I’m a travel research geek. And I’m currently planning a trip to South East Asia. Not going anytime soon, but that hasn’t stopped my geekness before. Thanks to some great blogs written by locals in Vietnam, like this one, there’s a very good chance we’ll be stopping in Vietnam. To eat.
After lots of reading and drooling at photos, I was itching to get to my favorite asian grocer. In all my ignorance, I used to think all the local asian grocers were Chinese. But to my great surprise, I’m learning that many of the products at my favorite asian grocer are actually Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, etc. So finding good ingredients for these cultures’ cuisines is a heck of a lot easier than I thought.
So I bought stuff. Fish sauce, shrimp paste, lemongrass, limes, chilis, asian herbs, rice noodles, etc. I’m on a mission to make Banh trang phoi suong, but on my way, got deeked out by my version of Pho. It was lunch-time. I was hungry. I had chicken broth from poaching that chicken last week. I had a variety and abundance of appropriate herbs. I had already poached some pork in sage tea for the Banh trang phoi suong. All I had to do was heat and eat. And I did. I’d forgotten how satisfying this type of soup could be. Economical, tasty, you can tweak it to your taste – what’s not to like?
The highlight of the dish – my first known encounter with Ngo Om. Wow. Something in the bowl was blowing my mind, and it was this herb. Citrus, some say cumin-y, with a definite bitter edge. Crazy good with pork and some hoisin. I enjoyed it so much, the geek in me is trying to grow some.
So Banh trang phoi suong for supper then? Nope. Started looking for ideas for shrimp paste, and kept running into this Philippine dish with what I find to be a very humorous name: binagoongang baboy. Just typing that makes me smile. From what I could tell, it’s a sort of comfort food – the type where each chef [mother] has a take on it. How bad could it be? So I gave ‘er a go. And barring the foul nastiness of fried shrimp paste, it’s a really intriguing dish to my novice palate. Comforting and familiar – yet funky and mildly repulsive, but overall: interestingly enjoyable.
couple handfuls of pork cubes, 1” dice
3 small shallots, sliced
2 big roma tomatoes, rough dice
3 cloves minced garlic
2 small chilis, minced
1 tbsp shrimp paste
black pepper & salt to taste.
Fry pork cubes in some oil and/or pork fat. Reserve.
Sautée veg. Add paste, add back meat, season.
Serve with white rice [apparently requires lots] and a green vegetable, in this case asian herbs
It will stink, but it is good.