Cuisine: Vietnamese Cooking
month Glutenfreeda takes you on a culinary tour of Vietnamese
dining, gluten-free, of course! Most Vietnamese food is naturally
gluten-free as the two main ingredients to almost any meal are
rice in some form and fish sauce, not soy sauce.
must admit that I had great fun testing and preparing the recipes
for this feature. Each meal filled my kitchen with familiar smells
embedded in my memory from my childhood.
go back a few years. When I was fourteen, my family moved to Saigon,
Vietnam. My father was not in the military, but had contracted
with a firm for data processing work, a field then in its
infancy. The year was 1966 and the Vietnam War was well underway.
My family; father, mother and younger brother lived in Saigon
for two years.
to most Americans experience with Vietnam, my memories are
of a strange, hot and humid land filled with inviting aromas and
populated by a quiet and kind people. I have many fond memories
of shopping with our cook in the outdoor markets for fresh meat,
(including live chickens and live crab), fresh vegetables and
the most delicious fruit I have ever eaten.
all the new and strange aromas, certainly the most pungent and
most widely used ingredient that defines Vietnamese cooking is
Nuoc Mam. Nuoc Mam is used in or with virtually every Vietnamese
meal and is used as commonly as we use salt. Nuoc Mam is a liquid
extraction made from fermented fish and salt. Nuoc Mam adds a
unique and delicious taste to food and has an unmistakable and
overwhelming odor that the uninitiated sometimes have difficulty
embracing. The funny thing about Nuoc Mam is that although the
smell is pungent, the taste is completely different. The trick
is getting past the smell.
was introduced to Nuoc Mam at our first meal upon arriving at
our villa in Saigon. The meal was prepared by our cook and began
with an interesting looking soup with little tapiocas floating
throughout. The soup was served and we all picked up our spoons
and dipped them into the broth. As the spoons passed under our
noses, we abruptly froze. All except my father. My mother looked
at me, I looked at my brother, my brother glanced at both of us
and we all turned to my father who was happily eating his soup.
"What is that terrible smell?" my mother asked. We all
sniffed our spoons and decided that the spoons must be somehow
spoiled. We requested new spoons and gave them a good sniff. Satisfied
and reassured, we plunged them into the soup but just before we
could take a bite
..that smell! My father who had been in
the country for a few months prior to our arrival, continued to
enjoy his soup while we decided to wait for the entrée.
It took us a few meals to gather the courage to ignore the smell
and taste the food. I can assure you it was well worth the act
hope you enjoy this months Vietnamese recipes as much as
we did. And be brave
. Pass the Nuoc Mam!
Fried Spring Rolls
Shrimp & Chicken Rolls
Salmon with Ginger & Scallions
& Scallion Shrimp
Honey Roasted Chicken
Duck in Orange Sauce
Beef Noodle Soup