Lettuce wraps with ground beef in spicy tomato sauce (thịt bò xay xốt cà chua, dùng với xà lách)

father's recipe

This is not a Vietnamese traditional dish, not at all. To me, this dish is a creation from my father. He didn’t cook very often. Most of the cooking at home was done by mom but still he liked cooking. My father made this dish when there was some lettuce and some ground beef left over when mother was not at home. It turned out to be delicious. The first time I made this dish was a few years ago, when I was at a friend’s place. Again, she had some ground beef left. And tomato, it’s quite easy to accidentally have it in the fridge right? Everyone liked it, with the fact that it was simple and easy to make. Recently, I was a bit surprised to see a similar creation of this dish on Pinterest, something like ‘ground meat in tomato sauce in buttercup lettuce’, a Mexican dish. I guess the Mexican will probably make it spicy too but anyway, I am writing the recipe for this now to share. This dish now is a recollection from my father’s recipes, and with the improvement from my cooking skills so far. I’ve done it a few times, each times a bit difference in ingredients or in the way of cooking. For example, when I was lazy, I used diced tomato in can, but to be honest, it was not good. So in the recipe, just use what you have at home as alternative, like some tomato paste, tomato sauce. Yet, I find the fresh, ripe tomato is the best, and so are all fresh ingredients.

Tiếng Việt phía dưới

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Bún bò Nam Bộ – Vietnamese vermicelli with grilled beef (Southern style)

This dish is a vermicelli noodle dish served with grilled marinated beef, fresh vegetables, some pickled carrot  and the Vietnamese ‘nuoc cham’. The name that I write is a name that the people from the north call it, literally means ‘Southern beef noodle’. However, if you go to find this dish in the south of Vietnam, just ask for grilled beef noodle. It’s just like there is New York pizza everywhere in Amsterdam but there’s no New York pizza in New York. :)

What I like about this dish is that there is no oil, fat involved, not at all, especially it’s beef filet, it’s just lean meat.  It feels so healthy, green and fresh. And don’t put the temperature in the oven to high, don’t put it long so that you will have the juice of the grilled beef. Two table spoon of ‘nuoc cham’, a blend of fish sauce, lime juice, chili and very little little sweet of flavor makes the noodle taste Vietnamese, not pungent, but tasty and fresh.


The most important step of making Bun bo Nam Bo is marinating the beef, then comes making ‘nuoc cham’ and the pickled vegetables (shredded carrot and papaya). The pickled vegies is crispy, a little sour and a little sweet, which even makes me eat two bowls of the noodle at once. Remember to pickle the carrot (and papaya first, before marinating the beef) since it takes at least 1 hour to get a good flavor on the carrot. Continue reading

Bò hầm rượu vang kiểu Ý – Italian beef stew for a weekend dinner

Trong các món bò hầm kiểu Tây thì Pháp có vẻ nổi tiếng hơn. Nhưng món bò hầm của Ý này ăn cũng ngon. Nhất là trong cách làm thì nấu nhanh hơn cách của Pháp 1h mà thịt bò thì lại mềm hơn. Trong các món của Pháp thì hay có bơ, bò hầm cũng thế. Còn của Ý thì đồ ăn ít bơ sữa hơn nên cũng có thể hợp với Việt Nam hơn. Mặc dù mình thấy bò nấu với cà rốt kiểu Pháp trên blog của Le Tartine Gourmande thơm hơn (nhờ có bơ) nhưng lạ vì chị đấy dùng rượu vang trắng chứ không phải vang đỏ. Cách nấu của Pháp thì dùng nồi nặng có thành dày (gọi là Dutch oven) để giữ nhiệt trên bếp. Trong cách nấu của Ý thì cho thịt bò vào trong lò hầm. Thời gian nấu hết khoảng 1h30 nhưng thịt bò lại mềm hơn nấu trên bếp với thời gian 2h30. Mình hay làm mấy món bò hầm ngày Chủ Nhật vì thứ Bảy thường đã đi chợ có đủ nguyên liệu rồi. Nấu kiểu này thì chỉ mất thời gian lúc đầu, còn lại đoạn sau chỉ cho vào lò khoảng 1h30, lúc đấy ngồi chơi hay làm việc cũng được.

beef stew - Italian style

(Scroll down for English).

Trên mạng hay có những tiêu đề như bò hầm xốt vang kiểu Pháp, bò hầm xốt vang,… nhưng chắc bỏ chữ ‘xốt vang’ đi cũng được vì mình thấy các món bò hầm của Tây món nào cũng ướp với rượu vang cả. Trong các món hầm của Ý (và Pháp) thì lá nguyệt quế (bay leaf) hay được sử dụng. Bên cạnh đấy là thyme. Cà rốt và hành tây cũng xuất hiện khá thường xuyên. Continue reading

How to make beef tender for stir-fry (cách làm thịt bò tái lăn)

I’m not very in a mood of writing something but this is really the one I have been thinking of to write on a food blog. First, because cutting/ slicing meat, especially beef is important for any dish. I was taught to learn to slice meat since I was 14 something (even though I didn’t do a lot of kitchen work back home). Then, sometimes my friends, Vietnamese, Chinese, and some international ask me how I make the beef so tender. I was kind of proud when my Chinese friend ask me to make the one stir-fry dish with beef again. (You know, because the Chinese also have their own techniques). I search on the Internet and a few good food blogs that I sometime consult to see if they really shows the technique but it’s not very comprehensive. So it’s really time to write it down here. You might need to go back to this technique since I expect there will be some dishes that I will use beef stir-fried later in my blog. In the near future, if you go to a Wok, having some Chinese food, Japanese or Korean (and Vietnamese) you know how they make the beef tender and you can make it as good as they do, or even beter. And this technique guarantees healthiness (no strange stuff that is put in it).

(Kỹ thuật thái thịt và ướp thịt này Việt Nam chắc đa số biết hết, nhưng cũng có thêm vài típ. Mình chỉ viết tiếng Việt ngắn gọn phía dưới vì thỉnh thoảng có vài em hỏi ‘sao miếng thịt chị ướp trông mềm thế?’ :D) Continue reading

a French Vietnamese-style beef stew

la soupe à boeuf by no9blue
la soupe à boeuf, a photo by no9blue on Flickr.

This soup is somewhat an in-between version between Vietnamese and French cuisine. Recently, I have made a ‘real’ French version followed recipe of La Tartine Gourmande. That was good, with the aroma of thyme. However, I would switch between the two versions since it takes less time to make the beef softer in the Vietnamese way. Also, it is a good alternative if you want to reduce the fat from butter, which occurs a lot in French cuisine.

In Vietnam, all the vegetables in this dish are called winter vegetables. Probably, they all came from the time when the French came to the country.

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