Category Archives: Vietnamese

thai night: coconut-curry mussels and peanut rice noodle salad

When I was home over winter break my mom asked me to help her make a nice gluten free meal for our cousins who were coming over for dinner (one of them has celiac).

Pretty table setting

Cheese plate

We looked at food blogs and magazines for inspiration before finally landing on an article in Food Network Magazine which provided us with the recipes for this delicious dinner.

I really love mussels, and almost always order them if they’re on the menu at a restaurant, but I don’t make them at home very often for no reason at all. In fact, I am going to start making them more often because they are inexpensive, incredibly quick and easy to make, and impressive to boot!

The peanut noodle salad is also very yummy. The rice noodles aren’t too filling, the peanut sauce is savory and a little salty, and the veggies give a nice crunch. It’s also a nice compliment to the spicy mussels.

Coconut-Curry Mussels

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Serves: 6


  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
  • 1/4 cup green curry paste (use less if you don’t want it very spicy)
  • 2 15-ounce cans coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 6 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 4 limes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Crusty bread, for serving (optional but DO IT)


Trim the lemongrass, leaving 6 inches at the root end; discard the tops. Smash the stalks with the flat side of a knife and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Mise en place: all ingredients prepped and ready to go!

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in each of 2 large pots over medium-high heat. Add 1 sliced onion to each and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add half each of the garlic, lemongrass, ginger and curry paste to each pot and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 can coconut milk, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1/4 cup water to each pot and bring to a simmer. Divide the mussels between the pots; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mussels open, about 8 minutes. (Discard any that do not open.) Add the juice of 2 limes to each pot, then add the lime halves. Stir 1/2 cup cilantro into each. Serve with bread, if desired.

Peanut Rice Noodle Salad

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Serves: 6


  • 8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (use tamari if you need it to be GF)
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped


Put the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let the noodles soak until tender, about 10 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Whisk the lime juice, soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar and vegetable oil in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour the dressing over the noodles. Add the bell pepper, scallions, basil, cilantro and mint and toss to combine. Season with salt and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Final product!

even Zara had a good time 🙂

Bon appetit!




vietnamese summer rolls

This may just be my favorite meal EVER. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but seriously, not only are summer rolls fun to make, but they are fun to shop for and most importantly, fun to eat.

My obsession started many years ago at a restaurant nestled in the heart of NYC’s Chinatown called Pho Pasteur. My mom found it one year while on a lunch break from jury duty, loved it, brought me, and the rest is history. Basically you choose whether you want barbecued shrimp, chicken, pork or beef ( i always go for the shrimp), and then they give you everything you need to assemble the summer rolls yourself. This includes rice paper, vermicelli noodles, a plate of cucumber, mint and lettuce, and of course, peanut, fish, hoisin and sweet chili sauces. I love the challenge of making them look good, and because you’re involved in making the food, you end up eating slower, and getting full on much less food as a result.

This summer I made them at home for the first time with my friends Jenna and Sara, and we had such a great time. I changed the recipe a little and added avocado and mango because I thought it would go well with the shrimp (it did!). I also made the artichoke olive crostini to go with it, and a delicious white wine sangria filled with peaches, mango and strawberries. This is a great picnic meal because everything travels easily and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

When I arrived in Sydney and wandered through Chinatown here, I was determined to make the summer rolls again for my new friends. Luckily Beanca happens to be an amazing photographer and took pictures of the whole process for me. You can also find them on her fantastic blog.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Ingredients: (You can find most if not all of these in an asian grocery store)

  • Shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
  • (8 1/4 inch) round rice paper wrappers
  • Small bundles of rice vermicelli
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Cucumber, sliced into small thin pieces
  • Mango, sliced into small thin pieces
  • Avocado, sliced into small thin pieces
  • Peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, sweet chili sauce


1. Cut mango, avocado and cucumber into slices and wash mint leaves

2. Barbeque, boil, sauté, or broil the shrimp until cooked and set aside

3. Soak the rice vermicelli in boiling water for a few minutes until soft, then drain, and set aside

4. Find a pan big enough to soak the rice papers, and fill it with hot water

5. Empty a large space such as a dining table and set up stations with everything in separate containers in this order: rice papers, vermicelli noodles, shrimp, mango/avocado/cucumber, and sauces

6. Place the rice paper in the hot water until soft and pliable, then place on a clean plate (this may be easier if two people work together to make sure the rice paper doesn’t stick to itself).

7. Place a small mound of rice vermicelli in the center, topped with 3 pieces of shrimp, then some mango/avocado/cucumber (a combination of all or one), then a piece of mint, and finally some sauce of your choice. Wrap it neatly, trying to leave the shrimp on top and the crease on the bottom (this comes with lots of trial and error, trust me).

Now finally you are ready to enjoy your masterpiece!

I sincerely hope you love these as much as I do, and I would love to hear your comments!