Ten years ago I launched Viet World Kitchen. I wanted to create a hub for information on Vietnamese food, cooking and culture. There wasn’t much out there so I spent weeks working in Dreamweaver to build the site. Each page was constructed with very little automation, as is the case nowadays with platforms like Typepad and Wordpress.
I toiled without knowing about search engine optimization. I just focused on publishing information that may be of use to people. If someone liked it, they would email me and I would post their comment.
One of the Viet World Kitchen pages I made was called “Mama Says,” a repository for kitchen tips that were taught to us by someone older. Mine were primarily from my mother so I created a cute icon dedicated to her.
I posted Mom’s culinary tidbits and she liked it. When I moved VWK over to a blog platform, I moved “Mama Says” onto a post called “Tips for Cooking Vietnamese Food.”
My mom continued to dispense her kitchen wisdom. Over the years, we began trading kitchen tips and food discoveries. She has even asked me for advice, which is how the tofu book got started.
A couple of weeks ago during Spring Break, she revealed her latest culinary gem. She’d set up a roll-your-own snack of bo bia beef and jicama hand rolls (for the recipe, see Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, page 30) as part of our dinner.
My dad, husband and I were doing our normal thing to make rice paper rolls when my mom declared, “I have a better way to roll bo bia firmly and neatly. Let me show you.” The she proceeded to efficiently wield chopsticks to create a lovely roll.
In response to Philip's comment below, here's is the theory behind the chopsticks: They keep the filling ingredients in place. Additionally (I just thought of this), they help to steady rolling up the rice paper. For consistently handsome rolls, use the same rice paper, use a moderate amount of filling, and place your filling strategically. This how to wrap summer rolls post should help.
I asked my mom to do it again, and that’s how this quicky iPhone movie came about. [I experimented with the "Ken Burns" effect here with a narration. Sorry if you don't like it but I'm sure you see what's happening.]
Mom was a little nervous with the impromptu filming and she wasn’t fully happy with the roll she came up with at the end. Sorry, no retakes this time around. We wanted to move on to the next course in the meal.
I don't think you need to see a beauty shot of the roll to get the idea. Try it out and see how you like her chopsticks approach to crafting a rice paper roll.
I’m curious about what Me Gia (Old Mother in Vietnamese) will think of Mr. Spring Roll when she gets her hands on it. I’m sure she’ll have plenty to say, in addition to dispensing more information for future “Mama Says” posts.
If you have culinary wisdom to contribute, add them to this post. If it’s something lengthy and/or if there’s a photo or video, email me.
- Mother’s Day 2011 Tribute: Who’s My Mama? (it’s not too early to start thinking about May 13, 2012)
- Tips for Cooking Vietnamese Food (contains the original Mama Says tips from long ago)
- My Mother’s Kitchen Quirks (this is a fun post to revisit as many people have said that their moms use the dishwasher for storing dishes, not washing them)
- Mom’s Obsession with Ice Cream Scoops and Industrial Cooking
- Garlicky Pan-Fried Pork Steaks (thit cot-let chien is a fab recipe Mom shared in 2010)
- Vietnamese Rice and Pork Pyramid Dumplings (banh gio, there’s a video of her cool wrapping technique; this video is posted on Asiandumplingtips.com)