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Friday, May 5, 2017

Living Water Project in Vietnam - Final Update

I am beyond excited to announce that we've accomplished our mission of providing clean water access to at least 250 families who reside in impoverished conditions in these 4 remote villages of Trung Thành Đông, Trung Thành Tây, Tân Qưới Trung in Vĩnh Long, and Tân Hưng in Cà Mau of Vietnam to alleviate some their hardship and help ensure their survival. 

This Living Water Project is The Spices Of Life's first grand scale and most challenging project we've ever done. And it couldn't have been accomplished without your love, support and prayers. The cost estimate for this project was $17,200 and we received approximately $19,000 for 31 water wells at the cost of $200 each and 220 water urns at $50 each. The 31 wells were fully funded by a couple with a servant heart. Thank you Tony and Kayla! In the process of drilling for water wells and producing water urns, we ran into unforeseen obstacles that resulted in additonal cost and project delays. I am so grateful for all the help from chị Vân whom I barely knew at the time for her enthusiasm and financial support to move this project along.

Our Living Water Project success was truly a team effort. Together, we did something awesome! The pictures speak for themselves.

Once again, thank you to everyone for your love, trust, and generosity. As a token of appreciation, there is a dedication plaque with your name on each well and water urn that you donated. Please let me know if you haven't received the pictures. For those who wanted to remain anonymous, your plaques were engraved under The Spices Of Life. 

On behalf of The Spices Of Life, I would like to extend my gratitude and deepest appreciation to anh Ba, and chị Trâm for all the hard work and sacrifice that you've given for this life changing project. It warms our hearts to know that so many families now have safe drinking water for years to come.  The villagers have expressed their sincere appreciation for anh Ba's dedication  and The Spices Of Life's generosity.  As I mentioned in the previous posts, Anh Ba has been gracious for the opportunity to serve and we could not have found a more trustworthy project manager to handle the job.

a villager who shows anh Ba  her appreciation

Here's to our next project together. I prefer to work directly with a group so that we know exactly what we are doing and where our money goes. Any great suggestions are welcome. Please touch base with me via my email or messaging.

Click the links below for previous posts regarding the Living Water Project:

Living Water project part I

Living Water project part II

Living Water project part III


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pan Fried Oysters with Anchovy Filet Sauce (Hàu Chiên với Cá Cơm Biển Phi Lê Sốt Dầu Ôliu)

A Japanese housewife is what my friend Akiko described me as when I was in Japan a month ago :-). I spent the first and last few days in Tokyo sightseeing, and of course tasting delicious food, but the majority of my time in Minamiashiga was spent grocery shopping, cooking and eating authentic Japanese food with my host family, their neighbor, and friends. I had an unforgettable time experiencing the life of a local and seizing the opportunity to learn the culture, custom, and culinary delights. I didn't leave, however, without introducing them to a few Vietnamese culinary flavors and teaching them how to cook a few of our favorite dishes. Despite the language barrier, we managed to understand one another through broken English, sign language and Google translator. What would we do without Google?

I posted most of my trip photos on my facebook page, but here are some pictures of food, shopping, and gathering when I was in Minamiashiga.

Phở - Vietnamese beef noodle soup

steaming rice cake for phở noodle

teaching these ladies how to make pork buns

bánh xèo - savory crispy crepe

introducing chè trôi nước  - sweet mung bean ball

I am learning how to cook miso soup 

oden - one of my favorite Japanese food

enjoying roasted sweet yam

One of the treasures I brought back was a recipe for oyster and shirako which I'd learn by observing Yuko's cooking. Now shirako is quite rare as it's the milt or sperm sacs of male cods. (Aren't you hungry now? Stay focus here). She pan-fried the oysters and the exotic shirako, then she cooked anchovy filet, smashed it into a paste and poured it over the fried oysters and shirako. It was mouthwatering watching her cook up this dish. I thought how my husband would really enjoy this dish with a beer or better yet some premium sake.

When I returned home, I tried to find shirako but it was impossible. I even attempted to text a head chef at a well-known restaurant in town to ask him to check with his vendor for shirako, but to no avail.  When pan-frying shirako, it needs to be coated with flour to protect its delicate and tender texture. The outside is crisps and golden brown while the inside is marvelously soft, and creamy - kinda like pork brain - which I love to eat it when I was a little kid. Little did I know how dangerous that could have been. 


So, with this recipe, there's only oysters.  If you're lucky enough to find shirako, you can prepare it the same way as oysters.  As exotic as this sounds, the flavor is in the anchovy.
RECIPE: Pan Fried Oysters with Anchovy Filet Sauce

1 glass jar oysters, small or medium size
1 slice  anchovy filet
potato flour
kolser salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
baby spring mix or rainbow mix
Preparing Oysters

Remove the oysters from the jar and let drain. Wrap the oysters in paper towel to draw out the excess fluid.  Sprinkle oysters with salt, and toss gently in the flour.
Pan-Frying Oysters

Warm the pan, add oil and butter on medium-high heat.  Place the oysters in the butter and cook for about a minute until the bottom of the oysters are golden brown, gently turn them over and cook until golden brown.  Don't cook oysters too long as they will get dried out and tough. Remove the  fried oysters and let drain on a paper towel.

Preparing Anchovy Fillet Sauce

In a small pan, cook olive oil and garlic over medium heat until fragrant, without letting it brown. Stir in the anchovy, and cook until anchovies are broken down, then turn off the heat.

Preparing Baby Spring Mix

Arrange baby spring mix on a serving plate.  


Arrange oysters on a bed of baby spring mix. Drizzle anchovy sauce over. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over oysters. The lemon juice adds a robust acidity and concentrated floral sweetness to oysters.

Eat well.  Stay healthy.