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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vietnamese Food

When I was a child, I was not really all that interested in Chinese food. At that time, at least to my knowledge, there were not many Thai or Vietnamese restaurants in Atlanta. We did have Chinese restaurants though. My parents enjoyed the food and would bring it home on occasion. For some reason my taste buds just weren't thrilled with it.
When I was in college (at the University of Georgia... GO DAWGS!!) we had a friend that was from Hong Kong. One late night he came o
ver for a visit. He worked in a Chinese restaurant and brought us some food for a late night snack. It was that late night snack that turned my entire eating likes and dislikes 180 degrees! Oh my goodness, how I really enjoyed that food. I just couldn't get enough. So began my adventure with Chinese food. My friend worked in a restaurant where we would go quite often for dinner. Yes, we would
look at the menu, yet end up telling them to "just bring us anything you like". Off to the kitchen they would go, and back with some dishes that may not even be on the menu, yet something that they personally enjoyed eating. So now I was hooked and I had a lot of years of missing Chinese food to recoup!!

When I was working in an office and had an hour for lunch (oh those were the good ole ENTIRE hour for lunch) we would sometimes go out for Chinese food. I think I actually had Chinese food 5 days in a row (including dinner sprinkled here and there too). So, what's wrong with that? After all, Chinese people eat it every day!!

Since I enjoy cooking, I decided to give making Chinese food a try. I do remember that I had my cousins and aunt over for dinner. My husband (now my ex) and I gave it a wonderful effort, and it was tasty and delicious. Some menus one never forgets....ok, so I have forgotten a few of the items made, but I do remember that we had sizzling rice soup with shrimp (one of my favorites), homemade egg rolls, and Mongolian beef. It was nice for a first time effort, but I must say that it is much, much cheaper to eat out than prepare at home.

Over the years, I have made the simple stir fry dishes and a few others. Last night, I was in the mood to try Vietnamese crepes. I made an easy crepe batter (really more like a thin omelet than a crepe).
Two larges eggs
1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons chopped green onion
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp dried basil (I went to two stores and could not find fresh basil!! I didn't feel like getting in the afternoon traffic on a Friday, so I opted to put dried basil in the eggs)

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet and put 1/4 cup of the egg in the hot pan. Twirl the pan so that the egg evenly coats the bottom in a thin layer. Flip egg and cook "crepe" until done. Please don't over cook! Set aside

The egg crepe is to be added to large lettuce leaves for rolling.

Along with egg, I added fresh cilantro, julienne cucumber, carrots, green onion, and bean sprouts. Roll all ingredients and dip in dipping sauce as follows.

Juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 tsp garlic
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 cup fish sauce (I didn't realize that Thai fish sauce was mostly anchovy (It's really not "anchovieish" at all, but I will cut down on the amount for next time...just my personal preference) When I go to the market next time, I will see if there are fish sauces from
different Asian regions. Will find out!
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp soy sauce

Dip rolled lettuce bundles in the sauce. The red pepper really gives it a nice "kick". Add more if you desire. I k
now my son would certainly add more.

So now that I have my taste buds in tune for Vietnamese food, my friend invited me to join h
er and her family in celebrating her birthday at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants tonight for dinner. I already know what I'm having..... Y
es! Vietnamese Crepes!

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Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar