Many people like the August leftovers post and a few emailed and tweeted cool info too. I created a folder for the tasty tidbits and realized that it was getting full. Time to unload September’s leftovers!
First off, after the post about the glowing review of Asian Tofu from The Art of Eating, I got a very nice email from Ten Speed Press publisher, Aaron Wehner. He edited my first book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, and despite having moved on to shouldering greater responsibility as head honcho at the house, he retains tremendous pride in the works of his editorial past. In fact, Aaron sent along the image at the top of this page. It’s a drawing of mega-star chef David Chang’s cookbook collection, as rendered in My Ideal Bookshelf, a book filled with drawings of influential people’s book collections.
The Viet book is in the mix (can you find it?), along with a few of my all-time favorite works. I’d heard from friends that my book was in the bathroom at Chang’s Momofuku Ko in New York City. Well, Mr. Chang, I keep issues of Lucky Peach in my bathroom. Bathroom reading is important. In fact, esteemed author Margaret Atwood said that the bathroom is a great place to read because no one can interrupt you. It is your reading throne, sort to speak.
If you’re looking to add to your collection in the months ahead, there’s going to be a slew of new cookbooks authored or co-authored by chefs. Asian-centric books are well represented. I look forward to checking out books by Ivan Orkin (ramen), Andy Ricker (Thai food), Luke Nguyen (Vietnamese), Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat (Japanese home cooking) and Roy Choi (melting pot Los Angeles) work; note that Choi’s co-authors are Viet gals Tien Nguyen and Natasha Phan.
Speaking of words, the British had a verbal skirmish about whether or not “pho” could be trademarked. It was a war between restaurants and food journalist Jay Rayner captured the debate in a UK Guardian post. Many thanks to Mike for the heads up.
Denver Asian Food Scene
The Mile High City has developed its Asian food options since I was there in 2009. While in Denver last week, stylist Karen Shinto and I shopped at the Pacific Ocean Market (POM), a brand spanking new Asian market on Alameda, just shy of Federal the main drag. POM wasn’t fully stocked up but it was clean, with a great housewares section. The inventory was a bit odd and didn’t include a lot of the reliable brands usually stocked at Asian markets. For example, there were tons of imposter brands of Gold Pagoda Shaoxing rice wine but only one bottle of the actual brand. I hope things will improve. There are smaller markets on Federal that I didn’t get a chance to check out. POM has a bigger store in Broomfield, and there’s an H-Mart in Aurora.
Joe at the Denver Post suggested that I go to reliable Pho Duy for a bowl of beefy goodness. He was so right. Karen was ill and the hot broth hit the spot. The small bowl is all you need for solid pho satisfaction. They should charge more.
I dined at Cho Lon Bistro in a more upscale part of town. It’s pan-Southeast Asian and borrows a bit of the playbook from RockSugar in Los Angeles. That said, they make a remarkable soup dumpling filled with a French onion soup mixture.
On Twitter, Silvie pointed me to an interesting YouTube video of a 5-minute Viet cooking lesson. It’s done by a Vietnamese-American gal who speaks fast Vietnamese but you can hear the Viet-glish too. They sped up the camera work in this video for banh beo (small steamed rice pancakes topped with shrimp, mung beans and scallion oil; see Into the Vietnamese Kitchen for a recipe). In case you wonder, the show hostess uses food coloring to make her ground shrimp a startling orange red; a commenter frowned upon it and suggests natural options. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from watching her though.
Love it when readers use my recipes for new recipes. Gail in Philadelphia wrote: "I thought you'd be interested to know how I use your recipe for Tomato Egg Drop Soup to make an easy faux Bún Riêu Cua. I omit the pork, use stock made from shrimp shells, add mấm tôm and add lump crab meat at the end. Very easy and delicious." Follow Gail’s lead. She's a smartie.
Bo Gia’s Discoveries
My dad found a evocative photos of Saigon in the 1920s. I’m going to Vietnam at the beginning of the year so it was great to brush up on the scene. Of course, I’ll be adding a zillion motorbikes, cars, and pedestrians! The YouTube slide show has lounge music but if you endure it (or mute it), you’ll see image like the one above.
Last Thursday was the Harvest Moon festival (aka Mid-Autumn Festival, Zhōngqiū Jié, 中秋節, 中秋节, Tết Trung Thu). It’s the time of year when the moon is at its brightest and kids parade around with colorful lanterns. If you celebrate the Chinese and Vietnamese holiday, it’s also a time for moon cakes. Go ahead and roll your eyes at the Asian version of fruitcake. I love them.
Yesterday afternoon, I dug around my freezer and found one last moon cake that I made – get this – a couple of years ago. We ate tiny wedges for dessert, accompanied by hot tea. It was a scrumptious way to count our blessings and savor life’s goodness.
If you come across things to share with VWK readers, let me know.
- How I make moon cakes (photos and video)