Expat life / Food / Phil

Vietnamese Night in Utopia

On Sunday we were fortunate enough to have a private/guest chef in our kitchen – Thi Nguyen. At Ashley’s birthday cook off, Thi offered to cook Rachael, Werner, Ashley and myself a bowl of Vietnamese goodness. As Ashley and I could not remember the last time we had enjoyed a bowl of pho, accepting Thi’s offer was a no-brainer. Only requirement was that we would allow Thi to host out of our kitchen.


Our private chef came with all the necessary spices and ingredients to make Bo Kho, a Vietnamese beef stew/bowl of goodness. I enjoy cooking different cuisines with people from the region because they let you in on the little secrets you don’t find in cookbooks.  On Sunday Thi introduced annatto, a Vietnamese substitute for red and orange food coloring. To release the colors from the annatto you heat them in a frying pan of oil until the colors bleeds out. After a semi-flora aroma is released strain the oil, discard the rocks after they cool, and you have your coloring.

Using the dyed oil, Thi fried minced red onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a large soup pot. Once the herbs were good and fragrant, cubed beef seasoned with a mixed Vietnamese spice mixture was added. After the meat had cooked through water, curry powder and anise were added and boil down for four hours. And just to make it more nutritious carrots were added at the three hour mark. All of this goodness is then poured over a bowl of fresh herbs and noodles.

So simple but unbelievably good.

Thi – you are welcome to come and cook in our apartment any time you want.


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