An unctuous, and savory delight. We only let ourselves make braised pork belly once every six months or so. It’s wonderful served over rice, or as a component of the Normandie Wedding Banh Mi. Braised pork belly is a special treat, made with fresh figs in the summer. It ends up sticky, and slightly sweet — kind of like a pork jam. At another time of year, you can substitute coconut juice or guava nectar for the figs, and add a little bit of caramel for flavour.
— Wendy, Brad
banh mi, brad, braise, chinese, fig, pork, vietnamese, wendy
This is a simple quick pickle, perfect as a side dish, or (especially) as an essential component for banh mi. As well as Vietnamese food, it would work well as ban chan for Korean food, or a general pickle for American barbecue or pulled pork.
Preserves and pickles
pickle, simple, vegan, vegetarian, vietnamese, wendy
Wendy soup (or canh cải chua) is one of the simplest, most delicious soups you can make in winter. It’s pretty much nothing more than cải chua (fermented mustard greens), and soup-cut pork ribs. The bones make a flavourful stock, the pickles balance the richness, and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. As you can tell from the name, Wendy grew up eating it, and introduced it to the Normandie house. It’s in pretty heavy rotation, when the days get short. In this version, we take advantage of something that’s usually a negative — unripe, green tomatoes are common in winter, and are perfect in this soup. Otherwise, daikon is more traditional.
pickles, pork, ribs, simple, soup, vietnamese, wendy
This versatile recipe might sound like an absurd, five-year-old’s invention — spaghetti with peanut butter. But you can make this remixed Sichuan dish with little more than those two ingredients. In Chinese, the original is called cold noodles with chicken slivers (雞絲涼麵), and, accordingly, it’s usually made with chicken. But if you’re happy to bastardise it, this recipe works with whatever happens to be in the fridge (I love cucumber, eggs, and tomato; but leftover chicken, celery, bean sprouts, tofu or mushrooms would work). Infinitely flexible, infinitely delicous, this is a staple meal, for Brad, Wendy, and Joyce. Thomas suspects it might be the perfect, post-zombie apocalypse dinner. Master it now, before the walking dead appear.
— Brad, Wendy, Joyce
brad, chinese, cold noodle, joyce, noodles, sichuan, simple, vegan, vegetarian, wendy
This is one of the best winter foods — sweet, fluffy bread, wrapped around a savoury, fragrant filling — especially when served with spicy chinese mustard. There are a lot of different kinds of bao (or mandu, or niku man, or banh) but the barbecue pork one is the archetype. They’re best eaten right away, but are good reheated, too, for breakfast or lunch. This recipe is a little bit labour intensive (sorry, not sorry), so if you want to make char siu bao, grab a bunch of friends, and start stuffing.
— Brad, Wendy
brad, buns, chinese, dumplings, pork, wendy
This is one of the simpler recipes for steamed-bun (bao) dough we’ve found. It produces a fluffy, sweet, nicely textured bao, and you can stuff it with the typical Chinese char siu, or the Vietnamese banh bao filling — or a shiitake filling. You can pretty much stick anything inside them, and it will be good. In Japan, in the winter, steam cabinets with a variety of bao, or man, are everywhere. When I lived in Yonago, there were almost always pork, curry, pizza, mushroom, and blueberry.
— Brad, Eliseo, Wendy
brad, bread, chinese, dough, eliseo, japanese, vegan, vegetarian, wendy
Wendy is a housemate emeritus. She is one of the earliest residents, and cooks, of Normandie — as well as a legume geneticist, and amateur photographer. Born in Hong Kong, to a mother boating across the world from Hanoi, Vietnam; raised in the multi-ethnic ferment of pre-tech San Francisco; Wendy approaches food, and life, with a hip-hop sensibility and energy. Minus the metaphorical baggy pants and drank. You know, high-concept, remixes, and philosophical musings about death, and social justice. With a nod to Tupac. That kind of hip-hop.
Okay, I’ve totally gotten lost in this metaphor by now. Never mind. Continue Reading