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Episode 17: VietNomNomPaleo!
Did you miss the sound of our voices? We’re sorry that it’s been more than a month(!) since we last released an episode of our podcast—it’s been a bit crazy around these parts. But we’ll try to make up for our tardiness by presenting an extra-long episode that’s packed with juicy details about our bucket-list trip to Vietnam. Sound good?
This episode is all about a whirlwind trip that Henry and I took to Vietnam together with a small group of awesome chefs and food writers. We traveled to Saigon and Phú Quốc Island to learn firsthand about Vietnamese cuisine and to visit the home of Red Boat Fish Sauce, where we got an up-close look at how my favorite fish sauce is made. We’ll also talk about our year-end crushes, tips for pantry prep in the New Year, and fill you in on the newest update to our Webby Award winning app.
So if you’re sick of the cold and ready to be transported to Vietnam for a spell, stick with us for a very special Viet-nomtastic episode!
What We Ate
I’ve gushed about it before, but you know me: I love my Instant Pot. It’s a 7-in-1 countertop appliance that you can use to sauté, slow-cook, and a whole bunch of other things, but I’m especially enamored with the pressure cooker function.
When it’s dark and cold outside, I just toss ingredients into my trusty Instant Pot (including pre-made building blocks like soffritto, Magic Mushroom Powder, and bone broth), and in minutes, I’m eating hearty stews and soups. It’s magical.
(Wondering about soffrito? I also shot a Periscope video on how to make soffritto—with TWO Fs and TWO Ts—the Italian version of mirepoix. It’s a slowly-cooked mix of carrots, celery, and onions in olive oil that adds an extra oomph to your dishes.)
Meanwhile, Owen tells us how much he loves oranges in the winter. It turns out my cravings back when I was preggers may be to blame for his citrus addiction.
The Main Course
Readers who’ve been with me since the beginning know that once upon a time, I was on the lookout for a Paleo-friendly fish sauce. It was never about adding fishiness to my recipes, of course; rather, I wanted my dishes to have that extra depth of flavor that comes with umami-rich fish sauce. But back in 2010, every brand of fish sauce I found in Asian grocery stores was packed with sugar, preservatives, and other chemicals. And many of them were “stretched” or thinned out with water or other liquids.
It wasn’t until 2011 when my chef sister clued me into Red Boat fish sauce, a brand new artisanal fish sauce on the market. Red Boat offered a “first press extra virgin” fish sauce made on the Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc, and it had just two ingredients: black anchovies from Phú Quốc Island, and salt. After one taste, I was hooked.
This year, this year, Red Boat decided to bring together a handful of chefs and food writers to visit their facilities on Phú Quốc Island and eat their way through Saigon as well—and Red Boat was kind enough to invite me and Henry!
Our group consisted of Kyle Hildebrant of Our Daily Brine (a must-read!) and his super-cool wife Lisa, the incredible Andrea Nguyen—my idol when it comes to all things related to Vietnamese food. Andrea was traveling with Karen Shinto, one of the best food stylists in the business. The chefs on our trip were Chris Cosentino of San Francisco’s Cockscomb and Boccalone, Jenn Louis of Portland’s Lincoln Restaurant, and Sang Yoon of Father’s Office and Lukshon in Los Angeles.
You can see some of the dishes and places we ate at by checking the hashtag #vietnomnompaleo on my Instagram feed. Some of the highlights—all of which are discussed in detail on this episode of the podcast—included:
Munching on crispy bánh xèo!
Lunching on bún bò Huế…
Visiting Marou Chocolate (and discovering the Heart of Darkness bar—my fave)!
Coffee at Saigon’s The Workshop!
Bình Tây Market!
Exploring Phú Quốc Island’s Chợ Dương Đông wet market!
But most amazing of all? Getting to see the beginning-to-end process of making Red Boat Fish Sauce—from the waters of the Gulf of Thailand to the Red Boat barrel house.
We got to taste some sauce—straight from the barrels.
My favorite moment of our trip? I caught my own fish—with an empty soda can.
Crush of the Week:
Henry’s crushing hard on the new Star Wars movie, while Ollie’s crush of the week involves smushing whipped cream into people’s faces. Me? I’m all about our newly updated iPhone & iPad app. I’m not alone, either, ’cause it was recently named one of the App Store’s Best New Apps—and Kevin Rose unexpectedly tweeted about loving it, too!
Question of the Week
This week’s question comes from Priscilla S. from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her question: Hey Michelle! I’ve been roped into a 30-day Paleo challenge at my Crossfit gym this January, but I’ve never eaten 100% Paleo before. What’s the best way to get myself ready and set myself up for success?
Thanks for listening! While we may be taking our sweet time with each episode, I’m still doing live cooking demonstrations and answering viewers questions on Periscope. So download the Periscope app, follow me (Michelle Tam), and ask your questions while I cook!
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Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013) and Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017)!