Bun dau mam tom:
bun- rice noodle/vermicelli
dau - tofu
mam tom - shrimp paste aka extremely pungent purple stuff
Shrimp paste is fermented ground shrimp and sun dried. I guess the smell of shrimp paste is subjective to each person (like stinky tofu or durian), some finds it a fishy pungent smell and others (like me) find it savory golden sweet.
-"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"
Bun dau mam tom is a regular in my family's repertoire, my mom and dad would recall the same memories every time we prepare the dish. They would reminisce about the limited, if any amount of pork. My Mom talks endlessly about her Grandmother's knack for frying the most translucent, crispy and light tofu that no one has ever replicated.
The star of the dish is the 'mam tom'
the shrimp paste sauce seasoned with garlic, lime/lemon, and chili peppers. There are no exact measurements for mam tom, we adjust the ratio of ingredients to each one's taste bud.
This is our method:
About 3-4 Tablespoon of shrimp paste
6-8 garlic, some minced, some left whole
Enough hot water to thin out the sauce where the liquid drips off the spoon quickly
There are two methods we use to get rid of the raw-ish fishy smell.A)
We heat up about 2 Tablespoon of vegetable oil until is it hot and pour into the sauce. The hot oil will slightly cook the shrimp paste, skim off any excess or visible oil.
Place sauce in a bowl, heat steamer. Place bowl in steamer and cover lid for 3-5 minutes until bubbling.Accompainments:
Sliced boiled Pork BellyBoiled SquidFried Tofu - I like to use firm tofu and fry it in 350 degree oil until goldenSliced fresh chili peppersLime/lemonSliced fresh cucumbersPickled daikon and carrotsPerillaMint
My parents said each family has their own variations of bun dau mam tom. I grew up with this version and it reminds me of clattering chopsticks, bowls colored purple, stretching the rice vermicelli from across the table and my parents repeating the same story...
The bun dau mam tom blog post is my August Delicious Vietnam entry. A monthly collection of blog posts about food or stories related to Vietnamese cuisine. Delicious Vietnam was founded by Anh of A Food Lover's Journey and Kim and Hong of Ravenous Couple. The August Delicious Vietnam edition is hosted by me! Please contact Anh if you are interested in hosting upcoming Delicious Vietnam events.