Friday, November 27, 2009

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 3

Thanksgiving leftovers for breakfast or lunch are fine, even welcomed, but by dinner time, my taste buds want something new. So when my youngest aunt told me to come over for dinner, I happily went.

Oooh! Lau (Vietnamese hot pot)! Or more specifically, cu lao. According to my youngest aunt's husband, who hails from Soc Trang in the Mekong Delta, cu lao is named after the ringed brazier in which coal is placed in the middle of the hot pot. Although lau and cu lao might appear similar, cu lao is a dish that originated with the ethnic Chinese in the Mekong Delta and requires certain ingredients and presentation.

My Youngest Aunt's Husband's Cu Lao (Vietnamese Hot Pot) 1

There is a layer of cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, and carrots underneath all that meat. There should be a mix of seafood and pork. There are king crab legs, my aunt's homemade shrimp balls, and squid. Dried squid was soaked for several days to soften and reconstitute before being sliced into diamond patterns and added to the pot. The pork includes sliced pork meat, hearts, and rinds. There should also be part of the pork stomach or intestine too, said my uncle.

Mmm. A whole lot of crab legs before the rest of the ingredients got added to the pot.

My Youngest Aunt's Husband's Cu Lao (Vietnamese Hot Pot) 2

Served with a side of my aunt's homemade Baechu Kimchi (Korean Pickled Napa Cabbage) with added daikon and carrots.

My Youngest Aunt's Baechu Kimchi (Korean Pickled Napa Cabbage)

Last Christmas when my parents were in town, my aunt made bun mang vit (Vietnamese noodle soup with duck and bamboo shoots).

"Didn't you like your soup?" My aunt asked me after I had eaten.

I told her it was delicious.

"Why didn't you photograph it then?" She asked forlornly.

Good thing I remembered to bring my camera along to document this meal. It even came with a nice little history lesson too.

Did you miss Ask Wandering Chopsticks 1? Go there if you did. Or click on the "Ask Wandering Chopsticks" tag below for previous editions. Otherwise, got any questions for me? You have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, November 29 to ask anything within reason.

1 year ago today, traditional Thanksgiving dinner with an Asian fusion twist.
2 years ago today, I Ate What? 2006 Eating Out Roundup
3 years ago today, Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen - Rosemead.


  1. Hi WC,
    How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great and tiring.

  2. Ha! I love when family and friends become devoted/insistent that pictures be taken before everyone digs in. :P The picture of the crabs is killing me, looks so wonderful!

  3. David,
    Mine was great and tiring too. Not that tiring though. I only cooked for a dozen people this year. So only about four hours of prep time.

    It was very yum!

    The funny thing is that my aunt doesn't even know about my blog, she just likes knowing that I take pictures of her food. :)

  4. This definitely would hit the spot! Love all those ingredients.

  5. love your pictures, especially the Peking duck style roast turkey wrap picture and I'm sure they all taste super delicious, I'm drooling everytime...:)

  6. WC, did you also have stuffing for your thanksgiving dinner? I heard the "french" version is better than the "american" one, but I haven't tried nor know the "french" version...what do you think?

  7. Looks delicious. I almost wish I could reach thru the screen & make myself a plate.

  8. It looks like you had a wonderful thanksgiving. I know what you mean about too much leftovers, though. This is a nice break from leftovers indeed. Hope you're doing well.

  9. This is more of a question regarding the Cu Lao, sort of. Is there a brand of dried squid you would recommend? I am assuming you're not using the sugared type that keeps ending up in our house.

  10. Lori Lynn,
    The crab claws were the best!

    I've never heard of French stuffing. Huh! I've made homemade stuffing before but my family likes Stove Top so that's what we usually have on Thanksgiving. :P

    SB R&R,
    It sure was good.

    How are you? I hope you're OK. Haven't seen you post in so long.

    Look for whole dried squid like what you see in my photo on how to make Vietnamese canh. It's used to flavor broth, but if you soak it for several days, you can also eat it. Think of dried shiitake mushrooms and how they puff up after soaking.

    Are you talking about the sugared, shredded kind? Definitely not for cooking this, that's one of my favorite snacks.