A simple Vietnamese butternut squash soup

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A typical Vietnamese meal with a soup bowl, a plate of protein and a plate of vegetable. Here I have butternut squash soup with minced pork, sautéed beans and carrots, and crispy caramelized river shrimp.
For some reason I've always enjoyed doing repetitive, mundane tasks. They provide a sense of peacefulness and contentment in seeing the results of my efforts. My mind quiets down and I get to enjoy a sense of oneness with my task. When I was in tenth grade, my summer job was to put bra sliders into bra straps. My mother worked for a garment factory, and every day she would bring home huge bags of bra straps and bra sliders. Like a machine, I spent every single day of that summer putting sliders into straps. I didn't get bored at all. In fact, I even found great joy in doing that. I didn't have to think much, and I was content with the accomplishment, which was piles and piles of nice and neat straps in front of my eyes. Read more

Panna Cotta with Fresh Passion Fruit

Passion Fruit_ Panna Cotta_Dessert_Vietnamese Cuisine_Indiechine-7 Passion fruit_ Panna Cotta_Dessert_Vietnamese Cuisine_Indiechine-9 This past week the heat was so brutal that both of us got a cold from switching back and forth too often between a cool air-conditioned room to the burning heat. But we're ok now, and I'm back to the sauna/kitchen creating and documenting recipes with great enthusiasm! Read more

Vietnamese Banana Pudding

There's a video tutorial at the end of this post. Banana pudding_Tapioca_Coconut milk_Indiechine_Vietnamese food blog_ recipe_Che chuoi_-3 Banana pudding_Tapioca_Coconut milk_Indiechine_Vietnamese food blog_ recipe_Che chuoi_-6 Weather update: I haven't seen blue sky here for the past few weeks. It's the burning season, when people burn newly harvested rice stalks to prepare for the next crop.  So the rice paddies behind my house have been all smoky and fiery. It looks like part of a battlefield, or my grandmother's countryside kitchen back in the 1980s when she cooked with leaves, straw and rice husks in humid and rainy weather... Read more

Braised Baby Ribs & a Summer Meal

Braised baby ribs_Sườn kho_Indiechine_Vietnamese food recipe-2 Before starting this blog, I had never used cooking measurements. I measured with my eyes and intuition, or as my friend put it, "all ingredients are to taste". The "everything to taste" rule worked well for me, except for when I had parties or guests over. Cooking for extra people without a recipe rarely came out as well. My guests might not have noticed (thankfully), but I just knew that the food didn't taste the same as when I cooked just for my family. Read more

A Vietnamese vegan meal

Goodbye European castles and cobblestoned streets! Goodbye budding tulips and daffodils in chilly wind! Goodbye giant plates of steak and potatoes, beer and sausages! We're back home to sunshine and beach, to mangoes and watermelons, and to vegetables and herbs! Read more

Butternut Squash & Salmon Cháo

*There's a video tutorial at the end of this post. Salmon porridge_Vietnamese food_Indiechine blog The weather in Hoi An has been so beyond perfect lately. It's the kind of sunshine and breezes that are so delightful that it brings me instant joy just by looking out the window. Craig says this weather reminds him of beautiful early summer days when he was in high school in Kentucky. He remembers the soft sunshine on his front porch, the irresistible smell of barbecue in warm breezes that his father was grilling on a lovely Sunday evening. It's interesting how similarities in temperature and humidity can bring back vivid memories from years and years ago. Read more

Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Vietnamese food_Fresh rolls_Goi cuon_Indiechine_Vietnamese food blog-3 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) Read more

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

How to make Vietnamese coffee

*There's a video tutorial at the end of this post. Vietnamese coffee_cafe phin_Indiechine Vietnamese coffee_Ca phe phin_Indiechine-2 In Vietnam we take coffee, or cà phê (ka-fe) as we call it, seriously. If you want to ask somebody to hang out or meet up, you say "Would you like to cà phê tonight?" We, however, don't usually make coffee at home. It's because there are so many coffee shops at every corner of every street, from fancy ones with waterfalls and large gardens to tiny little spaces with small wooden stools on the sidewalk. Read more

Mushroom & Tofu Braised in Caramelized Shallots & Soy Sauce

Braised Mushroom_Vegan_Vietnamese cuisine_Indiechine blog Last week we flew to Ho Chi Minh City (AKA Saigon) to run some errands and had lunch at Cuc Gach Quan (meaning A Piece of Brick Restaurant) - one of my favorite restaurants in Vietnam. If you ever visit Vietnam, I can't recommend enough that you try it. The restaurant cooks authentic Vietnamese meals in an utterly serene Vietnamese rural style. It reminds me of my grandparents' place in the countryside when I was growing up, except for the addition of the very nice music playing and relaxing smell of lemongrass oil essence. Read more