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my 2 cents

The holiday season is in full swing, which means everyone’s making a list and checking it twice. To help make the task a little bit easier, I’ve put together a short holiday gift guide for the home cook in your life. These are tools and gadgets I use on a regular basis in my own kitchen, and I’m sharing the tips with you. Watch the video for a special, surprise giveaway, too! And for even more gift ideas, check out my previous gift guide. Happy holidays!

Let’s take a break from our regularly scheduled program. On my YouTube channel, I started a new series called “Christine Tries,” an all-encompassing title for videos in which I’ll be trying anything from different foods to (gasp!) driving a car. (Just wait for it—it’ll be done.) For my first “Christine Tries” episode, as a nod to my many trips to Vietnam and Asia, I try snacks from the continent. To make it more interesting, I do a true blind taste test—others selected these snacks, so I have no idea what

I’ve written about Cua Ba Chi before, but since it’s one of my favorite places to eat in Saigon, I’m dedicating today’s entire post to this very special crab stall. I first learned about this spot from my parents, who took us there for the hubs’s 30th birthday back in 2013. We’ve all since fallen in love with the cua rang me, or tamarind crab. Since it can be too sweet for my palate, I now request less sugar in the sauce, just like I do with my boba. (You

During my trip to Vietnam, I did a fan meet-up at iKem, the only shop in Vietnam making ice cream using liquid nitrogen. My cousins started the business and invited me to create some of the in-store flavors. I designed two: honey lavender (the recipe can be found in my cookbook) and matcha green tea. iKem appeals to children and teenagers because of the novel liquid nitrogen process. The fact that ice cream is frozen amidst a cloud of billowing smoke makes it Instagram-Worthy, and nowadays, that seems to be

Because I was born and raised in America, when I meet Vietnamese elders, they are often surprised that: (1) I can speak Vietnamese, and (2) I not only can eat, but love to eat, Vietnamese food. Then when I say I even love mam tom and mam nem, they are shocked. This is because mam tom and mam nem are the stinkiest of stinky sauces. If you thought nuoc mam, or fish sauce, was bad, wait till you get a whiff of this purple stuff! Truthfully, I love these pungent

Bun bo Hue is one of my favorite Vietnamese noodle soups of all time. The broth consists of beef, pork, lemongrass, chiles, and shrimp paste, making it a balance of sweet, sour, savory, and spicy. It’s amazing! We hung out with Summer of Danang Cuisine, and the first of two meals we had together was this noodle soup at Bun Bo Hue Ba Dieu. The shop tends to close on a whim if the pot’s run dry, so I was relieved when we arrived shortly after sunset, and they said

There are two, maybe three, dishes you definitely need to try in Hoi An: cao lau Madame Khanh’s banh mi mi Quang (optional) Cao lau Cao lau literally translates as “high floor.” Legend has it that back in the day when Hoi An was colonized by the French, those with money ate on the higher floors, and this dried noodle dish, full of fresh herbs and greens, was popular for its light, refreshing flavors. Today, tradition continues, and to eat this dish, you have to climb up to the restaurant’s

There is a word in Vietnamese, nhau, that describes the act of getting together, drinking beer or spirits, and eating. To nhau is to partake in an age-old Vietnamese tradition where men gather to primarily socialize and drink, and secondarily eat foods that are mostly small bar bites, often exotic (think goat, snails, duck tongues, chicken tails (aka butts). Now in modern times, women also nhau, although not as frequently—go to any nhau establishment, and you’ll mostly find groups of men. I’m always one to break tradition, so I personally

The banh xeo (which translates into English as “sizzling crêpe”) at Ba Duong in Danang was one of my most memorable meals in Vietnam. Lena T., my food guide for Danang, showed us the proper way to eat Madame Duong’s banh xeo, which is to wrap a portion with some nem nuong (grilled pork sausage) and fresh veg in rice paper, and then dip the roll in the “miracle sauce” (as dubbed by locals, according to Lena). The sauce reminds me of the addicting accompaniment to nem nuong rolls from

Ben Thanh Market (or <em>Cho Ben Thanh</em> in Vietnamese) is perhaps the most famous market in Ho Chi Minh City. Its central location in District 1 makes it accessible to many of the hotels and other tourist destinations.  During the day, vendors sell souvenir t-shirts, cell phone cases, kitchenware, fabric, fruits, sugar cane juice, durian smoothies, and (my favorite)

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