Looking to impress guests and host the easiest Vietnamese dinner party ever? We’ve got just the meal for you, called bò nhúng dấm. It’s basically a Vietnamese shabu-shabu and the best part is your guests can do the cooking. The meats (as well as seafood) cook in a dilute broth of rice vinegar and aromatics and in the typical Vietnamese way, the meats are then rolled in a tidy spring roll to enjoy. The cooking is done in the hotpot on the table top butane burner (both found in most Asian groceries) and all you have to prepare are the broth and prep the accoutrements. Hong’s in laws and several out of town guests came to visit recently and we pulled this meal off with any pre-planning with great success and satisfaction. You’ll often see this dish as part of 7 courses of beef restaurants. But to be honest, it’s our favorite course and merits it’s own distinction.
It’s a great meal to prepare in advanced. The morning of or even day before your bò nhúng dấm dinner, make the broth. It’s simply water (variations include fresh young coconut juice or even beer), rice vinegar, salt, sugar and aromatics. We also point out that this broth is not meant to eat as a soup, but only to cook and flavor the meat! Use plenty of fresh lemongrass and onions, but the key to a fragrant broth is to fry up some shallots and garlic just before your party and then add that to the broth. The aroma of perfectly golden brown shallots and garlic will just literally whet your appetite.
As for the proteins, use the freshest and best quality sliced beef you can. We prefer getting our meats pre-sliced at the Korean or Japanese markets and recommend flavorful cuts such as ribeye. We also love using seafood such as salmon, shrimp, or squid. The accompanying Vietnamese herbs and vegetables are entirely flexible and you can use what you have readily available. The spring rolls are dipped into mắm nem, a pungent fermented anchovy sauce that’s not for the faint of heart. We think it’s delicious. Just prepare the mắm nem by add generous amounts of freshly chopped pineapple and some birds eye chili and it’s the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and spicy dipping sauce. If that’s not your thing, you can use a simple nuoc mam cham dipping sauce.
Here’s a quick video of our dinner party. We guarantee it’ll be the the easiest and one of the tastiest Vietnamese dinner party you’ll ever throw!
Bò nhúng dấm
4 cups water
2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 onion thinly sliced
4 stalks of lemongrass, use only white portion, bruised
2 tbs cooking oil
1/2 cup sliced shallots and garlic, fried golden brown
sliced ribeye, tenderloin, pork loin, salmon, shrimp, squid, etc.
Rice paper, green lettuce, sliced green onions, sliced cucumbers, sliced pineapples, mint, perilla, basil etc.
mắm nem dipping sauce
1 small bottle of mắm nem
1 cup of pineapple, finely chopped
1-2 birds eye chili chopped
Combine water, rice vinegar, and sugar under low heat and stir until dissolved. Add the bruised lemongrass and onions and bring to boil, then turn off and set aside. This can be done 1 day in advanced. Transfer to hotpot and set aside. Please note, this broth is not meant as a soup but only to cook and flavor the proteins.
mắm nem dipping sauce
Combine 1/2 bottle of the mắm nem with the chopped pineapple and birds eye chili (optional). Prepare this 1 day in advance if possible to let the flavors meld. Store in airtight container and set aside.
Wash and prepare all your herbs and veggies. When ready to serve, fry the shallots and garlic in a small pan. Light up the butane table top burner and bring the hotpot to a slow simmer. Add the fried garlic and shallots and dip and roll away! Tip: We like to cook our meats medium rare, basically a quick dunk in the broth and set it on the divider to avoid over cooking.