Sunday, August 28, 2016

Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Vietnamese Green Papaya and Beef Jerky Salad)

Goi du du kho bo, or Vietnamese green papaya and beef jerky salad sounds weird.  I know.  But I promise that there is nothing better on a hot summer day.  It literally involves no cooking and is cold and refreshing, while being pretty fulfilling.  Reid and his sister approved.  It's really good.

The ingredients are the only difficult thing about this.  I was in the LA area a few weeks ago for hubby's father's pHd graduation ceremony and we were staying in Anaheim about 15 minutes away from Bolsa Ave.  Bolsa Avenue, aka Little Saigon, in Orange County is a great community for Vietnamese immigrants and second generations.  It's probably the only place in the States that's better than Houston's Chinatown in what you can find.  Most likely due to the fact that LA has the #1 population of Vietnamese immigrants and Houston has the #2 biggest population.  Anyway, I took husband's family to breakfast/lunch on our last day there to Quan Hy restaurant.  It's one of the places I remember always going to whenever we are in OC because the food is central Vietnamese, where my dad's side of the family is from.  After enjoying some mi quang and banh beo, I waddled (seriously, I'm pretty pregnant now, ya'll) over to this store that specializes in Asian beef jerky.

I may have gotten a little carried away.  I bought 2 lbs worth of kho bo, or Vietnamese beef jerky.  Kho Bo is seasoned with some amazing (and unknown to me) blend of chilies and Asian spices.   It's more juicy than American beef jerky.  It's been a real treat for me to snack on during work or on the go.  I bought one bag of pre-shredded beef jerky.  Otherwise, you can just use some kitchen scissors to thinly slice up some.  I've read a recipe or too that said you could get away with American beef jerky if needed, but I just don't see how that would work.  Stick with the real stuff.  You can find packaged forms of this at Asian grocery stores.

The green papaya and green mango I bought at MT Supermarket, my local Vietnamese/Asian grocery store.  Green papaya is picked un-ripe and has a totally different taste and texture than regular papaya.  I know this because a long time ago, when I was living in Bryan, TX and couldn't get my hands on green papaya, I tried to make this salad with some regular but on the less-ripe side papayas.  It was a hot mess.  My mom adds green mango as well, which provides a little bit of a texture contrast.  Once you have everything, the rest is a breeze. It's a salad basically!


  • 1/2 green papaya, thinly shredded
  • 1 large green mango, thinly shredded
  • 1/4 c. thai basil, rau quế, cut on the bias
  • dressing *adjust to taste
    • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
    • 1/4 c. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 3/4 c. sugar
    • 1 c. water
    • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 2 Thai bird chilies, thinly sliced** optional

  1. Remove seeds/pits and skins of the green mango and green papaya.  Carefully use a Japanese mandolin or vegetable slicer/parer/slicer to shred the flesh of the green papaya and green mango.  I don't own a spiralizer but that could work, too.  I would avoid using a food processor (too much juice is extracted).  Patience and a nice sharp knife would be a great tedious task to keep any kitchen helpers out of your way.  I'm not talking from experience... *cough*mommy*cough*
  2. Mix all the dressing ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a large bowl or platter, toss the shredded green papaya, green mango, and Thai basil.  Top with beef jerky and dressing (or serve dressing on the side).  

Green mango and green papaya

The tool I use to make the strips of mango and papaya

Vietnamese beef jerky

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Soda Chanh, Vietnamese Limeade

There have been over 24 days in a row where the temperature has exceeded 100*F here.  I'm like 6 months pregnant? Don't ask me questions, I'm hot and my brain doesn't work.  Anyway, one respite from the heat is soda chanh, or Vietnamese style limeade.  Because, as I was reading in Real Simple magazine whilst waiting the hour for my gestational diabetes test at the doctor's office, nothing is better on a hot day than lemonade limeade.

Soda chanh is probably the drink I'll order out at a Vietnamese restaurant unless I'm enjoying some Vietnamese coffee (Cafe Sua Da) or it's winter and they have fresh warm soy milk.  May need to do a post on cafe sue da later, but since I'm preggos, and it's 105 freaking degrees outside, it's soda chanh time, baby.  Some restaurants don't make it right.  There should be a visible layer of sugar at the bottom.  You use the spoon to mix it all up, and sip it through a straw.  Ahhhhh!

Hubs has a soda stream to drink soda water (he kicked his Coco-cola addiction about 5 years ago, but still needs the bubbles).  That makes this super easy to whip up.  All you need is

  • fresh limes
  • sugar
  • soda water
A 1:1:4 ratio is what I target.  I think that usually ends up being 1 lime, 2-3 tbs sugar, and filling the rest with ice and soda water.


  1. Use a tall glass to layer sugar in.  
  2. Add ice, lime juice, and soda water
  3. Mix it all together and sip it down.  Ahhhhhhh

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mom's Bun Bo Hue Chay (Vietnamese vegetarian spicy "beef" noodle soup)

After many requests from my sister and cousin, I finally documented my mom's vegetarian bun bo chay!  Get ready, this recipe is kind of intense and usually takes 2 days to make.  My mom makes a giant pot of it and the whole family eats it in the span of a day or two.  She freezes the broth for later use (if there is any left over!).  The flavor does enhance each time the broth is reheated, so it's usually better the second day and each subsequent time.  It's so good, I often prefer it to regular bun bo (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup).

Bun bo Hue is a specialty of the central region of Vietnam, where my dad's side is from.  You won't find it as commonly as pho or bun (vermicelli bowls) in most Vietnamese restaurants.  This is a soup that is a labor of love and family and spicy-tolerance.  My ong noi (paternal grandfather) used to make the best bun bo hue!  Now my Aunt Angelique/Co Be makes a cleaner, tasty bun bo Hue which she luckily taught my sister so the tradition can continue. See my aunt Co Be's recipe here: Now that my dad is a strict vegetarian, my mom has figured out a way to make bun bo vegetarian.  No small feat.  Tons of people have asked for the recipe at Buddhist retreats and family get-togethers, but my mom writes nothing down so this is my attempt at watching her to record it:

Mommy's Bun Bo Hue Chay (Vegetarian Spicy 'Beef' Noodle Soup)
  • *3 stalks lemongrass, outer layers and ends discarded and stalk bruised to release aroma.  Cut in 1/2: use green part for boiling, white part for frying
  • *1 ~4" piece of ginger
  • *1 large yellow onion
  • *1/2 pineapple, about 3 cups cubed
  • *2 green apples, peeled
  • *1 pear
  • *5 dried shiitake mushrooms (Japanese or Korean brands, try to avoid Chinese brands)
  • 1 tbs. salt
  • 1 tbs. vegetable bouillon
  • 1 small daikon
  • 1/2 jicama
  • 1/2 leak, white part reserved for sauce
  • 1 celery
  • 1/4 winter melon
  • 1 napa cabbage
*note: the first 7 ingredients are imperative, the rest of the vegetables depend on what my mom has to clean out of her fridge.  Avoid vegetables that will leach color or strong flavors such as carrots.  Rest are usually fair game.
  • 1 bulb minced garlic
  • the reserved white parts of leeks
  • 3 tbs. fermented bean curd chunk and some of the sauce from the jar (chao)
  • 3 tbs. vegetarian "shrimp" soybean sauce (mam ruoc chay)
  • 1 tbs. ground red pepper**
  • 1 tbs. smoked paprika**
**a combination of these 2 ground together can be found in a spice pack at Vietnamese grocery stores that makes the broth really red!

Rest of Bun Bo Hue Chay assembly
each bowl should contain (amounts approximated, do whatever you want here!)
  • 3 tbs. chopped green onions
  • 1/2 c. cooked rice vermicelli (Bun Bo Hue)
  • 3-4 cubes of fried tofu
  • 3-5 slices of reserved shitake mushrooms
  • 3-5 slices of vegetarian "chicken ham" roll (cha lua chay)
  • 1 lemon thyme, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbs. bean sprouts
  • 1/3 c. shredded purple and white cabbage
  • 1 tsp. of sauce (or depending on spiciness preference, more)
  • 2 c. broth
  1. For all broth ingredients: wash, peel, and quarter or chop in large chunks.  
  2. In a 5 gallon stock pot, add all broth ingredients and water to fill. Allow to come to a boil, then simmer for at least 1 hour.  Skim foam from top as needed.
  3. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the broth into a large container or pot.  Reserve the shitake mushrooms for later assembly.
  1. Finely chop the white reserved parts of lemongrass.  In a large pan, fry lemongrass in 2 tbs. vegetable oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until fragrant.  Add half of this to the broth and reserve half in pan.
  2. In frying pan, add chopped garlic and continue cooking chopped lemongrass until golden brown.  Turn off heat and add fermented bean curd, mam ruoc chay, ground red pepper and smoked paprika.
  1. Prepare bun noodles based on package directions.  Drain well.
  2. Warm up broth for amount of bowls you plan on making and add the sauce.  
  3. Place noodles, then cabbage, sauce, green onions, fried tofu, veggie chicken ham,and few slices of shitake mushrooms in each bowl.  Add broth.
  4. Serve at the table with a plate of bean sprouts, lemon thyme, cilantro, additional cabbage, and sauce for individuals to dress bowls as desired.