Vietnamese fried bean curd in tomato sauce

This is one of the quickest to prepare feel good , taste good , look good dishes I know of . The firm bean curd is pan fried till crisp and topped with and Asian style tomato sauce . Vegans can easily omit the fish sauce simply by increasing  the soy sauce.

Serves 4

Wendy Hutton

3 tbs vegetable oil

4 squares firm bean curd, dried with paper towels

sprigs of fresh coriander , to garnish


1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp finely minced garlic

2 medium ripe tomatoes, skinned and diced

1/4 cup water

4 tsp fish sauce

2 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp tomato paste

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the sauce first by heating the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and stir fry over medium heat until golden . Add the tomatoes and stir fry until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add water , fish sauce , soy sauce , sugar tomato paste and pepper . Bring to the boil , lower heat, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Heat the oil in frying pan until very hot. Add bean curd and fry until golden brown underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn and fry the other side, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel and transfer to a serving dish . Pour over the tomato sauce, garnish with coriander sprigs. Serve with steamed rice.


Stir -fried chicken with lemon grass , chilies and tamarind

This is a simple stir fry dish ideally made with chicken thighs.This is an ideal week night dish as it is a quick and econonical dish to make. Serve it alongside a cooling green salad and a bowl of steaming  jasmine rice.

Serves 4

Wendy Hutton

1 lb chicken thigh filets , cut into 1 3/4 ” pieces

1 tbs fish sauce

1 1/2 tbs sugar

1-3 large red chilis, ground to a paste

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 stem lemongrass , tender inner part only , very thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic , very finely minced

1 tbs vegetable oil

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 heaped tbs tamarind juice

salt to taste

cilantro to garnish

Put chicken in a bowl and add fish sauce, sugar , pepper , chili , lemongrass, and half of the garlic , stirring to coat.Cover and marinade for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a wok 30 seconds. Add the remaining garlic and stir fry 5 seconds. Add marinated chicken and stir fry over high heat until it has turned brown about 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the remaining sugar ,chicken stock and tamarind juice. Simmer until tender , stirring frequently about 3 minutes. Taste for salt . Transfer to serving dish  and garnish with fresh coriander.

Pan fried Fish with Tamarind mint sauce

sweet , sour ,spicy ,salty and aromatic, the perfect balance of taste in this Vietnamese fish dish using fish Filets , just the ease of serving makes it worth it. Make sure the fish is really fresh though, it really makes a difference.

Serves 4 -6

Source Wendy Hutton

4 tbs Tamarind pulp

4 tbs Fish sauce

3 tbs sugar

1 tsp light soy sauce

1  1/2 lbs snapper or bream cut into 4 filets, skin left on

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup cornflour

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 tbs minced garlic

1 tbs minced fresh ginger

1 large red chili minced

2 tbs minced fresh mint

additional mint for garnish

Combine tamarind juice , fish sauce,sugar and soy sauce in a bowl , stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside. Dry the fish with paper towel , then sprinkle both sides with black pepper. Dip into cornflour and shake off excess.

Heat 2 tbs in a non stick pan until smoking hot. Add the fish pieces,skin side down, reduce heat and fry till skin is golden brown about 4 minutes, turn fish and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to serving plate and keep warm.

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the frying pan and stir fry garlic ginger and chiliover medium heat for 30 seconds. Add tamarind mixture and simmer  1 minute stirring constantly. Stir in the mint leaves and pour sauce over warm fish. Garnish with additional mint leaves and serve.

Straw Mushroom soup with lemon grass and chili

Strawmushrooms grow abundantly in Thailand. However substituting with canned or thinly sliced white mushrooms works very well. I use a home made Asian vegetable stock and substitute Fish sauce for soy sauce, however if you wish you could use chicken stock and fish sauce ,both ways work equally well.

Source Wendy Hutton

1 to 2 tbs Roasted Thai Chili paste (available in Asian groceries)

1 stem lemon grass ,bottom 7 inch only ,bruised and cut into 4 to 5 pieces

3 kaffir lime leaves ,torn

3 tbs fresh lime or lemon juice

4 tsp Fish sauce or Soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

3 1/2 oz fresh straw mushrooms or canned or white mushrooms, halved if large

1 medium ripe tomato , quartered

2 -3 bird’s eye chilis ,lightly bruised

sprigs of coriander leaf ,to garnish.

3 -4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Put stock in a medium saucepan .Stir in chili paste ,lemon grass and lime leaves . Bring to a boil. Lower hear and simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Add the lime juice ,soy sauce, sugar ,mushrooms and chili, reduce heat and simmer for 3  minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowland garnish with fresh coriander. Serve hot with steamed rice.