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Oct15

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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Oct06

Our not-so-recent dinner menu (oysters & quails & mackerel & ducks! oh my!)

Wherever we’ve lived, we’ve become known among friends for elaborate, fancy dinners (but bring your own chairs). The shindigs serve multiple purposes: it’s fun to play restaurant and we love the occasions to cook together; they allow us to work out and organize into a menu the many random ideas we’ve collected; they let us hang out with our friends and provides us with, in the form of those selfsame friends, guinea pigs to test newest creations on.

This dinner was no different. Taking advantage of Lamp’s rare long visit to the bay area, we decided to hold a dinner with 4 originally planned courses that ballooned to 12 by the time our guests arrived. The menu was a mix of repeats of past successes (roasted salted kumquat quails, sake kasu marinated cod, forbidden rice amazake), brand new creations (bossam-inspired oysters, mackerel braised in green/barley tea, duck dishes, etc.), and cookbook recipe (tomato soup with yuba cream). The dishes were rooted in Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese cuisines but each had a twist marking them as a product of our kitchen. We took care with each dish to provide a different view, one that incorporated new ingredients available in a modern multicultural society, without obscuring the unique characteristics that made the traditional version so appealing.

Mackerel braised in barley tea

But wait, there’s more!

Sep20

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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Aug31

Caprese salad with rau om / rice paddy herb

Here’s a quick dish about one of my favorite quick dishes. In Michigan the year is at that sweet spot when the weather and the heirloom tomato season makes every shopping day a mandatory caprese salad for lunch day. With fresh, tasty and local tomatoes and mozzarella purchased less than an hour before, the dish requires minimal embellishment and so mere minutes after arriving home with the grocery I could be sitting down to reward myself with a leisurely, cool Mediterranean meal – sometimes followed by a Mediterranean siesta especially if I had some wine with my lunch. This past week, Oanh interrupted me as I went to harvest some basil for my salad. She had a hunch that rau om would work well in caprese salad and suggested I try that instead. She was right.

Caprese salad with rau om

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May23

A morel!

Alas, mushroom hunting was harder than I thought! I signed up for a morel mushroom hunting class thinking I could get a couple of small paper bags of morels, enough to do a few experiments to really understand morels’ flavor and texture. After an afternoon roaming the woods with my eyes glued to the ground, I came home with a single morel:

Morel

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