Tag Archives: Vietnamese recipe

Banh Mi Fried Rice (Yes, You Read That Right)

No bread needed -- banh mi fried rice.
No bread needed — banh mi fried rice.

If fried rice is an edible blank canvas, then get ready to channel your inner Jackson Pollock.

Fast, easy, and a perennial favorite, this homespun dish veers decidedly outside the box in the new “Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up the World’s Favorite Grain” (Sasquatch Books), of which I received a review copy.

James Beard Award-winning food writer Danielle Centoni, a former food colleague of mine she was at the Oakland Tribune and I was at sister newspaper the San Jose Mercury News, greatly expands on the notion of what fried rice can be.

The book includes globally-inspired 50 recipes. Of course, there are standards such as “Classic Chinese Fried Rice with BBQ Pork” and “Spicy Fried Rice with Chinese Broccoli, Ground Pork, and Szechuan Chili Oil.” But there is plenty more that you’d be hard-pressed to have considered before, including “Fried Rice with Halloumi, Pickled Onions, and Zhug,” “Carbonara Fried Rice,” and “New Mexican Chili Fried Rice with Queso and Pork.”

She also includes tips for making fried rice (always start with day-old cooked rice), proper water ratios when cooking rice, and ways to avoid pests growing in your stored rice (freeze it for three days first).

Her “Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi Fried Rice” has all the vibrant flavors of your favorite inexpensive Vietnamese sandwich, but its foundation is rice rather than a French baguette. That means this dish is gluten-free, especially if you swap out the soy sauce for tamari instead.

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Chef Charles Phan’s Grilled Five-Spice Chicken with Tamarind Sauce

Charles Phan's grilled five-spice chicken with tamarind sauce to spoon over everything.

More than a decade ago, I remember taking my parents to dinner at the Slanted Door for the first time.

Housed in its original location then on Valencia Street in the heart of the Mission District in San Francisco, I remember my Mom getting out of the car and looking around the neighborhood with trepidation. Walking quickly through the somewhat sketchy neighborhood, she clutched my Dad’s arm tightly and murmured, “Where are we going???”

But once ensconced inside the lively restaurant, my parents much enjoyed what was their first real taste of Vietnamese food — from crispy imperial rolls to shaking beef to claypot chicken in caramel sauce.

Indeed, since opening that first restaurant in 1995, Chef-Owner Charles Phan has helped introduce the cuisine of his homeland to countless diners like my parents, luring them out of their comfort zone by virtue of the addicting profusion of fresh herbs and pungent fish sauce that are its hallmarks.

For years, folks have nagged Phan to write a cookbook. But with six restaurants/cafes now, he hardly had the time.

Fortunately for all of us, he finally managed to do it, releasing his first cookbook last month, “Vietnamese Home Cooking” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

The book is filled with beautiful photographs of Phan’s most recent trips to Vietnam. The recipes highlight the fundamental techniques used in Vietnamese cooking: frying, steaming, braising, grilling and stir-frying.

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