Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hue On My Mind

It's been a few years since my visit to my parents' hometown of Hue, Vietnam but I still remember the food I had there like it was yesterday. Bun hen, a Hue dish made of freshwater baby clams harvested from the Perfume River (Song Huong), was such a delight that my sister, KD, and I went back to the same restaurant every day for these little clams for the duration of our stay.

While shopping at Truong Thinh II Super Market in Dorchester the other day, I saw the freshwater baby clams imported from Vietnam in frozen packs and decided to replicate what I had in Hue.

Ingredients seen here: fresh knob of ginger, a few cloves of garlic, a couple shallots, a few Bird's eye chilies, raw peanuts, shallot crisps, Vietnamese dressing, pork rinds, sesame seed rice cracker, rice noodles, shredded spring onion, polygonum, spearmint and clams.

I always buy raw nuts and dry roast them myself for each meal. It's really quick and simple and tastes ten times better than store-bought roasted nuts.

I stir-fried the clams over high heat with shallot, ginger, garlic and chili. The clams were seasoned with a bit of fish sauce, ground black pepper, sugar, oyster sauce and then tossed with shredded polygonum, spearmint and spring onion. The stir-fried clams, hen xao, can also be served as an appetizer along with some sesame rice crackers.

To serve as
bun hen, I placed some rice noodles into a bowl, added my herbs of choice, piled on the stir-fried clams and garnished with shallot crisps, pork rinds and roasted peanuts. A drizzle of Vietnamese dressing completes the meal.


Gastronomer said...

Welcome back!

I love hen too.

Tia said...

Thanks, dear! :) I dream about the hen in Hue not infrequently. *sighs*

Hà Hải Anh Graphic Designer said...

chị ui lâu lắm em mới thấy chị viết bài. Nhìn ngon quá đi mất thôi dù em không thích ăn hến như bố mẹ ở nhà :)

Người miền Bắc hay nấu canh chua hến và em cũng được ăn hến xúc bánh đa. Nhưng bún hến và cơm hến em chưa được ăn bao giờ; có lẽ sẽ "lăn vào bếp" để thử sớm.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tia,

Happy to see your post. I don't know if I'll be able to find any baby clams.

Two questions : what are polygonums and are pork rinds, the skin of the pork ?

Best regards,

Tia said...

Hải Anh -dạo này chị làm biếng lắm em ơi! Khi nào thèm các món quê hương mới "lăn vào bếp" thôi. :)

Viba - the Vietnamese & Chinese markets in the US are importing a lot of things from Vietnam now. You should check your local markets in CH--they might surprise you. :) Yes, pork rind is the same as pork skin. The ones I used here have been deep-fried or roasted to become fluffy. Polygonum (Polygonum odoratum Lour.) is called rau răm in VNmese and la renouée odorant in French. I've seen it labeled as Vietnamese coriander/mint in markets. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Tia,

We don't have so many Vietnamese people living here, so it's hard to find these kind of things, but I will check.
Now I know what Polygonum is, I often use that when I cook Goi Du Du Tom, but yes, we call it Vietnamese Coriander or Rau Ram.

Thanks for this recipe

Unknown said...

oooh! My mother was born in Hue. That was so nice to read. And as usual, I am totally enjoying your posts and photos. Happy Easter!

Mary said...

Tia, OMG I've finally come across a Hue Vietnamese foodie/blogger! Awesome cuz I love homemade food from Hue.. it's so comforting :) I can't wait for the day that I visit Hue again as well.

Tia said...

Thien - no wonder your mom's bánh chưng looks so fabulous! ;)

Mary - Hue food is my absolute fav, homemade or at restaurants. Cheers :)

A. Rizzi said...

Com Hen and Hen Xao are two of my absolute favorite dishes. I had no idea you could get 'hen' in the states. That's good news for me! Good work on the recipes, look tasty for sure.

Tia said...

Thanks, Anthony! :) Hen in Hue is the best, so eat up while you're there. Even if you order it in Saigon or SoCal, it won't be nearly as good. And I can only get them in frozen packages at the markets in Boston. :)

Tien said...

I'm going to bookmark your blog whenever I want some Hue food! Both of my parents are from Hue, but I was born and raised in California on many different Hue foods! I always find it difficult to find really good Hue food and recipes, so I'm happy to have found your blog!

- Tien

Tia said...

Hi, Tien! Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to ask any questions or give suggestions on any of the dishes posted. Love sharing food stories! :)