Tôi Đói Bụng!

Back when NewWifey(tm) and I were just fuck buddies we’d sometimes pop down to Lower Manhattan after a particularly draining boink-a-thon and order up a feast at her favorite Vietnamese restaurant – creatively named “Vietnam Restaurant” – so she could both replenish spent energy, and get any hideous tastes out of her mouth. The place was great, and cheap. For twenty bucks total we could fill the table with more food than it would take to satisfy one of those starving Somali kids with the distended bellies for a year.

Quick sappy side story:

NewWifey(tm) and I met in an online motorcycle racing chat room. She had a question about jetting carburetors, and I answered. But she was using an ambiguous handle, and I didn’t catch on that she was a chick. Until I made a horrible, sexist joke and she called me out on it. And then asked if we could meet. I said “Sure, as long as we can fuck”, and that was that. She flew out from Cowtown Trailerville, Missouri, and we spent the next two weeks fucking and eating. Often at once.

The very first restaurant I took her to was that self same Vietnam Restaurant. I ordered my favorites: Shrimp Paste Grilled on Sugar Cane (“Chou Tom”), Vietnamese Crepe (“Banh Xeo”) and Fried Banana in Coconut Cream with Tapioca (“Chuoi Chien“). To a girl who’s diet up until that point consisted almost entirely of BBQ pork sandwiches, pimento cheese, Cream of Something Casserole, and  Miller Lite, this was a revelation. Sad to say, but I think that was the very first orgasm I ever gave her.

Anyway, and I’m not making this up, for the next dozen years or so until they went out of business, whenever we went there SHE ORDERED THOSE SAME THREE DISHES AND NOTHING ELSE. To this day those are her three favorite dishes in all the world, and god help me if we’re ever on a road trip and she spots a Vietnamese restaurant on the horizon. She’ll literally reach over from the passenger seat and wrestle the steering wheel out of my hand and aim us towards their parking lot. And once we’re inside she’ll order Chou Tom, Banh Xeo, and Chuoi Chien. I have tried and tried and tried to get her to order one of the many other wonders of that most amazing cuisine, like their world famous caramel sauce dishes, or for gods sake, at least a bowl of pho once in a while. But nope. “I am not messing with perfection” she says. And that’s that. Another round of Chou Tom, Banh Xeo, and Chuoi Chien gets set before us.

Are you sure this is just a quick side story, Danger? And where’s the sappy you promised?

Shut up. Here:

When I finally decided to pull the trigger I dragged NewWifey(tm) back downtown to Vietnam Restaurant for lunch. We had, surprise surprise, Chou Tom, Banh Xeo, and Chuoi Chien. But this time, just before the Chuoi Chien was served I got down on one knee next to her seat and proffered a small hinged box towards her. Just then the waitress showed up with our flaming banana, and she squealed and stepped back a few paces to watch. I opened the box and inside, set in the ring slot, was a rubber O-ring from my motorcycle’s carburetor.

NewWifey(tm)’s reaction? To quote her, verbatim: “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…”

See, I had picked her up from work where she’d just finished an overnight shift. What was “lunch” to me was “midnight raid the fridge in pajamas while half asleep” to her.

Ok, she wasn’t totally out of it. But the reaction was certainly muted. In actual fact, it was more like, “You’re kidding, right? Whatever, fine, let’s get married. Now can I go home and get some sleep?”

BTW, she wore that rubber O-ring as her engagement ring right up until I replaced it with a more traditional (if stodgier) diamond model. She loved it, and bored to tears with the full story anyone who asked about it. Sorta like what I’m doing here.

Ok, enough stupid side story  sap. Suffice it to say, that restaurant and those dishes hold a special place in our synchronized hearts. Or what passes for one in my case.

Now over the years I’ve made, and continue to make, Chou Tom and Chuoi Chien. I’ve got those bad boys down. My version of each rivals anything we’ve had out, with the exception of the original Vietnam Restaurant ones. Those are still the gold standard, and I feel no shame admitting I haven’t reached that pinnacle yet. But I blow all the others out of the water. At least according to NewWifey(tm), since I’m way too modest to make such a claim myself.

*cough*

Anyway, for some reason in all these years I’ve never ventured on making Banh Xeo. And that’s probably the easiest one to make. It’s an egg-less crepe that LOOKS like an egg crepe. It’s filled with stuff – usually shrimp, bean sprouts, sometimes pork, chicken, etc. – and eaten the usual Viet way: sandwiched into a lettuce leaf with handfuls of fresh herbs and dunked into any number of sauces.

I don’t know why I never made it. I really can’t think of any reason other than sloth, or maybe Alzheimer’s. But I never made it.

Until tonight.

Behold:

Banh Xeo small

Of course, following my usual M.O. of refusing to use recipe, measurements, or sense, I didn’t use a recipe. So while the banh xeo tasted great, I dumped in too much turmeric which turned it a bright and cheery Halloween pumpkin color instead of egg crepe color. Oh well. Now I know what to make for Halloween.

BTW, one of the reasons I decided to make this today was because I’d just made a batch of rice flour in my 35 year old Vitamix. As far as other details, the crepes were stuffed with shrimp, scallion, mushroom, chicken, and bean sprouts. I also made fish sauce dip (little white bowl with carrot shreds floating around) and Viet peanut dip (smaller bowl) with peanut butter I also made in the Vitamix.

Oh, and BEEEEER! Gotta have beer.That’s apparently the law in Vietnam. Don’t wanna break the law.

Chúc Ngủ Ngon!

 

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29 thoughts on “Tôi Đói Bụng!

  1. All that food sounds scrumptious but my old Romantic heart went pittypat at the O-ring part of the tale. Bet she still has it and still loves it. Awww…

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  2. Ok, like I love New Wifey (™) stories and her by association, but dude, they are not the best Viet dishes…like AT ALL. Banh Xeo I will give you. But if you want a serious PROPER foodgasm Banh Khot is the shit. I can take or leave Pho, it does nothing for me (the whole bone broth and being pescetarian is an issue, granted), but I would sell my own brother for Bahn Khot. And yet I couldn’t find them when I actually went to Vietnam. It was a travesty of epic proportions. They have a lot of other cool stuff though, like white rose dumplings, and Bahn Cahn Ghe- which you can only get in Hoi An and Hanoi respectively. Cold rolls are also awesome, as are the wet steamed ones (Bahn Cuon). Viet food generally is the shit- an excellent choice of first date restaurant!

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    1. Yeah, yeah. You’re preaching to the choir, kiddo. I’M pretty well versed in the many and varied foodstuffs coming from that beautiful peninsula, and I’ve tried to impart my broader culinary horizon to NewWifey(tm) for her own good. But again…midwestern, y’know? (Although I should say, I neglected to say in the story how she’s come to love cool summer rolls. We make our own, and they rival the other three now in her Taste Ranking.)

      You couldn’t find Bahn Khot in Vietnam? I know the cuisine over there is very regional, particularly from north to south. Do you think you might have just been outside the appropriate area?

      Oooh, I’ve never even heard of white rose dumplings! I’ve gotta look that one up. Thanks for than – and also for the great comments here 🙂

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        1. Woo hoo, thanks!! I doubt I’ll ever get to Hoian, but I think I have a good general idea how to make them now (although apparently it’s SUPER SECRET!). I like the sound of the dipping sauce they use, too. That I’ll definitely have to try. Thanks so much!

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  3. Your timing, as always…exquisite! I am holding the phone to call in lunch, as early as possible (for a variety of reasons…) and then this. Dammit.

    So, what do you know about food in Jamaica?

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    1. Sadly, no. When I lived in Jersey City there was (is) a huge Cuban and Dominican population, but not too much coming from the other islands (except Puerto Rico). So I’ve only had minimal exposure to it, and the few times I’ve tried making some of the dishes I saw online I had real problems getting authentic ingredients. Are you into their cuisine? Got any tips for a poor ignorant blogger/god?

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  4. Awww I always knew you were a sap. Congratulations on suckering… er, convincing NewWifey(tm) to stick around. On purpose and everything, too!

    Also, I thought I was the only one who went to a restaurant and said, “Hmm… I bet I can make this at home.” In my case it was mostly Mexican food (the real stuff, not the deer excrement they slap on a plate back east and call it Mexican) and some of what we in the US euphemistically call “Chinese food”.

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    1. Hmm. I still seem to have trouble grasping the intricacies of the “Reply” button. The next comment from me should be the one attached to YOUR comment. Not this one you’re reading now.

      I need more food….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What? I thought deer excrement WAS authentic Mexican. My mom lied to me again!

    Lol. Good for you, getting in there in the kitchen and hacking away at those restaurant staples. I knew I liked you for more than your looks, wit, coding skills, and fellatio! Is there no end to your wonder? Rock on, babe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. You can now also credit me as a published author, provided you count the eBook swill on Amazon publishing. I have three books live and half a dozen or so still baking. Trying to drum up the enthusiasm to put them in print too, but that requires I actually do something besides play video games. Eh – it’ll wait.

      You may worship at will.

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        1. Then you’ll appreciate me all the more because I hijacked my kids’ video games when they were teens and totally monopolized them. It drove my kids nuts, so my joy was complete.

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  6. Officially drooling. One of my best friends in grade school was from Vietnam. Her parents made the best freaking food on “bring food from your culture day” (I always had to bring kolaches because none of the kids wanted the boiled cabbage of my other heritage). Sadly, I now live in one of the whitest places in the world with no good Vietnamese (but oddly, a really kick-ass Thai place). That food looks so delicious not even your sappy story could turn my stomach.

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    1. See, this is why I continue to hang around outside elementary schools. Despite what the police constantly contend, I’m just hoping one of the little girls…er, kids….will be toting along some exotic comestible that their refugee parent packed for their lunch. Do you know how easy it is to cheat a 5 year old out of their bibimbop in a game of “Rock Paper Scissor”?

      Mmmmmm….KOLACHE! Yeah, strangely enough, I can see why your classmates would have preferred them to boiled cabbage. Good call.

      Thanks, S 🙂

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    1. You’ll love it! Just remember: DON’T EAT THE SUGAR CANE in the chou tom! You slide it out of the shrimpy football thing first. Then, the best part, you chew the sugar can and savor the sweet fresh sugar juice flavored with the sweet grilled shrimp flavor (spit out the wad once you’ve chewed it, like gum). It’s like the dessert is built right into the dish!

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