Monthly Archives: May 2011

Mui Ne – Outdoor Seafood BBQ

One of my favorite things to do when enjoying some beach time is to eat some fresh seafood outside while feeling the beach breeze and hearing the waves hitting the shore. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something truly endearing about it in Vietnam. An experience that is very different  from enjoying seafood at Redondo Beach Pier in California, Old Bay seasoned blue crabs in Maryland, or fresh clams in Washington.

The north end of the Mui Ne strip has a row of outdoor restaurants called Quan Bo Ke. Live seafood is housed in tanks waiting to be picked and cooked right on the spot. The  Bo Ke restaurants are very casual, and it is common to sit on small plastic chairs and metal tables. If you are there before the rush, you may be able to score the concrete picnic tables. We ordered five dishes to share between the two of us (sea bass not pictured), which was plenty to fill our hungry tummies!

Grilled scallops with green onion oil and ground peanuts on top

Steamed tiger lobster to share

Grilled sea crabs brushed with butter. The meat was super sweet and naturally seasoned by the salty waters that the crabs came from. I ordered an additional crab because one was just not enough!

Stir fried yu choy with crispy shallots on top

Tip: When the menu doesn’t have the price, ask for the price when ordering. We forgot to ask the waiter, and assumed the price would be similar to Cay Bang restaurant. Though Si was speaking Vietnamese, we think they charged us tourist prices because the bill came to $60; nearly double of Cay Bang! We would go to a Bo Ke again, but will be mindful next time and ask for the prices up front!

Bite this:
Grilled scallops with green onion oil and ground peanuts

Thanh Oanh Bo Ke Quan
118 Nguyen Dinh Chieu
Ham Tien, Mui Ne

On Not Making the Move

For the past few months, Si and I have been thinking a lot about the direction of our future. Specifically, we were trying to figure out when we would move back to North America. Many options were discussed since we had to take into consideration our different nationalities. Regardless of Canada and the US being best friends, it’s so difficult to work out all the logistics regarding fiancée/spousal visas, immigration, and etc. In terms of me graduating in a few months and the tentative decision to start our lives in Washington State, it just made sense that I should move back first while Si finished up his MBA program. Thus, I started to slowly piece things together to get ready for repatriation.

Repatriation options were pretty amazing. There was a possible stint in Hawaii together, with another whirlwind trip to the US and Canada, and finally settling into WA.

During this time, a lot of things kept popping up unexpectedly at us. There were opportunities here and there that would not quite work out, but it would give us flickering thoughts of reconsideration of our plans. Most of these opportunities would keep us longer in Vietnam. It was honestly exhausting going back and forth.

Then came the most recent opportunity, which I clearly said to Si that this would be the final teaser. If it didn’t work out, it would be THE sign that I must go back to the US.

[quote]Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” –Bob Marley[/quote]

Life in Vietnam continues! I am starting my second week at the new job. Si and I are relieved that we don’t have to do long distance again. It’s amazing how things somehow do work out the way it needs to be.

Tiramisu Thank Yous

I’m spending my last week at my current company, and I’m definitely going to miss the amazing ladies I have worked with. These ladies are smart, hardworking, and unbelievably caring team leaders.

One of the leads approached me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I can teach her how to make tiramisu. What a perfect way to get the girls together as a small gesture of gratitude!

I made the tiramisu making party into a 3 course Italian cuisine party. There were many firsts that afternoon. The girls had their very first taste of roasted garlic spread on top of a crusty baguette. I served cold pasta with roasted bell pepper, corn, onions, bacon, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Being used to some spice, they politely asked me if I had some chili sauce to add to their pasta. Thus, it led to their first taste of the famous rooster logo sriracha sauce from Rosemead, California. I smuggled a bottle from my last trip back home because I couldn’t find the perfect taste equivalent with the many variations sold here.

We chatted and ate in between as we completed each step in making Tiramisu. Each step was a mini English lesson in the kitchen session as the girls learned what a double boiler was, what pure vanilla extract smelled like, and how whisking heavy cream creates soft peaks of whipped cream.

Since my kitchen is small, it was hard to do a hands-on demo. I did a half batch for the example and had already prepared individual servings of tiramisu. Tiramisu also tastes better chilled for a few hours as the flavors meld together and the coffee is completely absorbed into the ladyfingers.

I believe Italian day was a great success because the girls proposed Japanese day for next time!

Below is my rendition of Tiramisu with a touch of Tennessee and Vietnam!

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Tiramisu
(8 Individual Servings)

INGREDIENTS
5 egg yolks
¼ cup of sugar
1 tbs. of vanilla extract
2 tbs. of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey*
7 oz. of Mascarpone
¾ cup of whipping cream
1.5 cups of Vietnamese coffee
2 tbs. of condensed milk*
40 ladyfingers (I used a smaller size, so it may be less if using regular sized ladyfingers)
Unsweetened cocoa to dust between layers and top

INSTRUCTIONS
Create your own double boiler by preparing a pot filled with 2 inches of water and place it over medium heat for the water to just simmer. Use a heat safe bowl that will fit on top of the pot without the bottom of the bowl touching the water. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and Jack Daniels. Place the bowl on top of the pot and continuously stir the mixture so the eggs do not curdle from the heat. Stir the zabaglione until it doubles in volume and the color turns to a pale yellow. Let the mixture cool and place in the refrigerator to chill for thirty minutes to an hour. At this time take the Mascarpone out from the refrigerator to take the chill off (it will be easier to fold in). In a shallow bowl, mix the coffee and condensed milk together. In another bowl, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone and zabaglione with the whipped cream until thoroughly incorporated. Now the tiramisu is ready to assemble! I started with a layer of ladyfingers. Dip each ladyfinger into the coffee and place the coffee-saturated cookie into your vessel of choice in one layer. Add a dollop of the mascarpone cream to create a nice layer over the ladyfingers. Dust some cocoa powder on top. Add another layer of coffee soaked lady fingers and a dollop of the mascarpone cream. Cover with saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours until ready to serve. Dust a layer of cocoa on top before serving.

*Traditional tiramisu recipes use Marsala wine, which is a challenge to find here. I just wanted a hint of alcohol so I added Jack Daniels, which was already in my pantry.

* I used Vietnamese drip coffee. Vietnamese coffee alone is VERY strong so I added the condensed milk to mellow out the bitter taste.

Mui Ne – Cay Bang

I was counting down the days to Mui Ne to get my seafood fix! Not only are Vietnam beaches beautiful, the fresh seafood just can’t be beat. Fishing boats and the round basket boats are easy to see in the Mui Ne landscape as they bring in the catches of the day.

We were recommended to go to Cay Bang restaurant from the owner of Hawaii Resort. He also listed out all the dishes we had to try over there.

We wandered aimlessly for a few minutes when we got to the restaurant. There was no hostess in sight. Servers were rushing back and forth from the kitchen to the dining tables of already seated diners.  The initial person we asked for a table was someone who looked like she was running the place with her finger-pointing and loud instructions. She told us they were all booked. Hmm…  Instead of accepting her answer that it was a lost cause for fresh seafood, we went to the other sectioned area where we were able to score a table by asking a server. A table for two people is not really common at this restaurant as the majority of their diners are families or tour groups.

We only ordered half of the list the resort owner gave us because there was no way two people could take on the volume. Shortly after we ordered, plates of fresh seafood started to come out, one after the other.

Shrimp boiled in Coconut Water

Steamed  Sea Crab

Steamed Flathead (Tiger) Lobster.  It took us a while to order this crustacean because we initially didn’t see it listed on the menu. When I found a waiter carrying plates of these, Si managed to take a picture and asked them for the Vietnamese name to confirm with the owner’s list of eats.

Morning Glory

Oyster Porridge

Our bill? Only $25 USD for the two of us! The price was very reasonable compared to the street side outdoor seafood restaurant (a Bo Ke) we went the next day. We believe we got ripped off, but that’s another story for next time.

A stop at Cay Bang Restaurant for lunch or dinner cannot be missed for fresh seafood when taking a trip to Mui Ne!

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Bite this:

Tom Mu Ni (Flathead Lobster, Tiger Lobster) almost 1/4 the price of regular lobsters.

 

Cay Bang
02-04 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street
+84 62 8470 09

Vietnam Beaches – Mui Ne

We spent a long weekend in Mui Ne, a coastal resort town about 5.5 hours away by bus. The weekend marked the weekend before King Hung’s anniversary holiday and bidding adieu to the high season of tourism in Mui Ne.

We were expecting many people on the beaches and on the main strip due to resorts being fully booked for the weekend. However, we were pleasantly surprised that popular tourist sites, beaches, and restaurants were not infiltrated with vacationers.

We stayed at the Hawaii Resort, which only has 8 private bungalows on the property.  Our bungalow was $60USD a night and was steps away from the beach.  This place is an absolute gem, and the owner of the resort is very friendly. Our wonderful and relaxing experience at Hawaii Resort made us very wistful in extending our stay in Mui Ne. We will definitely stay here again!

Mui Ne is known for having great conditions for water sports. There were many people kiteboarding as we were eating lunch at Sankara. The boarders were doing amazing tricks as the kites carried them up in the air.

If water sports are not your thing, you can go to the beautiful red sand dunes where you can rent a plastic sled to slide down the hills. The dunes stretch several kilometers and the best time to go is for the sunrise or sunset. Get ready for a good workout!

Another popular activity is an easy hike up the Fairy Stream. It is the mini Grand Canyon of Mui Ne! Follow the stream up to see some interesting rock formations as it winds around sand dunes. The stream is pretty shallow so take off your shoes to feel the soft sand between your toes.

We rented a bike and cruised the gorgeous coast. The aquamarine colored waters and the endless stretches of sand goes on for miles and miles. It was easy to find beaches where we can temporarily call our own as we were the only two walking while the waves cooled our feet.

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See this:

Kite boarders while sipping on cocktails at Sankara
Red Sand Dunes
Fairy Stream
Rent a motorbike and cruise the coast

Accommodations:
Hawaii Resort
40 Nguyen Din Chieu Street
Ham Tien Ward, Mui Ne
+84 62 8477 32