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