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Tag Archives: Andrea Nguyen

And speaking of ketchup

viet world kitchen

Andrea Nguyen has borrowed a spicy, Asian-styled ketchup recipe and shared it with us.

September 03, 2009

Spicy Umami Ketchup Recipe

I’ve been on a condiment jag lately, if you haven’t noticed. With Labor Day weekend coming up, I’ve been dreaming of the summer’s last official barbecue – hamburgers. I love hamburgers and when we were kids, my mom would sometimes fry up burgers in a cast iron skillet and we’d gobble them up on Sunday mornings after church. To me, homemade burgers were nearly as good as homemade beef pho noodle soup. It’s no coincidence that both are ‘have it your way’ kinds of foods.

Like Vietnamese pho and banh mi sandwiches, I like to personalize my hamburgers, dressing it with carefully layered accoutrements before taking my first bite. On the bottom half of the bun, lots of rich mayonnaise touching both sides of the sliced tomato. On the top half of the bun, the tomato ketchup should flavor the meat, onion and cheese with its tangy, salty, heady edge. Ketchup punctuates a hamburger with brightness.

I’ve tackled homemade mayonnaise, Vietnamese chile garlic sauce, and Thai-style Sriracha sauce but I didn’t think of making ketchup myself until I noticed Saveur magazine’s umami ketchup recipe in the September 2009 issue.  The fanciful ketchup recipe comes from the popular Umami Burger restaurant in Los Angeles. What made it umami? For one, ripe tomatoes are extremely umami laden, and the restaurant includes oyster sauce, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovies for extra savory depth.  The use of salty, briny ingredients in the recipe reminded me of traditional Vietnamese tomato sauces employed to nap fried whole fish, tofu and the like. In fact, in Rick Stein’s travel show on Vietnam, he makes that kind of sauce, seasoning it with fish sauce for savoriness. Stein uses fish sauce just like a Vietnamese cook would. Ketchup’s East-West connection got me to thinking and researching.

Read the rest of the post here:

http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2009/09/spicy-umami-ketchup-recipe.html

Umami ketchup

Image courtesy of http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/ and Andrea Nguyen

Andrea Nguyen’s Sriracha taste-off

http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2009/07/sriracha-chile-hot-sauce-taste-off.html

I’m fond of the bastardized version of the original Thai chili sauce that’s found in Asian restaurants everywhere (the ubiquitous squirt bottle is actually a Vietnamese interpretation that’s actually made here in the States, as she points out). You know the bottle – it’s the one with the rooster on the bottle. I like using it in tandem with sambal, that rough-textured hotter, oily sauce that you often find on the table. The sambal has a more direct, hotter flavor and “Sriracha” is a bit more laid back. Unlike her, I do like adding it to my pho, although I’m discrete with both chile sauces. I don’t like overwhelming the delicious broth, but I like tailoring it to my own tastes.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what chile sauces I can find at my local market and I hope I can find the “Shark” brand that she discusses.

Another great, informative post from Ms. Nguyen. She really does have one of the best foodie sites on the web and I’m looking forward to her dumplings book.

Sriracha

Photo courtesy of Andrea Nguyen, www.vietworldkitchen.com

Andrea Nguyen on Vietnamese herbs and celebration of 200th post

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love not only Vietnamese cuisine, but also Andrea Nguyen’s wonderful blog, Viet World Kitchen . You’ll find the link in my blogroll and if you plug her name into my search engine, you’ll find both reviews of her book Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and her comprehensive and sweeping blog. If you type in pho, you will find my rather overheated defense of phở , done in the early days of this blog and reprinted from a music mailing list that I was participating in, back before I realized that I could cut and paste the word  phởfrom Nguyen’s blog to get the Vietnamese character. Maybe some day I’ll go and clean it up, but it was itself a cut and paste job from a mailing list post. Perhaps in the spirit of authenticity, I should leave it alone, resisting the urge to tighten up the overheated rhetoric as well.

If you love the heaping fresh herbs that accompany such dishes as phở and bánh xèo (sizzling crepes). Nguyen has an article that you’ll want to check out:

 http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2009/07/vietnamese-herbs-la-times-article.html

It links to her July 15th article in the Los AngelesTimes food section about an appreciation for Vietnamese herbs. And the post also has a link to an article about growing Vietnamese herbs. Since finding a variety of fresh Vietnamese herbs is a challenge at best and impossible at worst, this is an article worth checking out. Herbs are fairly easy to grow, even if you only have a balcony and she gives you the rundown on easy ways to grow them in and around the home. she also has a link to a “Vietnamese herb primer”, where she goes down the list of important herbs.

If her blog isn’t on your subscribed list, it should be. And if you don’t have her book, what in the heck are you waiting for? She’s got a new book on dumplings coming out in next month as well.

vietnamese Photo courtesy of The Coriander Leaf, the Singapore “Asian Food Hub”

http://www.corianderleaf.com/vietnameseflavours.html

Oh yeah, this is post number 200!

Article in Slate about cookbooks by Sarah Dickerson

http://www.slate.com/id/2219280/

I don’t know how long Slate keeps their articles up before throwing them in the archives, but anyone who actually reads my little cookbook blurbs should read this article while it’s still up.

“Some cookbook authors are decidedly domestic, writing about common ingredients with an eye to easing weeknight pressures of the kitchen. Others are professional: They attempt to translate commercial restaurant artistry to the lay masses. Then there are those writers who aim to bring another culture to life through recipes and observations. These authors are the cooking world’s equivalent of Alan Lomax, who ventured to the farmsteads and hollers of rural America, microphone in hand, collecting a nation’s folksongs before interstates and television blurred our regional cultures into a homogenous mass. Whether writing about a childhood home, an ancestral haunt, or a land discovered in full-grown adulthood, these ethno-culinarians try to convey, along with recipes, a sense of how history and geography affect the shifting habits of what we eat every day. They interview grandmothers and street cart vendors to understand the technique and gestalt of vernacular food (and to give the readers a wood-fired whiff of authenticity—a knotty but essential concept). They provide guidance in buying unfamiliar ingredients, be it Greek  mastic or Vietnamese culantro”.

Paula Wolfert is specifically mentioned (remember my praise of her in one of last week’s Cookbook of the Day segments)?

Najmieh Batmanglij is also mentioned. I discussed her book, Good Foods of Persia last week as well. Her book, which I don’t have, The New Food Of Life, is highlighted by Ms. Dickerson.

And praises are heaped on my favorite Vietnamese author/blogster Andrea Nguyen. The very book that I mentioned in the first weeks of this blog is reviewed:

“With Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Nguyen, who immigrated to the United States as a child, unearths Vietnamese traditions and describes how they changed in the immigrant community here among the supermarkets and food processors of the States. She spends ample time demystifying the Viet pantry with practical advice—”Premium fish sauce is reddish brown and clear. Avoid dark inky liquids that are overly salty and flat tasting”—but not without true sentimental moments:

‘One of my most vivid memories is of our cook, Old Sister Thien, squatting and fanning the small charcoal brazier on which she grilled corn on the cob. As the corn cooked to a charred chewy sweetness, she brushed on a scallion oil made with home-rendered lard. The aroma and taste were heavenly’.

So, three out of the six authors (and one of the books) mentioned by Ms. Dickerson on Slate were also spotlighted on my own humble blog. Not bad for a blog that’s only been doing this for a month, even though she chose a different Thai author than I did. But, no worries, I still have another 4 Thai books to review in the future and I’m intrigued about the one that she mentioned, Cracking the Coconut. Great title.

Just a reminder, you can find my reviews of the three authors that I mentioned here:

https://teleburst.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/cookbook-of-the-day-a-taste-of-persia/

https://teleburst.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/cookbook-of-the-day-good-food-from-morocco-paula-wolfert/

https://teleburst.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/and-speaking-of-pho/

You can see all of my Cookbook of the Day posts by inserting that phrase into the search engine. However, I didn’t do a full review of the Nguyen book as it was done before I started this series. It was really as much a touting of her website as it was a recommendation of her wonderful book, the link of which website you’ll find in my blogroll. I really should go back and make it a true Cookbook of the Day report.