Friday, May 15, 2015

Crock Pot Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup)

Crock Pot Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup) 1

My most popular and most commented recipe on the blog is Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup). I'm not going to rant again about how bun bo Hue is not Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) because with different noodles, different broths, and different meats, you obviously know that by now, right? If you don't, I'll wait while you click over before coming back.

Bun bo Hue is a bit more laborious to make, what with the beef and pork bones, pig's feet, and lemongrass to give the soup its depth of flavor. Not to mention the kick of chilies for spice and shrimp paste for savoriness. So how to squeeze all that into a 5-quart Crock Pot? Obviously, I couldn't use beef or pork bones because that would take up all the space. So I decided to go with a combination of pig's feet, pork spare ribs, and beef shank meat. I reduced the portions of the other ingredients accordingly.

The test came on May 15, 2010. That was a big day in the Wandering Chopsticks kitchen! Tony of SinoSoul was getting a new oven and giving me his old one. It's hard to believe, but for three years, my old oven literally could not boil water. It's a wonder I've been able to cook as I have. I mean, I still cooked noodles, it just took longer until they were done. We were so excited to see the water boiling that we even took pictures! This momentous occasion deserved a corresponding recipe.

In the morning, I prepped the meats for the stock and put them in the Crock Pot on high heat. While the stock was cooking, I prepped the garnishes -- the steamed pork loaf, blood cubes, bean sprouts, onions, and mint leaves. Normally, I'd slice some banana blossoms, but a simplified recipe meant a simplified garnish platter as well. I shoved everything into the refrigerator until it was time to eat.

Nearly four hours later, after picking up my new-used oven and swapping the old one out, and obviously, testing that new-old oven could boil water for the noodles, we sat down to eat the Crock Pot bun bo Hue. Hey! Pretty good! Now, I will admit that the broth isn't as full-bodied as it could have been via the traditional method, but the bones in the pork spare ribs and pig's feet added some heft to the broth. And when it came down to it, the convenience of a Crock Pot bun bo Hue outweighed the few cons. So if you don't have time or are too intimidated to try making bun bo Hue the traditional way, do give my Crock Pot bun bo Hue a try. Like I've proven with my very popular Crock Pot Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) recipe, Vietnamese tradition can be updated for modern convenience without sacrificing authenticity or flavor.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Banh Pa Te So Nhan Banh Mi (Vietnamese Pate Chaud (French Hot Pastry Pie) with Sandwich Fillings)

Banh Pa Te So Nhan Banh Mi (Vietnamese Pate Chaud (French Hot Pastry Pie) with Sandwich Fillings) 1

Shortly after trying the special at Au Coeur De Paris Patisserie & Boulangerie - Westminster ( Little Saigon), basically a Banh Pa Te So (Vietnamese Pate Chaud (French Hot Pastry Pie)) with Vietnamese sandwich fillings, I knew I would recreate this at home. Such a brilliant idea!

I made my usual Vietnamese puff pastry pies, then stuffed them like Au Coeur De Paris does with homemade Xa Xiu (Vietnamese Chinese Barbecued Pork)Cha Lua (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Loaf), and Do Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Stuff). Tucked in a few sprigs of cilantro and little hand-sized snacks were perfect.

I was trying to come up with a name to call these, but couldn't come up with anything shorter than what they are Banh Pa Te So Nhan Banh Mi (Vietnamese Pate Chaud (French Hot Pastry Pie) with Sandwich Fillings). Ha! If you're in the Little Saigon area, I highly recommend checking out Au Coeur De Paris' specials, but otherwise, they're easy enough to make at home, they just have a lot of components.

Hot flaky puff pastry stuffed with three kinds of meat and pickles? Perfection.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Au Coeur de Paris Patisserie & Boulangerie - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Au Coeur De Paris Patisserie & Boulangerie  - Westminster (Little Saigon) 1

This story is a bit rambling, so bear with me. It starts several decades ago, when I was in high school and attended a weekend retreat sponsored by the Rotary Club. Our guest speaker was Bob Farrell, co-founder of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurants, who sold the chain and became a consultant and motivational speaker. He talked about customer service.

The story goes that a man, who wasn't dressed so finely, walked into a bank to cash a check. He asked the bank to validate his 50-cent parking ticket. The teller refused. He asked to speak to a manager. The manager backed up the teller and also refused to validate the customer's parking ticket. So he said he wanted to withdraw all his money and close out his account.

Sure. Because how much money could this scruffy customer possibly have?

The teller's face paled.

Apologies were rendered.

And refused.

The customer withdrew $1 million.

He promptly took his money and deposited it in the bank across the street.

Decades later, the story stayed with me. I thought it was just a story. Turns out, the story is true -- in October 1988, John Barrier, who made his money renovating houses, went into Old National Bank (now U.S. Bank) in Spokane, Wash. to cash a check and had his 50-cent parking validation refused. So he withrew $1 million. He took his money across the street to Seafirst Bank, who made it a point to treat Barrier well. But whether he had $1 or $1 million, was charging 50 cents for parking worth losing any customer? Farrell's pickle principle is about businesses doing what they can to make things right for the customer. Don't be so tight-fisted about the small stuff, that you lose loyal customers.

Now, my story is on a much, much smaller scale.