Tết Đoan Ngọ is also know as tết sâu bọ or tết tháng 5 is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. It is said that this special day is when “New Year” in haven, hell and on earth collides (in Vietnamese tradition there is a “New Year” to celebrate every lunar month). It is also called tết sâu bọ (sâu bọ = worms, pests) because by this date framers would have prepared their land and rid all pests to start growing their crops for the new season. The tradition of eating dumplings, especially lye water dumplings, extends from the belief that these dumplings will cleanse one’s body of any unwanted “parasites”. I have been told, Tết tháng 5 is usually heavily celebrated in farming villages. Reason being, farmers are usually too busy during Tết Nguyên Đán (the new year celebrated in late January/early February) supplying everyone with fresh flowers, fruit, rice, and veggies that they do not have to time to celebrate Tết Nguyên Đán themselves. Therefore, they celebrate their own new years in the 5th lunar month. These days it seems as though Tết Đoan Ngọ has been forgotten and no one really celebrates it anymore…a few dumplings to kick up the mood that’s it….how sad!

-375g sweet rice (aka glutinous rice)
-3 tbs lye water or 4 tbs baking soda
-bamboo leaves

What to Do:
Wash rice and mix with lye water or baking soda. Add enough water to cover surface of rice by 2 inches. Soak rice overnight. Next morning wash rice may times until and drain. Wrap using bamboo leaves to form a triangular cone shape. Tie with kitchen twine and boil for at least 1 ½ hours. These dumplings are small use 1 tsp of rice per dumpling. Serve as a snack with sugar.

Does anyone know why these pastries are called “dumplings”? I see it as more of a pastry. Anyways this is Chinese recipe as the name “Bá Trạng” is just the Vietnamese pronunciation of the Chinese name “Bak Chang”. The dumplings/pastries are usually put together to celebrate the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. The recipe itself is pretty easy, but very time consuming. I suggest marinating the meat, soaking the rice, chestnuts, mushrooms, beans, shrimp, lotus seeds and bamboo leaves overnight. Proceed to wrap and boil the dumplings the next day and serve the day after that.

For the Rice:
-1lb sweet rice (aka glutinous rice)
-3 tsp soy sauce
-1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
-1/2 tsp sesame oil
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tsp oyster sauce
-2 tbs oil

*Wash and soak rice for a few hours or overnight. Heat oil and stir fry rice with all other ingredients until rice begins to become sticky and transparent (1/2 cooked 1/2 raw).

-30 dried chestnuts
-30 shitake mushrooms (15 if using large mushrooms)
-100g mung beans (peeled and split)
-100g dried shrimp
-100g dried lotus seeds
-30 salted egg yolks
-3 Chinese dried Chinese sausages
-1 1/2lb pork or chicken (boneless and skinless)
-4 cloves garlic
-2 shallots
-1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
-1/2 tsp sesame oil
-1 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tbs oyster sauce
-2 tsp soy sauce
-75 dried bamboo leaves

*Mince garlic and shallots. Cut meat into 30 pieces and mix with garlic, shallots, and all other spices and seasonings; marinate overnight. Soak chestnuts, mung beans, lotus seeds, mushrooms and dried shrimp overnight. Cut mushrooms into small pieces (30, if using large mushrooms). Soak bamboo leaves overnight, wash and wipe dry. Slice sausage into 10 slices.

What to Do:
Take 2 ½ bamboo leaves and roll to form a funnel shape. Add 1 tsp rice followed by 1 chestnut, 1 salted egg yolk, 1 piece of sausage, 1 mushroom, a pinch of dried shrimp, a pinch of mung beans, a few lotus seeds, and a piece of meat. Add more rice on top to cover the filling. Pat everything down using the back of a spoon. Fold the edges of the leaves over to completely cover the rice/dumpling (you should get a triangular cone shape). Tie with kitchen twine. Boil for 3 hours, soak and wash dumplings in cold water for 10 mins after boiling and hand to “dry” for at least 2 hours before serving.

No recipes this weekend....I was too busy working on with these....

A vegetarian dish…

-1/2lb string beans aka long beans
-1/2lb fried tofu
-2 dried shitake mushrooms
-4 tbs ketchup
-3 tsp sugar
-2 tsp soy sauce
-salt, pepper to taste
-1 tsp oil

What to Do:
Hydrate mushrooms in water, cut into small pieces. Pinch beans into shorter pieces, wash, blanch and drain. Heat oil in a pan, add soy sauce and mushrooms, stir-fry until fragrant. Add ketchup, sugar, beans, and tofu. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for about 10 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 is to just avoid meats, feel free to add the any of the ingredients mentioned above to spice up you dishes.***
-1-1 1/2lbs chicken wings
-1/2 garlic
-1 shallot
-1/2 tsp each: salt, sugar, fish sauce, pepper
-1 recipe basic fish sauce
-watercress or tender lettuce, tomatoes

What to Do:
Mince garlic and shallot. Mix chicken wings with garlic, shallot, fish sauce, salt, sugar and pepper and marinate for at least ½ hour. Wash watercress and tomatoes and arrange on a serving plate. Deep fry the chicken wings until golden and dip in fish sauce for 30 seconds. Arrange chicken wings on watercress salad and serve.

-1 bunch watercress
-1/4lb prawns
-1 green onion
-dash of oil
-3-4 cups water (approx.)
-salt, pinch of sugar

What to Do:
Peel, devein, and crush prawns. Crush and mince onion. Pinch watercress into short “bite size pieces”, wash and drain. Stir fry onion and prawns in oil until fragrant add water and bring to a boil, skim surface of soup. Add salt and sugar to taste. Add watercress right before serving.
-1/4lb ground pork
-1 scallion
-1/2 tsp each: pepper, fish sauce
-salt to taste
-1/2 cauliflower
-1 carrot
-approx. 5 cups water

What to Do:
Chop scallion and mix with pork, pepper, fish sauce and a pinch of sugar. Cut carrots into thin slices. Cut cauliflower into small bite size pieces. Boil water and add meat mixture a tsp at a time. Add carrots and bring soup to a boil skim surface and add cauliflower. Bring soup back to a boil, add salt to taste.

-1/2lb chicken
-1lb pickled bamboo shoots
-3 cloves garlic
-1 tbs sugar
-1 tsp fish sauce
-1/2 tsp oil
-salt to taste

What to Do:
Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Peel and mince garlic. Wash bamboo shoots a few times to make it less salty, squeeze out excess water. Heat oil in a wok, fry garlic until fragrant, and add chicken, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir fry for about a minute, add bamboo mix well. Add a little water (a few tbs) and cover the wok with a lid. Once the water is almost all evaporated, lift the lid and stir fry for another 5 mins on high heat or until chicken is done. Add fish sauce and sugar to taste in needed.

The pickled bamboo shoots are pretty salty, thus not much “salt” is needed. Sugar is to balance out the sourness of the bamboo.

These fishes are dipped in a salt solution and steamed in a baskets right on the fishing boats to ensure freshness. Since they’re already steamed you can eat it as is or fry it for more flavor. You can usually find these fishes in the frozen section of most Asian grocery stores.

-1 basket of steamed fish (usually 2 fishes)
-3 cloves garlic
-1 tsp oil
-1 shallot

What to Do:
Wash fishes and pat dry with a paper towel. Mince garlic and heat oil. Fry fishes in oil until slightly golden. Add garlic and continue to fry until garlic is golden and fragrant. Serve with thinly sliced shallots and a bowl of hot rice….perfect meal for a rainy day.

This is one of those “cooling” dishes….used to flush out impurities in the body.

-150g whole mung beans (not peeled and split kind)
-5 cups water
-30g dried seaweed
-rock sugar
-pinch of salt
-coconut milk (optional)

What to Do:
Rinse beans and soak for at least 1 hour (the longer you soak the faster they will cook). Cook beans in water with salt until tender and cracked. Add sugar to taste and simmer for another 15 mins. Add more water if needed. Meanwhile, soak to hydrate seaweed and wash a few times, drain and add to beans. Add coconut milk if you please and bring the mixture back to a boil. Serve hot or cold.

-2 firm mangos
-1/2 bell pepper
-1 small onion
-1 large squid or prawns (approx ½ lb)
-1 large carrot
-sugar, vinegar, lime juice, salt
-fried shallots

What to Do:
Cut carrots and pepper into thin strips, mix with 4 tbs sugar and 3 tbs vinegar and marinate until “wilted”. Boil and slice squid, mix squid with onions (thinly sliced), 2 tbs sugar and 3 tbs lime juice. Wash and chop basil. Peel mango and cut into thin slices. Squeeze out excess juice in carrots, peppers, onion and squid. Mix together: mango, peppers, onion, carrots, squid, basil and fried shallots. Add salt, lime juice, and sugar to taste (if necessary); all flavors should be balanced.

-If using prawns just boil, peel and slice (no need to marinate in vinegar and onions).
-Make sure to use firm mangos.

Bông Cỏ literally translates to Grass Flower. This desert jelly is traditionally made by blending together bông cỏ seeds with water and a banana for flavoring. After blending, the seeds are filtered out the mixture is left alone to set from the natural pectin extracted from the seeds. These days bông cỏ seeds are very hard to get a hold of as the demand for it is just too low. Thus lead me to create this recipe for bông cỏ using agar agar as a thickener instead of the bông cỏ seeds.

-10g agar agar
-9 cups water
-1 ½ cups sugar
-yellow food coloring
-1 tsp banana extract

What to Do:
Soak agar agar in water for a few hours, before boiling until agar agar dissolves. Add sugar and coloring. Bring mixture back to a boil. Turn off heat, add banana extract and cool until set. Skim and discard the top “skin” before serving (you can eat the top skin if you like but the texture is not what bông cỏ is supposed to be like). Serve cold. The jelly should have a very soft, melt in your mouth texture.

Got this recipe from Dewy, a member of Nurkochen. The Satay turned out perfect! Thanks Dewy ;).

Recipe: http://nurkochen.cheeli.de/index.php/topic,291.0.html

-1 package chap chae noodles
-1/4lb beef
-1/4lb chicken
-1 large bell pepper
-1 head of broccoli
-2 carrots
-4 shiitake mushrooms
-3 cloves garlic
-3 tbs sesame oil
-salt to taste

What to Do:
Boil noodles according to package instructions, drain and cool completely. Fry beef and chicken, cool and slice into thin strips. Hydrate mushrooms in water and slice into thin pieces. Slice bell pepper and broccoli into bite size pieces. Slice carrots into matchstick size pieces. Blanch broccoli and carrots and drain. Mince garlic. Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok, fry garlic until fragrant. Add broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and bell peppers stir fry over high heat until add salt to taste, cool completely. Once all cooked ingredients are cooled completely, mix everything together, add more salt to taste.

-2 large young coconuts
-1lb prawns (approx.)

What to Do:
Chop off the “caps” of the coconuts and drain the juice. Wash and drain prawns. Arrange prawns inside the coconuts. Boil coconut juice with a pinch of salt. Ladle juice back into coconuts to completely cover the prawns. Steam immediately over high heat for about 20-30 mins. Serve hot.

If fresh coconuts are not available, use frozen or canned coconut juice and steam in a bowl.

What happens in the Buddhist community when the 4th lunar month rolls around? It’s Buddha’s birthday of course! The holiday is celebrated throughout the month with a peak in mid-month, the 15th day. We all know that celebration and food go hand in hand. After the ceremonies, most temples offer a vegetarian meal for all to enjoy. So how do you cook a vegetarian meal to feed 500 people? Just gather a lot of volunteers who love to cook, and just cook, cook, cook.

Tofu from Northwest Tofu…of course. On an average week the temple purchases 40 pieces of tofu to cook for weekly worships. However, whenever a major holiday comes along the numbers increase to 300 pieces. The tofu must be drained and “pressed” before frying.

Frying….3 woks are better than 1

Vegetarian Mắm Chưng is lined up getting ready to be sliced into individual serving size pieces.

Ong Choy just washed and waiting to be stir-fried with preserved bean curd.

Freshly fried egg rolls waiting to be served.

Rice is moulded into individual servings (using a rice bowl) and wrapped to keep warm and moist.

Ingredients for making Chow Mien

Chow Mien Ready to be plated

-1 can frozen concentrated tropical fruit juice (any flavor)
-1 bottle lemon lime soda (2 liters)
-frozen berries (your choice)
-lime and lemon slices (optional)

What to Do:
Thaw juice concentrate and mix with pop, berries and citrus fruit slices.

Use frozen berries, they help keep the punch cold while not “watering down” the punch (like ice would).

I made this cake using Seadragon's recipe from Cafe of the East. The cake was perfect! Very smooth, moist and melt in you mouth yumminess. Thanks Seadragon! ;)

Although called “baby jackfruit” gấc is not a related to the jackfruit (mít) family at all. It is only called baby jackfruit because it resembles a small jackfruit. A Gấc fruit grows on vines and has reddish-orange flesh which is used as a natural food coloring. You can usually by Gấc in the frozen section of well stocked Asian markets. If gấc is unavailable just dye the rice with orange and red food coloring, omit the wine. Because of its lovely red color, this type of xôi (steamed sweet rice) is usually served during wedding celebrations.

-300g sweet rice (aka glutinous rice)
-100g sugar
-100g coconut milk
-1/2 tsp salt
-50g baby jackfruit flesh (Gấc)
-1 tsp cooking wine
-grated coconut, sesame seeds

What to Do:
Wash rice until water is clear. Mix baby jackfruit flesh with wine, add to rice and mix well, add water to completely cover the rice. Water level should be about 1 inch above the surface of rice. Soak overnight or a few hours. Drain and steam rice. While rice is steaming boil together coconut milk, salt and sugar to make coconut syrup. Mix steamed cooked rice with coconut syrup, rest for 15-20 mins before moulding. Serve with grated coconut milk and sesame seeds.

Trái Gấc (Baby Jackfruit)
Reference: http://www.ctu.edu.vn/~dvxe/cay_co/gac/
-230g sugar
-150g rice flour
-150g tapioca starch
-300g coconut milk
-2 eggs (100g)
-1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

What to Do:
Beat eggs with sugar until creamy and lemon colored. Mix together flours with coconut milk, add flour mixture to egg mixture and mix well. Bake in love letter or pizzelle moulds until golden.

If making Bánh Quế, roll cookies while still warm. If making Bánh Kẹp, fold cookie into fourths while still warm.

Gia Chánh Hoa Hường (Madam Nguyễn Thị Hường)
I have been experimenting with different types of flours and their role in cakes. The interesting thing about this recipe is there is no chemical leavening to help create the “honeycombs”. The honeycombs are dependant on the type of flour used. This cake is more interesting than tasty. They taste just fine; like any other sponge cake when hot but hardens once cooled. The solution? Just let the cakes cool and store them in an air tight container. Steam for 5 mins before serving, voila! In just 5 mins., you have steamed honeycomb sponge cakes ;).

-2 eggs (100g)
-100g rice flour
-90g sugar
-3 tbs water (optional, can substitute with coconut milk, panda juice, etc…)

What to Do:
Preheat oven to 450’F and heat moulds. Beat eggs with sugar until pale and lemon colored. Add flour and water mix well. Pour batter into the heated moulds (should sizzle when the batter goes in). Bake for about 5-10 mins or until golden.

-this is a very simple recipe, the weight of the eggs, flour, and sugar should be approximately equal (adjust to you preference; try the recipe with just 1 egg if you just want to experiment)
-the pans should be very hot when the batter goes in and bake the cakes at a high temperature. If the temperature is too low the honeycombs will not be as high as it should be.