the appetizer:

Explore authentic Vietnamese family cuisine in Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart by Pauline Nguyen, with recipes by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen, including Steamed Cockles or Periwinkles (Oc Luoc); Bitter Melon Stuffed with Pork and Black Fungus (Canh Hu Qua); and Wok-tossed Water Spinach with Fermented Bean Curd Sauce (Rau Muong Xao Chao).



Steamed Cockles or Periwinkles
(Oc Luoc)


  • 2-1/4 pounds cockles or periwinkles
  • Garlic mayonnaise, for serving

Pour 1 cup of water into a wok, add the cockles or periwinkles and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat and steam for about 10 minutes. Don't allow the wok to boil dry-add extra water if needed. Strain off the excess water and place the cockles in a serving bowl. To eat, remove the flesh from the shell and dip it into garlic mayonnaise, or a mixture of dipping fish sauce (page 33 of the book) and finely sliced ginger.


Garlic Mayonnaise
(Sot Ma-Do-Ne Toi)

Makes 1 cup

This is a component of Banh Mi Thit (page 158 of the book).

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine white pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil, mixed with 1/4 cup light olive oil

This quantity of mayonnaise is best made in a bowl using a whisk. Make sure the bowl is secure on the counter. (A good tip is to roll a damp cloth into a circle on the counter and then place the bowl in the middle.)

Bash the garlic into a paste in a mortar. Combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt, and white pepper in a bowl and whisk well. Continue to whisk slowly, adding only a few drops of oil to the egg yolks at a time. Once you have added about 1-3/4 ounces of the oil, you can continue to add the oil in one slow, steady stream.

Place in a container, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

  • from:
    Secrets of the Red Lantern
    Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart
  • by Pauline Nguyen, with recipes by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen
  • Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Hardcover; 344 pages; $40.00 ($44.00 Canada)
  • ISBN-10: 0740777432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7407-7743-1
  • Recipe reprintred by permission.

Buy Secrets of the Red Lantern


Secrets of the Red Lantern
Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart


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