The joy and sadness of Vietnamese summer rolls & dipping sauces


The reason this title sounds a bit ‘head-on-the-cloud-kind-of-title’ is because of my motto of eating summer rolls no matter if I’m happy or sad. If I’m feeling happy I will boil a piece of pork belly to make summer rolls, if I’m sad I will…boil a bigger pieace of pork belly to make summer rolls laughing When I was in university, I always had lunch at an Asian restaurant nearby since they have a pretty cheap set menu, and I always chose summer rolls as my entrée. The main source of protein in those rolls were the one shrimp sliced in half, the rest was only vegetables and rice vermicelli, but I ordered them every lunch nonetheless.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

When I moved out, my weekly shopping bag always consist of a piece of pork belly for summer rolls. This dish is pretty popular with both my French and Vietnamese guests, and it works well both as an entrée or as a main course. Summer rolls can be served with simple chilli and garlic dipping sauce (recipe here), in this post I will introduce a peanut diping sauce and sweet & sour dipping sauce, both of which go very well with summer rolls.

Công thức tiếng Việt: Buồn vui món gỏi cuốn & nước chấm

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Pasta with Bolognese sauce (meat sauce)

Most dishes on Miamivores so far are Asian, let’s change it up a bit today with Pasta wink

Bolognaise sauce 5

Bolognese is one of the most popular sauces, and once of the easiest to eat (this is the first sauce that I ate with Pasta). When I first started learning how to cook, I thought that Bolognese is just stir fried minced meat tossed with tomato purée, so I always made it like that. When I was in England, I made it for my friend (also my housemate), and I ‘proudly’ told her that it was Italian Bolognese blush It’s not until much later when I read more recipes and documents on this dish that I realized I’ve made a total mess of what I’ve been calling “Bolognese”, and if any Italian chef happen to see my version of their traditional sauce, they would surely faint from horror rolling laugh

Bolognaise sauce 1

The real Italian name of Bolognese sauce is ragù, and even though there are a lot of different recipes and directions, they all have the same basic ingredients, and according to the recipe that the Academia Italiana della Cucina registered with Bologna Chamber of Commerce, every Bolognese sauce contains the following ingredients: onion, celery, carrot, minced beef, pancetta, tomato, milk and wine.

Ingredients notes:

  • Onion, carrot and celery have to be chopped very finely, and try to chop them as uniformly as possible. That way the vegetables will be cooked uniformly, and the final texture of the sauce will be much more enjoyable.
  • Meat: the most usually used meat is beef, but we can totally mix in some minced pork. Veal is also used in some recipes. Pancetta (Italian cured meat) is also used in Bolognese sauce, in our homemade version we can use normal bacon/cured meat to replicate the taste.
  • Tomato is not the main ingredient in this sauce. All recipes for Bolognese only use a small amount of tomato to create the taste, but Bolognese is a meat sauce so the main taste still has to be meat.
  • Seasonings used for Bolognese sauce is simply salt and pepper (according to what I’ve read, Italian chef don’t use any herbs or other seasonings in their sauce)
  • Milk is used to create the signature orange-ish color of Bolognese, and it also helps tenderize the meat.
  • Pasta: I’ve always thought that Bolognese can be eaten with any type of pasta, especially with spaghetti, but through a lot of readings I’ve found out that it’s better to use wide pasta that can hold the meat sauce, and the most used is tagliatelle.
  • Wine: Red wine is usually used in Bolognese, but you can replace with white wine to. During the cooking process the alcohol will evaporate so you don’t feel the wine at all in the sauce, and kids can still eat this. I myself am not a big fan of wine, but I’ve tried cooking Bolognese 2 ways and I have to admit that adding wine make the taste much richer. If you really don’t want to use or don’t have wine, you can replace with beef broth or water big grin

I’ve really talked a lot laughing let’s get to the recipe now.

Bolognaise sauce 2

Công thức tiếng Việt: Mì Ý sốt Bolognese (sốt thịt bò bằm)

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Vietnamese dipping sauce (bonus vegan version)

For me, in every meal in Vietnam, the most important thing is the dipping sauce. I feel like if some dish is a bit under seasoned, a nice bowl of dipping sauce can always ‘rescue’ it, and vice-versa if a dish is nice but the dipping sauce doesn’t have a harmony between the spices (too salty or too sour), the deliciousness of the dish is more or less reduced (of course this is only my personal opinion, maybe I’m a bit too nitpicking as well tongue)

For the above mentioned reason, being able to make a delicious bowl of dipping sauce is very very important to me. A ‘perfect’ bowl of dipping sauce for me has to satisfy 2 requirements: a harmony of taste between sweetness, acidity, saltiness and spiciness and it has to look ‘nice’, the garlic and chili is chopped nicely and float on top of the sauce. Back when I was still learning how to cook, my dipping sauce was a mess, the garlic and chili always sink to the bottom, and the taste is either too sour or too salty, and after I tried to savage the sauce by adding things, I would ended up with…a bucket of sauce that is enough for a whole town laughing

Since I have had a lot of troubles learning how to make dipping sauce, so even though it is a very ordinary dish, I still want to share my experience on this blog and hopefully it will be useful to some people. At the end of the post, I will introduce some variations of the sauce for different types of dish and also a vegan version as well.

Dipping sauce 1_copy_1

Công thức tiếng Việt: Cách pha nước chấm

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