Apr 7, 2014

Vietnam Amuse-Bouche

I ate so much in Vietnam I feel like I'm still full, still digesting every flavor. I traveled from the south (Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon) to the cool mountainous city known as Dalat, then further north to Hanoi.  I only had a ten day slice of a country that was so packed with flavor it would take a lifetime to explore them all.

But despite being one of my most flavorful food journeys so far, it was also one of the hardest.
From feeling my first intense bout of homesickness during a rainy, cold day in Hanoi, to being trapped on an 8-hour bus ride with screechy pentatonic music to seeing live frogs have their faces snipped off and skin peeled in the market to tasting hot vin lon or fetal duck eggs, complete with tiny just-formed wings, there were days when I just wanted to shut off all my senses and say 'No more.'

But that's not really an option when you're traveling.

Cassia, star anise, white pepper and black pepper, aged fish sauce, fresh dill, ginger and galangal, vanilla, wild pepper, sea salt, coffee, cacao, and as of yet totally unheard of spices from small ethnic minority groups in northern Vietnam. It's difficult to know which story to unfold first.

Do I begin with Phu Quoc pepper - a bright, citrusy and evergreen flavored peppercorn from an island off the south western coast of Vietnam? Or cassia - one of Vietnam's major exports, and known as cinnamon in America, which, unbeknownst to most has differing flavor profiles depending on origin? Or do I discuss the use of star anise in the popular noodle soup called 'Pho' which depends on the addition of a handful of spices for its rich broth?

As the days heat up to 100 degrees here in Bangkok, I might begin by perfecting the Vietnamese spring roll called Gỏi cuốn, which I first learned how to make in college with Hong Siv Tang, the goalie on my field hockey team. Fresh spring rolls (as opposed to fried) offer a cooling and delicious break from hot soups and weather.

But in the meantime, I thought I'd share a few images from my time in Vietnam, a sort of "amuse-bouche" if you will,  with rain and frogs and fried duck faces and all.


  1. The suspense is building!!! My saliva glands are pumping.

  2. Jesus Claire... cliff hanger much?? your killin me! Hi Tamara :-)

  3. website Company Instrucution, Passport Size Photographs: When you land at the airport in Vietnam, you need to provide two passport size photographs in order to receive your instant visa on arrival.