Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vietnamese Chili and Garlic Dipping Sauce--Auntie's Style (makes about 3 cups)

Every Vietnamese home has this house-made dipping sauce. This sauce should have a balance of saltiness, sweetness and tartness. Some like it spicy. Some like it very sweet. If you are one of these people then load up on the chili peppers or add extra sugar. Here is my eldest maternal aunt's (Tua Y) sauce. She adds fresh young coconut water but you may substitute with plain water. My aunt's secret is that she adds the fish sauce last. This way she can adjust how salty she wants her sauce. She said someone she knows tastes her sauce about 100 times before she is satisfied with it. She admitted this woman's sauce is very good. As for my aunt she makes her sauce by tasting only a few times. This sauce is high in salt and hearing that someone tasted that many times is a concern to me for health reasons. Most people I know do not have a recipe when they make this sauce. They make it by tasting it as they add ingredients. Yet, everyone I know seem to make it consistently just about every time. I hope with this recipe you do not have to taste and adjust your sauce too often. You can check out my sauce, Vietnamese Dipping Sauce from a previous posting but it is not as tasty as my aunt's.

This sauce may be used with all sorts of food such as spring rolls, salads, noodles, and many other Vietnamese cooking. Below are a few items that go well with this dipping sauce.

dip these fresh spring rolls into the sauce
these steamed shrimp may be peeled
and dip in the sauce
a little of the sauce can be drizzled over
this papaya and shrimp salad
Ingredients:

2 fresh hot chili pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeeze lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 C coconut water
1/2 cup (plus 1 Tbsp if you want this sauce more salty) good fish sauce

Method:

Combine chili pepper, garlic, lime juice, sugar and coconut water. Mix well and add fish sauce to taste.  Add more or less of the ingredients depending on your taste preference.

*Adjust the ingredients with hopefully a few tasting and adjust according to your own preference.
*May add shredded carrots and daikon if interested.
*My aunt de-seeds her chili pepper. I would highly recommend wearing gloves anytime you handle hot chili peppers.
*Keep the dipping sauce in glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

garlic
hot chili peppers
young fresh coconuts

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Plain Rice Soup and Hard Boiled Salted Duck Eggs (serves 1-2)

Teochew mue & kiam nung
My 95 year old grandmother tells me that growing up in China back when she was in her teens everyone around her was poor including her family. Many people were not able to afford steamed rice, only plain rice soup called mue (in Teochew). Basically you make this by using just a tiny portion of rice and lots of water. You cook this down until the rice becomes very soft, each grain has expanded to about double the original size and the liquid becomes somewhat opaque. As a result even a small amount of rice can then feed a whole family or multiple meals. Once cooked you can eat this with a number of small salty dishes such as hard boiled salted duck egg (kiam nung in Teochew). In China my grandmother ate mue with a few choices of salted greens or olive-like berries. The salted items were cheap and could be kept for months at room temperature. She said meat and fish were scarce to non-existent. This morning for breakfast my grandmother and I ate mue that I made from left over steamed rice and water with the boiled salted duck eggs that I bought at my last market outing. I don't believe there are many nutrients in this breakfast but we ate it because it is our comfort food and it is something we don't get tired from eating.

my grandmother enjoys her
mue, kiam nung,
and an ensure-hot cocoa drink
Last night coincidentally I had mue with my cousins and nephews in Soctrang. We went out for drinks and the little kids were hungry so their parents wanted to give them something light before bedtime. So, you guessed it, we went to a place where mue is a specialty and we ate this with a variety of small and different salted items (braised pork, salty little fish, salted greens) including the salted duck eggs. The eggs were everyone's favorite. The eggs were cut in half and then we scooped out a small portion with a spoon and ate this with a huge spoonful of mue.

--eating mue with a variety of salty dishes (Soctrang, 2014)
--photo taken by my cousin, Khiem
Plain Rice Soup (Teochew Mue)

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked rice
3 cups water

Method:

Cook for about 20 minutes or until the rice is very soft.

*There is really no recipe for mue. The best way to cook it is just add a little cooked or uncooked rice and lots of water. If you use cooked rice then it will be faster to cook. Cook this down until the rice is very soft then it is ready. Add more water if needed.

--my aunt on right buying eggs from a
Teochew-speaking relative (by marriage) selling eggs
--if you want to practice Teochew conversation
you can start at the market with this lady
--some people at this market speak 3 languages
(Vietnamese, Teochew, Khmer)
--the blue container on the bottom left is
full of salted duck eggs
salted duck eggs
salted duck eggs
These salted duck eggs are made from a mixture of ash, a lot of salt and water to bind onto the outer eggshell. After about 2 weeks of this coating with salted ash the egg is salty and ready to eat according to a relative who sells the eggs. With proper preparation the eggs last up to 2 months. When you buy these eggs they are black. The black is the ash. The ash is a byproduct of burned rice husks. If people do not have ash they can make them using salted water. My grandmother used to make the salted duck eggs using salted ash. I have seen my mother make the salted eggs in the United States years ago with salted water. In the last few decades she has not made any since the rest of my family in the US is not so fond of these.

Hard Boiled Salted Duck Eggs (Kiam Nung)

Ingredients:

2 salted duck eggs
Water

Method:

1) Remove the ash gently from the eggs and rinse well.
2) Add enough water to cover the eggs in a pot.
3) Let the eggs gently boil for about 20 minutes.

Stir-Fried Chinese Chive Flowers and Shrimp (serves 3 as part of a shared meal)


My grandmother reminded me that I have not eaten any Chinese chive flowers (hẹ bông in Vietnamese) since I arrived on this trip. At An Trach Market the chives looked beautiful and fresh so I bought the most tender looking bunch. The chives were tied together with rubber bands in little bundles (photo below). I have posted a similar chive dish (Stir Fried Chinese Chive Flowers) but without seafood. Here I threw in a handful of fresh peeled shrimp for a sweeter taste. My grandmother said the chive flowers already have a nice fragrance so she did not think these needed garlic. I cooked these flowers longer than normal so my grandmother can eat. At 95 she lost all of her teeth and with ill fitting dentures it is difficult for her to eat anything other than soft food. This is typical for her generation in rural Vietnam. 

freshly harvested
Chinese chive flowers
at An Trach Market (2014)
freshly harvested ginger at An Trach Market (2014)
the people selling food at An Trach Market
are cheerful and friendly (2014)
Stir-Fried Chinese Chive Flowers and Shrimp (serves 3 as part of a shared meal)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 Tbsp grated ginger (about 1 thumb nail size piece)
A handful of peeled small shrimp (about 20)
1 bundle of chive flowers (about 400 grams or 14 oz), trimmed away any tough ends, cut into 1-inch lengths
1/4 cup  water
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 tsp soy sauce

Method:

1) Heat oil in a wok or pan over medium high heat. Add shallots and ginger. Saute about a minute.
2) Add chive flowers and water. Saute about 5 minutes.
3) Add oyster sauce and soy sauce according to your taste. Cook for another 2 minutes until the liquid has reduced a little.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stir Fried Marsh Herbs with Garlic (serves 3-4 as part of a shared meal)


My mother and many of my relatives love the semi aquatic vegetable called marsh herb or rau ngổ in Vietnamese. This is similar to water spinach or rau muống (in Vietnamese) but has a very slight bitter taste. The difference between the two is in the preparation. In this part of Vietnam the leaves of marsh herbs are removed and then the stems are cut into 2 inch lengths, washed several times to clean, then rubbed with a little salt against a colander until bruised and soft. It is then washed in water well to remove the salt, squeeze with your hands to remove excess liquid and is then ready to cook. These can be made as a soup or in a simple stir fry such as this dish. Here is more information on marsh herbs: http://www.stuartxchange.com/Kangkong-kalabau.html

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
1 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 bundles of marsh herb or rau ngổ (yields about 3 cups after rubbing until bruised and soft)
About 1 tsp of oyster sauce
A large pinch of sugar
A drizzle of fish sauce

Method:

1) Heat a wok or pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot add oil.
2) Add garlic. Saute about 30 seconds.
3) Add marsh herb and saute about 5 minutes or until soft.
4) Add oyster sauce, sugar and fish sauce according to your taste. Cook for another minute.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Home-Made Coconut and Pandan Leaf Ice Cream

I visited my favorite village open air market (Cho An Trach) today and did some shopping, chatting, catching up with the vendors and taking a few photographs of the people and produce. When I walked around the market many people knew me from prior visits and I recognized many of them. I bought meat and some vegetables from different people. One woman has a machine to grate the mature coconuts to fine shreds. I asked her to shred 2 large coconuts for me and I will return at the end of my shopping to get it. When I returned she has a large bag sitting near her work station. For less than 1 USD I was able to purchase freshly shredded coconut. It would have taken me quite a long time to shred it by hand. 

home-made coconut grinder
(An Trach market, Vietnam)
It's about 90 degrees F during the day here in Nga Ba An Trach (Vietnam) and ice cream seems to be a fitting cold item that is hard to find. I decided to make coconut and pandan leaf ice cream. My aunt helped me harvest some fresh pandan leaves (known as la dua in Vietnamese) from the back yard. Pandan leaves have a very nice aroma and it's often used in desserts. The extracted leaves are used in parts of Asia similar to vanilla. I remember my father used to add a few leaves when he cooks rice so our rice has a beautiful fragrance. In the States one can buy either the extracted liquid in a bottle or frozen leaves in some Asian markets. I prefer the frozen leaves over the liquid since I find this to be higher quality.

fresh coconut milk (first batch)
Fresh Coconut Milk (first batch; makes about 2 1/3 cups)

Ingredients:

2 large coconuts, finely shredded (about 700 grams or 1.5 pounds)
2 cups water

Method:

Mix the water into the shredded coconut.  Massage with your hands to incorporate the 2 ingredients well. Either use your hands or cheese cloth to squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Save the dry coconut shreds for a second batch.

Fresh Coconut Milk (second batch; makes about 2 1/3 cups)

Ingredients:

Dry coconut shred from Fresh Coconut Milk (first batch)
2 cups water

Method:

Mix the water into the dry coconut shred.  Massage with your hands to incorporate the 2 ingredients well. Either use your hands or cheese cloth to squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Discard the dry coconut shreds.

fresh pandan leaves (washed and wiped)
pandan leaf extract
Fresh Pandan Leaf Extract (makes about 1 3/4 cups)

Ingredients:

Fresh pandan leaves, washed and wiped the blades well
2 cups water

Method:

1) Cut the pandan leaves into about 1-inch lengths.
2) Place the cut leaves and water in a blender and puree to shred.
3) Squeeze the juice out either with your hands or cheese cloth. Save the juice or extract and discard the pulp.

*It is best to use as little water as possible to extract the coconut milk and pandan leaves. I was using an old blender and it was difficult to use less water to puree or shred the pandan leaves.
*I did not have any cheese cloth so I used my hands to extract the liquid. If you use a cheese cloth then you will probably get more liquid.


-coconut and pandan leaf ice cream
-I pour the ice cream in these 2-inch plastic
containers and kept them in the freezer
and distributed to my relatives
Home-Made Coconut and Pandan Leaf Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups of Fresh Coconut Milk (first batch)
1 cup Fresh Pandan Leaf Extract
1/2 container of condense milk
4 small organic home-raised chicken eggs or 2 large chicken eggs

Method:

1) Heat coconut milk, pandan leaf extract and condense milk in a pot over low heat.  Stir occasionally and let it gently simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2) In a medium sized bowl add eggs and whisk them with a fork until well blended.
3) Stir the egg while adding a ladle of the hot liquid to temper the ingredients. Continue the same process for the next few ladles until the liquid is hot. Pour the bowl into the pot and stir.
4) Let the contents cooled and pour into a container to be stored in a refrigerator to chill.
5) Once the liquid is chilled, pour this into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instruction.

*I really like the fragrance of pandan leaf extract so I used quite a bit for this recipe. If you prefer less then use 1/2 a cup instead. Also I did not make this too sweet. Add more condense milk for sweeter ice cream.
*I gave the ice cream to my aunts, uncles, cousins, and nephew to try. The adults like this recipe. The children did not like it because the pandan taste was too strong and it was not sweet enough.

Stir-Fried Luffa with Shrimp (serves 4 as part of a shared meal)


I love eating luffa or ridge gourd, also known as muốp in Vietnamese. They are sweet and do not break apart or become mushy during cooking. These may be found in Asian markets in the United States. Despite going to the market in An Trạch (Vietnam) at a later hour (around 2pm) lucky for me a few vendors were still there selling their vegetables. The meat vendors sold all of their meat and left for the day which is a good thing since they sell the meat in the open tropical air without refrigeration. It is safer and best practice to shop at these open markets in Vietnam at the opening. My cousin Ken told me that in Soctrang the vegetable market opens up later in the afternoon since the farmers need to have a little time to harvest their produce. There are many ways to prepare luffa. However, here is another way that I prefer to eat this delicious gourd.

luffa or ridge gourd (muop)
Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
2 small shallots, peeled, halved, sliced paper thin
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 Tbsp grated ginger (about 1 adult thumb nail size)
1 scallion, cut into 1-inch lengths
About 1/2 cup small fresh shrimp, peeled (may add more if interested)
5 young luffa (about 8-12 inch long) or about 1.7 lbs, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
A pinch of salt (optional)
1 tsp sugar
Some cilantro, garnish (optional)

Method:

1) Heat a wok or large pan over high heat. Once the wok or pan is hot add oil.
2) Add shallots, garlic, ginger and scallions. Saute about 30 seconds.
3) Add shrimp. Saute about a minute. Remove contents or pull them to the side of the wok to prevent further cooking.
4) Add the luffa and water, saute about 5 minutes or until the slices are soft to your liking.
5) Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, salt, and sugar. Stir until everything is well blended. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove and add cilantro on top to garnish if interested.

shallots (these are about 1-inch in diameter)
fresh live shrimp
nearly empty market in An Trạch (Vietnam)
at a later hour (around 2pm)
open air meat market in
Soctrang, Vietnam (2014)
*If interested you can check out my previous blog posting, Sauteed Angled Luffa & Egg.

Stir-Fried Winged Beans with Garlic (serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal)


I love the crunchy sweet taste of freshly picked winged beans. I first ate these in Saigon a few visits (to Vietnam) ago. These can be eaten cooked or uncooked. While visiting my cousin, Sieu Ken and her daughter, Linh, we found a woman selling these beautiful young beans on a corner near Soctrang market. Many people add shrimp and/or pork to this dish but I am getting tired of eating them so I just cooked the beans with garlic. Here is a simple, quick and tasty dish.
fresh picked winged beans at the market
Stir-Fried Winged Beans with Garlic (serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
About 10 oz of winged beans, washed, trimmed ends, sliced about 1/4 inch thickness
A pinch of sugar (about 1/8 tsp)
A drizzle of fish sauce (about 1 tsp)

Method:

1) Heat a wok or pan over medium high heat. Add oil once the wok or pan is hot.
2) Add beans and saute about a minute.
3) Add sugar and fish sauce and saute about another minute.

*Adjust the sugar and fish sauce according to your taste.

a simple lunch at my cousin's home

Friday, December 26, 2014

Steamed Siu Mai (Meatballs)--Ah Ma's style (makes about 28 balls)


When I was a small child living in Vietnam my mother made me steamed siu mai or meatballs and bought me orange soda when I got ill. I rarely get sick so I had these items only a few times. Since then I often associated these meatballs and orange soda as sick food. I think my mother gave me orange soda so I can burp and feel better! While chatting and sharing stories my Ah Ma (grandmother), Tua Y (eldest aunt) and Kiem (maternal uncle's wife) explained how to make these meatballs. Of course they tell me ingredients with vague measurements since none of them ever measure! Their delicious Teochew home-style siu mai has a drizzle of tomato sauce over them. After making these I was sure I added too much salt but these turned out quite good. These are especially tasty eaten with baguette or banh mi. After I steamed these siu mai I gave one to my Ah Ma to try. She was hesitant to take it since she thought I was giving her mice balls. Earlier she saw (with her one good eye!) that I was preparing mice to grill. After I told her it's not mice she ate it and actually gave me her approval. These siu mai are even better the next day since they soaked up all the delicious sauce. You may reheat by re-steaming or microwaving them. Place some inside a baguette and make banh mi siu mai (siu mai Vietnamese sandwich), a very popular type of sandwich in my family. You may add a few drops of the Maggie soy sauce (these German brand has a much better taste and fragrance than other brand of soy sauce) over the siu mai. The result is "ngon" in Vietnamese or "haw chia" (tasty) in Teochew as my Ah Ma told me.

this lady sells only jicama (the tan bulb roots) and shallots
(that's cousin, Ken buying jicama--she will kill me if she sees her picture here)
Steamed Siu Mai (Steamed Meatballs)--Ah Ma's style (makes about 28 balls)

Ingredients:

14 oz of pork (about 400 grams), minced well using a cleaver (yields about 2 cups)
1/2 medium jicama, finely chopped (about 1 cup), squeezed juice out with palms, reserved the pulp
3 Tbsp minced shallots
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp good soy sauce (preferably Maggie--German brand)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp chicken broth powder (preferably non-MSG)
Tomato sauce (recipe to follow), optional
Chopped fresh cilantro, garnish

Method:

1) Mix all ingredients (pork, jicama pulp, shallots, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and chicken powder) gently until well blended.  Avoid over mixing.
2) Form each ball about 1 1/4 inch diameter.
3) Place the balls on a plate and steam for about 1/2 hour or until the meatballs are cooked.
4) Drizzle the tomato sauce and sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the steamed meatballs.

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

2 tsp oil
1 small shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and minced
1/8 tsp of chicken broth powder (preferably non-MSG)
A pinch of sugar
About 3 Tbsp of Steamed Siu Mai's (Steamed Meatballs) broth or water
A few Tbsp of extra water if needed (if the contents get too dry)

Method:

1) Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is heated add oil.
2) Add shallots and garlic. Saute about 2 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes, chicken broth powder, sugar and Siu Mai's broth. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. May add a little water if the sauce gets too dry.

*This recipe has a little more salt than I normally eat. However, you may omit salt or add less of it if prefer. In my family we do not use fish sauce in these recipes.


with my Ah Ma (2014)
*You may have noticed that many elder Chinese will sit in such a way as my grandmother poses here. They believe that one should show all fingers and feet so people can see there are no limbs or digits missing! 

Sugarcane and Lime Juice (serves one)


My father held many jobs in his lifetime. For the last few years prior to leaving Vietnam he had a small portable sugarcane juicer. Back then he had to turn the wheel by hand to squeeze out the juice. I think that must have been one tough job, although he never complained. Nowadays juicing sugarcane is done by a machine and it is faster, easier and barely requires any human strength. To quench my thirst in the hot tropical mid-day heat in Vietnam I enjoy sugarcane juice mixed with water and lots of ice. My uncle prefers sugarcane juice mixed with lots of lime juice. Some people drink it straight with ice but find this to be way too sweet and it makes me cough. Here is a drink that has some added lime juice but it is according to my taste. You can adjust the ingredients to your liking.

my cousin (Hui Chieu) purchasing some sugarcane juice for us.
machine squeezing cane juice (easy and fast and less human muscle needed)

Ingredients:

1 cup sugarcane juice
1/3 cup cold water
Juice from 1/2 a key lime 
Ice

Method:

Mix sugarcane and lime juices. Add ice and enjoy.

*My preference for sugarcane juice and water drink comes to a ratio of 3-4 parts juice to 1 part water. 

Sauteed Eel with Lemongrass and Hot Chili Pepper (serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal)


I enjoy eating eels prepared in all sort of ways from hot pot to a simple saute such as this dish. This sauteed eel with lemongrass and hot chili pepper is called "lương xào sã ớt" in Vietnamese. It is quite popular at home and in restaurants and I have seen it served all over this Southern region of Vietnam. The best thing about eels is that they have just the tiny spinal bones making them easy to eat. My cousin, Sieu Ken bought the prepared eel at the wet (seafood) market in Soctrang. She helped me clean it further and cut it into rings after we brought it home. Her daughter, Linh helped me crush the already roasted peanuts to sprinkle on top for extra crunch and good taste! Thank you, Ken and Bé Linh!

Bé Linh (my young assistant)
pounded the peanuts for me.
Great job, Bé Linh!!
live eels at the wet market in Soctrang (Vietnam)
cleaned eel
eel that has been cut into rings
lunch at my cousin's home
Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
4-5 Tbsp finely chopped lemongrass (more or less according to your taste)
1/2 of a small Thai hot chili pepper, de-seeded, finely chopped (more or less according to your taste)
1 small eel (about 12 oz or 350 grams), gutted and cleaned well with salt or vinegar, rinsed and cut into  about 1/4 inch rings
About 2 tsp soy sauce
About 2 tsp fish sauce
A pinch of sugar (about 1/2 tsp)
About 1/2 cup water
Crushed Roasted Peanuts, garnish (optional)

Method:

1) Heat a wok or pan over medium high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot add garlic, lemongrass and chili pepper. Saute about 1-2 minutes. Avoid burning the garlic.
3) Add the eel. Saute about about 3 minutes.
4) Add soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and water. Saute about another 2 more minutes or until the eel is cook thoroughly. Sprinkle crushed roasted peanuts on top before serving.

*Adjust the ingredients according to your taste.

wet market in Soctrang (Vietnam)---where everyone is happy

Vietnamese Purple Yam Soup (about 8 to 10 servings)

Vietnamese purple yam soup (canh khoai mỡ)
Vietnamese purple yam or khoai m has a consistency of okra. Some people may not like the slime-like slippery texture of this root vegetable. If you are not a fan of okra then you probably may not get too excited about this soup. In Vietnamese "khoai" refers to a root vegetable such as yam or potato. "mỡ" means fat. My cousin Sieu Ken made this soup when I visited her in Soctrang but she used a another root vegetable that is similar called khoai thôm ("thôm" means nice fragrance) to make this soup. My mother used to make this soup for us but not as often nowadays since these are hard to find in the United States. Prior to cooking you need to peel away the dark skin, then take the edge of a spoon and scrap down the sides of the yam for the meat. You may also use a grater to shred it. However, using the spoon is an old fashion method and it works very well. I prefer this method since it gives the soup an uneven and a much more interesting look with the small and large pieces of yam bits. I made this soup with less salt. However, if you like it saltier then add more fish sauce or salt. This soup is called canh or súp khoai mỡ. "Canh" or "súp" are terms for broth or soup in Vietnamese.


khoai thôm (fragance yam) has a more purple color
scraping the khoai mỡ (Vietnamese purple yam)
with the edge of a spoon
Vietnamese Purple Yam Soup (about 8 to 10 servings)

Ingredients:

2 tsp oil
1 garlic clove or about 1 tsp chopped garlic
About 2 Tbsp scallions
1/3 cup hand chopped pork or ground pork
1/3 cup small peeled shrimp (cut each shrimp into 2-3 pieces)
1 Vietnamese purple yam or khoai mo or khoai thom (about 1.3 lbs or 0.6 kg), peeled, washed well and scraped the meat of the entire root with the edge of a spoon
8 cups water
1 Tbsp good chicken stock powder (preferably non-MSG)
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper, garnish (optional)

Method:

1) Heat a large pot over medium high heat.
2) Once the pot is hot, add oil. Once the oil is heated add garlic, scallions, pork, and shrimp. Saute about 2 minutes.
3) Add yam and saute about a minute.
4) Add water. Bring the liquid to just a boil then turn heat down to a simmer. Remove and discard any white foam or scum that floats to the top of the pot.
5) After 20 minutes of simmering (or until the yam is cooked and soft) add chicken stock powder, sugar, salt and fish sauce to your taste.
6) Turn off heat and add cilantro.
7) May add black pepper right before serving.

*Be extra careful with peeling Vietnamese purple yam as it is very slippery.
*You may add less water such as 6 cups for a thicker consistency.
*You may add more ingredients such as shrimp and pork if you prefer.
*After you have added some salty ingredients such as salt, fish sauce, and chicken powder, keep tasting your soup until you have added enough of these ingredients according to your own preference. I am staying with relatives who have similar taste as me--they prefer a mild salty flavor in their food.


canh khoai thôm
(My cousin, Ken made this soup but she added a lot of
shrimp but no meat. Also her yam was more purple)
lunch at Ken's place