My uncle shares with my cousins and me his former colleague's generosity. Both were stationed in the central highland (Vietnam) and after the war he had to return home except he had no money. This man gave him 30,000 dong which back then was a lot of money. He remember his friend's kindness to this day and when he found out his friend currently resides not far away he paid him a visit to properly thank him. Tua Tia and Di Tia (2nd uncle by marriage) and I took a taxi through a cow pasture (which is also used as a soccer field) and stopped at the edge of it since we could drive any further. One of Tua Tia's relatives took him by a scooter and Di Tia and I left on foot to his colleague's home. Both were very happy to see each other after all these years. His colleague told him that seeing him was enough and that was the best gift he can have. I was glad that I was present to capture part of this short but very special occasion. I printed photos for both my uncle and his friend so they will have a bit of this memory to cherish.
|fermented tofu (chao)|
1 whole duck, dejointed, and chopped or cut into 2-inch pieces (or bite size pieces)
1/2 cup good fermented tofu (or chao in Vietnamese)
3 lemongrass, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
About 1 1/2 lbs of taro, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
Coconut water (enough to cover the duck pieces)
1 Tbsp sugar (or to your taste)
Water spinach (rau muong), chrysanthemum leaves, Chinese celery, and rice paddy herbs--use as little or as much as you prefer
Fermented Tofu Dipping Sauce (recipe to follow)
*If you like more taro then use more.
*The coconut water was very tasty and sweet so I did not need to add much sugar for this hot pot. As usual I recommend adjusting the ingredients to your taste.
*Make sure the fermented tofu is tasty. I was lucky to find a good one when I was in Soctrang. Luckily I got the name of the store that carries this particular one. In the States you can ask the store clerks or owner for the best type of fermented tofu. For such item I prefer to shop in small Asian grocer so I can easily talk to the owner myself for his/her suggestions on which one to buy. You will see there are many types of tofu and not all of them will make a good hot pot. My mother tells me she prefers to buy the fermented tofu from Taiwan.
|Enjoying hot pot with some of my relatives.|
|My first exciting taxi ride through a cow pasture (aka soccer field)!|
|Tua Tia gets a ride to his colleague's home|
since it was not accessible by taxi.
|2 former colleagues reunited after 40 years|
|2 old friends and colleagues|
sharing a moment of joy from seeing one another
|You see 2 frail looking men in this photo.|
But back in their youth these 2 men held
powerful positions and were highly respected.
|watching his friend leave...|