As promised, this week, I’m delving into foods my hometown of Houston is known for. Of course, being Asian-American and having grown up near an abundance of local Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants (also known as Bellaire Blvd.), I have to talk about the wide variety and quality of east Asian cuisine we’re lucky to call our own. First, a short history of the Vietnamese diaspora: in the 1980s, the first Vietnamese to settle in this city made the area near Hobby airport in south Houston their home. That’s where you’ll
One of my favorite foods to eat in Vietnam, cua rang me—crabs sautéed in tamarind—is a humble yet glorious dish prized for its freshness and balance of flavor. It’s best eaten with the hands and a chilled lager (or three), followed by a hearty serving of French bread, which is broken off the community loaf and use to mop the vibrant, sweet sauce. A fond memory of childhood summers is weekend trips to the Gulf Coast, where in addition to playing in the murky brown water, I’d help my parents
April 30, 2015, marks the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. I was not alive then, but the figment of it swirled around my life nonetheless, mostly in the form of a movie and a book.
For now, this is the last in my Saigon series, covering my most recent trip to HCMC in January. (Read about my eats from early July 2014 and late July 2014.) This time, as usual, I ate more street food, but I also ventured to less traditional places and had lunch outings with my pops, who has since moved back to Vietnam after retirement.
Some of my favorite eats in Saigon: Everything crab at Quan 94, tamarind crab at Ba Chi, sticky rice with chicken and Pho Hoa Pasteur
Following my early July 2014 trip to Vietnam where I attended the KOTO fundraising gala, I returned to Saigon just a few weeks later to do another guest appearance on MasterChef Vietnam season 2 and work with the show’s sponsor, Knorr Vietnam. You know I can’t go to Vietnam without eating Saigon, so here’s what I had this time around.
Happy new year (again)! In continuing the closer look we’re taking at Vietnamese traditions, like those of lunar new year, today I’m actually taking you back to Vietnam. I was born in California and didn’t visit the country of my heritage until I was 18. It would be another 16 years after that first pilgrimage before I’d returned to Vietnam again. Consequently, this second trip was after MasterChef, and I was going to Vietnam to appear in the inaugural season of “MasterChef” Vietnam as a celebrity guest judge. Since then,
**Please excuse the many misspelled Vietnamese words in the following entry, as I don’t have the software to write proper Vietnamese, accents and all. This Thursday marks the lunar new year, or Tê’t, as we call it in Vietnamese. Growing up, the red envelopes containing minted bills (or—like xì—were my most anticipated new year tradition. It meant I was that much closer to that Super Mario game or, when I was in high school, that Green Day CD. Another fond memory of Tê’t was the banh chung my grandmother made
My achievements as a Blind Cook often supersede my identity as a writer. That’s what I was before I went on “MasterChef,” and that’s what I still consider myself, in spite of my latest lackluster attempts at the memoir. (That’s a discussion for another day.) In fact, I find writing much more challenging than cooking; results are less tangible, and gratification, if it comes at all, is way delayed.
Thanksgiving is done, but the leftovers are not. Because Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday (and with that comes the love of traditional Thanksgiving food), the hubs and I usually cook enough fowl to feed family, friends, and ourselves for days, even weeks. This year was no exception: we sous vide a turkey and fried two turkeys. We vacuum sealed most of the leftover turkey to make it last as long as possible in the fridge. (You can freeze the turkey leftovers too.)
Last week, I posted a video about my menu for the Ikea Supper Club: five courses of small offerings that reflected both my heritage and upbringing. A month has gone by since the Supper Club, and I still reflect upon the menu fondly. The guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy the dishes (or at least that’s what they told me), and when asked which was their favorite, a majority said it was the sous vide pork belly bao.