Vietspices Search

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bánh Bò Nướng (Honey Comb Cake)

I wish I could capture the fragrance of bánh bò nướng (honey comb cake) while it's still in the oven and let you smell the sweet and unique flavor of pandan and the sweet and rich aroma of coconut milk. It's this distinctive fragrance in addition to the soft chewy texture that makes bánh bò nướng irresistible.

This bánh bò nướng has a crispy surface covered in roasted sesame which the true bánh bò nướng doesn't have. But I love this seed and use it whenever appropriate. This is where you can infuse some of your creativity to add a personal touch.
RECIPE: Bánh Bò Nướng


1 bag (14 oz) Tapioca Flour
8 Eggs
2 cups Sugar
2 bags Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Pandan Extract
1 can (400 ml) Coconut Milk
about 6 Pandan Leaves, optional
1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds, optional

Preheat the oven at 350' F. 
Preparing Batter

Sift the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, lightly stir the eggs and sugar with a whisk or a fork so that no bubbles form. Remember to stir just enough to homogenize the whites and yolks. Over stirring the eggs can cause the cake to be flat. 

Stir in pandan extract, and coconut milk, and flour mixture.

If you like the distinctive aroma of the fresh pandan leaves instead pandan extract, blend pandan leaves with coconut milk in a food processor. 

Draining it through a fine strainer or a cloth bag and discard the pandan residue. Make 400 ml of pandan-coconut milk.  Add a drop of pandan extract for the greener color, if preferred. 

Use a strainer to strain the mixture into another bowl. 


Brush oil on the baking pan.   Pour the mixture into the baking pan. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the batter.  Place the baking pan  in the oven on the middle rack.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the crust is golden and flaky.  Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake for quick test to see if it's done. If the toothpick comes out dry and clean, the cake is done.

Remove the cake. Let it cool for a little bit before removing it from the baking pan.


Cut the cake into slices and enjoy it with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
Bonus: a video of my girls making Bánh Bò Nướng at age 2 1/2 and 4 years old.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tương Chấm Nem Nướng (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Orange Dipping Sauce)

I've been experimenting with the dipping sauce for nem nướng, which means everyone in the family has to eat nem nướng every other day.

After a few attempts of making Tương Chấm for Nem Nướng, my husband finally gave it a thumbs up. Hopefully, he didn't say that so he doesn't have to eat Nem Nướng again .

This delicious sauce is full of nutrition as it's a blend of sweet rice and shrimps are the main ingredients. I love the vivid, beautiful orange color that comes from the paprika and partly from the crab paste. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family.

* * *
RECIPE: Tương Chấm Nem Nướng

1/2 cup Nếp (sweet rice), rinsed a few times until the water is cleared
2 cups Water
1 small can (2 cups) Chicken Broth
30 small Shrimps, shelled, deveined
1 tablespoon Garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Crab Paste with Soya Bean Oil
 (I prefer the jar shown in the picture as it's less pungent than the jar of shrimp or crab paste labeled as Gia Vị Nấu Bún Riêu)
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon White Ground Pepper, optional
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1-2 teaspoons Paprika
3 tablespoons Sugar
Cooking Sweet Rice
In a small pot, bring water, chicken broth and sweet rice to boil. Then reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until soft. 

Preparing Shimps

add garlic to shrimp bowl

In a small bowl, combine shrimps and the remaining ingredients (sugar, ground pepper if used, garlic powder,garlic, fish sauce, salt,  paprika and crab paste).  Mix well.   Set aside.
Making Sauce
After sweet rice is cooked, add shrimps.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. 
Using a food processor to process cooked sweet rice mixture until smooth. 
Pour it back into a pot and bring it to boil. If the sauce looks thick, add a little bit more of water. Turn off the heat.
Now, it's time to dip the nem nướng roll into the delicious, tasty and glowing orange dipping sauce.
Squeezed lime juice to add the satisfactory tangy flavor to your sauce.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nem Nướng̣ - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties

It's hard to resist the aroma of nem nuong during the marinating process . . . the aroma of fresh garlic, the roasted rice powder, the smelly but tasty must-have fish sauce that is essential and ubiquitous in Vietnamese cuisine. Let this sizzle over a pit of charcoal and voila . . . dinner is served.

After a few times of experimenting on this nem nướng, I finally got it down. I had to determine what will produce the best taste. After trying out various types of pork, the determining factor was . . . i hate to say it but . . . it's the fat content; the more pork fat, the softer the meat and the better the flavor. 

There's a second crucial factor. At first, instead of asking the butcher to grind the ground pork just one more time, I brought it home and grind it real fine. Big mistake. The fine ground allowed the meat to lose it's fats and caused nem nướng to be real dry and chewy. I avoided this it turned out great. 

You have the recipe to nem nướng. Great! Now you need the recipe to the sauce (click here). I enjoy nem nướng with its beautiful orange sauce that they usually serve at the restaurant. I was determined to unlock the secret and spice it up a little to create my own signature sauce. I have experimented with it twice and have received mixed reviews from my family. My husband prefers the first-try, my mother-in-law likes the second attempt, and my brother thinks it would be perfect to combine the two. So for now, try this sauce recipe until I come up with a better one.
* * *
RECIPE: Nem Nướng 


2 lbs ground pork 
2 heads garlic, finely chopped or minced into fine paste (use mortar and pestle or food processor)
2 teaspoons Alsa baking powder or any single-acting baking powder brands or 1 teaspoon regular baking power 
4 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons good fish sauce
4 tablespoons sugar
1-2 teaspoons ground pepper
2 tablespoons roasted rice powder 
1 tablespoon oil
1 drop of red color, optional 
20 wooden skewers


Rice paper wrappers 
Fried rolls, optional
Cucumbers, thinly sliced 
2 Granny Smith Apples
Assorted Herbs

Preparing Meat

In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, garlic, salt, fish sauce, sugar and white pepper. Kneed the pork mixture until all the ingredients are well mixed.

In a small bowl, mix water, color if used and baking powder. Stir the mixture until it foams up. Pour baking powder mixture into the pork mixture. Knead the pork mixture until all the ingredients are well mixed. The baking powder adds firmer and bouncier texture. Color will enhance the color of pork when grilled. However, I didn't use it in my food since I just want it as natural as I can. 

Add roasted rice powder to the mixture to enhance the aroma and taste. Mix it well. 

Cover the meat mixture or place it in a large ziploc bag and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight so that flavors can develop and the meat gets firmer which makes it easier to form patties, skewers or balls. 

Rub a small amount of oil into the palm of your hands so that the meat does not stick to it. Now you can form any shape you would like.

Turn on your grill or charcoal and grill it at medium high heat until it turns golden brown.

If baking, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Brush oil on a baking tray and place the meat on it.  Place the tray on the middle rack and bake for about 20 minutes.  Switch from bake to broil and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven. Let it cool down and cut into pieces.

Making Fried Rolls

Use small size of Eggroll Wrappers.  Cut egg roll wrappers into half. Roll it up but not too tightly. Use an egg wash to seal the wrapper. Heat the oil until hot, then reduce the heat to medium. Fry until golden brown, drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Preparing Apple

Granny Smith Apples are crisp, juicy, and tart. It's great for salads. Slice apples thinly then soak in salt water for few seconds.   Strain and set aside.  This method is to prevent apple from turning brown. 

Dip a rice paper in luke warm water. Place the rest of the accompaniments and patties on wet rice paper then roll it up. Dip it in your favorite sauce and enjoy. 

Nem Nướng can also be served in a bowl with bún (vermicelli rice noodle), roasted peanut, scallion oil, fresh vegetables, herbs, bean sprouts, and pickled carrot. However, I prefer eating Bún Nem Nướng with dipping fish sauce.

* * *
*Raw Nem Nướng can be frozen and used later. Whenever you crave for it, just defrost frozen nem nuong the night before in the fridge.