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Spoon Fed: Vietnamese variations

By Shannon Cummins
Aug. 20, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.

Banh mi

Banh Mi

• Grilled pork

• 1 French baguette, cut into fours

• 1 cucumber, sliced on the bias

• 1 bunch cilantro

• 1 carrot, julienned

• 2 jalapenos, sliced thin

• Radish sprouts

• Mayonnaise

You can use just about any good cut of pork to put into your banh mi. A lot of the time, I will use leftover pork from a loin or grill off a tenderloin. You can also marinate scraps in many different ways. I love to do soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic and lime. Then, it's just a matter of grilling your meat and building your sandwich. These are pretty traditional ingredients but feel free to experiment.

If You go

Chef Shannon Cummins will be cooking an Argentinian wine dinner at The Sendera on Wednesday; make your reservations now at 361-573-9700.

My mother is a huge source of inspiration for me in all facets of my life, but food has always been our most enjoyable connection.

As a very young child, I sat on the counter and watched my mother make dinner.

Dinner was by far the most important meal in our family growing up, and we followed the family mantra: "Whatever you do, don't miss dinner."

My whole life, I have loved cooking and anything to do with food.

I started bussing tables when I was 11 years old, and I've spent most of my life working in restaurants all over the U.S.

This has afforded me the opportunity to eat a lot of amazing food, but I still love going to my mother's for a real home-cooked meal.

Living in a city most of my adult life, I always tried out new, exciting restaurants.

Since moving to Victoria, however, I've found living in a smaller town makes it more difficult to find great meals.

One restaurant I've loved is Noot's Thai Kitchen.

Now, I have to say, I feel like I am in a cafeteria when I dine in the restaurant, but the flavors are incredible.

Most of the time, we take our order to-go.

I've discovered this provides me two opportunities: One, I get to eat in a much more comfortable atmosphere, and two, while I wait for my food, I watch the interaction of the front and back of the house.

This may not sound exciting to most people, but as a restaurateur, I find it incredibly informative and entertaining.

Over my numerous visits, I've observed the chef brings out the food with a smile and helps the staff immensely.

I know it is incredibly cliche, but I believe one of the reasons I love the food there so much is because there is the same love and passion put into their food as my mother put into our family dinners.

I know a number of the employees at Noot's are family, and you can feel the connection not only in the food but also in the care they exude.

Recently, while visiting my parents in Port Lavaca, we tried Magic Asian Cuisine, a little Vietnamese restaurant in town.

The atmosphere had a great deal to be desired, but we had some really fantastic dishes.

Of all the incredible deals on the menu, the banh mi was by far my favorite.

Juicy pork with crisp, clean vegetables, spicy fresh jalapeno and a touch of mayonnaise on a French roll.

The noodles and fried rice were both wonderful dishes.

It's another family-run business with lots of love put into the food.

We will always choose the love that's put into our food over the money that's spent on the advertising.

I've walked away from Noot's and Magic Asian Cuisine with an inspiring idea.

My family, life and travels have awarded me many opportunities to interpret my cooking with my own love and passion. I hope you will take my idea and apply your love and inspiration.

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