Một cà phê sữa đá và một cà phê đen nóng.
That is one iced coffee and one hot black coffee; our daily ritual in Vietnam. Either to start the day off or have a afternoon pick me up.
Introduced during French colonisation in the late 19th century (we gotta thank them for having a positive influence on our cuisine), Vietnam is now the 2nd top producer of coffee worldwide. Due to the limitation of fresh milk back in the day, sweetened condensed milk was use and still remains to be used today (I can’t imagine what it would taste like without it).
It is traditionally served in a Phin coffee filter; where a heaped tablespoon of ground coffee (although this is adjusted according to taste) is placed at the bottom of the filter cup and compacted with the filter press. The filter cup then sits on top of a saucer, which is placed on top of a cup containing about a quarter to half the amount of sweetened condensed milk and hot water is poured into the filter cup. The filter cup and saucer both have tiny holes on the bottom to allow for the coffee to slowly drip through; a process which could take 3-5 minutes (obviously the longer it drips through, the stronger the brew). The coffee and sweetened condensed milk mixture is then mixed and poured over a glass of ice. For those who prefer their coffee black, the sweetened condensed milk is omitted and you could either have it hot or cold.
With the iced coffee, you get a thick, sweet, syrupy coffee that you slowly sip on as you watch the world go by.
Sitting on tiny stools on the side of the road sipping our coffees and surrounded by cigarette smoke and constant commotion from others in the cafe or the motorcycles whizzing by, we couldn’t help but observe the different aspects of life happening in front of us. A few metres ahead, there would be a make-shift yet permanent barber along the wall of a street, people selling all types of things from fishes to pottery to fruit on bicycles or bamboo baskets and people snoozing wherever they can.
One day in Hanoi, we stumbled upon a cafe which was hidden upstairs, behind a store selling various coffee beans including the weasel coffee. It wasn’t busy or packed at all, only two teenage girls sat opposite us munching on their pumpkin seeds and gossiping. It was a nice little cafe to escape the hustle and bustle; a place where we could grab a refreshing drink and reflect on our day and watch the commotion on the street below.
Ant ordered a refreshing passionfruit smoothie (30000 VND/AU$1.50) whilst I wanted to be more adventurous and had the egg yolk coffee (cà phê trứng) (25000 VND/AU$1.25). By vigorously mixing an egg yolk in with hot coffee, the result is a warm, frothy and creamy caffeinated drink; it’s like drinking a liquidised tiramisu. As this was my second coffee for the day, I felt the buzz throughout my body. My hands were trembling! It was insane; a feeling that I’ve never experienced before from just 2 coffees.
Address: 24 Tạ Hiện
Hoàn Kiếm, Hànoi
Back home, in the first week or two, whenever I had a coffee, I would always screw up my face as I felt it wasn’t strong enough; even a piccolo latte wasn’t enough (I can’t do black coffee). I had bought a packet of Vietnam’s #1 coffee, Trung Nguyên‘s Gourmet Blend which is a blend of 4 types of coffee beans; Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa and Catimor. Clutching onto every grain of coffee from this packet for as long as I could, I would indulge in a cup of cà phê sữa đá on the weekends to transport me back to the coffee houses of Vietnam (minus the pillows of smoke that would fill the air and the constant honking of the motorbikes). Until I found that I could get this coffee in good ol’ Cabramatta, now I have it when I have a spare 10 minutes to prepare it.
For this month’s Delicious Vietnam, I thought I’d make something to pay tribute to the last blogging event and also to the highlight of my year; this Vietnam holiday. This ice cream encapulates all that is associated with my beloved cà phê sữa đá; it is creamy, sweet and highly caffeinated.
This is my entry to the last Delicious Vietnam blogging event, founded by A Food Lover’s Journey and Ravenous Couple and hosted by Anh from A Food Lover’s Journey. This monthly blogging event celebrates Vietnamese cuisine by Vietnamese food lovers around the world. If you have a post you would like to contribute by the 31st of December 2011, please send them to Anh, for more information visit this post. All entries go in the running to win 1 of 2 copies of Luke Nguyen’s Indochine cookbook courtesy of Anh, and US participants go in the running to win 1 of 2 fish sauce prizes from Red Boat Fish Sauce.
A Facebook page has been created for you to share recipes and reviews with others and for those who want to keep updated with Vietnamese cuisine.
Adapted from here
Makes about 1.5L
600mL thickened cream
1/3 cup ground Vietnamese coffee
200mL sweetened condensed milk
- Add 300mL of thickened cream and ground coffee into a saucepan and heat over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside to let cream cool.
- Strain the cream and throw out the ground coffee. Chill in refrigerator for 20mins.
- Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form.
- Slowly stir in condense milk and coffee-infused cream.
- Pour into an empty 2L ice cream container and freeze for 12 hours.