16 March 2011

Asian (food) tour part 2

With so much good food I wonder how people in Asia stay so slim. In 5 weeks time I ate every kilo I initially lost back on. So jealous of people who can eat what they want without gaining an ounce.

During our 5 weeks holiday I manage to stay away from the stove. We either ate outside or had food delivered. At times I did miss cooking, especially when I go to the market and see so much good food. Everything seem so much greener and fresher.
This is the way some vendors are selling their food. Either alive and swimming in a big tub or just on a big plate. These are some fresh shrimps. More fresh than this is not possible. Even the fish were still alive. Don’t know how they manage to stay alive without any water, but somehow they did.

We ate our way through Vietnam. Let me show you some of the dishes we had. Starting with the healthy stuff.
The first photo has a pile of “mang cau or na”. I didn’t know the English word for it but apparently it’s called custard apple. When the fruit is ripe you can easy to peal off all the segments. The flesh is creamy white with lots of black seeds and they are so sweet and fragrant. I haven’t seen them anywhere else than in Vietnam, so whenever I have the chance to eat it, I go all out.

The second photo has some “chom chom” or rambutans. You can buy these in a can with sugar syrup as well, but noting beats the fresh ones! Definitely some must tries when you have the chance to go to Vietnam.

I also had some fresh durian, but I was to busy eating it to take a picture. Some people can’t stand the smell of it and in most countries you are not allowed to take them into buses, metros or trams. And you definitely can’t bring them on the plane. People either love it or hate it, there is noting in between. My hubby can’t stand it, which is good…so there is more for me!

My hubby has several favourite dishes and one of them is “com tam bi suong cha hot ga” which is a true translation of everything that is in the dish, like broken rice, a mixture of pork skin and thinly shredded pork, grilled pork chop, a slice of pork loaf topped with egg yolks and a fried egg. All of this is covered with a scallion and oil mixture and a fish sauce vinaigrette. Man oh man it was soooo good. The meat was juicy and nicely seasoned and everything went so well together!
One time we had lunch at restaurant “Ngon”, one of Saigon’s popular restaurants. The price is of course higher then street food (some dishes twice as much, some much more), but you are sitting on a nice table in a nice setting with AC or something similar to that. On the side of the restaurants you can see people cooking the food. Here you see the already prepared desserts, which we call “che”. There are many varieties of che, each with different fruits, beans and other ingredients. Che can be served cold or hot. One day I’ll show you my che recipe. It is not something I make on a daily basis, but whenever I do I’ll blog it for sure.

Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of all the other dishes we ate, simply because I was to busy eating!

One dish we end up eating a lot is “mien xao cua” (glass noodles with crab). This dish, if well made, has lots of fresh crab and herbs. We ate this in restaurant “3 Mien” and I can definitely recommend it. We tried it at restaurant “Ngon” also and it wasn’t as good as normal. Perhaps because it was Tet and they were one of the few restaurants that didn’t close so they were packed! 
Some more dishes we ate at "3 Mien". Now you know why I would recommened this restaurant.
A few days after we arrived in Vietnam the whole family (including the nanny) left for Mui Ne, a place popular for it’s beach and strong sea breezes. It took us about 4 hours to get there. My brother in law booked two villas to accommodate 18 people. The villas were NICE! Totally met the “American” standards.

The first night we went to eat out at a restaurant which name I totally forgot. The only thing special there was that they had live crab, shrimps and salamanders. First time seeing salamanders on the menu. One of my brothers in law ordered a salamander and they brought it to the table for us to see before they prepare it. Poor thing…It ended up chopped in pieces and according to whoever ate it, it tasted like chicken. Just to bad they sautéed it instead of frying, because the skin was very rubbery and not really nice to eat.
The second night we went to the market to get food for our sea food bbq fest! We ended up buying tons of live blue crab, snails, mussels and squid. The mussels were so dirty they had to be cleaned piece by piece. They also had dark en dirty beards which I tried to remove as much as I could. After they were all clean and shiny you could really see the nice green coloured shell. Some of them were HUGE! I think the biggest one is about 12 cm.
My sister in law soaked the blue crab in water. Since they live in salt water they all died on us. Which saved us the trouble of killing them.
She asked me to kill and clean the squid. It’s been ages since I touched fresh squid so it was a little bit scary. Normally my mom cleans the squid and brings it over to my house, but she wasn’t around so I had to pull myself together and do it. It wasn’t hard at all since the squid I think died on the way home so I only had to clean it. The hard part was to remove the squid’s skin. You’ll have to pull it real hard to get it off. After the squid was cleaned we end up with white pieces of meat and tentacles all ready for the bbq. All it needed was a touch of salt and pepper. After grilling we sliced them in little pieces and ate it with a ginger fish sauce mixture. 
We put the mussels on the bbq till they opened up a little. Then we removed the top shell and covered the mussel with a scallion and oil mixture and some chopped peanuts. After we finished all the mussels we put them back on the bbq so they can heat up a little more. It was soooo good. The mussels were so fresh and plump and paired so well with the scallions and peanuts. I’ll have to make this again in the summer when it is nice bbq weather.
We steamed the blue crab and dipped the crab meat in a lemon, salt and pepper mixture.
My sister in law grilled the snails on the stove. We needed a toothpick to pull out the meat. This also was dipped in the ginger/fish sauce mixture.
On the same stove she grilled the fresh shrimps. They were sill alive and kicking when we bought them. 
 Noting beats the taste of life shrimp fresh out of the ocean. 

To be continued...


  1. Lovely pictures and food familiar delicious
    wonderful place and villa looks fabulous

  2. In the States we know that fruit as a Cherimoya, as they call it in South America!

  3. Everything looks so delicious. I would love to get my hands on some "mang cau or na" to try it!

  4. Hi Lilly, my name is Mario and I wanted to say thank you for adding me as a friend on FB. I stopped by to visit your blog. What a great spread of food. The shrimp makes me hungry. It is actually about 5 p.m. here in California so I will be thinking of dinner soon. I was actually in the Nederlands a few years back. So beeyoutifull! My daughter and son in law go there periodically too for fun and business. Please stop by and visit my blog. I write about food and relationships. Sometimes vice versa. Comment or maybe Follow. That would be great. Thanks

  5. great story of your time in vietnam! I love durian too :)

    Oh I just posted an entry with the recipe for com tam (broken rice) so you can cook it for your hubby! :))

  6. @ Torviewtoronto the villas were great, but also reminded me of how big the gap between the rich and poor is in Vietnam.

    @ Timeless Gourmet: hey they sell Cherimoya here also. Never thought they would be similar to mang cau. Will buy one to see if it taste similar also.

    @ Dawn: Maybe Timeless Gourmet knows where you can get some.

    @ Mario: Thank you for stopping by my blog. You should come back to Holland in the sping and visit Keukenhof. A must do when you are here. I’m following your blog now!

    @ Meltingbutter: Finally someone who loves durian as well. I know they sell it fresh at the tokos, but I never tried them. Simply because I don’t know how to pick them. If I really crave it I buy the frozen stuff. Not as good as the fresh stuff but it is better then noting. Love your com tam post. My hubby will be very happy once I serve him that!

  7. Wonderful post....beautiful pics.

  8. @ Briarrose: Thank you!


I’m curious by nature so please share whatever is on your mind.