If you have eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant more than a few times, you have probably encountered this particular item in one appetizer dish or another. These semi-translucent circles are made from a very thin batter made with rice flour that is poured into bamboo trays and then dried, usually in the sun. The trays are generally made with a lattice of bamboo and this leaves a visible impression on the dried sheets, as you can see above. The dried discs originate in Vietnam, where they are known as ‘Bánh tráng’, and I have always thought this is probably a better name for them, even in the west, as ‘rice paper’ actually has several different (non-culinary) meanings.
Rice paper was, for a long time, generally only available in Asian stores in larger urban centers in the west, but they have become much more widely available these days. They actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there are even types with different textural and flavor additives like sesame seeds, or dried shrimp to be found. For this post, however, we will be focusing on the basic form, which is the most widely known and commonly available… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Rice Paper Wrappers”
4609 50 Ave, Yellowknife – Facebook
Date of Visit: October, 2015
This is the oldest of Yellowknife’s two Vietnamese restaurants, and I recall it from a visit a good 5 or 6 years ago when I was staying in a hotel nearby. On this trip the territorial capital I stopped by for an early supper and had much the same sort of experience as my first; that is to say, a meal that was not bad, but not especially great either… Continue reading “Review: Vietnamese Noodle House – Yellowknife, NWT”
4913-50th Street, Yellowknife
Date of Visit: October 2, 2015
This Vietnamese restaurant, one of two in Yellowknife, appears to be quite a popular place. I arrived at about 1 pm, towards the end of the lunch rush (or so I thought), but every table was full and there was still a line-up inside the door. I left, returning about 45 minutes later, and was very glad I did come back as I enjoyed an excellent meal… Continue reading “Review: A Taste of Saigon – Yellowknife, NWT”
When I introduced you to Coconut Water in my last post, I mentioned that it is quite often as a braising medium in Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnam has two very popular pork dishes: One called ‘Pork braised in Coconut Water’ and the other known as ‘Caramelized Pork’ (or Thit Kho To in the native tongue). Each has many versions and permutations but there is such an overlap between them that, really, they could almost be considered variations on the same basic dish. Fish sauce and caramelized sugar syrup is essential to the basic flavor of both but Thit Kho To is likely to be the sweeter preparation and may, but often doesn’t include coconut water. Naturally enough, that particular ingredient is an absolute requirement for today’s recipe… Continue reading “Recipe: Vietnamese Coconut Water Braised Pork”
A while ago, I tried a dish called ‘Scallop Xao Tuong’ at the Café Indochine Vietnamese Restaurant in Ottawa. It was described on the menu as being Scallops with Eggplant and Zucchini in a Fermented Black Bean Sauce and, while it was really delicious, I was a little disappointed in that there was almost no hint of black beans to give it the really rich umami flavor I was expecting. I also noted, in my review of the restaurant that, in addition to the eggplant and zucchini, there were all sorts of other vegetables included and that I felt the end-result was too ‘busy’.
I decided that I would try and improve upon the basic theme at home and my idea was to up the amount of salted black bean, replace the tiny bay scallops used by the restaurant with slices of large sea scallop, and keep the vegetable component to a much simpler minimum… Continue reading “Scallops with Salted Black Bean”
105 Clarence St, Ottawa – (613) 241-6378
Date of Visit: July 11, 2013
I ate at this tiny restaurant with my wife around ten years ago although I didn’t recognize it until I had a peek inside and saw the same, shot-gun narrow little eatery divided into an upper and lower floor with just a few tables on each. I hadn’t especially planned on Vietnamese cuisine for supper on this particular occasion but after a quick perusal of the menu I decided to give the place a second try… Continue reading “Review: Café Indochine”
Apologies, first of all for the poor quality picture, but it was not possible to get a full shot of such a tiny label…
Anyway, on a recent culinary excursion, I was unable to resist buying a product with the words ‘Water Giant Bug’ on the bottle, even though I didn’t have even the remotest idea what it might be. The name, I thought, sounded as though it may be one of those ‘poetic’ ones, and not reflective of any actual ingredient, but it definitely made me curious… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Giant Water Bug Essence”