With the current lockdown measures in place to flatten the curve in Vietnam, many restaurants, cafes and street food vendors have closed and inadvertently banished Vietnam residents to the comforts of their own homes with bellies empty and hearts craving their favourite Vietnamese dishes. Thankfully, with the help of Chef Thu Ha Dinh from FuAsian Restaurant, we can all get our Vietnamese food fix with these three simple yet satisfying, healthy and budget-friendly Vietnamese recipes.

First things first, here are some basic ingredients that one should have to cook these 3 simple yet healthy and delicious Vietnamese dishes below. So if you don't, plan ahead and hit your local Asian market (online) and shop the below sauces, fresh veggies, meat and spices.

Basic ingredients for Vietnamese cooking

Seasoning and flavor:

  • Fish sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Ginger
  • Lemongrass
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • White onions
  • Green onions
  • Turmeric powder
  • Dry chilli flakes or fresh minced chilli
  • Black pepper
Lemongrass is one of the most important ingredients in Vietnamese food
Lemongrass is one of the most important ingredients in Vietnamese food

Ingredients:

  • Vietnamese crunchy vegetables including Malabar spinach, Luffa, gourds or winter melon which can be ordered easily from any local Asian markets
  • Protein such as chicken and shrimp

It is important to note that we as individuals have different tolerance to salt. While none of the Vietnamese recipes include salt and different brands of fish sauce and soy sauce have different sodium content, I have used a proximity of measurement but feel free to season and add according to your personal preference.

Vietnamese Malabar Spinach and Luffa Soup with Minced Shrimps

It is not easy to get the exact weight of vegetables or more or less is okay. This is the perfect recipe for

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams of Malabar Spinach
  • 500 grams of tender luffa
  • 200 grams of shrimp
  • 30 ml of fish sauce
  • Cooking oil
  • 20 grams of minced shallots or minced white onions
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Wash Malabar Spinach and separate leaves from stems, leave the tender stems and leaves for cooking
  • Peel tender luffa and slice to 1cm thick
  • Peel and devein shrimps before mincing
  • In a pot, add some oil to the coat of the pot and set the heat to medium
  • Add in the minced shrimp and some some black pepper as desired for 10 seconds
  • Increase heat to high and quickly add in sliced luffa
  • Stir from a minute and then add in Malabar spinach leaves and tender stems
  • Once the Malabar spinach changes colour to dull green, add filtered waster as directed or 1cm of clear liquid above the fresh vegetables
  • Once the broth is boiled, turn the heat down and add 30 ml of salty fish sauce
  • Stir evenly and taste the broth and all the flavors (make sure to take a spoonful and not just a sip)
  • If extra seasoning if needed, add more fish sauce or a pinch of salt
Vietnamese Malabar Spinach and Luffa Soup with Minced Shrimps
Vietnamese Malabar Spinach and Luffa Soup with Minced Shrimps

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of chicken (skinless boneless chicken cut into 2cm chunks or cut chicken with bones and skin, 2cm thick)
  • 2 twigs of fresh minced lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic or 1 tbsp of minced shallots
  • Cooking oil
  • 30 ml of salty fish sauce
  • 20 ml of soy sauce
  • 20 grams of sugar
  • Turmeric power

Instructions:

  • In a pot, add some oil to generously coat the metal cooking surface and a table spoon extra to sear lemongrass
  • Turn the heat to medium high
  • Add minced lemongrass for 30 seconds
  • Add minced garlic and minced shallots and stir evenly
  • Set the heat to low simmer
  • Add raw chicken but make sure not to stir. At this point, lemongrass, garlic, shallots should all be at the bottom of the pot and chicken is on top of the mix
  • Close the lid for 5 minutes to let the chicken steam in its own juice and absorb the aroma of lemongrass, garlic and shallots underneath
  • After 5 minutes of simmering and steaming the chicken, take off the lid and stir everything together
  • Turn the heat to high and add 30ml of fish sauce along with 20ml of soy sauce and 20grams of sugar
  • Stir often to make sure the sauce does not burn
  • Turn the heat to low and taste a piece of chicken for flavour of saltiness and sweet
  • Add pinches of turmeric powder and chilli flakes to give your chicken a kick
  • If more saltiness is desired, add a dash of fish sauce, soy sauce or salt
Lemongrass chicken
Lemongrass chicken @ Vicky Pham

Shrimp Sauté with Garlic

Ingredients:

  • 500grams of shrimps (shelled, deveined and butterfly)
  • Fish sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Minced garlic or minced shallots or minced onions
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • Sesame oil (optional)

Instructions:

  • In a pot, add some oil to generously coat the metal cooking surface
  • Turn the heat to medium low
  • Add 50grams of minced garlic or minced shallots (recommended to use both) if you do not have garlic or shallots, use minced white onions or green onions
  • Sear the garlic, shallots or onions to create aroma
  • Add 20ml of fish sauce, 10ml of soy sauce and 20grams of sugar
  • Turn the heat to medium high to caramelise the sauce (the sauce should coat the back of a spoon)
  • Add in the shrimps and stir for 1 minute until the shrimps turn pink
  • Turn the heat off and add a pinch of black pepper
  • If more saltiness is desired, add a dash of fish sauce, soy sauce or salt
Garlic ginger shrimp stirfry
Garlic ginger shrimp stirfry

While not included, you can choose to top these dishes with some fresh herbs such as coriander or spring onion. Pair with a bowl of rice noodles (or rice vermicelli) or banh mi and you've got yourself a classic Vietnamese dish that hits the spot.

Who is Chef Thu Ha Dinh?

Chef Thu Ha Dinh is the Founder and Executive Chef of FuAsian Restaurant located in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City. Chef Thu Ha has been cooking alongside her mother since the age of 7 and has for the past 25 years developed an eclectic palate for ethnic cuisines through working and honing her culinary skills with many talented chefs around the world.

Chef Thu Ha
Chef Thu Ha

Chef Thu Ha believes food is preventive medicine and should be simple and wholesome. That's why at FuAsian restaurant, she insists on using fresh high quality ingredients and adopts cooking techniques that preserve the nutrients and vitamins of the ingredients.

Now your taste buds are tingling, it's time to tuck into our delicious food and drink guides!