil for 5 – 7 minutes, then drain the tofu, transfer to a chopping board and leave to cool.
  3. When the tofu is cool, cut it into 2cm x 3cm chunks and use a paper towel to pat it dry. It is important that the tofu is dry so it will become crispy later.
  4. In a frying pay, heat 200ml of the oil over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu pieces in batches so they are submerged in the oil. When you see the bottom of the tofu turning yellow and crispy, turn it over so it cooks evenly.
  5. Rest the fried tofu on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
  6. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes into chunks (about 6 – 8 pieces per tomato).
  7. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil, then add the crushed garlic and toss for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and toss again for about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the gia vi and the sugar and cook for another 5 minutes over a medium heat, until the tomatoes soften slightly.
  9. Pour in the 750ml water, add the lemongrass and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  10. Add the tofu to the pan, then stir in 2tbsp of the soy sauce and cook for another 10 minutes. Now add the remaining soy sauce and turn the heat down to low. Continue to simmer the tofu for another 15 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with steaming hot rice or noodles.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This had a really good sweet and sour tang, the dish was really tasty and I’m glad I’m finally writing this recipe up so the book can go back on the shelf and I can cook this again soon.

French beans with Garlic

French beans with garlic

Ingredients

  • 200g French beans
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp gia vi (or a mix of 2 parts sugar, 1 part sea salt, 1 part ground black pepper, 1 part garlic powder)

Method

  1. Wash the French beans and break (or cut) into pieces about 5cm long.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir in the garlic and French beans and cook for about 3 minutes, until the beans are cooked but still crunchy.
  3. Season with the fish sauce and gia vi, and serve immediately.

Notes on this recipe:

  • As listed, this serves 2. If you are going to serve more, cook more. It’s pretty delicious, so you should.
  • You can swap out the fish sauce for half as much salt (so in this cast 1/2 tsp of salt) to make this dish vegetarian.

Roast chicken with honey, black pepper and fish sauce

Roast chicken with honey, black pepper and fish sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (about 1.5kg)
  • 250ml water

Marinade

  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp honey

Method

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl
  2. Slit the skin of the chicken and rub in the marinade under the skin. Leave a small amount of marinade for basting the chicken later during cooking.
  3. Wrap the chicken in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from its clingfilm. Pour the water into a baking tray, then place a roasting rack in the tray and sit the chicken on top. The water in the baking tray will produce steam to keep the chicken moist during cooking.
  5. Roast the chicken in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until cooked. Every 15 minutes or so, brush the chicken with the remaining marinade to keep it moist. To check if the chicken is cooked, insert a sharp knife or metal skewer into the thickets part of one of the thighs, and if the juices run clear, the chicken is ready. If there are any pink juices, return the chicken to the oven for a further 10 – 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice, a simple salad or, with roast vegetables.

Notes on this recipe:

  • It’s hard to stop the chicken wings from burning thanks to the sugar in the honey. That said, the chicken was deliciously moist and tender, and the marinade really made it special. Would definitely have again.

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