We spoke to Kim Nguyen, owner of Pho Kim (formerly Pho Viet), about the traditional Vietnamese dish, Gỏi Cuốn, and her Parnell Street restaurant. See the story of Pho Kim and the recipe for this delicious Vietnamese staple below.
Tell us a little about how Pho Viet became Pho Kim.
Well, it started with the pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 was a great source of stress and anxiety for my parents, so they decided to quit the business. However, my husband and I had a different opinion. We felt that giving up our family business was not the way to go. You see, I am the eldest child of five, and I have been working for my family and the business since I was quite young. I started working in the restaurant industry when my parents first opened the doors of Pho Viet, so I decided to take over.
As such, we decided to change the restaurant name from Pho Viet to Pho Kim, as we wanted the business to start a new beginning for myself and my family. Fortunately, over the years, we managed to learn our parents’ recipes and their way of cooking, that was very important to us starting Pho Kim. We were lucky and grew up enjoying our parents cooking – nothing beats a traditional meal cooked by your parents!
So Pho Kim is first and foremost a family restaurant! Can you tell us about your mother and father?
My father arrived in Ireland in the year 1979, and my mother arrived in Ireland in 1991. They both had a hard time adjusting when they first came to Ireland. Mostly because of the language barrier and not knowing much about Irish culture. However, both my parents say that the Irish people were very welcoming. My parents actually met each other here in Ireland and have been married for 28 years. Before they opened Pho Viet, they started a take away business together but after many years, they decided to start a new journey and open a Vietnamese restaurant. You see, my mother always had a passion for cooking, ever since she was a young girl.
So, Pho Viet was opened on 12-12-2012 at 12pm.
Amazing. Was that to bring good luck/fortune?
Yes, in Vietnamese culture, certain numbers are considered auspicious and can possess great meaning. At the time of us opening, Vietnamese cuisine and culture was not well known to the Irish community, so we thought as a family that this would be a great opportunity to bring authentic Vietnamese cuisine to Ireland.
You have prepared a recipe for us today for gỏi cuốn – can you describe the dish?
Gỏi cuốn, is a well known traditional Vietnamese dish. They are sometimes referred to as summer rolls. They are a healthier, lighter and fresher version of your typical fried spring rolls. Due to the humidity in Vietnam, Gỏi Cuốn is a perfect dish to be eaten all year round. The rolls are filled with Vegetables and/or meat, and they are normally served with a side of yellow bean sauce topped with crushed peanuts. Gỏi Cuốn should always be eaten the moment it’s made, so they are a fun way to make a dish together as a family.
How to Make Gỏi Cuốn
For the Gỏi Cuốn:
- Round paper sheet spring rolls
- Thin round rice noodles (cooked)
- Slices of pork and prawns (cooked)
- Shredded cucumber
You can use any meat or vegetables that suits your taste preferences. The above list is what you will typically find in traditional gỏi cuốn.
For the Dipping Sauce:
- Yellow bean sauce
- Coconut milk
- Crushed peanuts (Optional)
- Gently dip an individual rice paper roll into a warm bowl of water, just until the paper is completely covered with water.
- Let the rice paper rest on a plate, grab some cooked rice noodles, vegetables and meat of your choice, and place them near the bottom of the paper sheet. Do not overfill as it will make rolling the rice paper more difficult and it can cause it to tear.
- Keeping the filling at the bottom of the sheet, take the left side of the rice paper and bring it to the center, repeat the same step for the right side.
- Once both sides are brought to the centre, bring the bottom part of the rice paper towards your ingredients and continue to roll until it forms a spring/summer roll.
- For the dipping sauce, combine the above ingredients to taste.
- Your Gỏi Cuốn is now complete. Enjoy and have an amazing Lunar New Year.
Pictured below are Kim’s parents, Tri Quoc and Tuyet Pham Nguyen.