Our family eats a lot of Vietnamese food during the summer because of the abundance of fresh produce and herbs. This summer was no exception. The best part of eating Vietnamese food was being able to eat what I want—everything is within The Diet!
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Homemade Banh Mi – June 5, 2009
I realized that banh mi was actually a really easy sandwich to assemble. So I made it. And it was delicious.
Banh mi sandwiches don’t taste good without margarine and a large schmear of pepper pâté.
Then I chopped up some coriander…
… and some leftover BBQ chicken. I was afraid that the sandwich would be a little bland, so I tossed the chicken pieces in soy sauce.
Here’s the finished product: my own homemade banh mi. I baked two baguettes (Costco’s frozen variety), sliced them, stuffed them with the aforementioned toppings, and added cabbage and carrot coleslaw from the fridge. I snacked on these all week, and I brought them to work for lunch.
These homemade sandwiches were far better than the ones we bought in Ottawa’s Chinatown (see below). I still can’t believe I didn’t think to make these before!
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Banh Xeo – June 7, 2009
We went over to our aunt’s house for banh xeo, Vietnamese crepes stuffed with bean sprouts and ground pork.
The best banh xeo have crispy and light edges. The yellow colour comes from the turmeric in the batter.
A heaping mound of bean sprouts. It looks like a lot, but it’s the perfect amount for 10-15 people.
On the side, we had lemongrass pork on skewers. We also had rice for dinner, but most of us ate the banh xeo.
I minced chili and garlic together for the sweet fish sauce. Normally, the chili and garlic are supposed to be separate, but I was lazy.
Freshly washed basil, cucumbers, and leaf lettuce. Basically, you take a little bit of everything (minus the pork) and wrap it in a leaf of lettuce. Then you dip it into the sweet fish sauce with ground peanuts. It’s a stinky meal, but so freaking delicious!
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Goi Cuon – June 10, 2009
Another Vietnamese favourite in our family is goi cuon. This one relies on less fresh produce, so we eat this year round.
My mum fried dozens of spring rolls (which disappeared quickly), and we made a simple beef and onion stir-fry.
The produce (basil and cucumbers) and vermicelli noodles.
This is a new brand of rice paper. It stayed chewy, but you could still easily bite through it.
First, you dip the rice paper in hot water and place it on a plate. Grab a little bit of everything, wrap it up like a spring roll, and dip it in the sweet fish sauce with ground peanuts. It can get a little messy, but working for your food makes it taste better!
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Ottawa Banh Mi – June 15, 2009
We were craving proper banh mi sandwiches, so Christine bought a bunch from Ottawa’s Chinatown. They were fail.
The banh mi was truly awful. The bread was unappealingly spongy and the meat didn’t taste like anything. In fact, there was barely anything there. Even with the toppings (cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon, and cucumbers), this was a disappointing sandwich. I would not recommend buying these from Ottawa—stick with Toronto and Montreal where crappy sandwiches like these would run the store out of business.
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Out of all of the Vietnamese food (banh mi, banh xeo, and cuon) I just mentioned, banh xeo is my favourite. Either way, these types of dishes are fantastic for The Diet. There’s an abundance of vegetables, and Vietnamese cuisine is packed with flavour. If it weren’t for Vietnamese food, The Diet would have failed miserably. Though my family scoffed at The Diet, they encouraged me to eat more Vietnamese food.
Well, it’s now 4:00 AM, and I can’t figure out how to conclude this post. So I’m just ending it.