Jake Wildstrom (jackbishop) wrote in photastic,
Jake Wildstrom

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Question about bánh tầm

I'm a tremendous fan of Vietnamese cuisine of all sorts, and one of my favorite dishes is bánh tầm bì, but it occurs to me, as an ignorant white boy, that I might be committing cultural sins with regard to my mode of consuming this delight. How is one supposed to use the coconut milk/cream? I always just pour some of it (not the whole dish) over top of the noodle bowl, since I don't know what else to do with it, and I enjoy the flavor of doing so, but is there something else which is traditional? (I also pour the nuoc cham, to the chagrin of dining-companions less enamored of fish sauce). I know that nuoc cham is usually meant as a dipping sauce, and even though I can't imagine bánh tầm as a dippable, I'm constantly unsure whether what I'm doing is somehow a gaffe.

On a related note, is there any sort of rule on which of coconut milk or thick coconut cream is more appropriate to the dish? I've had it both ways and have a personal preference for the cream, which makes for a less soupy bottom of the bowl, but is there one way it's usually done?
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