I’ve known many people who want to be famous, but very few think about the kind of fame they want. For those of you who secretly crave fame, however big or small, may I suggest that you strive for food blogger fame? It’s a really good kind of fame. 99 out of 100 people have no idea who you are, and those that do know who you are like you for reasons that are based entirely on your work. The best part, though, is that people will want to cook for you. Isn’t that the best? I mean if you’re a famous novelist, what do you get? A free subscription to The New York Review of Books? Who wants that when you can have Kim Spurlock cook you dinner?
Kim is another film school classmate of Craig’s who invited us to dinner last week. Kim is Vietnamese and she and her Vietnamese friend Adele cooked us an awesome, authentic Vietnamese dinner. The awesomest part? She e-mailed me the recipes afterwards, so I can share them here.
To start, Kim fried up a batch of Cha Gio: Vietnamese Spring Rolls. She nearly gave me a heart attack with the scalding hot oil sloshing around in the pan, but calmed me with assurances that she recently purchased a fire extinguisher and a First Aid kit:
What differentiates Cha Gio from your standard, everyday spring roll is the wrapping: it’s wrapped in rice paper so it gives it a unique texture, lighter–almost like biting through really thin, edible glass:
The show-stopping dish, though, was the Bo Luc Lac: aka, Shaking Beef. It’s one of those formulas that just can’t come out bad: chunks of rib-eye marinated with garlic, fish sauce, sugar and salt cooked over a high heat. Look how scrumptious:
Also on hand at this dinner was Kim’s roommate Etienne who, despite his best efforts, is not Vietnamese. He is South African and he cooked a wonderful green tomato curry from Mangoes & Curry Leaves:
See, isn’t food blog fame the best? All this food and all I had to do was take pictures and write about it. Actually, I didn’t even have to do that but I wanted to do that because it was so good. And I figured you’d want me to, right? And now, without further ado, the recipes (minus the green tomato curry.) Thanks again to Kim & Etienne for a wonderful dinner.
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Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
* 1/2 cup ground pork
* 1/2 cup rehydrated dried black fungus (cloud mushrooms)
* 1/2 cup cooked bean threads
* 1/2 cup chopped white onion
*1/4 cup green onion, or young garlic
* 1/2 cup fresh crabmeat
* 1/2 cup shredded carrot
* 3 cloves of minced garlic
* fish sauce, to taste
* 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
* 8 sheets rice paper, round (or more, as needed)
* vegetable oil (for frying)
* assorted fresh vegetables, and herb platter to eat with spring roll (red leaf lettuce, mint, cilantro, basil.)
Nwoc Cham (Dipping Sauce)
* 1/4 cup shredded carrot
* crushed red pepper sauce, to taste (Tuong Ot Toi)
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup boiling water
* fish sauce, to taste
1. For filling: In a bowl, mix together the pork, black fungus, bean threads, white onion, green onion, crab meat, carrots, fish sauce and white pepper. Set aside.
2. Dip each sheet of rice paper in warm water and place on a clean towel, just as you are ready to fill and roll.
3. Put sheet on a flat surface. Put about 1/4 cup filling across bottom 1/3 of rice sheet. Fold 1/3 of sheet on left side over mixture and repeat with the right side. Starting at the bottom, carefully roll up as tightly as possible. Place spring rolls on platter.
4. When all spring rolls are completed, heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a wok or deep skillet to 350 degrees. Place spring rolls in the hot oil folded side down to keep them from breaking. Cook 2 to 4 minutes per side or until they are a golden brown and ends are brown indicating that the ingredients are done. Drain and serve immediately.
5. For dipping sauce: Put carrots, crushed red pepper sauce, lemon juice and sugar in a small serving bowl. Pour the boiling water over the ingredients. Add the fish sauce to taste. Stir to mix. Serve.
Makes about 8 spring rolls.
Bo Luc Lac (shaking beef)
* 1/2 lb lean ribeye steaks, cubed
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 teaspoon fish sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 teaspoons olive oil
* 1 onion, sliced
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
* 1 dash black pepper
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 cups watercress leaves
1. Mix together garlic, fish sauce, sugar, salt, and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag.
2. Add beef and allow to marinate for 30 minutes or more.
3. Mix together black pepper and vinegar and marinate onion in this mixture for 10-15 minutes.
4. Then combine onion mixture with the oil and toss.
5. Arrange watercress on a plate and spread onion on top.
6. Heat remaining oil in a pan and stir-fry marinated beef until seared to desired doneness, being careful not to overcook.
7. Spread beef over onions on watercress and serve. Garnish with lime wedges.