Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Vietnamese Mama, Her Emails, and Our Goi Cuon

You guys might know my mom as the commenter who comments in ALL-CAPS which would make anyone flinch because it pretty much feels like she's yelling at you. That's cuz she is! She's a passionate woman, survivor of the Vietnam war, self-proclaimed "GOOD GIRL", woman of faith, and a very honest mommy. She tells things like it is and not holding back is her choice of communication.

For you lucky readers out there, I'm going to share just a few of the many precious emails from my dear mama:





My mom seriously cracks me up. But at the same time, the woman can drive me completely nuts. If you're Vietnamese, you probably know that two strong Vietnamese woman CANNOT be in the same room together. It's like a freegin rooster fight. But even through our arguments and debates, I know I will always be her little girl.

Like every good but crazy mother, mothers are also the key to good food and recipes. My mama is my sole link to my Vietnamese culture and today I bring you our goi cuon recipe, one of our favorite snacks to make in the summer months.

Goi Cuon
Rice paper (My favorite brand has a Rose on it. There are a lot of copycats, so make sure it also has a small dolphin icon on the upper left.)
Bun noodles
Butter-leaf lettuce
Carrots (for color)
Shrimp (3-4 small shrimps per roll)
Pork (leg, shoulder, butt, loin, it's up to you)

Most people quickly boil their shrimps, but my mom and I prefer grilling our shrimps in either a thai basil or lemongrass marinade consisting of oil, salt and pepper. Same with the pork, both my mom and I prefer using thit nuong (grilled pork) for that extra kick.

After you've got all your ingredients ready, it's time to roll. Now, when I was younger our family didn't care about the aesthetics of our goi cuon. But after helping Dylan cater a wedding where I had to roll 80, yes 80 duck spring rolls, I've learned some important tips on how to make the spring rolls look hawt.

1. You want the shrimp to be on the bottom so they can be seen from the outside.
2. Use butter-leaf lettuce. It's more expensive, but it's so much easier to work with. There isn't a hard vein in it like romaine and there aren't as many curls as in green leaf.
3. Don't fold in the sides. Just don't. I know there's a way to fold in the sides without seeing the ugly overlay, but I don't know how. I'd just rather cut off the excess sides to keep the ends clean.
4. Roll them tight!

Like I said, roll them tight!

When it comes to the goi cuon dipping sauces, I cringe when I see places, usually non-Vietnamese joints that just use plain Hoisin sauce as a goi cuon dipping sauce. Hoisin sauce alone is way too overpowering and it will definitely take away from the fresh flavors from the goi cuon. Most people make a peanut dipping sauce, but we personally like using cashew butter over peanut butter since cashews have a milder and sweeter nut flavor.

Hoisin Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2-3 tablespoon water
3 spoons cashew butter

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. When it is hot, add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add the hoisin sauce, sugar, cashew butter and chili garlic sauce, stir well and simmer for 15 seconds. Stir in the water, the mixture should have a thick, creamy consistency.

Hope you enjoyed this Mother's Day edition at Oishii Eats.

Happy Mother's Day mama!


Christine D. said...

Aww! I love your mom's writings! It's funny how she likes Dylan more than you, jk.

Ooo, butter lettuce? What a great suggestion because I do get annoyed with that hard vein, or whatever it is. At first I misread and thought that you were making "banh cuon," so when I saw your ingredients and pictures, I was like "whutdaf*ck is she making?!"

eatdrinknbmerry said...

I KNOW U, SOMETIME U ARE A PAIN IN MY ASSSSSS..." hey that was me, not your mom haha. Those are some nicely wrapped rolls!

Anna said...

damn! it's my BIRTHDAY! it's my BIRTHDAY! cuz it's a full-on "Crazy Mom" post! (the both of you look so cute in that photo...is that a Pink Lady you're concentrating on?)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I LOVE YOUR MAMA!!! Hehe. She's hilarious. My mom isn't as loud but is just as obnoxious about when am I giving her grandchildren...

Seriously? You don't know how to roll in the sides? Practice on 80 more. ;)

Daily Gluttony said...

awwww, i *love* lil' oishii eats--such a cute kid!!! =)

dude, those are some hawt lookin' goi coin. looks like i'm going to have to incorporate this recipe into my rotation.

elmomonster said...

Are you going share the e-mail she's gonna send you after reading this post? LOL!

JadedOne said...

Haha.. it really is funny how similar Asian moms are. My mom doesn't email me in all Caps, but there are still similarities.

"hahahahaaaaaaaaa it's for the shui yuk(roast pork)..i need to poke the pork's skin..inorder to be chuncy"

susan said...

hahah your mom is so cute and funny!! and that picture of baby oishii is adorable!

Miss Tiffie said...

Your mom's so cute. Haha, I think Asian Fob moms tend to be like that.. hahaha unless they're the submissive kind :) those rolls look SOOO good, I wish it wasn't rainy out so I could walk down to Chinatown for some Viet. food.... *droOL

eatdrinknbmerry said...

I wish you still had that haircut. You'd get points.

jee in the city said...

next to pho that is my favorite vietnamese cuisine. yummmeeeee! too bad i don't think i'll be able to successfully make them myself. too much work! hahahahaha

your mom is too cute.

i feel ya though.. i am a korean chica with a korean momma... :oP

Tokyoastrogirl said...

HA- Cock fight! Oops, you said rooster. Anyway, your mama sounds funny and wise. And I agree- I think you and D can show your faces unless you're both wanted for some crime....which, now that I think about it, you very well may be.....Crime of Passion! Ok, sorry, it's Friday and I'm on a roll. Speaking of rolls- I do have a real question about these. How do you plate the finished rolls up without them sticking together like crazy? Do you just have to keep them from touching each other? Also, how long do you soak the wrappers to soften them?


Passionate Eater said...

Your mom is gorgeous! As are those "tight" looking rolls. And those are greats tip about not folding in the sides and using butter lettuce. Even with many yrs of practice, my rolls have NEVER ever looked as good as your's. My family is similar to your family, in that they don't care whether the spring rolls look like sloppy latex gloves, so long as the spring rolls taste good and have fresh ingredients. But I think perhaps the "side folding" has something to do with making them look better!

Anonymous said...

Aw....tell mama I miss her. I want some spring rolls!!! ~ishikawa

Passionate Eater said...

Oops, in addition to having a bunch of grammatical errors in my comment, I realized I said something incorrectly. I meant to say: NOT folding the sides would probably make the rolls look better!

Also, I love how you have a wine glass in your hand even when you were an infant! Becoming a wine expert started early for you! ;)

The Guilty Carnivore said...

Your mom is a riot. Sounds like she has a great sense of humor. On the other hand, my mom's intent seemed to be death by a thousand nags so I had to move 1000 miles away to gain some respite from the emasculation issues. I think she still wonders why I didn't major in engineering, and I graduated from college 12 years ago.

Those goi cuon are off the hook. Grilled shrimp - nice touch, and the cashew butter...wow. Nice touch.

Anonymous said...

I love your photos...gorgeous. And your mom is absolutely hilarious.

Michael said...

Great post!

As a new food blogger, I just wanted to drop by and say hey. Keep a look out for me as I grow.

Meanwhile, continue the great posts!



la dra said...

I've always wanted to make these but I don't know how to prepare the wrappers... do you soak them? But then don't they all stick together? This would be fun as a make-your-own party-- I could prep the ingredients and everyone makes their own dinner. What do you think of using almond butter in the dipping sauce?

Colleen Cuisine said...

wait a sec, are you DRINKING ALCOHOL in that photo? I would expect that from Dylan but not from sweet little Oishii! =)

I'm telling you, you've gotta bring your mom to the next foodblogging dinner - I really want to meet her!

Eddie Lin said...

lil' oishii, imma squueeeeeeeze you!!!! *chomp* lemme at those chubby cheeks! even yummier with some hoisin sauce! CHOMP!!!

Michelle said...

Great post! Vietnamese mothers- gotta love 'em with their ALL CAPS and their feistiness.

nhbilly said...

Geesh sounds like my mom....

KirkK said...

So Kawaii, lil' Oishii eats!! The problem with your Mom is that She never gets to the point! Ha, LOL! The Missus was cracking up reading this post.......

joanh said...

hi! first time poster! this is awesome. i tried to make some the other day and your post reminded me that grilling the shrimp would definitely bring a lot more flavor. mmmm.

man, gotta love our moms.

Jen said...

that photo of you is so adorable!! And your mama is a total crack up!! Seriously, though...where do our mom's (who are not from this country) pick up phrases like, "you're a pain in my ASSSSSS"?? I mean, seriously, it's not like my mom hears it from me (i don't think) or watches english television.

I can't wait to try the recipe, too! looks yummy!!

lwtsh said...

awww...what a cutie pootie you were! were you at a wedding? LOL. the "glass" looks like what they use to dole out at big wedding banquets back in the 80's.

teenage glutster said...

thanks for the comment!
really means a lot to me, still nothing compared to other bloggers though!

Jeni said...

Christine D...yes, it's pretty sad, my family likes D more than me. That's what I get for dating a cook.

D..thanks for putting up with my crap. "He's sweetie!"

Anna...I'm sipping on some vodka! jk. I'm pretty sure it was 7-Up...all Chinese weddings have 7-Up!

Wandering Chopsticks...there are two types of Vietnamese mom accents. There's *high-tone* moms, sweet women who love calling strangers "honey" and then there are the mean ones, like my mom. Their accents always sound so harsh and angry. Most of the time they are. wink.

I'm done with folding in the sides. I like the ends clean and crisp!

Daily Gluttony...we'll just have to have you over for a goi cuon party. I'll have some leaner alternatives for the Isaac too. Sake is a must as well.

Elmo...I would..but she called me this time. And she loved the post. I was kinda hoping to anger her...to get more material to write about.

Jadedone..I love Asian moms. They're so cute and angry. I feel like we're always messing up, but at the end of the day, they're so proud of us.

Susan...thanks for the compliment on my baby picture. Too bad I grew up hearing that I looked like a gorilla! Thank God for eyebrow threading!

Hey Miss Tiffie...my mom loves my dad to death but she's anything but submissive. I have no idea how their relationship works.

EDNBM...moms should NEVER cut bangs!!!

Jee...it's a lot of prep work, but a goi cuon party is a lot of fun! I highly suggest!

TAG...you first have to make sure you have some quality wrappers. The ultra thin rice paper sucks and that's where you get breakage. You shouldn't have problems with the goi cuons sticking to each other if you use better quality rice paper. I also have a saute pan with water over very low heat ready when I'm ready to roll. Roll it around the hot water till the paper is pliable/soft. Shake excess water off before you start working with it.

Passionate Eater...if it's just me and the mama, it can look like sh*t and I'll still be happy. I love cashew hoisin sauce dripping down my arm! And for some reason, when I was little, I loooooved drinking soda from wine classes. Who knew I'd be hooked on the stuff 20 years later.

Ishikawa...come over and we can make some together. When are we going to Scoops?

Thanks for the compliments Guilty Carnivore. haha. My mom still asks if I'd still like to go to Med School. Aawww...hell no!

Laurie...we'll see you at a pub in London!

Thanks for the comment La Dra. I'll check you guys out!

La Dra...check out my response to TAG. You've gotto get quality rice papers for them not to stick together. And a pan of hot water over very low heat is KEY when quickly soaking them. Goi cuon is a pain in my ass too. It's a lot of prepping, but it's a great dish for hand roll parties. Prep all the dishes and roll them on your own. You can also get quarter rice paper sheets that are smaller and made for hand rolls. I haven't tried the almond butter, but I know that would be awesome. TRY IT and let me know how it goes!

Colleen Cuisine...no..I wasn't an alky when I was little. My dad gave me some beer when I was 4 and I forever hated the taste. I'm just NOW starting to enjoy beer.

Ohmygosh Eddie...so creepy cuz I really think you would chomp on my cheeks...literally. FREAK EATER!

Michelle...feisty is the perfect word for our mamas.

Nhbilly...what would happen if we put them together? It would be an ALL-CAPS madness along with some newly learned cuss words in the mix.

Kirkk...the thing is...my mom doesn't have time to get to the point. For some reason, she thinks cussing will help get the message across. "You're a pain in my asssss." Wow, thanks mom.

joanh..thanks for posting! Yea grilling the shrimp makes a difference. If you want to boil the shrimp, adding some chicken bouillon helps too.

Jen...my mom said didn't start cussing til she learned to drive. I don't believe her especially because I always see her watching Chris Rock stand-ups and Friday. One time she turned to me and said, "Jeni, puff puff give!"

lwtsh...I loooooove Chinese weddings in the 80s. So classy!

Keep on writing Teenage Gluster. You have such a gift. I hope they get you a camera for your graduation! I would looooove to see the stuff that you eat!

la dra said...

yay! We made these this weekend and they were the hit of the party! We ended up buying cashew butter and the sauce is so awesome we're trying to think up other ways to use it. Thanks again!

Jeni said...

La Dra....wheeeeew! Sometimes I am so hesitant to post recipes. I'd hate to hear people say, "I spent all this money to make your food and it tastes like crap!" I'm sooo tempted to try your almond butter idea too!

wifezilla said...

This was a great post! I think all Asian moms are like yours. My Filipina mom hasn't yet figured out how to email, though she wanted to buy a laptop and learn. I can imagine all the spam and phishing she'd respond to!

I love "summer rolls"! Could you share a recipe for nuoc mam dipping sauce? I've tried to make it, but the fish sauce was still too strong. Maybe you have a favorite brand? I think the Filipino brands might be too strong.

Also, which brand of bun do you use? and how do I cook it?

Lastly, how do I soften the rice paper? I always thought I needed hot water to soften them, but at the Vietnamese restaurant I've gone to, they just give me a shallow bowl of cold water.

Thanks so much for sharing your recipes and your kids' drawings!.

Tara said...

Hi Jeni,

I'm a sister L.A. food blogger just chiming in with laughter about this post about your Mom.

I was laughing SO HARD at her e-mail saying you weren't in the Witness Protection Program, so why don't you post your pic.

I can relate, because I blog every day, and I still don't have my pic on my blog, either.


SteamyKitchen said...

is that a margherita you're drinking in the pic?!?!?!

Sherry said...

I really, really have to know. What are those long, green things sticking out of the rolls? They're not mentioned in the list of ingredients and they've been driving me crazy for years...

Jeni said...

Sherry, they are chives!

Sarah said...

just wanted to say I made your sauce and it is SOOO good! Thanks for the recipe!

ly said...

Wow, I'm glad I'm not only one who butts heads with her vietnamese mother. But you're right, they always nurture us through their food. I'll have to try grilling the shrimp for goi cuon.


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