Monday, November 9, 2009

Spring Rolls and Hot Pots and Pancakes, Oh My!

Alright, enough of my whining about break-ins and bug bites. Time to get down to the good stuff. And when somebody asks me what the best aspect of Vietnamese culture is, I will undoubtedly answer with this every time: CUISINE!

Spring rolls: Ahhh, delish. Note, however, that there are two specific kinds: there are the more popular deep-fried spring rolls that most folks back in the States are familiar with - an assortment of delightful digs such as veggies, meat or poultry are all too commonly found inside. But in Vientam, the more popular roll is the rice-paper roll, as seen in the above image. This roll is made out of a light, translucent wrap known as rice-paper, made by none other than the standard Vietnamese staple of RICE. Inside, there are typically three main ingredients: rice noodles, shrimp (sometimes meat) and some kind of mint leaf to give it that extra umpf. Pretty damn good, even if you don't dip the roll in the much-beloved fish sauce (which only enhances its already flawless flavor.) Only down side to this culinary collaboration of sweet, sour and sharp tastes: putting them together by yourself is hard. Let a Vietnamese do it for you. Or just buy them pre-made on the streets. Otherwise your roll will collapse, and you'll be left sad, hungry and irritable.
Hot Pots: We really don't do them enough in America, and I'm having more and more trouble figuring out why that is. They make for an awesome entree and they're healthy too! The hot pot is basically East Asia's version of stew, just a lot better than any stew I've ever eaten at home. What goes inside, you ask? Why, anything you want! Leafy vegetables, thinly sliced meat, mushrooms, wontons, seafood, egg dumplings, etc. The list is endless. It's really up to you and your fellow diners what you decide to chuck inside. My favorite hot pot so far was actually the one with the live eel, boiling to death for my dinner. Sorry buddy, but you did taste really good!
Vietnamese Pancakes: "In the traditional American frame of mind, pancakes are thick, lovely slices of carbohydrate heaven. In Can Tho, they are very thin, very crispy flakes of fried rice noodle, jam-packed with a plethora of goodies in between: bean sprouts, carrots, string beans, shrimp, chicken, beef, pineapple, peas, etc. Anything you want in there (except maple syrup) you got it." Why did I just put quotes around my own words? Well, because I've already written that segment about Vietnamese pancakes before in another article, and didn't want to discredit myself for taking these words out of an article written by...myself. Yeah, I'm weird, but you get the picture!

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