Northern Vietnamese Rib Noodle Soup Bowl

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this post.


I was silent last week on the blog because we went to Bangkok for a mini vacation. We had a lot of fun there just strolling around the city, shopping for cute, inexpensive hand-made T shirts, and eating mango sticky rice, a popular Thai dessert, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and after dinner snack.
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Pineapple Fried Rice

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this blog post.

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In the winter time our favorite part of going to the hotel gym where we work out is to use a very nice sauna there after swimming. About two weeks ago, as we walked out of the swimming pool, I asked my husband if he was going to the sauna. “I did. All day”, he said. “I was soaking wet just being in our living room.”

The heat and humidity in May here is in fact quite brutal, at least it is for us. Locals don’t seem to mind though. Yesterday I met up with a Hoi-An native friend and when my arm was about to fall off from fanning myself so hard with a paper fan, she told me that she was longing for summer to come. I almost cried.

I hope you’re not yet tired of me talking about the weather here. I’m not complaining – just trying to give some context. It’s the weather and seasonal food that determines what I cook and eat.

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Vietnamese Silk Tofu “Tempura”

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this post. 

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My husband and I just signed a new house lease for the next quarter and began our 10th month living in Hoi An. Both our landlady and we couldn’t believe that it had been that long. We all remembered the first day we met at this house as vividly as it had been some time last month. My husband and I fell in love with the house the moment we saw it. For my husband, it was the beautiful furniture and airy rooms. For me, it was the light-filled kitchen and a garden full of blooming bird-of-paradise flowers. For one, it meant free flowers for me, which was awesome! But more importantly, I somehow believed that if the owner had cared to grow beautiful blooms in the back yard, she must be somebody who would take good care of the house too.
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Vietnamese Salad Rolls

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Two weeks ago, I had the honor to do the photography and web design for my favorite restaurant and cooking class in town. It was two weeks of shooting, tasting good food and wine (which was the best part), editing, and panicking at times. Now it’s all done and I’m quite happy and proud with what I was able to finish within two weeks’ time. I presented the two websites to my client today and he loved them and I got paid! Now I’m beyond ecstatic because it was my first professional commissioned photography work. By the way, here’s the link to the restaurant and the cooking class if you’d like to take a look at my work. Note: If you spot a handsome model in some photos and you think he looks familiar, you’re right. That’s Craig! (wink wink)
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Tết – Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Vietnamese Tet takes place at the same time as Chinese New Year and Korean New Year because we use the same lunar calendar. However, we celebrate with food and customs which are unique to Vietnamese culture. 

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I also carried bunches of flowers on a scooter like her, but nobody took pictures for me.
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Buddha’s fist fruits. I’m not sure if they’re edible but many people place them on the altar because, well, I guess they do look like Buddha’s fists.
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Lanterns, vases and ornaments for Tet in Hoi An. In the North we don’t use lanterns.
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Cages of best cage-free chicken for Tet
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6 am in the market
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Dried fruits in the market

Tet has always been my favorite time of the year. When I was small, Tet meant a week off from school, which was the biggest fun followed by new clothes and lucky money. Read more

Vietnamese Daikon and Carrot Pickles

*Scroll down to the end of this post for a video tutorial.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I wish I had a chocolate cake or fruit tart or some more romantic sounding recipes for this day than pickles. But well, I made these for Tet, our big lunar new year celebration, and they’re so easy and delicious I can’t help sharing the recipe and video tutorial right here and right now.
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Da Lat – A Vietnamese Colonial-Era Time Machine

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I remember many years ago watching the old Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver film “The Year of Living Dangerously” one rainy afternoon on television. The otherworldly mix of Southeast Asian climate and emerging communist revolution against the backdrop of decaying colonial elegance made for an almost unbelievably beautiful setting. I remember most clearly a scene in which the main character, played by Mel Gibson, was on the run and hiding in the highlands in an old colonial hotel, sitting by the pool while his caretaker’s wife swam amongst the leaves and lillies covering the water. It was the perfect all-in-one picture of the beauty of decaying colonial decadence, enjoyed by the very people it once cruelly oppressed.
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A Saigon Office Apartment

And so we moved back to Vietnam in late June and Saigon was our first stop. On our first day there, we met up with my good friend Trong, who’s a copywriter and partner of an advertising agency. He took us to a small street noodle store where we had the best crab noodles in the world, then he asked if we wanted to have coffee at his office, which is an apartment in a small old building in downtown area.

I’d love to work in an office like his. It’s both traditionally Vietnamese and urban at the same time. Here are some pictures to illustrate what I’m talking about.

My grandfather used to have a couch like this back in the 80s.

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Crème Caramel, April, and Nostalgia

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this post.

It started with my Vietnamese friends sending me some photos of Hanoi in April, the month of white lilies, the romantic month, as many Vietnamese people call it. (Though April in Vietnamese is Month Number 4, which my husband often makes fun of, saying it sounds like a sci-fi secret code.)

Anyway, I had a slight feeling of nostalgia when I looked at photos of street vendors on colorful bikes, carrying huge bamboo baskets of gorgeous spring flowers. I missed sitting in a small outdoor cafe, on a sunny little Hanoi street which would smell like lilies and roses in warm breezes. I would order a cup of black coffee, followed by creme caramel.
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