vietnamese cuisines

Khanh-Hoa Nguyen stirs a pot of green papaya and pigs’ feet soup. The clear broth and pale green chunks of unripe melon are redolent with fish sauce, the way her own mother prepared the soup after Nguyen’s sister gave birth.

After her second year at the University of California at Berkeley, Nguyen was spending the summer at her parents’ home in Los Angeles, watching her mother prepare big pots of Vietnamese postpartum foods for her sister.

“I don’t think I would have known if I didn’t go home that summer,” says Nguyen, who is now co-editing one of the most comprehensive English language cookbooks featuring traditional Asian foods for new mothers.

For generations, new Vietnamese mothers have eaten this stew, just as Korean mothers have downed bowls of seaweed soup and Chinese women have simmered pigs’ feet with ginger and vinegar. The food traditions stretch back for centuries, part of the practice of resting for the first 30 days after giving birth that is common throughout Asia.

For Centuries, These Asian Recipes Have Helped New Moms Recover From Childbirth

Photo: Grace Hwang Lynch for NPR
Caption: Dr. Marilyn Wong serves green papaya and pigs’ feet soup, a Vietnamese dish believed to fortify new mothers.

Banh Khot, Ho Chi Minh City

Banh khot is a Vietnamese dish I’d never seen or heard of before arriving in Ho Chi Minh City. Not on any menu I’ve come across in my travels before. Turns out it’s a quite popular snack in the country where it was created though. We stumbled upon banh khot by chance as we were leaving Ben Thanh Market, just outside of this shop…

The store was closed, but its entrance was where these women had set up shop…

Banh khot are Vietnamese mini pancakes… savory, not sweet… made from rice flour, corn starch, tumeric powder, coconut milk and scallion, cooked in what looks like a takoyaki pan, or “aebleskiver” as it’s known in Europe…

The woman in pink ladeled in the batter and grilled the “pancakes”…

The woman in black made the toppings, either fried shrimp or minced pork with vegetables…

For about $2.75 US, you’re delivered a tray of 12 banh knot with lettuce, fresh herbs and dipping sauce…

You then use the lettuce as your base and make your own pancake wraps, like so…

I enjoyed a few as wraps but actually preferred eating the small, savory pancakes as is, with just a touch of the vinegar and chilli sauce along with some mint, to be honest.

Yet another common Vietnamese cuisine I wish we had back home.

Oh, and if you do go to Ben Thanh Market to look for these banh khot, go early in the day. These ladies set up here around noon and sell out by around 4pm every day!


Bánh mì Ba Lắc, Nguyen Hue avenue, district 1

Ba Lắc vietnamese banh mi, a humble and famous sandwiches cart on Nguyen Hue avenue. Affordable price and various choices for everyone. The creamy and yellow-ish homemade butter and delicious pork paste are the most special ingredients of banh mi Ba Lắc.


Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora is in the mint family Lamiaceae. Commonly known as Thai basil it is native to Southeast Asia where it is widely used in Thai, Vietnamese, and other regional cuisines. Thai basil is a cultivated variety of basil characterized by having purple stems and leaves that are more lance-shaped compared to the regular basil variant. Within this variety however, there are hundreds of cultivars that have differences in growth habit and morphology, as well as taste. Aside from Thai basil’s use as an herb for cooking, many Thai basil cultivars are available for use ornamentally in the garden landscape. The terminal flower spikes attracts large numbers of pollinators including butterflies and bees.


Clara Cakes: The five senses of Vietnamese food and my favorite lunch spot

For my first post here on the blog, I thought I would share a restaurant that I’d want to meet you at if we were chattin’ in person: Viet Noodle Bar in LA’s Atwater Village. Viet is super spacious, with a long communal table that I always sit at, and it has books lining the wall behind it that you can browse through while slurpin’ on some noodles. Also, the modern Vietnamese cuisine is delicious!

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Beyond Cucumbers

Whether you have enough summer warmth to grow these outside, a greenhouse, or even a bright window, here are some interesting options for the garden with similar climate requirements and taste profiles to cucumbers.

1. Egyptian Luffa or Chinese Okra (Luffa Aegyptica) [BUY SEEDS]

Also known as Loofah, this gourd can be dried on the vine, and made into a durable organic scrubber for the bath or kitchen. The juvenile fruits are also edible, and used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines.

2. Caigua (Cyclanthera pedata[BUY SEEDS]

Like potatoes, the Caigua vine was domesticated in the Andes, where it is called pepino de rellenar, or “stuffing cucumber.”

3. Jungle Cucumber (Zehneria scabra[BUY SEEDS]

An extremely small fruit, Zehneria vines produce sweet, flavour-packed, cucumber-like fruits.

4. Horned Melon, or Kiwano (Cucumis metuliferus[BUY SEEDS]

Native to Africa, the horned melon’s flavour has been described as something in between a cucumber, lemon, and banana.

5. Pepino dulce or Melon Pear (Solanum muricatum[BUY SEEDS]

A member of the Solanum family and native to the Andes, the flavour of Pepino is often described as being a mixture of a honeydew and a cucumber.

6. Okra, or Gumbo (Abelmoschus esculentus[BUY SEEDS]

A member of the mallow family–and native to either South Asia, Ethiopia or West Africa–okra is a fixture in Mediterranean cuisines, South Asian cuisines, and many cuisines across the African diaspora.


Oh, Balut! It’s a staple in Vietnamese and Filipino cuisines, yet many other cultures consider it a ‘bizarre food.’ I’ve always loved Balut. For those unfamiliar with the dish, it’s fertilized eggs with partially developed duck embryos. The description just adds to the ickiness for those unadventurous eaters. What they should really call it is an eggy, goodness explosion!

If you want to try Balut, it’s really important to go to a resturant that serves the dish. If they know how to pick the Balut, then you will never encourter the problems mentioned above. A perfectly cooked Balut tastes like chicken soup. You shouldn’t even be able to tell you’re smashing up a duckling with each bite.

I have found the Balut at Banh Xeo Quan to be quite consistent and delicious. They are only avaiable there on weekends for $2.50 a piece. Make sure to add herbs and some salt and pepper!

If you’re still not sure about Balut, I’d suggest ordering one and just drinking the soup and eating the yolk. You can totally just scoop out the duck and work your way up to it!

Happy Eatings!

Visit them at:

8742 E Garvey Ave
Rosemead, CA 91770

(626) 288-2699