Bánh mì Baguette With a Sausage & Sauce: Readjusting to Aussie Food

Who doesn’t adore Vietnam’s bánh mì baguette? Light and crusty.

Time to “re-acclimatise” to Aussie food (fly home from Vung Tau tonight) so lunch is a good ol’ snag & egg in a roll. With tomato sauce.

After a month of mostly preservative-free Asian eating, Aussie food can give you a hard kick in the belly.

Read the ingredients label: we tend to consume the entire Periodic Table at every meal.

That’s the “price” of convenience food …
(This tastes good, btw)

The Vietnamese bánh mì baguette: light and crusty.

Crayfish to Crave. But be Prepared to Shell Out for it

You beauty!

Dinner tonight. That’s 750 grams of Vietnam crayfish to crave.

I shook his hand (antenna) in the tank first, to make sure he was a fine specimen.

Now into the pot, then onto the barbie, and bon appetit.

1.2 mmillion dong (AUD$75), in Vung Tau. Same price in Nha Trang and DaNang.

If you think fresh seafood is still cheap in South-East Asia, you’re dreaming.

Demand from China has put paid to that. (You can see why the Qantas CEO prefers a planeful of Tassie live lobster, to economy passengers.)

Fresh, live crayfish in Vietnam. This is a beaut specimen, for dinner tonight. Demand from China is pushing up the price of fresh seafood across Asia

Vietnam Food. So You Think You’ve Tried It All?

You’ve seen it a thousand times, on a dozen visits, probably nibbled it – but never really stopped and “experienced” it. 

South-East Asian food is like that. You may reckon you’ve seen it all but no, there’s always a surprise.

Vietnamese call this grapefruit. It’s a type of pomelo, and it varies in taste, appearance and name, according the area where it’s grown.

This one might be nam roi or doan hung; its juice is sweet and with a lingering acidic after-taste.

It is bursting with “healthy”.

When have you eaten enough?

The sweetness lures you into yet another mouthful, while the hint of acid sharpness suggests otherwise: ahh, the absorbing contradictions, that is travel in South-East Asia.

Vietnamese grapefruit are a pomelo and vary in taste, texture and name, according to where that are grown.

Fast Food Wars in Vietnam

Fast Food Wars: the smokey, heat of battle in Vung Tau, Vietnam.

Pitched on each side of the street, it’s Cóm 25k versus Cóm Tàm 25k.

Maccas v Hungry Jack’s? KFC v Red Rooster?

Both sell the grilled, ultra-thin chicken cutlet with egg, rice, vegie and a squirt of sweet chilli syrup.

Delicious, too.

Let’s call it a draw, and we’re all winners …

Vietnam Grows on You

Vietnam devotes much effort into beautifying the beachside parks and gardens.

This is the “Back Beach”, in Vung Tau; the same for Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An – at destinations up and down the Vietnam coast.

Take time out in Vietnam’s beautiful and relaxing beachside parks and gardens

Crunch Time: Tackling Vietnam Soft-Shell Prawns

Vietnam soft shell shrimp (prawns).

Not to my liking but it keeps popping up, in Vung Tau, Nha Trang – across this fascinating country.

Steamed, grilled, sweet, fried. Not one to shy away from a challenge, by the end of this journey I will have acquired an appreciation, or, having given it my best shot, I shall withdraw with honour.

This night’s street-stall version is a big prawn, deep fried in peanut oil with a very tasty batter, and the prawn meat is firm and delicious.

A pity there’s a barrier of “crunchy” shell between the two.

Crunch, crunch, crunch …

Soft-shell prawns/shrimp are a culinary favourite in South-East Asia (and now world-wide) but that “crunchy” shell can be a challenge to even an adventurous diner.

Crispy Rice ‘Puff’ is Good Stuff

Vietnam Lunch: the young bloke next to me was eating a plateful of these, with rice.

Being of daring spirit and with a yearn to learn, I had to try one too. Delicious!

Similar to a Cantonese ham sui gok, it is a light, hollow, doughy “puff” coated in baked rice “bubbles” (a la crispy rice crackers) and, I presume, pan fried.

These being hollow, you could have a lot of fun experimenting with various fillings such as paté or mince, or do vegetarian with diced tomatoes and onions; maybe a sweet version with raisins and citrus peel, and serve hot with vanilla bean ice-cream.

(I’ve impressed myself with these ideas. What am I doing, pretending to write? I should be pretending to “chef” …)

Crispy rice “puffs”: a delicious addition to lunch in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Vietnam Lunch is ‘One With The Lot’

Vietnam lunch is a “one with the lot”.

A big queue was happening at this Nha Trang street food stall – building labourers, office workers, they were pulling up on their motor scooters; the family running the stall were working like clockwork, filling take-away containers and ladening plates.

They all seemed to be ordering rice with a bit of everything. So I did, too! Smart move.

The meal was pork done various ways, chicken, boiled/stewed pigeon eggs, vegetable, crunchy fried shrimp (yes, I crunched them – shell, head and all), and other bits and pieces.

Generously spoon on some SE Asian home-made sweet chilli syrup, and tuck in …

Lunch is a Vietnamese “one with the lot”


Traditional Vietnamese Wedding is a Feast of Fun

Traditional Vietnamese wedding near nha Trang: what an honour to be invited, by Dung to the wedding of one of her work staff.

They are so courteous and friendly.

Two fun & friendly hours of eating, speeches, eating, singing, eating, hand-shaking, eating, pics, eating …
(videos to come)

Beautiful bride & gregarious groom, with office workmates – and an Aussie ring-in.
Sneak in a smile, in between courses of delicious Vietnamese food
Guess whose camera has run out of space on the memory card?

Breaking Bread With Broken Rice: “Quiche Nha Trang”

Chà com tâm is a cold “pie” made with broken rice, cucumber and eggs – this version tastes also of mushrooms and salty fish sauce, adorned with red chillies.

It’s like quiche Lorraine … shall we call it “Quiche Nha Trang”?

On the topic of “broken rice”, one evening I chatted to an American in the Muster Bar in Vung Tau who was building a factory on the Mekong River, in partnership with a local, to export “broken rice”.

There’s big bickies to be made in the non-perfect rice grain trade …

Chà com tâm is a quiche-like Vietnamese dish made of “broken rice” (ie non-perfect grains) mashed with eggs, cucumber and other ingredients