Off The Menu
A Vietnamese Village Feast

About The Event

How many of us think Vietnamese food is just a bowl of rice noodles and spring rolls (or, if we’re living on the edge, lemongrass chicken), or a bowl of pho? Given what we’re accustomed to being offered at restaurants, that's probably what most envision. 

 

However, there’s so much more to this country’s cuisine than that!

 

The few times we’ve been lucky enough to sample authentic, non-homogenized Vietnamese food we’ve been thrilled. We were so excited to work with the team at Seasoned to provide our guests with a Vietnamese Village Feast allowing them to enjoy the delicious flavours of Vietnam dishes usually served on special occasions, without having to buy a plane ticket!

 

The Menu

Sweet and sour soup with a tamarind broth, elephant ear, shrimp, bean sprouts, tomato, pineapple, nog om (rice paddy herb).

 

A combination of sweet, sour and savoury. This is a very popular dish in the homes of Vietnam and Seasoned is making their family recipe for us. The sour flavor comes from the tamarind soup base, and crushed pineapple provides the sweetness.  The elephant ear plant is called Bạc Hà in Vietnamese. These are large stocks from a plant with big palm-like leaves. The stalks are a bit spongy, which allows them to soak up the flavours of anything it’s cooked in and provides a nice texture to dishes. Nog Om is known as “Rice Paddy Herb” in English, it imparts a crisp citric flavour that has a cumin-like quality.  It is called the rice patty herb because it grows in watery environments and can often be found thriving in rice paddies.

Build Your Own Spring Roll

It’s very common in Vietnam to go for group meals with large platters of food shared amongst everyone and eaten by hand,  either by wrapping them in lettuce or in rice paper.  Diners mix and match flavours as they like.  We’ll be sharing this experience with you!  Rice paper with helpful instructions will be provided so you can build your own fresh rolls!  There will be a selection of meats as well as: starfruit, lettuce, pineapple, pickled carrots and radishes, rice noodles, peanuts, green onion, and basil. 

Chao Tom

Grilled Sugar Cane Shrimp

 

Shrimp is pounded into a paste and then mixed with garlic and other simple seasonings. It is wrapped around a sugar cane and grilled. The sugar cane lightly flavours the shrimp, but it also makes for delicious chewing after the shrimp has been eaten, the fresh grilled juice is one of our favourite things! This dish comes from central Vietnam, in the Huế region. It is particularly popular as a dish served in banquets around special occasions. 

Nem Nuong

A Simply Spiced Pork Sausage

 

This is a signature dish from Nha Trang, a coastal city in south-central Vietnam. These are considered a comfort food. They are often served as an appetizer or as part of a rice noodle bowl. We’ll be using them in our fresh rolls.

 

Thit Bo Nuong La Lot

5 Spice Grilled Beef Wrapped In Wild Betel Leaf

 

Ground beef is mixed with white pepper, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and fennel then wrapped in betel leaf and grilled. Fresh, shiny, heart-shaped betel leaf seems to have no aroma whatsoever, but when it is grilled it comes to life! They have a lovely sweetly spicy aroma that reminds one of incense.  Betel leaf, called La Lot in Vietnam, are especially yummy when enjoyed with pickled carrot and radish.

 

Mam Nem Dipping Sauce

Anchovies, Pineapple and Lemongrass Dipping Sauce

 

Most of us are probably familiar with Nuoc Mam, often served with noodle bowls. However, the Vietnamese favour Mam Nem for dipping fresh rolls. This is an intensely flavored sauce made using anchovies, garlic, and pineapple. We had never had it before this tasting and absolutely loved it!  It was especially tasty with the Grilled Wild Betel Wrapped Beef. 

Photo Credit: tholovesfood.wordpress.com

 

Cha Gio

Taro Root and Pork Spring Rolls, with black fungus, carrot, bean sprouts and onion
 

Taro root is one of our favourite exotic vegetables. It is a tropical plant with large leaves and a root that resembles a yam or sweet potato.  The root itself can be purple, pink or white. They have a complex and mild flavour that makes them a delight on the palate, with a softness that will remind you of a firm custard.  The combination of pork and taro is quite popular across Asia for good reason, they’re just perfect together.

 

Thit Kho

Carmalized Pork Belly With Seasoned Egg In A Sweet Soy-Based Sauce
 

While served all year round, this is also a traditional Lunar New Year dish! Big chunks of pork belly are cooked in a silky broth that is salty-sweet.  The pork is slowly braised until it is melt-in-your-mouth tender.  Vegetables are often dipped into the sauce, but we just pour it over our last bowl of rice and savor every bite. This is often cooked in coconut water, which may be added based on the availability of good quality imported coconut in the markets. 

 

Che Ba Ba

Sweet Coconut Cream Soup Served with Mung Bean, Dates, Glass Noodle, Peanut, Taro Root, Tapioca Balls, Black Fungus

 

You’re probably having the same reaction we did when we were first served this: What?! It’s such a wild collection of ingredients – but wow was it delicious. In fact, at this point, we were wishing we had our stretchy pants on. It was so good we couldn’t stand to leave a single spoonful behind.  The thick and warm coconut cream base was so addictive, and each bite provided a delight of textures and flavors. These sweet soups, with a pudding-like consistency, are called Che in Vietnam. They’re a popular street food, and many young children grow up with fond memories of it simmering on mom’s stove.

 

Canh Chua Tôm

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About Culinary Slut

We are not professional chefs, nor are we professional food reviewers. We are, however, food obsessed. Food is more than fuel; it is tradition, history, family, celebration. It brings us together, it reflects the world we live in and where we came from. In many ways, food defines communities and our cultures. It can be creative, joyful and comforting. Food is life.   

We come from humble backgrounds and that allows us to appreciate humble noshing; at the same time
, we have achieved some small measure of success that allows us to travel and gives us access to culinary artistry. We both come from cultures where food is central to community and family and is symbolic of friendship.
 

You will not find negative reviews on Culinary Slut. While we may poke fun at times, it is as much at ourselves for risking food that we know is not haute cuisine as it is at the food itself.  If we don't like something, we just don't post about it. Instead, we’re here to have fun and share our wonderful experiences with you.

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