Besides all of the sweets, we need consume savory dishes to “balanced” out the yin and the yang right? By tradition, my family are Buddhist vegans on the first day of new years. This means no only meats and animal products are a no no but garlic, onions, chives, leeks are also not acceptable. Although it might seem next to impossible to cook anything savory and tasty without the ingredients mentioned above it’s actually not that hard….once you get the hang of it. Just think creatively and anything is possible. So here are the vegan dishes we enjoy on first day.

Vegetarian 3 color Bánh Tét
Recipe


Cá Kho Tộ Chay (Vegetarian Fish in Coconut Caramel Sauce)
Recipe

Gỏi Bạc Hà Chay (Vegetarian Taro Stem Salad)
Recipe

Kiểm (Vegetarian Pumpkin Stew)
Recipe

Rau Cải Kho Nước Dừa (Vegetarian Braised Veggies with Coconut Milk)
Recipe


Mắm Ruốt Xào Xả Ớt Chay (Vegetarian Shrimp Paste/Belachan with Lemongrass)


Đồ Xào Chay Gia Truyền (Traditional “Family Recipe” Stir Fry) Recipe

**Non-vegetarian dishes to celebrate the rest of new years.**



Canh Khổ Qua (Bittermelon Soup)
Recipe


Thịt Kho Nước Dừa (Braised Pork in Coconut Juice with Eggs and Bamboo Shoots)
Recipe


Dưa Giá (Pickled Bean Sprouts)
Recipe


Gà Luộc Chặt (Boiled Chicken)
Recipe


Gà Xé Lá Chanh (Shredded Chicken with Lime Leaves)

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A “must have” for Tat; there are many versions of Bánh Tét from sweet to savory. This is the Buddhist style vegan version made especially for enjoying on the first day of tết.

Ingredients:
-5lbs sweet rice (glutinous rice)
-2lbs mung beans (peeled and split)
-1-2lbs banana leaves
-pandan leaves or extract
-lá cẩm leaves or violet color
-salt, sugar, pepper
-2 cans coconut milk (800ml total)
-vegetarian meat
-3 tbs soy sauce

Getting Ready:
Cut meat into thin strips and marinate with soy sauce, pepper, some sugar, salt, and a hint of 5 spice.

Cut leaves into approximately pieces that are approximately 12-15 inches. Wash and wipe dry.

Wash and soak rice in water for a few hours. Drain and divide rice into 2 portions, add pandan juice or extract into one portion. Add lá cẩm juice or violet color into the other portion. Stir fry the rice separately (by color) while gradually adding coconut milk until “sticky”.

Wash, soak, cook, and mash mung beans, add salt, sugar, and pepper to taste.

Take a strip of “meat” and wrap with the prepared mung beans. The wrap with a layer of violet rice.

Assembling the Rice Cakes:
Layer a few layers of banana leaves on a flat surface; make sure the leaf grains are crisscrossed.

Layer green pandan rice onto the center of the leaves, add the ‘filling’ (prewrapped log of meat that was wrapped mung beans and violet rice). Using both hands pull 2 edges of the leaves up to gather the rice around the ‘filling’, add more rice on top of necessary to entirely cover the filling log.

Fold the edges over each other to form a long log. Carefully fold the edges of the other two sides over each other (like wrapping a present). Tie with kitchen twine. Boil for at least 5 hours; remove immediately remove and soak in cold water for a night. Next morning remove from water wipe dry and let the cake age for a day before serving.

To Serve:
Either serve as is with sugar or dưa món (veggies pickled in fish sauce) or fried with sugar and day món.

Note:
The cake should be wrapped and tied tightly to ensure the final result will not be “soggy”. However, if wrapped or tied too tightly, the cake might not be cook fully (the rice won’t have room to “expand”).

If you have never made bánh tét before I suggest working with only one color of rice for the ‘experience’ as wrapping is one of the hardest and most important part of making bánh tét.

Other versions include:
Sweet mung beans:
Omit meat, mix beans with sugar to taste.

Non-vegan (with real meat):
Use pork belly and marinate with fish sauce, garlic, shallots, pepper, and a hint of 5 spice powder.

Banana:
Add boiled black beans to the rice. Marinate banana with a little sugar for a few hours before wrapping.

***Because my vegetarian dishes are prepared with “Buddhist Laws” in mind; besides not using meats and animal products, I do not use garlic, onions, leeks, chives, or any type of alcohol. However, if your main goal in being vegan cooking is to just avoid meats, feel free to add the any of the mentioned above to spice up you dishes.***

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Any strict Buddhist would look down upon creating ‘imitation’ meat. However, I feel being able to create “meat” from ordinary ingredients as flour and starches is an art worthy of showing off. A vegetarian can create meat from non meat ingredients but a carnivore can not create a “vegetables” from meat right? Just goes to prove how creative and efficient us vegetarians are!

For the “Skin”:
-100g tapioca starch
-30g flour
-30-50g water or vegetable stock

*Mix everything together to form a thick batter.

For the “Fat”:
-100g glutinous rice flour
-50g rice flour
-75g water or vegetable stock

*Mix everything together over the stove to form a thick batter.

For the “Meat”:
-150g gluten flour
-100g bread crumbs
-100-150g water or vegetable stock (approximate).

*Mix everything together to form a spreadable dough.

What to Do:
Grease a square cake pan with some oil. Add skin batter and steam until transparent. Spread on “fat” and “meat” alternatively. Press firmly and steam of 30-45 min. Cool the meat completely in the mould before carefully removing.

Note:
If you don’t have the time; you can purchased premade meats from most well stocked asian grocery store.

***Because my vegetarian dishes are prepared with “Buddhist Laws” in mind; besides not using meats and animal products, I do not use garlic, onions, leeks, chives, or any type of alcohol. However, if your main goal in being vegan cooking is to just avoid meats, feel free to add the any of the mentioned above to spice up you dishes.***
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An easy to make salad bursting with flavors.

Ingredients:
-1/2 chicken
-1 ½ large onion
-6 kaffir lime leaves
-4 tbs sugar
-3 tbs vinegar
-1 tsp salt

What to Do:
Steam or boil chicken cool and shred meat into small pieces. Slice onions and marinate with sugar, salt and vinegar until soft and wilted, squeeze out excess juices. Finely chop lime leaves. Mix everything together and serve with fish sauce.

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Gà Luộc Chặt is basically just boiled chicken, served with fried shallot infused soy sauce. Perfect with a bowl warm rice on a rainy day. This dish is usually served during new years because boiled chicken is commonly used as an offering to the gods and ancestors. However, having this dish turn out the right way is not easy. The chicken’s skin should be golden yellow and the flesh must be cooked just right; sill a little pinkish towards the bond. Yeah I know… salmonella… bird flu…. Then again the flesh should be SLIGHTLY pinkish so be reassured, by this stage anything harmful is probably pretty much all dead anyways. If you’d rather be safe than sorry than go ahead and cook the chicken “well done”, after all it is you chicken right? As for me, I’ll take my chances……bird flu is not that big in the US anyways. What about salmonella? I’m too young to worry about it, ask me again in another 40 years or so and hopefully by then I’ll change my mind ;).

Ingredients:
-1 chicken about 4-5 lbs
-enough water to cover the chicken
-1 tsp salt

What to Do:
Clean and dry chicken. Add chicken into a pot with salt and water. Bring the water to a boil. Start timing when the water boils, simmer for 6-8 mins per pound of chicken. “Turn” the chicken half way through. When done, using a bamboo skewer, pierce the chicken where the bottom breast meets the tights to allow the fat to float to the surface. Allow all of the fat to flat to the surface before slowing removing the chicken (so that the fat will add a nice shiny golden touch to the chicken). Cool and chop into bit size pieces.

Dipping Sauce:
-2 chilies (optional)
-3 tbs fried shallots
-4 tbs soy sauce

*Chop chilies and shallots, add soy sauce and mix well.

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Ingredients:
-2lbs pork belly or shoulder
-5 eggs
-5 cloves garlic
-2 green onions
-3 tbs fish sauce
-4 tbs sugar
-1 tbs coconut milk or water
-coconut juice or water
-salt to taste
-bamboo shoots (optional)

What to Do:
Cut pork into small ‘chunks’. Boil and peel eggs. Crush and mince garlic and onions. Boil together coconut milk and sugar until golden brown; add garlic and onions give it a quick stir before adding pork and fish sauce. Lastly, add eggs and coconut juice. Simmer until pork tender add salt to taste. Add bamboo a few mins before serving. Serve with fresh herbs and dưa giá (pickled bean sprouts).

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The Vietnamese name for Bitter Melon is “Khổ Qua”. Khổ means “hardship” and Qua means “over”. Together Khổ Qua means “hardship is over” thus, Khổ Qua is always served during new years so that all of the hardship can be swallowed allowing one to expect an easy going year to come.

Ingredients:
-Approximately 2 lbs bitter melon
-1lb ground pork
-100g dried woodear mushrooms
-1 small bundle cellophane noodles (approx. 30g)
-3/4 tsp fish sauce (more to taste)
-1/2 tsp sugar
-1 tsp pepper
-cilantro
-green onions

What to Do:
Wash bitter melon and cut in half or thirds, remove seeds. Soak woodear mushrooms in water until soft cut into thin strips. Cut cellophane noodles into short strands. Mix together mushrooms, noodles, pork, fish sauce, sugar and pepper. Stuff filling into bitter melons pieces. Bring a pot to water to a boil, add bitter melon and 2 tbs fish sauce. Simmer until bitter melon is tender, add fish sauce to taste. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro.

Note:
Fish sauce helps make the bitter melon not bitter, if you prefer a slightly bitter taste use salt instead of fish sauce.

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This is a Hakka style stir fry (my grandma was hakka). The recipe has been passed down for generations in my family and is a must have during new years. For some reason eating oysters is allowed in this style of vegetarianism. I have been told by some people that eating anything that does not have red blood is considered vegetarian thus, oysters are allowed. I have seen Chinese Buddhist temples use dried oysters as an offering so I assume its ok. However, Vietnamese Buddhist strictly disapprove of consuming any form of meat even dried oysters. To eat or not to eat? It’s up to you.

Ingredients:
-50g each: dried lily flower, shitake mushrooms, woodear mushrooms
-100g dried oysters
-20g each: dried bean curd sheets, cellophane noodles
-150g cabbage
-salt, and sugar to taste

What to Do:
Soak lily flowers, mushrooms, oysters and noodles in water separately, until soft and expanded. Remove from water, save the soaking water from oysters and shitake mushrooms. Knot lily flowers and pinch off stems. Cut cabbage into bite size pieces. Heat a wok with 1 tbs oil add shitake mushrooms and oysters along with some water from the oyster to cover. Cook until water evaporates almost completely. Add lily flowers, woodear mushrooms, noodles, cabbage and bean curd. Add in the liquids that were saved earlier (just enough, you can add more later… adding too much will make the noodles soggy). Stir fry over high heat until noodles are transparent and cabbage is wilted. Add salt and sugar to taste.


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Ingredients:
-100g each: bamboo shoots, cabbage, daikon radish, green beans, carrots
-100g bittermelon (optional)
-300g fried tofu
-1/2 can coconut milk
-water or coconut juice
-soy sauce, salt, and sugar to taste

What to Do:
Cut everything into bite size pieces and add to a large pot except tofu. Add enough water to cover veggies (water and veggies should be at the same level). Cook until veggies are tender, add tofu, coconut milk, soy sauce, salt and sugar to taste. If using bittermelon boil bittermelon separately for 5 mins before cooking with the other veggies.


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Ingredients:
-1 can coconut milk
-300-400g pumpkin
-50g lotus seeds
-20g nấm mèo (dried woodear mushrooms)
-100g bột khoai (tapioca strips)
-100g sweet potatoes
-2 plantain bananas (optional)
-50g peanuts
-salt and sugar to taste

What to Do:
Soak woodear mushrooms, lotus seeds and tapioca strips in water until soft, drain water. Cut pumpkin, bananas and sweet potatoes into bite size pieces. In pot boil together pumpkin, potatoes, and lotus seeds until slightly tender, add mushrooms, peanuts and bananas. Cook for 15 mins more, add coconut milk and tapioca strips, and bring stew back to a boil. Add sugar and salt to taste. Although a savory dish, this stew should taste slightly sweet.



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Ingredients:
-2lbs bạc hà (taro stems)
-2 carrots
-3 bell peppers
-100g fried tofu
-100g precooked gluten (‘vegetarian mock duck’)
-4 tbs sugar
-3 tbs vinegar
-1 tbs soy sauce
-ngò gai (saw tooth herb)
-vegetarian prawns (optional)
-crushed roasted peanuts
-lá quế (basil)

What to Do:
Cut bell peppers and carrots into thin strips. Mix with sugar and vinegar and salt. Marinate for 20 mins or until veggies are wilted. Peel bạc hà and cut into thin slices. Mix with carrots and bell peppers and drain, squeeze out excess water. Cut tofu and gluten into thing long strips. Stir fry with soy sauce and pepper to taste. Finely chop ngò gai. Mix together prepared carrots, bell peppers, bạc hà with tofu, gluten and ngò gai. Give it a taste to make sure the flavors are balanced. Garnish with prawns, basil, and toasted peanuts.

***Because my vegetarian dishes are prepared with “Buddhist Laws” in mind; besides not using meats and animal products, I do not use garlic, onions, leeks, chives, or any type of alcohol. However, if your main goal is to just avoid meats, feel free to add the any of the ingredients mentioned above to spice up you dishes.***

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Ingredients:
-1lb vegetarian fish
-2 tbs coconut milk
-6 tbs sugar
-3 tbs soy sauce
-2 tbs ketchup or tomato sauce
-coconut juice or water
-salt and pepper to taste

What to Do:
Cut fish into bite size pieces, deep fry until slightly golden. Boil together sugar and coconut milk until it turns into rich caramel color; add soy sauce, ketchup and about 1 cup of coconut juice. Add fish and more coconut juice to cover the fish (liquid and fish should be at the same level). Simmer for 15 mins, add salt and pepper to taste.

***Because my vegetarian dishes are prepared with “Buddhist Laws” in mind; besides not using meats and animal products, I do not use garlic, onions, leeks, chives, or any type of alcohol. However, if your main goal in being vegan cooking is to just avoid meats, feel free to add the any of the mentioned above to spice up you dishes.***

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Ingredients:
-100g potato
-50g potato starch
-75g gluten flour
-water or vegetable broth
-orange food coloring
-salt, sugar to taste

What to Do:
Steam and mash potatoes. Mix together potato starch, mashed potatoes, and flour. Add water to form a smooth dough. Knead dough for at least 15 mins. Shape into prawns and brush with orange food coloring. Steam for 15 mins. Use prawns to cook various vegetarian dishes.

***Because my vegetarian dishes are prepared with “Buddhist Laws” in mind; besides not using meats and animal products, I do not use garlic, onions, leeks, chives, or any type of alcohol. However, if your main goal in being vegan cooking is to just avoid meats, feel free to add the any of the mentioned above to spice up you dishes.***
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Ingredients:
-Roasted seaweed sheets (the kind used to make sushi)
-300g bread crumbs
-50g dried bean curd sheets
-100g gluten flour
-salt taste
-water or vegetable broth

What to Do:
Soak bean curd sheets in hot water for a few mins or until soft and pliable, shred into small pieces. Mix together bread crumbs, bean curd, and gluten flour. Add vegetable broth slowly to form a dough. Line a flat surface with a piece for plastic wrap top with a layer of seaweed. Add dough and tightly wrap into the shape of a log. Steam for 30-40 mins. Cool and use to cook various dishes.

***Because my vegetarian dishes are prepared with “Buddhist Laws” in mind; besides not using meats and animal products, I do not use garlic, onions, leeks, chives, or any type of alcohol. However, if your main goal in being vegan cooking is to just avoid meats, feel free to add the any of the mentioned above to spice up you dishes.***
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There are 2 methods to make pickled bean sprouts. The first method is more traditional, and requires more time than the second method.

Ingredients (same for both methods):
-2lbs bean sprouts
-2 carrots
-1 small bunch chives or green onions (about 100g)
-3 cloves garlic (optional)
-3 chilies (optional)
-1 tsp salt
-3 tbs sugar

Getting Ready:
Crush and mince garlic and chilies. Wash and drain bean sprouts. Cut carrots into thins strips, cut chives into 2 inch long pieces. Mix together bean sprouts carrots and chives with garlic, chilies, salt and sugar.

Method 1:
Add everything into a clean container, the fill with rice water (water from washing rice before cooking). The sprouts should “ripen” within a day or two.

Method 2:

After mixing all ingredients together, add ¾ cup vinegar and toss well. Toss the sprouts every hour or two. The sprouts should wilted and ready within a few hours.
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Bánh Tổ is the name of traditional cakes made of nothing more than sugar, water and glutinous rice flour. These cakes are made during Tết (Lunar New Year) as an offering to the gods and ancestors. Hence, grants it the name: Bánh Tổ, as Tổ is the Vietnamese word for ancestors.  Tổ can also mean nest.  Since the cakes are usually the size of a bird's nest, Bánh Tổ symbolizes family, togetherness and happiness. 
 There are 2 versions of bánh tổ, one is made of đường thẻ and ginger, the other is made with white sugar and the ginger is withheld. This year I decided to give the traditional white version a twist by making it with coconut milk. These cakes are served “as is” sweet and chewy. After a couple of days the cake will harden, once it reaches this state, it is usually sliced into thin strips, dipped into battened eggs and fried. 


Brown Sugar and Ginger Version:
-400g glutinous rice flour
-300g đường thẻ (Chinese brown sugar aka bar/slab sugar)
-375g water
-3 inch piece of ginger
-sesame seeds (optional)

What to Do:
Toast sesame seeds. Crush ginger and boil together with sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Cool syrup completely and remove ginger. Mix syrup with flour into a thick batter. Grease moulds (rice bowls or cake pans) with some oil. Ladle batter into moulds steam over high heat for 20 mins (if using rice bowls), longer if using a larger mold. Use a pastry design stamp (same one used to make bánh bía) to stamp on the good luck symbols using red food coloring as ‘ink’ decorate with sesame seeds.


“White” Coconut Version:
-400g glutinous rice flour
-300g sugar
-200g coconut milk/cream
-175g water

What to Do:
Mix everything together to make smooth batter. Grease moulds, pour in batter and steam. Stamp with pastry design stamp for good luck.

Note:
For the traditional White version, replace coconut milk with water. The amount of water and coconut milk can be adjusted just as long as there is a total of 375g of “liquid”.
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Ingredients:
-coconut
-sugar
-food coloring/flavorings (optional)

What to Do:
Crack coconut in half and toast in the oven at 450’f for about 15-20 mins, until the flesh starts to peel away from the hard shell. Remove the coconut flesh. Using a vegetable peeler or a knife ‘peel’ away any brown skin from the flesh. Use a vegetable peeler to ‘slice’ the coconut in to thin long strips (turn the coconut as you shave the flesh with a veggie peeler). Weigh the coconut to determine the amount of sugar, the amount of sugar should be ½ weight of coconut. Mix together coconut and sugar, add colors and flavors if desired. Follow instructions for ‘dry version’ to complete the recipe.

Note:
Coconuts are sold in 3 different “ages”. Young coconut = very little and soft flesh, sweet juice, usually used for drinking. “Old” = the hard dark brown ones, thick and firm flesh, usually. “Middle age” = looks like “old” coconuts except the color is much lighter (with to very light brown). For best results use “middle age” coconuts.

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Ingredients:
-50g agar agar
-2 liters water ( =2kg, ~ 8 cups)
-1500g sugar
-pandan flavor, vanilla powder, mali flavor, strawberry flavor
-food coloring

What to Do:
Boil agar agar in water until dissolved. Add sugar and divide agar agar into 4 portions. Mix each portion with a different color/flavor. Pour into square cake pans to set. Once the agar agar sets; cut into strips (or whatever shape) and dry in a food dehydrator until a thin layer of sugar coats the agar agar strips. Wrap with cellophane.

Note:
Keep in mind the agar agar will shrink a bit when dehydrated. Therefore, cut the strips a little bigger than the desired size of the final product. Too much water or too little sugar requires a longer dehydrating time.

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Ingredients:
-Pineapples
-sugar
-vanilla powder
-cheese cloth

What to Do:
Peel pineapple and cut into thing strips. Use a cheese cloth to squeeze out excess juice (add a little ginger and ice to make a refreshing drink ;)). Weigh the pineapple to determine the amount of sugar. The weight of sugar should be ½ of the pineapple. Mix together pineapple and sugar. Stir fry over low heat until thickened, add vanilla powder. Cool and wrap with cellophane.

Note:
Stir fry over low heat to keep the pineapple’s bright golden color.

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The word “Gương” means mirror in Vietnamese. Kẹo means candy, thus explains why I translated “Kẹo Gương” to “Mirror Candy”. Although, it is basically a version of peanut brittle, the Vietnamese version is much thinner and sometimes calls for fried shallots.

Ingredients:
-150g sugar
-50g sesame seeds
-75g peanuts
-1/2 tsp lime juice (or another form of acid)
-1 tsp vanilla powder
-1/2 tsp fried shallots (optional)

What to Do:
Toast sesame seeds and peanuts. Line a flat, heat resistant surface with a piece of foil. Melt sugar in a pot until it begins to turn slightly yellow. Immediately remove from heat and stir in lime juice, vanilla powder, and fried shallots. Spread the hot syrup onto the foil and use a spoon or spatula to spread it into a thin layer. Sprinkle on the peanuts and sesame seeds. Cool and break into small pieces.

Note:
Use extreme caution when making this recipe. Melted sugar is very hot, and will sizzle when lime juice is added. Once the syrup is removed from the heat source it will harden in a fairly short period of time thus, work quickly and carefully!


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Ingredients:
-100g ginger
-200g green papaya
-50g sesame seeds
-100g peanuts
-3 tsp salt
-sugar
-vanilla powder
-water

What to Do:
Toast sesame seeds and peanuts. Peel and grate ginger, mix with salt and enough water to cover the ginger, allow to sit overnight. Next morning wash ginger many times to remove all of the saltiness, drain and squeeze to remove excess water. Peel, seed and grate papaya. Mix together ginger and papaya. Determine the amount of sugar. Mix together sugar, ginger, and papaya. Marinate for a few hours, drain excess liquid. Follow instructions for “wet” version. Add vanilla powder, sesame seeds and peanuts right before candied ginger is done, mix thoroughly. Cool and wrap with cellophane.

Note:
The above ration of ginger to papaya is only a suggestion; adjust according to your preference of spiciness (from ginger). Salt helps rid the hot and spicy flavor from the ginger.
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Ingredients:
-lotus seeds (dried)
-lye water
-sugar
-mali flavor
-water


What to Do:
For every liter of water add ½ tsp lye water. Wash lotus seeds and soak in lye solution until fully ‘rehydrated’. Remove from solution and wash thoroughly. Simmer the seeds until tender. Drain and wash the seeds once more before determining the amount of sugar. Add sugar along with some mali flavor. Gently mix and marinate overnight. Next morning, drain seeds from excess sugar (by now the sugar had turned into a syrup). Follow instructions for “dry” version but instead of “tossing” the seeds gently stir them with a spatula or shake the pan (lotus seeds are very fragile, thus take extra caution when performing this final step). It is recommended that the last step is done with small portions of lotus seeds at a time.

Notes:
To make the Chinese version of this treat, omit mali flavor.
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Ingredients:
-winter melon
-sugar
-mali flavor
-alum
-limestone paste
-water


Prepping the Melon:
Peel the melon, remove seeds. Cut melon into chopstick size pieces, about 3-4 inches long. For every liter of water mix in 1/2 tsp limestone paste. Soak melon slices into limestone solution for 3 hours. Remove and wash. For ever liter of water mix in 3/4 tsp alum. Bring alum solution to a boil, turn off the heat, and remove the pot of water off the heating element. Add in melon slices; remove the melon when they appear transparent. Wash thoroughly.

Weigh the melon to determine the amount of sugar. Sugar should be ¾ the weight of the melon. Mix together melon and sugar, add mali flavor. Next morning drain the melon from the excess sugar (by now the sugar will have turned into a syrup). Follow instructions for “dry” version to complete the recipe.


Notes:
To make the Chinese version of this treat, simply cut melon into bigger (thicker) strips and omit mali flavor. Alum, and limestone paste is optional. For a faster method, simply cut melon, boil for a few mins, and soak in cold water until cooled. Weigh and determine sugar, then make into final product. Alum makes the melon transparent and white. Limestone solution helps gives it the crispy and plump texture. However, too much limestone paste in the solution will make the melon yellowish in color. Alum is acidic, thus make sure the melon is thoroughly washed after soaking in alum solution.
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Each ingredient requires special preparation. After the preparations, the steps of turning the ingredient to delicious candy are as follows.

Determining the Amount of Sugar:
After the ingredient has passed the preparation process. Weigh the ingredient to determine the amount of sugar. The amount of sugar is always equal to or 3/4 the weight of the main ingredient(s). Mix in the sugar and let the sugar ‘melt’. Then…..

…For “wet” version:
-always add an acid to keep the sugar from crystallizing
-stir fry over medium-high heat until most of the liquids have evaporated
-reduce heat to medium-low and continue to stir fry until done

…For “dry” version:
-always make sure the main ingredient is non-acidic
-stir fry over medium-high heat until most of the liquids are evaporated
-reduce heat to medium-low and toss (like tossing a salad) until ingredient is dry and coated with a thin layer of sugar

Recipes:
Mứt Bí Tăm (Vietnamese Style Candied Winter Melon)
Mứt Sen Trần (Vietnamese Style Candied Lotus Seeds)
Mứt Dừa (Candied Coconut)
Mứt Rau Câu (Candied Agar Agar)
Mứt Thơm Dẻo (Candied Pineapple)
Mứt Gừng Đậu Phọng (Candied Ginger with Peanuts and Sesame Seeds)
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Ingredients:
-100g rice
-50g glutinous rice
-250g milk or 100g cream
-1 ½ liters water (1.5kg, 1500ml/g >> approximate)
-salt to taste
-300g taro (approximate)
-1 bunch watercress (approximate)

What to Do:
Wash rice and add water. Simmer until rice grains are fine and “dissolved” into a homogenized mixture, add more water if necessary. Meanwhile, cut taro into bite size pieces, wash and cut watercress. Add taro into congee and simmer for 15 mins more before adding in milk. Bring congee back to a boil, add salt to taste. Prepared watercress goes into a bowl, right before the hot congee is ladled in. Serve with meat floss.

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A French pastry prepared with a Vietnamese twist. Vietnam was colonized by the France for a while; as a result, French influences are visible in a portion of Vietnamese eats. I googled “Pâté Chaud” and most of the recipes I found contained beef; the Vietnamese version uses pork. So what did I was used my Vietnamese recipe but substituted the pork with beef. The results? Interesting and yummy! Authenticity wise, I’d have to rule that this recipe is neither authentic Vietnamese nor French. It’s a Vietnamese hybrid of a French pastry.

Puff Pastry “Shell”:
**Buy premade puff pastry or (why buy it when you can make it from scratch?):
-250g all purpose flour
-1 egg yolk
-130g water
-1/2 tsp each: salt and sugar
-4 tbs butter
-50g butter
-60g shortening

*Mix together flour, salt and sugar. Rub or cut 4 tbs butter into flour mixture. Add egg yolk and water; quickly mix evenly into a “dough”. Rest for 15 mins. Meanwhile mix together butter and shortening, shape into a square. Roll dough out and use to wrap butter/shortening square. Fold into thirds roll, turn, and fold into thirds again. Chill in the freezer for 15 mins and repeat 5 more times.

Filling:
-1/2lb ground pork or beef
-1/2 medium onion
-2 tbs butter at room temperature
-3 tsp pate
-1 tsp ground pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp sugar
-1 medium carrot (optional)
-50g peas (optional)

*Chop onions, and carrots. Mix everything together and divide into 9-10 portions.

Making the Pastries:
Roll pastry dough and cut into 18-20 circles using a biscuit or cookie cutter (anything round). Brush 9-10 pastry circles with egg wash, add filling. Use “leftover” dough to form a circle around the filling. Brush on more egg wash and top with another pastry circle. Firmly press the dough layers together. Finally, brush with more egg wash and bake at 375’F for 15-20 mins. Serve hot.

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Ingredients:
-10g agar agar
-2 cups water (480ml/g)
-2 cups cream, milk or half and half (480g/ml)
-150g sugar (adjust to taste)
-1 ½ tbs almond extract
-1 can jackfruit (drained, optional)
-1 can longan (drained, optional)
-maraschino cherries (optional)

What to Do:
Shred jackfruit, cut longan into small pieces. Boil agar agar in water until dissolved. Add sugar and milk. Mix in jackfruit, longan and almond extract. Pour into small desert cups and allow to set. Serve cold with a cherry on top.

Note:
The amount of water and cream can be adjusted, just make sure there is a total of 4 cups of liquid.
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How can I justly translate “Bánh Cuốn” into an English? I have no idea. Bánh is a basic term equivalent of the English word, pastry. However, in Vietnamese bánh can be anything sweet or savory, from cookies to cakes and of course, pastries. Cuốn means to roll. With that said, this dish is called bánh cuốn because you take rice flour sheets aka “bánh”, you add filling and “cuốn”; roll it up. Bánh Cuốn is similar to Chinese rice rolls; the ones served at dim sum that are filled with either shrimp or pork and served with soy sauce. I must say this recipe is only for those truly into cooking. These rolls require time, lots of patience and endurance to hot steam. For those who want the easier road, just buy chinese rice ribbons (premade, the kind they cut up to make chow fun), add filling and roll. These rolls should be somewhat transparent, thin, and have a smooth silky texture.

Filling:
-1/4lb ground pork
-1/2 large onion
-100g chinese black fungus (woodear mushrooms)
-1 tbs fish sauce
-1 tsp pepper
-salt and sugar to taste

*Chop onion and fungus. Heat 1 tbs oil in a pan add meat and stir fry for a few mins, add onion, fungus, fish sauce, and pepper. Continue to stir fry on high heat until the onions are transparent. Add salt and sugar to taste.

For the “Wrappers”:
-150g rice flour
-100g tapioca starch
-4 cups water (960g/ml)
-1 tbs oil
-1 tsp salt

*Mix everything together, rest for 1/2 hour before making wrappers.

Making the Wrappers:
There are 2 ways to get this job done. The first is the easiest, but taste wise, the second method is the best.

1) Easiest, use a non stick frying pan, heat over medium heat pour in about 3 tbs batter. Tilt and the pan in a circular motion to cream a even round wrapper. Cover for 1 min, “flip” the wrapper out onto a serving try, add filling and roll. Roll and as you make the wrappers.

2) Fill a pot half full with water. Tightly tie a thin piece of cloth on top of the pot. Bring the water to a boil, ladle on some batter and spread it around (the batter will drip to the bottom). Steam for a few mins, now the real work begins. ;) Ladle on some batter and spread it thin, cover and steam for a minute or two. Add filling and roll (using a thin spatula dipped in water). Carefully transfer the rolls onto a plate.

To Serve:
Serve with cooked beans sprouts, fish sauce, chả lụa (Vietnamese ‘ham’), meat floss, and fried shallots.
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Made using the recipe from Belachan's Blog. So easy to make and so yummy!

Reference:
Recipe
Step by step Guide
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Strange name huh? “Lắc” means to shake in Vietnamese. The result of this dish is accomplished by vigorously shaking fried chicken wings in a large container with a generous helping of spicy butter sauce. Thus, renders the name Shaking Chicken Wings.

Ingredients:
-1lb chicken wings
-3 tbs ketchup
-3 tbs tương ớt (Chili Sauce)
-1/2 tsp soy sauce
-1/3 tsp salt (to taste)
-1/2 tsp sugar
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-2 tbs butter
-4 cloves garlic
-oil for frying wings

What to Do:
Wash and boil the chicken wings for 10 mins. Meanwhile, mince garlic and fry in butter until fragrant, add ketchup, chili sauce, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper and salt to taste. Make sure the flavors are balanced. Drain chicken wings and fry until golden (can skip this step if you’re eating healthy, just boil the wings longer). In a large container add chicken wings and sauce. Cover with a lid and shake vigorously to evenly coat the wings with sauce. Serve hot.

Reference:
Vongo from www.datviet.com

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For the Bread:
-75g sugar
-340g milk (warm)
-1 tbs yeast
-90g butter (salted at room temperature)
-540g bread flour
-egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbs milk)

* In a large bowl, mix together sugar, yeast and milk, let stand for 15 mins. Add flour and knead to form a smooth dough, add butter and knead another 10 mins. Prove until doubled, punch down prove again until dough is 1 3/4 it’s original size.

Filling:
-150g raisins
-100g grated coconut
-1 tbs sugar
-1/2 tbs cinnamon
-1 tsp almond extract
-1 tbs rum
-1 tbs corn starch

*Mix together all ingredients for filling.

What to Do:
Grease 2, 2lb loaf pans. After the dough has risen a second time. Divide dough into 2 portions. Roll out into a flat rectangle, spread on 1/2 of the filling. Use the palm of you hands to gently “push” the raisins into the dough. Finally, roll into a log, pinching the edges shut. Allow bread to rise in their baking pans until doubled before baking. Brush loafs with egg wash and bake at 400’F for 15 mins., reduce heat to 350’F and bake 15 mins more.

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For the Pastry (Pau Skin):
*Use basic pau skin recipe, reduce baking powder to 1 tsp.

Coconut Custard Filling:
-2 whole eggs (approx. 100g)
-1 tbs cake flour
-1 tbs custard powder (can replace with cornstarch and some yellow coloring)
-190g coconut milk/cream
-4 tbs sugar (adjustable)
-2 drops pandan essence
-1 tsp vanilla
-pinch salt

*Beat together eggs with flour, salt, custard powder and sugar until smooth; add coconut milk. Using a whisk constantly stir the mixture over high heat until custard thickens. Add pandan essence, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously to achieve a smooth texture, cool before using.

Making the Paus:
Divide dough into 12-15 portions, shape into round balls. Roll flat and add 1 ½ tsp custard in the center. Fold sides together and pinch edges together to seal in filling. Dot with some red coloring and steam for 15 mins, lift lid to let excess seam escape every 5-8 mins.
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This is actually a Vietnamese cake but its named after Japan’s Mountain Fuji because the green pandan pastry cream and grated coconut makes in looks the snow covered mountain Fuji.

For the Cake:
Use spongefon cake recipe, and steam in rice bowls. Cool and cut each cake into 3 layers.

Pandan Pastry Cream:
-40g tapioca starch
-80g rice flour
-150-175g sugar
-400g coconut milk
-250g pandan juice or water + pandan extract
-1 tbs butter
-grated coconut

Making the Cream:
Boil together sugar and coconut milk. Meanwhile, dissolve flours with pandan juice. Once coconut boils, add flour mixture in slowly, while whisking constantly. Continue to stir until cream thickens, add butter.

Completing the Cakes:
This process has to be done quickly while the cream is still hot. Using a spoon, sandwich some pastry cream between cake layers. Next, spread on some pastry cream cover the entire cakes, sprinkle grated coconut on top. Cool and serve at room temperature.
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Chinese Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake and
Steamed Sponge Cake

What’s with the name “Spongefon”? Well, the method and ingredients for making this cake labels it as a chiffon cake, but the texture and the fact that it does not have to be inverted immediately after baking it is similar to sponge cake. This basic “spongefon” cake can be employed to create many different versions of “cakes”; from steamed to jelly rolls.

Ingredients:
-6 eggs (approx. 180g whites, 120g yolks)
-pinch of cream of tartar
-150g sugar
-75g oil
-100g water
-230g cake flour
-1 tsp baking powder

What to Do:
Separate the eggs. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy, add 100g sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl beat together egg yolks and 50g sugar until light and lemon colored, add oil and water. Fold flour into egg yolk mixture, fold egg whites into yolks, and lastly fold in baking powder. Bake at 350’F or steam.

Different Variations:
Pandan Flavor:
Replace water with pandan juice

Pandan and Coconut Flavor:
Replace water with pandan juice and oil with coconut milk.

Coconut Flavor:
Replace both water and oil with coconut milk.

Lemon Sponge:
Add 1 ½ tsp lemon extract.

Orange Sponge:
Replace water with orange juice and add 1 tsp orange extract (optional)

Coffee Flavor:
Replace water with coffee or add 3 tbs instant coffee into egg yolks, add a pinch of baking soda.

Mocha Flavor:
Replace water with coffee and add 1 1/2 tbs cocoa powder, pinch of baking soda.

Chocolate:
Add 2 tbs cocoa powder and a pinch of baking soda.

For Jelly Rolls:
Reduce flour to 200g and add 20g corn starch. Bake in a jelly roll pan at 350’F until slightly golden. Roll the cake immediately as it comes out of the oven, cool completely, unroll, add cream/jelly and roll again.

Marbled Cake:
Divide batter into 2 portions, mix each with desired color/flavor. Randomly add batters 3 tbs at a time into a cake pan, then swirl a knife or chopstick around to create a marbled affect.

Marbled Jelly Roll:
Make batter as for making marbled cake, bake in a jelly roll pan prepare as you would a jelly roll.

Chinese Paper Wrapped Sponge Cakes:
Bake in paper cups.

Steamed Sponge Cake:
Steam on high heat, lift lid to release excess steam every 8-10 mins.
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