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Sương sâm (vine jelly)

We’ve been waiting a year to make some sương sâm (vine jelly). Yes, it took a year to nurture and grow this tropical vine in Michigan and harvest enough leaves for a few experiments. Sương sâm is a refreshing snack for a hot afternoon consisting of wobbling, jiggling blocks of fragrant leafy jelly served with ice and simple syrup. Sương sâm is available in the States in cans but if we wanted to explore its applications we needed the leaves. We were very excited to finally try our hands at making sương sâm from scratch. We also created watermelon flavored sương sâm, combining two refreshing summer snacks for unprecedented cooling power 😛

Watermelon sương sâm cubes

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Gỏi dưa hấu heo quay / Watermelon salad with roast pork belly

Summertime in North America is the season of heat, watermelon, and family gatherings, and the perfect time to make and enjoy this refreshing and festive salad. The recipe was an original creation of Fatty Crab‘s Zekary Pelaccio and was written up by The New York Times, where we found it. Sweet and fluffy watermelon cubes tossed in an aromatic ginger cilantro dressing and tangy pickled watermelon rinds were coolly delicious contrasts against juicy roast pork belly. Spicy scallion, rau răm / Vietnamese coriander, and Thai basil completed this unusual salad that in its own way provided all the textural and flavor elements of gỏi (Vietnamese salad). The original recipe combined elements of Southern United States cuisine with spices and techniques chef Pelaccio encountered in Malaysia. We substituted his crispy fried pork belly for a star anise marinated roast pork that was more reminiscent of heo quay (roast pork), an ingredient associated with celebrations in Vietnam. We had no idea how one would classify a dish in which so many lineages were mixed together, but we felt perfectly at home serving and enjoying this salad out in the backyard with the rest of our family.

Watermelon salad with roast pork belly

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