Lychee Panna Cotta

Lychee Panna Cotta_Dessert_Vietnamese Cuisine_Indiechine

Lychee_ Panna Cotta_Dessert_Vietnamese Cuisine_Indiechine

It’s lychee season now, and next month it’ll be longans. LONGANS!

My hometown is a small Northern province that has a few specialties, a kind of soy sauce that some really love and my favorites, amazing longan and lychee fruits. There are several other Northern provinces that also grow lychees, and longan trees grow in many places from the North to the South, but the fruits from my hometown are claimed to be the best. They’re fragrant, sweet but not too watery; the meat is thick and the seeds tiny. When I was 10, my mother and I took a Southbound train to visit my grandparents, whom we hadn’t seen for years. Transportation was difficult then. It took us two days and one night, and we both shared one seat, me sitting in my mom’s lap. The space was tiny but my mom still managed to bring some bags of lychee fruits as presents. Fruits were precious to us, and it was no brainer that our hometown’s lychees had to be onboard traveling with us.
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a trip to a Vietnamese traditional mat-weaving village

 

A reed mat (chiếu) used to be a must-have item in Vietnamese households when I was small. My family ate around a big round tray on a mat on the floor. One of my chores was to roll out the mat before meals and to neatly roll it back again after. In addition to using these mats as places to eat, we slept on mats instead of sleeping on a mattress. On hot summer nights when there was no power, my grandmother would put a mat on our roof top so we could lie there in the cool(er) air and I would fall asleep listening to her telling folk tales.

I found out about Cam Ne mat village last month when researching traditional handicraft villages in Hoi An bigger area. The village has been around since the 15th century and they used to weave mats for kings of the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue, which is about 100km from there. Obviously if the kings were sending for mats from so far away, they had some pretty good skills. I have always wanted to buy a couple of mats for our house because of my childhood nostalgia about them, and I was curious about seeing them made in the traditional method. So off we drove on our blue scooter to Cam Ne on a burning hot day.

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Pineapple Fried Rice

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this blog post.

Pineapple Fried Rice_Vietnamese food_Indiechine-8

In the winter time our favorite part of going to the hotel gym where we work out is to use a very nice sauna there after swimming. About two weeks ago, as we walked out of the swimming pool, I asked my husband if he was going to the sauna. “I did. All day”, he said. “I was soaking wet just being in our living room.”

The heat and humidity in May here is in fact quite brutal, at least it is for us. Locals don’t seem to mind though. Yesterday I met up with a Hoi-An native friend and when my arm was about to fall off from fanning myself so hard with a paper fan, she told me that she was longing for summer to come. I almost cried.

I hope you’re not yet tired of me talking about the weather here. I’m not complaining – just trying to give some context. It’s the weather and seasonal food that determines what I cook and eat.

Pineapple fried rice_Vietnamese food_Indiechine
Pineapple Fried Rice_Vietnamese food_Indiechine-2
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Beautiful Hội An | Chula House

Laura in her Hội An Chula House, wearing her husband’s design. Her hair pin is a dried plant she picked up on the street while taking a walk.

Laura and Diego are a Spanish couple living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Their fashion brand, Chula, makes lively, sophisticated couture designs with tropical inspiration. Last September I took a calligraphy workshop in their riverside house in Hội An and I knew I had to photograph it someday. The ground floor is dedicated to an Artists in Residence Program where artists can host workshops and art programs. The pictures below are of their second floor, which is the living area. Despite it being quite small, about 60 square meters (around 650 square feet), this space is very thoughtfully designed and charming because of its bright colors and unique furniture.
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Beautiful Hội An | My Favorite Arts & Crafts Houses

I adore the houses in the old town of Hoi An! They’re uniform in their antiquity but individually unique. They look ill-tended with their old paint and rustic wood shutters but charming because of that look. They’re zen but lively, simple but sophisticated. And because of that, I decided to have a series on this blog named Beautiful Hội An to share this town’s beautiful places that have inspired me.
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Vietnamese Tamarind Prawn

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this post.

Vietnamese food_Tamarind_Prawn_Family meal_Indiechine
A typical three-course Vietnamese meal with tamarind prawns, sautéed winged beans, and clam soup in tomato and pineapple broth

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Happy New Year!!!

I know it’s late, but this is my very first recipe of 2016, and the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is coming in three weeks, so I’m still high up in the New Year mood!
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Vietnamese “Shaken” Beef

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this blog post.

Shaken beef_Bo luc lac_Vietnamese food_Indiechine-9

Lectuce_Vietnamese Food_Indiechine

It was a busy birthday weekend. My mother and brother came to visit and so we had a chance to explore town and do fun activities as tourists. We went to the beach and visited temples during the day, and when the night came, we rented a small wooden boat to ride along a river sparkling of lantern lights. We ate our way through the town, from a fancy restaurant where Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones dined to 10-cent street food. It was just fabulous!
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Hội An một ngày mùa thu

Craig in Hoian-9

2/9 là một ngày mùa thu đẹp trời, trong trẻo và khô cong. Hội An vắng khách du lịch hơn. Ngày thường đi qua phố cổ, mình hay phải vội vã vì sợ vướng đám đông. Hôm nay thì có thể thong thả, dạo chơi, ngắm nghía như một khách du lịch may mắn đi vào dịp trái mùa.

Mình ít khi chụp ảnh, nhưng hôm nay thì khác. Có những hình ảnh giản dị bình yên này, nếu không lưu lại, mình sợ một ngày nào đó sẽ quên!
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