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 Banana Pudding

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

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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…
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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 Mango Tapioca Pudding

*The Vietnamese word for mangoes is xoài, pronounced soai.

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If you happen to be in Vietnam in xoài season, you have to try them. Seriously!

The mangos here are one-of-a-kind. I remember that sentiment being expressed in an endearing scene from the movie “Indochina” where the main character, a French colonist, handed her adopted daughter a plate of mangos that looked so juicy and delicious. I don’t remember much else about the movie but that scene has stayed in my mind for years.
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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!

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Vegan Vietnamese Eggplant & Tofu Stew

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

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I grew up eating this stew, often twice in late autumn when eggplant was in season. The stew was one of the few recipes that my cooking-challenged father mastered. Read more

Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad

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

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Nothing much is happing this week, except for this magical fall weather. The sunlight is soft and the sky endlessly blue. My husband just bought us a new scooter in a beautiful royal blue color and we’ve enjoyed zipping around Hoi An in the cooler breezes. Our new favorite activity is to take a scooter ride to the beach in the late afternoon, with the sun setting on one side and the moon rising on the other. It’s so peaceful and inspiring!
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