Growing up in Edmonton, Kim Tran didn’t have many opportunities to enjoy the Pacific Ocean. Now that she lives in Vancouver, she can often be found at the beach during the summer. The West End resident and owner of DD Mau in Yaletown (1239 Pacific Boulevard) enjoys bicycling to Second Beach in Stanley Park on her days off. She frequently brings along food for an alfresco meal.
“My favourite spot is actually the grassy area just behind the beach. It’s nice to watch the sunset,” Tran told the Georgia Straight during an interview at her restaurant. “Usually, I’ll go to Granville Island ahead of time to pick up some bread and charcuterie and eat it on the beach.”
Tran moved to Vancouver in 2000 to study psychology at Simon Fraser University, but she soon found that her interest in the Food Network outweighed her enthusiasm for reading up on Freud. She left school with plans to open a Japanese restaurant and moved home to Edmonton for a year to train as a sushi chef. Tran eventually returned to SFU and graduated in 2009, but a trip to Los Angeles the following year reignited her passion for the restaurant industry.
“In California, the bánh mì scene is pretty big,” she recalled. The sandwich, a post-French-colonial invention, typically consists of cold cuts, pâté, or grilled or roasted meat along with herbs and pickled vegetables on a baguette. “I realized that we were totally missing that in Vancouver. You have the little mom-and-pop stores down on Kingsway that are amazing, but we don’t have anything downtown.”
In 2012, she opened DD Mau, which offers seven types of bánh mì, as well as vermicelli noodle bowls, Vietnamese coffees (which are sweetened with condensed milk), and fruit smoothies.
Tran explained that in Vietnam, bánh mì are considered street food. “People will often pick one up in the morning for breakfast, and it might just be bread and a fried runny egg and that’s it,” she added. “It can be eaten pretty much all times of day, as a snack or on the run.”
Another staple in Vietnamese cuisine is the salad roll, a combination of fresh vegetables and rice noodles wrapped in rice paper.
“In Vietnamese culture, you can pretty much put anything in a salad roll, and everyone has their own set of ingredients,” Tran noted. “They’re supposed to be served cold, so they’re perfect for summer and eating outdoors.”
The recipe for bobia below is one Tran learned from her mother. This type of salad roll is based on popiah, a Chinese dish with similar ingredients wrapped in a wheat-based crepe.
“The Vietnamese people took it and used rice paper and whatever ingredients were around. We put Chinese sausage in there too,” Tran said.
The sausage (also known as lap cheong) has a mild, sweet flavour and is about the same size as a pepperoni stick. Thai basil leaves and mint give the salad roll freshness, and sautéed carrots and jicama flavoured with fish sauce add crunch. The rolls are served with a peanut dipping sauce, and Tran suggested pairing them with a light lager or unsweetened iced tea.
Kim Tran’s bobia (Vietnamese salad roll)
2 Chinese sausages
3 large eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) cooking oil
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 jicama, cut into matchsticks
1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced
Fish sauce, to taste
8 sheets rice paper
2 cups (500 mL) roughly chopped green-leaf lettuce or spring-mix greens
16 Thai basil leaves
16 mint leaves
Peanut sauce (see recipe below)
- In a small frying pan over medium heat, cook sausages for 10 minutes. If sausages appear dry, sprinkle water over top to moisten and cover with a lid. Transfer sausages to a paper towel to soak up excess oil. Once cool, slice lengthwise into quarters.
- Using a fork, whip eggs in a small bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Into a large nonstick pan over medium heat, pour egg in a thin layer. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes covered, until cooked thoroughly. Using a spatula, roll egg up, transfer to a cutting board, and cut crosswise into thin slices. Set aside to cool.
- In the same pan over medium heat, add oil and sauté carrot, jicama, and green onion for 8 to 10 minutes or until carrots and jicama are almost translucent. Season with fish sauce and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside to cool
- To assemble each roll, dip one sheet of rice paper in a pie plate filled with warm water for a few seconds to soften, then remove and place on a clean cutting board. Divide lettuce, basil, and mint into 8 portions and assemble one bobia at a time. On the part of the rice paper that’s closest to you, place the lettuce, herbs, carrot and jicama mixture, egg, and a quarter-slice of sausage. Roll away from you, folding in the sides, so that all of the ingredients are contained. Repeat until 8 rolls are complete. Serve with peanut sauce on the side.
½ cup (125 mL) hoisin sauce
1 cup (250 mL) bottled peanut sauce
⅔ cup (180 mL) water
Sriracha, to taste
2 Tbsp (30 mL) crushed peanuts
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, and water, stirring continuously until smooth. Set aside to cool; once cooled, add sriracha and crushed peanuts.
Yield: 8 salad rolls (about 4 main-course servings).
Recipe has not been tested by the Georgia Straight.