Sunday, January 3, 2010

Vietnamese home cooking -- attempt #1

Armed with recipes from our cooking class, and a couple of new Vietnamese cookbooks, we made Pho and Vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio or nem ran, depending on whether you're in the South or the North) for dinner tonight. Both came out very good, though ultimately much more expensive than getting the same things in a restaurant (the Pho especially -- just the bones to make the broth cost $13. I got 6 servings out of it, but still...).

Spring roll filling - doesn't look all that appetizing, but it was tasty. Ground pork, chopped shrimp, flaked crab, plus grated carrot, onions (green and white), chinese black fungus, bean thread noodles and fish sauce.

Filling for Vietnamese spring rolls - Cha Gio / Nem Ran

Making the rolls:

Making Vietnamese spring rolls - Cha Gio / Nem Ran

Ready to fry:

Ready to fry Vietnamese spring rolls - Cha Gio / Nem Ran

Finished rolls and dipping sauce:

Vietnamese Spring Rolls - Cha Gio / Nem Ran

Very tasty, though they didn't brown very well -- I think the secret is using sugar in the water you soften the dried wrappers with. We'll try more sugar next time. Not sure how I'd make these for a crowd, as we could only fry two at a time, due to them wanting to stick together. Maybe fry a bunch, keep them warm in the oven, then a quick dip in the hot oil again to crisp them back up?

Pho fixings:

Pho Fixings

You don't cook Pho so much as assemble it. Here it is ready to eat:

Homemade Pho


  1. The final dishes look yummy! They really should do something about that "black fungus" though. Sounds like something you catch in the jungle that's hard to eradicate. Nice exotic dinner you guys. -- dewdad

  2. very well done!! That's how the nam ran/cha gio should like however, as it doesn't brown as evenly as the nonrice paper wrapper. The bones do sound expensive though..did you buy it at the Asian market?? Typically it's less then $1/lb at the Asian Markets. Hope you keep try cooking Vietnamese again!

  3. Thanks for the bone tip. We have just a few Asian groceries here in San Antonio, but I didn't hit them because I found everything I needed at the grocery store (though the bones I ended up using were neck bones, not marrow bones). I'll give it a try.

  4. ps: looking forward to trying some of the recipes from your blog!

  5. Looks very yummy. That pho looks quite authentic! Makes me want to have some right now! :)

  6. Now I'm hungry.....Looks wonderful.
    David "can't cook" Priest

  7. Two followup notes:

    1) Some time later I read a tip somewhere (can't remember where) about softening the rice paper with beer. Tried this, and they browned beautifully.

    2) My food photography quite frankly sucks, but I'm just trying to record things. I'd love to rock the whole food porn thing, but don't have time to learn enough about photography to pull that off...


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