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Immigrant-chic bún riêu (paddy crab noodle soup) in London

We welcome our first guest post from our dear friend Xuân currently living in London. She showed us a sunny picture of her antidote to the gloomy British autumn weather and immediately made us both crave a piping hot bowl of bún riêu. We also love all the improvisations Xuân deployed to create a diasporic variant of a Vietnamese classic dish.

A yummy looking bowl of bún riêu

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Chilled tomato soup topped with yuba cream

We are always on the look out for unusual pairings of ingredients and admire the chefs who made the disparate items into a unified dish. We adapted this light and tasty soup from Chef Murata’s beautiful Kaiseki book and used the soup as an intermezzo. The soup’s intense tomato flavor and thick texture was perfectly balanced out by the rich yet light and savory frothiness of the yuba cream that always magically floated to the top.

Chilled tomato soup topped with yuba cream - photo courtesy of Elaine Vo

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Playing with gấc (spiny bitter/sweet/Cochinchin gourd) leads to vegan bò nướng lá lốt (grilled beef wrapped in lolot leaves)

Our experiments with colorful bánh tét and xôi (steamed sticky rice) started my fascination with gấc (spiny bitter gourd, sweet gourd, cochinchin gourd). Lamp and I both loved xôi gấc for its nuttiness and unique flavor. Gấc was also reported to be very well endowed with healthful phytochemicals. I was curious why such a colorful fruit with very distinctive taste is relegated to only one dish – sticky rice. I wanted to explore gấc’s potential when paired with other ingredients in different preparations. So far, we found we really liked pairing gấc & tofu wrapped in lá lốt (Piper lolot) and other herbs.

Tofu with gấc & lá lốt

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Tofu misozuke update #5 – kelp variations

Now that we have a good recipe for tofu misozuke, it’s time to experiment! With the ecology of cheeses as inspiration and guide, we hope to drive the  speciation of our delicious creamy tofu to many unoccupied niches. One of our goals was to recreate a variant we only knew from written description: a pungent, Roquefort-like kombu-wrapped miso marinated tofu. We started a pilot experiment 2 months ago and we were excited enough about the results to pursue further.

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Our contributions to a potluck : Nem chua and tofu misozuke

Going to a potluck / salon later today. Here’s what we’re contributing to the feast:

Nem chua wrapped in banana leaves and wax paper and tied with banana leaf cords