Last Friday was Tet in Vietnam. Like China, Vietnam celebrates the lunar new year. Growing up, we didn’t practice any Vietnamese traditions, we barely celebrated American ones. Normally Tet falls in January or February. I always thought it was in Jan and found out the hard way when Su, Nancy and I went to Vietnam in Feb of 2015.
You would think it would be fun to be in Vietnam during Tet but everything shuts down and the price of transportation goes up. Turns out, everyone flies (or takes a bus or train) home. So if you want to travel when prices are higher and your options on what to do are less, go to Vietnam during Tet, lol.
One of the things I like to buy at Vietnamese grocery stores is Banh Tet. It’s a sticky rice dish, filled with yellow mung bean and pork belly. It’s not always available. Turns out, it’s a traditional Tet dish. Yeah, the name is a giveaway but I didn’t know the name of it, until I tried to find a recipe for it.
Here’s the recipe I used for Banh Tet. I remember my mom making it once or twice as a kid. It’s a process which is why she didn’t make it very often. Like her, I used aluminum foil, I don’t really enjoy the flavor rolling in leaves gives it but I think next time I will try using bamboo or banana leaves, if I can find them. Another thing I learned is that a lot of people fry their Banh Tet. I had no idea because we never did. I asked my mom about it and she said she didn’t like it fried. Of course I had to try it out and I loves it fried. It gives the pork a better texture. I’ve since learned that people also air fry them, will definitely be trying that in the future.
Was so excited about how my Banh Tet turned out. My plan was for us to eat one and to freeze one for Tet (I made these last month). We loved this so much that we ate both of them over the course of a couple of days. In my research, I also read that some people dipped theirs in sugar. We didn’t try it, but just throwing that out there. Next time I will double the recipe so that a couple will make it into the freezer.
My mom never taught me how to cook. I was the chopper and the dish washer. The only Vietnamese dish I knew the name of was Pho so most of my cooking has been thru finding recipes online. Recently, I’ve found a couple that I really like so I thought I’d pass them along. These are dishes that I always buy when I go to the Vietnamese deli in Seattle. So happy I finally found some recipes that remind me of those dishes.
Tôm Rim is Vietnamese caramelize shrimp. This is the recipe I used. In the past, I’ve had problems getting things caramelized and this dish made it easy. The flavors are on point! I don’t normally bother cutting off the heads and tails, there’s so much flavor in them. They also say you can cook this without the shells but I’m against that. Cooking without the shells changes the cooking process and will affect the flavor. I added bamboo to my dish because I’m always futzing with things, lol.
Thit Kho Trung, Coca-Cola braised pork and eggs is similar to something my mom would cook and it’s one of my favorite dishes. Her version has fried bamboo which I love, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find dried bamboo here in the UK. A lot of times, this dish is served with a side of pickled mustard greens. I just add it to the dish in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Half the time when I buy this, the pork is dry by the time I get home so am thrilled to find a version that stays moist. This recipe is so good, I made it 2 weeks in a row. I used pork belly because that’s what I had but will try with the pork butt next time I make this and there will definitely be a next time!