Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Saturday, April 16, 2011

SoulFood in Saigon take two. . .

Last year, my friend Erica came to visit Saigon and check out what life is like in Vietnam. While here, I promised my foreign friends some good ol' fashion soul food and had Erica whip up some seafood gumbo, Viet style. She didn 't have all the ingredients she would normally have, like chicken broth (we just couldn't find it). This caused us to settle for a strange powdered substance that is is commonly found in Viet grocery stores like Co-OP Mart and Big C.  We did not know how much to use and how much water mix with it. So the gumbo, though quite delicious, was extremely salty. Regardless of having to drink two large gallons of LaVie water after eating, everyone loved it and craved for more.

So fast forward to now. AFter several people asking me to make more gumbo, and after moving into my own apartment, and after coming back from Singapore, I said, why not? So I invited the crew over, and went shopping. This time I didn't want to run out, and I didn't want the batch to me salty. The resolve was:
4 chicken breasts boiled
4 bags of shrimp
3 crabs
1 pack of 4 spicy sausage links
2 packs of fresh baby corn
1 pound of okra
2 cans of stewed tomatoes
2/3 pack of Bacon fried for a full glass of grease
about a cup or 2 of flour to burn for the roux
1 really LARGE aluminum pot
1 extra pot for the spill over

With so many ingredients I needed more water. So the new problem was, not salty enough, lol. But guests could add whatever they wanted to make the stew taste to their liking. Thanks to my girl Evelyn, who was at the last gumbo dinner, we finished not too late, just after 9 pm. She remembered all the steps. I was a bit clueless. Only knew what went in the gumbo, not how to make it look like gumbo. Cooking for others is fun. I'm sure once I get married and have children this may seem like a chore, but I hope not. It's another way to be creative with my innate artistic self. Luckily I have a posse of friends who love to cook. Especially Julie Child herself, Adeline, the Viet-French version. I just came back from a barbeque at Adeline's place and tasted many of her concoctions. This night's dessert delight was a Banana Toffee Creme pie. Toffee was home made from Vietnamese condensed milk, mmm mmmmm. If you don't have friends from a variety of cultures, I'd recommend it. Your tastes buds will never be bored.


  1. This sounds so good..! I need to take notes! I'm still trying to master some of the most simple dishes. If I can master stuffing and cornbread from scratch, not the box, I'll feel a sense of accomplishment in the kitchen :) I also need to locate my friends that like to cook and enlist their help with a few of the recipes I've been collecting.

  2. You could have a cooking party, or a cooking club. Or be like the girl in the movie Julie and Julia :-)