Food Memory: Bo Nhung Dam

ready to roll

Food is embedded into our everyday lives and our culture.  It becomes familiar to our senses, and linked to our memories.

I would say I used to take this food memory for granted, not realizing how intertwined food is in our lives and memories.  But now, more than ever, I realize how so many memories can be tied to one meal.

My mom made a great many delicious meals, and I always looked forward to eating each one.  However, there was one that my mom made, I’d like to think especially for me, but let’s face it, all of us kids looked forward to it.  My mom would make Bo Nhung Dam for us when she knew we were coming to visit, or is she thought I was getting too skinny, b/c she knew I would devour it and then some.

I only ever like the way my mom made it.  I’ve come close to getting a good broth, and enjoy it, but still trying to find the perfect ratios to get it exactly the way my mom used to make it.

the major fixings, additions up to you.

{Bo Nhung Dam – Beef Dipped in Vinegar} serves about 4-6

  • 3 – 16oz cans chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/8 cup butter
  • 1 – 16oz canned pineapples, drained (you can definitely use fresh)
  • 1/8 cup vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 can of Budweiser beer, any beer would work, but my mom always used Bud
  • 1lb thinly sliced beef – round eye beef or any other lean beef
  • 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • fine vermicelli noodles
  • rice paper, i prefer ‘Ba Co Gai (Three Ladies) Brand
  • 1 Head of Leafy Green Lettuce, wash and torn
  • 1 large cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
  • Bowl of water
  • optional, spinach, enoki mushrooms, squid, abalone, or anything really, that’d you want to put in it.
  1. Bowl your noodles according to the package.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Pour chicken brother into a pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.  Add the butter, stir occasionally to combine.
  3. Add the sliced onions and pineapples. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat
  4. Add vinegar.  I love vinegar, but tend to add a bit more, so use this time to taste test and add to your taste. Let it simmer for about 5 -10 minutes
  5. Arrange the remainder of your raw ingredients out on the table.
  6. Transfer your pot of brother to a table top burner.  Pour the can of beer in, bring to a rolling boil
  7. You’re now ready to dip your beef in the vinegar broth.
  8. While the goodies are boiling, dip the rice paper in a bowl of water to hydrate it.  No need to drench it for too, just make sure it gets dipped in the water quickly.
  9. Layering technique: Rice paper, lettuce, cucumber, noodles, then the cooked toppings: beef, shrimp, additional veggies.
  10. Fold both sides towards the middle, and roll forward.  Sorry those directions are vague, but it seems like everyone has their own rolling technique, find what works for you.
Do you have any dishes that are strongly tied to a memory?

Nobody’s Perfect


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I know I’m not perfect, but sometime’s I’m REALLY not perfect.

I was so excited to find this wonderful macaron recipe on Not So Humble Pie’s blog.  I was so excited about the Ladurée’s Sucre macaron recipe that I neglected all the careful tips and steps needed to make the perfect macarons.  I’ll remember to follow Food Nouveau’s guide next time.

This is what resulted from my perfectly good impatience:

Strawberry & Blackberry Jam Macarons

The fortunate part is that even though they look amateurish, the 4 dozen that resulted were perfectly delicious!

Hoping my next go round comes out perfect.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope your macaron adventures are more positive than mine!



Roasted Wrap


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ready to roll

Easter lunch for me and my sister consisted of a roasted wrap.  I still had some remaining veggies I wanted to use up, before they really hit the fan.  So I chopped them up in uniform pieces, mixed about 2 tables spoons of olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste.  Roasted them up, got my tortilla ready, laid down some hummus, a handful of arugula, fresh chopped cucumbers, and then spooned on some of the roasted goodness.  I scarfed it down and washed it down with some Zico.  After such an energizing meal, I started my plan for spring cleaning.  If I ever completed it, you will never know.  Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Roasted Veggie Wrap [serves 4-6]

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 half a can of corn kernels
  • 2TBS olive oil
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp each of salt & pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • arugula, as desired
  • about 2 TBS hummus for each wrap

    Getting ready for the roasting

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Chop the zucchini, bell peppers, and onions, toss in a bowl with the olive oil.
  3. Season with cayenne, salt & pepper.  Mix thoroughly.
  4. Transfer mixture to an oven proof vessel, and roast for about 20-25minutes
  5. While it’s baking, prep your wrap.  Heat/Steam the tortilla for about 10-20secs.  I placed a clean, moist towel over the tortilla, and heated in the microwave for about 20secs.
  6. Spread the hummus on the tortilla, put down a handful of arugula, and sprinkle on some chopped cucumbers.
  7. When the roasted veggies is ready, place that on top of your tortilla.
  8. Wrap and roll, you’re ready to go. (Yes, I know how corny that sounds).
Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this roasted wrap as much as I did!

Koo with delight!


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Sushi Koo

Has a meal ever made me coo with delight?  Perhaps, but none stands out in my mind more than Koo.I loved walking in and seeing simply dark, and sleek wooden tables.  The settings caught my eye with a mellow yellow napkin that popped against the dark wood.  Our waitress was great, she was always there when we needed her, and never there when we didn’t.  It made for an enjoyable experience where we could enjoy our food, and did not have our conversations interrupted.
Upon Yelper’s suggestions, I ordered the Spoonful of Happiness, and oh boy it definitely was!  You get two spoonfuls and a shot of sake in the set.  One is ankimo wrapped in hamachi with white truffle oil ponzu.  Take a shot of sake after the first one to cleanse the palette if you wish.  The second spoonful is uni, quail egg, and tobiko ponzu.  Both spoonfuls were delicious, but my favorite was the uni, quail egg, and tobiko ponzu, absolutely creamy and delicious!

Spoonful of Happiness - a spoonful of uni, quail egg, tobiko ponzu & a spoonful of ankimo wrapped with whitefish, white truffle-oil ponzu & a shot of chilled sake

I also had a fresh order of the shashimi combo, which included about 4 selections of their freshest fish, and an order of unagi ngiri.

Sashimi Combo - Maguro, Hamachi, Salmon & White-fish

Dragon Roll & Unagi Ngiri

Needless to say, I left so satisfyingly happy.  Must’ve been that spoonful of happiness.  I hear there’s a Happy Hour hear I should check out, too.  If you’re ever in the area, stop by and try a spoonful of happiness for yourself.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sushi Koo
(415) 731-7077
408 Irving street
San Francisco, CA 94122

Vegetarian Lasagna Cupcakes


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Lasagna Cupcake ready to be eaten!

My fridge has been filled with a plethora of vegetables, and I had to cook it before they spoiled.  My sister, still vegetarian, and still annoying me with the same few ingredients in her repertoire, inspired me to make some hearty, healthy, vegetarian lasagna!  It was originally going to be a traditional lasagna, but my friends insisted on lasagna cupcakes, even though they were never going to get to eat it. (distance, not because I’m mean)

Lasagna Cupcakes

  • 14 lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large eggplant diced
  • 16oz spinach
  • 1 zuchinni, sliced into rounds
  • ground peppercorns, to taste
  • 2tsp garlic powder, or to taste
  • 2tsp onion powder, or to taste
  • 2tsp dried basil, or to taste
  • 2tsp oregano, or to taste
  • 2tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • 16oz pasta sauce (your choice)
  • 8 ounces cottage cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Cook lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Lay each one a clean towel until ready to use. Note: Prep the noodles any way you like to make the cupcake holder.  I cut each noodle in half, then made a half slit to fold it in the cupcake pan.  You can also cut them into thin strips and just shove/layer them in as you like, there is no wrong way.
  2. Pour olive oil into saute pan over medium heat, coat evenly.
  3. Add the mushrooms, eggplant, and spinach.  Saute until spinach has wilted.  Add the spices to taste
  4. Drain any excess liquid.
  5. Add sauce to the veggie mixture and simmer for about fifteen minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  7. Spoon a thin layer of sauce into the cupcake pans
  8. Fill the cupcake pans with noodles.
  9. Place a zucchini round at the bottom. Spoon a layer of the sauce mixture on top, top with a thin layer of cottage cheese, top the cottage cheese with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese
  10. For the last layer, add the sauce mixture and top with mozzarella cheese
  11. Bake covered for about 20 minutes and then uncovered for another 5mins or until sizzling.
  12. Let sit for about a minute or two, and serve warm.

Zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, spinach, all prepped and ready to go

ready to bake

hot, right out of the oven!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope this recipe proves as enjoyable for you as it was for me!

Open-faced Quinoa burger with Vegetarian Chili

Open-faced Quinoa burger with Vegetarian Chili

After 7 weeks of my ‘required’ vegetarianism, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into my first steak, eat fresh sushi, and reunite with my In n Out burgers.  However, I didn’t go back to my pre-vegetarian diet ways.  It could’ve been because I got used to a lifestyle sans meat, or because my sister gave up meat for Lent, and eating a steak in front of her for dinner just seemed wrong.  In any case, I was getting bored of watching her eat the same salad over and over again, and decided to make vegetarian chili.  It was my comfort food while I was a vegetarian and it left me full and satisfied.  While at the store I thought about what I could serve with it, and I remembered these Quinoa burgers that my friend made and raved about.  Vegetarian Chili and Quinoa burgers it was!  I got the quinoa burger recipe from Linda at Eat Well Living Thin(er).  Delicious!

Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 – 16oz can black beans
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 large bell pepper chopped
  • 2 – 3 serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded, and minced.
  • 1 large eggplant chopped
  • 1 -16oz can of corn
  • 2 lbs assorted mushrooms (i used button and portabello)
  • 2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS cayenne
  • 4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 – 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  1. In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, bell peppers and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft.  About 3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggplant, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges.  About 5 – 7 minutes
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes.
  6. Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

To assemble my hearty dinner, I first placed the quinoa patty down on a plate or shallow bowl.  Then dropped heaping spoonfuls of chili over the quinoa patty, and added a dollop of sour cream.  I forgot to add my cheddar cheese, but so mouthwateringly delicious!

Thanks for dropping by!

Front: Vegetarian Chili; Back: Quinoa burger patty

San Francisco Soup Company


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Yogurt Parfait w/Fruit

I have recently been sitting in San Francisco for work, which is nice and refreshing.  I love the hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco.  However, I hate the crowds during lunch time, so usually try to avoid it by bringing my own lunch.  This day was unlike any other.  Woke up, got ready for work, packed my lunch and headed to the office on Bart, but while I was on Bart, I realized I forgot my lunch at home!!!! If you know me, not having access to my food is a reason for panic to set in.  I was new to the area, and even though there were restaurants and delis lining the streets, I had no idea what I was going to eat for lunch.  I was distraught, and this early in the morning, hungry!

I calmly panicked about what I would eat for lunch, but was distracted by what I would eat for breakfast.  At that very moment I walked by the large windows of San Francisco Soup Company and saw their arrangement of fruits, fresh squeezed OJ, and walked in to see what other breakfast items there were.  I’m not big on breakfast foods, but the yogurt parfait and fresh fruit salad caught my eye.  I almost picked up a hard boiled egg, too, but i refrained from my usual ‘eyes are bigger than my stomach’ food ordering mentality.  I walked out with my two breakfast items, and made a mental note for lunch.

I had a good amount of vegetarian options for lunch.  After browsing San Francisco Soup Company’s website, I knew I was definitely getting the Organic Southwest Corn Chowder.  I walked over there, and while waiting in line, thought I’d throw in the Greek Salad, as well.  Lunch was definitely an ‘eyes are bigger than my stomach’ moment.  I savored my soup and saved my salad for my second lunch.  Definitely more that I should have eaten, but definitely satisfied.

Organic Southwestern Corn Chowder & Greek Salad

The staff at that particular spot is so nice and friendly.  I can tell if you’re a regular, because they call you by name, but they are nice all the same.  Stop by a San Francisco Soup Company, you won’t be disappointed.

San Francisco Soup Company

Baked Egg in Avocado


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Haas Avocados with Farm Fresh eggs

The simplest meal for any morning.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut the avocado in half, pit it, and scoop out some avocado
  3. Place the avocado on a baking sheet
  4. Crack the egg into the center of the avocado
  5. Season with a little salt and pepper
  6. Place in oven and cook for about 12-15minutes, until egg is just set
  7. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar
Sit by a window and enjoy some sunshine while savoring this baked goodness!

A Vegetarian’s Delight


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Banh Canh


Bun Rieu

Between my commute and diet restrictions, it’s difficult to find quick, delicious food, but that’s because I never paid attention before. For the past 5 weeks I’ve done pretty good at sticking to my vegetarian diet, with the exception of the shrimp chips that I caught after a few bites. I must say, though, I credit my ease of transition to Dong Phuong Tofu in San Jose, CA, and boyfriend for telling me about it.

Whenever I was in San Jose after work, we’d stop by Dong Phuong Tofu to grab a combo plate, or some of my favorite soups. Here you can find a plethora of traditionally meat cuisines sans meat. Dong Phuong Tofu does a fantastic job at making a vegetarian dish still seem much like its meat counter part. You’ve got your pho, bun bo hue, curry noodle soup, and two of my faves, banh canh and bun rieu. Not to mention the 30+ other dishes there.

The staff is quick and friendly. They’re always so welcoming when I go in and always willing to help me make a selection, though I usually revert to my usual pickled mustard greens with tofu, bamboo shoots with tofu, and the sweet and sour soup.

The space is small, about 30% of the space is reserved for eating in, i prefer to take it to go and eat it at home with the rest of my meat eating friends and family. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend it, vegetarian or not, I’m sure you’ll appreciate and enjoy it. Just don’t go on Wednesdays, they’re closed.

If you happen to stop by, tell me what you think!

Dong Phuong Tofu
2359 McKee Rd
San Jose, CA 95116
(408) 251-6838

BBQ not blunders!


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BBQ doesn’t mean vegetarians aren’t allowed. I thought I’d have to bring my own special meal, but with thoughtful friends and the regular fixings a BBQ doesn’t have to be all about the meat.


Veggie burger with the fixings . Brie & apricot puff pastry . Spinach dip on fresh sourdough