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Tips for cooking Vietnamese food (part3)

May 23, 2023

Vietnamese people have countless tips to leverage their dishes, here are some more.

Eyeing flavor in dipping sauce

When is your multipurpose fish sauce dipping sauce (nuoc cham) close to perfection? It’s hard to tell for the novice. 

You can look for color to gauge your dipping sauce. When it’s a light honey or amber color, it’s close. 

Aim for a bold, forward finish because most likely, you’ll be dipping food that includes lettuce and herbs, which are unsalted and require an extra flavor lift at the end to heighten the eating experience.

Keeping stinky foods fresh longer

Vietnamese cooks traditionally keep stinky staples such as fish sauce

(nuoc mam) or shrimp paste/sauce (mam ruoc/tom) in the kitchen cupboard. Regular usage means a quick turnaround for such ingredients, which after all, are salted for long-term preservation in the first place.

For cooks who don’t regularly cook Vietnamese food, such ingredients should be kept in the fridge where they’ll last longer. Odors are usually not

an issue because the ingredient normally comes in a glass jar or bottle.

Storing dried shrimp

Those orangey dried salted shrimp pick up a terrible ammonia odor when

left to sit too long at room temperature. Put the bag in a plastic Ziploc bag and store in the fridge. They keep for a good 6 months that way.

Keep cooked noodles from clumping

Invert a cup or rice bowl at the bottom of your strainer or colander. Pour in the cooked noodles and rinse with cold water. 

The cup/bowl prevents the noodles from gathering at the bottom, cooling as a clump and sticking together!

Working with lemongrass

Freeze sections (4-5 inches long) of lemongrass for long-term use. Remember to trim the ends and remove any loose and unsightly outer leaves first!

You’ll find the defrosted lemongrass is easier to cut up. It retains most of its flavor. Better yet, freezing breaks down the fibers, making the lemongrass a breeze to chop. 

For minced lemongrass, roughly chop up each section and let your food processor or mini chopper go to work!

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