Pantry Staples

As part of our weekly garden share baskets, we have been including recipes that are staples in our pantry/fridge. Various recipes throughout the season will require some of these condiments and sauces. Here are a few recipes to aid you in your journey with our Vietnamese table.

Mỡ Hành (Scallion Oil) makes about 3/4 

8-10 scallions/green onions (thinly sliced)

1/2 C vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

  1. heat oil in a small/medium saucepan on high
  2. add scallions/ remove from heat and mix gently
  3. add salt and sugar, let cool and store in a glass container 
  4. use immediately, or refrigerated for up to 7-10 days, allow to come to room temperature before using

This is a garnish and flavoring more than an oil used for cooking.  It’s best served with grilled meats, vegetables or tossed with rice noodles.  Our favorite was to eat this condiment is over grilled corn.

Đồ Chua (carrot & daikon pickle)

1/2 lb Carrots 

1/2 lb Daikon radish

2 Tbsp kosher or sea salt

4 Tbsp sugar or sugar substitute (not honey)

1 C filtered water

1/2 C white or rice vinegar

  1. Wash, peel, and cut into matchsticks/julienne carrots and daikon. In a colander over a bowl, toss salt with carrots and daikon, allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Gently rinse and squeeze excess water from vegetables.  Add to sterilized jar(s).
  2. Heat sugar, water, and vinegar until sugar is devolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Pour cooled vinegar mixture over vegetables until completely submerged. Seal jars and allow to ferment on the counter for 2-4 days.  After the first 24 hours, check the ferment every 12 hours and taste if the sourness is to your liking.  Place in refrigerator, it will keep for a couple of weeks.  

Ferment will be different for each batch; humidity, heat, and air will play a part.  I typically do a 2 day ferment, sometimes 4 during the winter months.  If you’ve had banh mi, most likely you’ve had Đồ Chua.  I add it to fresh herbs and lettuce wrapped crispy spring rolls (chả giò) dipped in nước chấm with additional chilies. 

Nước Màu Dừa (coconut caramel sauce)

1/2 C sugar 

1/2 coconut water (room temperature)

  1. Add sugar to heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.   The sugar will begin to melt and start caramelizing very quickly, so do not step away.  Once the edges start to turn golden (about 2 minutes), give the pan a swirl so the sugar does not burn.  Allow the mixture to bubble until it turns a dark brown, about another minute.  Remove pan from heat and carefully stream in coconut water.  Be very careful because the mixture will splatter.  Stir vigorously until well combined, allow to cool.  Sauce will thicken as it cools.  Store in a sealed glass container.  Shelf stable for a month

This sauce is one of the most important sauces in Vietnamese cooking.  It is used in very small quantities to add flavor to grilled meats, claypot braised dishes, and marinades.  It has a lovely sweet, smoky flavor that brings color and richness to dishes.  Certain recipes in the future will call for this very condiment.

Nước Chấm (Dipping Sauce)

2 cloves garlic 

1 bird chili or 1 tsp chili paste

1 Tbsp brown or palm sugar 

1 lime

2 Tbsp rice or distilled vinegar

2 Tbsp fish sauce (substitution is not recommended, it’s the most IMPORTANT ingredient)

1/2 C warm water

Special Equipment: Mortar & Pestle

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients and crush with pestle to make a paste, about 4-5 minutes.  Paste should not be smooth, but you want to break down the sugar and other ingredients.  If not using a M&P: finely chop garlic and chili, continue mixing everything in jar/container
  2. Squeeze lime into mortar, mix, then pour into a glass jar or container.  Add vinegar, fish sauce and water.  Stir well and taste.
  3. Adjust with more sugar, lime, vinegar, and/or fish sauce.  The flavor should be a balance of salty, sweet, and tangy.  Will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks

This is a classic sauce I always have in the fridge.  A very versatile sauce that I use for dipping lettuce wraps, crispy spring rolls and dressing noodle salad bowls.  One of my favorite meals for breakfast is a fried egg with scallion oil over steamed rice with a couple spoonfuls of nước chấm.  

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