Vietnamese Cooking With Luke

By: Kirsten Vala

Explore local Vietnamese cultures and cuisines with Luke Nguyen in the all-new second season of the spectacularly beautiful show, Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam (Sundays at 12:30pm ET). Today, Luke visits rural Sapa, where water buffalo plough the fields and it looks like time has stood still for 1,000 years. But what about the food? Surprisingly, dishes from this episode look like great party foods, perfect for a supper club or a Vietnamese-themed night in.

Who doesn't like food on a stick? In Sapa, Luke’s first dish, Char Grilled Hmong Black Pig Skewers, looks simple enough for a party app, only using the most common Asian ingredients: sesame seeds, lemongrass, fish sauce and oyster sauce. Serve this to get your party started.

Next up, Luke’s Salmon Steam Boat dish is like Vietnamese fondue. You start with a homemade sweet and spicy fish stock as the base, and then gather guests around the simmering pot to cook their own salmon and veggies. Serve with noodles for an amazing make-your-own soup.

While picking mushrooms Luke asks his local guide what type of greens are available for him to make a simple dish he has in mind. She suggested chayote leaves, which look wonderful, but if Luke asked me that same question I'd say spinach or kale or some other leafy green regularly spotted at my grocery store. So, maybe a little substitution wouldn't hurt Luke's Wild Shitake Mushroom and Choko Leaf Stir Fry, although I'd test it out before the party.

Getting started: The great thing about Luke’s recipes is that he doesn’t hold back or dumb down dishes – they’re unapologetically authentic and often call for exotic ingredients (Check out our Vietnamese Pantry to learn about some of them). Your best bet for finding them is to track down an Asian grocery store in your area. Search for your state in this Vietnamese market database. Or, if you can’t find a Vietnamese market, you might be able to find the most common of Luke’s Asian ingredients in the ethnic foods section of your regular grocery store or at one of the many Chinese, Japanese or Korean markets scattered across the country.

Find more authentic Vietnamese recipes to round out your menu.

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