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Monday, 7 December 2009

Miss Saigon - Street Food

The streets of Saigon are filled with people living closely next to each other, families are close knit. To me, Vietnamese people love sharing food, especially with people that they love.
Until the age of 5, I was lucky enough to grow up in my father's home in Saigon where my grandmother opened up the front room as a Bun Bo Hue (hot & spicy beef/ pork noodle soup) restuarant. My mother had a portable banh mi stand selling delicious ham & pickle baguettes. Food appreciation started in the womb...
















For our supper club, Simon and I ventured to Vietnam to rediscover Vietnamese cuisine and learn how to make my favourite dishes for our guests. We decided that cooking up a Vietnamese feast is great but we wanted to make Vietnamese food that you can rarely order in the many of the busting at the seam restaurants in London. Or make some of the classics different - do it like they do it on the streets of Saigon. So this was what we came up with:


Miss Saigon Menu

Summer Rolls of Egg, Barbequed & Cured Pork, Shredded Pork Skin, Spring Rolls, Mint, Corriander & Lettuce
(Bi Cuon)
Clear Prawn Tapioca Dumplings With Phan Thiet Sweet & Hot Fish Sauce
(Banh Bao Dep)
 Shredded Chicken With Corriander & Lime Salad Served with Prawn Crackers & Puffy Seaseme Rice Paper 
(Goi Ga)


Woven Spring Rolls With Prawns, Pork, Black Fungus & Vermincelli
(Cha Gio Nem)

Braised Ham & Quails Egg In Fish Sauce & Coconut Juice Served With Morning Glory Fried With Garlic & Rice
(Thit Heo Trung Kho)

Udon Noodle Soup With Dill Fish Cakes
(Banh Canh)  
Banana With Tapioca in Coconut Milk
(Che Chuoi)

Vietnamese Weasel Coffee With Condensed Milk
(Ca Phe Sua Da)
A lot of food from this menu is based on peasant food such as the braised ham and egg. Its a dish that is delicious and keeps all week. A Vietnamese family can share a small portion together as the rock sugar, coconut & fish sauce adds so much flavour to the rice that you do not need so much meat. The lunar new year being about humility and love, this is also one of the traditional dishes every family eats in celebration.

The summer rolls are a Phan Thiet speciality where you can roll up left overs such as hams and pickles. Full of refreshing mint and corriander to balance out the fried taste of spring rolls and barbeque meats.


The tapioca prawn dumplings (also a Phan Thiet speciality) were very difficult to make so unfortunately, we could not have time to make them for both nights. They are my favourite things to eat. Visually stunning as well as beautiful in texture and taste.


The Spring Rolls were wrapped in a special woven rice paper - like a beautiful lace. Not only does it look amazing but it is very crispy without being crunchy. Very unique! Will post - how to do most of these -


 

 
 
Unfortunately, we forgot to take good pictures of the final results of most courses and hope to pinch some off our guests soon.

Friday night was a buzzing night - lots of groups of friends sharing with other groups of friends. Simon and I were yet again totally totally jealous we could not join them. The roars of laughter - the chaos of people mingling and meeting new people (not chaos really - was really wonderful). I had something to love about all our guests this night. 



Geoff had booked for his friends, Vicky, Anna & Babak to come eat. He told that he had found us whilst on the train reading about supper clubs and claimed his cool card for bringing them to us. He was indeed cool and I felt so lucky and honoured to have such a wonderful and a hilarious group of friends come to my place for dinner. They couldn't stop laughing the entire night. They welcomed Nancia, a wonderful and beautiful lady into their group and as well as Nicole, Zhenzhong & Qin who shared their table.

On the same table, Kate, Abigail & Jane met Douglas, Simon & Leonardo - they were like out of a scene from a movie where there was instant bonding and gelling. Looked like they made friends for life.

Selena, Paul, Vicky, Steve were Simon's friends - who kept saying - how could you do this so well? how? how? 
Lizzie found great time to catch up with her brother David. 

And lastly, Luiz Hara - one of our favourite food bloggers (http://thelondonfoodie.blogspot.com/) had a chance to bring Gerald, Tim & Regis for supper. 

We had written to him first, two months ago, when we first started the supper club. It feels like it had been so much longer than this. When we look back, it definately feels like we have gone a long way, developed so much and feel so proud to still be running, that our initial idea of giving it a go, worked out exactly how we wanted it to work out. 

Luiz gave us the most wonderful compliments about our food - for this we felt so humbled by as Luiz eats everywhere. Not only had he been to Vietnam, he has reviewed many Vietnamese restaurants and restaurants and supper clubs in general. Besides this, Luiz and his friends are some of the nicest, gentle and warm people. We are so lucky to have great guests!

My mother - the quiet star, who had come to help out for the weekend - as after all - she is the original Miss Saigon.




Saturday was also great, however, the atmosphere very different as mainly couples/ pairs had booked to eat. This still makes a very noisy night but not as loud as groups. 

It was nerve racking to have Anh & Van - fellow Vietnamese guests who own the Vietnamese baguette - Banh Mi (http://www.banhmi11.com/) stand on Broadway Market. They were kind enough to bring us some to eat - which we enjoyed after wards. And they loved everything and chatted a lot to my mum. Vietnamese people are extremely thoughtful when it comes to food. Sharing and giving food is a way of life.

Charlotte and Rob were filled with so much pleasure from all the food they enjoyed. It is so rewarding to see such happiness in the eyes of Charlotte and for Gail (http://flibbertygibbet.typepad.co.uk/flibbertygibbet/2009/11/going-underground-supper-club.html) & Simon on their second visit who want to come every week. I love catching Gail taste a dish that comes to the table. After a few seconds comes the, 'Mmmmm...' and shakes her head out of disbelief of how good it tastes. Brings a massive smile to my face every time!

We had some guests come all the way to us from New York and Vienna. It was such an honour to have them book especially to eat at our supper club on their short trip to London.


Will post recipes and tips soon...
Uyen

As a child, we all got one of these milk sweets as a treat for being good or for completing a chore. Milk was scarce in Vietnam and therefore these were a real real treat. Even for adults.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Uyen and Simon,

    I feel very touched by your kind words! I am so happy for both of you, and have been following your success with great admiration. Thank you for mentioning me and my blog in your write up, I am now looking forward to coming back on the 18th December, and hopefully this time we will have some time to sit down and chat a little!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

    ReplyDelete

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