Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by BVN

“Core” and “traditional” are words that 25-year-old Ly-Bach Truong uses to describe specific childhood memories as he recalled what it was like growing up in an intergenerational household. The memories aren’t merely experiences from a specific time or place, rather everyday life remembered through meals and snacks.

Truong’s mother, DieuQuyen Nguyen, immigrated to the U.S. in 1978 and his father, Truc Ho Truong, in 1981. When they first arrived, ingredients to make Vietnamese cuisine were hard to find, but by 1981 the community began to grow and ingredients became easier to access.

Ly-Bach Truong, 25, poses for a portrait with his grandmother, Tai Nguyen, 80, over a pot of  Cà Ri Gà , Vietnamese curry, she made for an upcoming family gathering on May 13, 2023. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
A pot of Cà Ri Gà simmers on the stove before it will be taken to a family party later that evening.  Cà Ri Gà is a Vietnamese curry that Truong’s grandmother prepared on May 13, 2023. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
Troung speaks with his grandmother, Nguyen, as he cooks on May 13, 2023. Truong lives and grew up in a multigenerational household with his grandparents where many dishes were passed down to him, including the Cơm chiên recipe from his grandfather. Truong’s parents immigrated in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.Today, his parents remain “blacklisted” from Vietnam because his father, a musician, is outspoken about politics in his music. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
Truong walks from his kitchen down the hall, passing a wall of family portraits taken over the years. He lives in a multigenerational home with his parents and grandparents, where he says their recipes like Cơm chiên make for “core Vietnamese memories.”  (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)

Growing up as a first-generation Vietnamese American, Truong’s family made a pot of rice in a rice cooker each day. He said there was a good chance you’d find it completely empty after dinner. Rice was a staple for the family and used in a vast majority of the dishes they made. Truong recalled spending time at the heels of his grandparents, learning the various recipes and meals they cooked from start to finish.  

One of Truong’s favorites is cơm chiên, Vietnamese fried rice. Truong said that the recipe is traditional. It was passed down to him by his grandfather who would make it for him in the early mornings before school. It contains rice, eggs, butter and sausage, making the flavor distinct, but the preparation fairly simple.

As Truong grew older, cơm chiên was a dish that he continued to crave and began making for himself. The recipe’s simplicity, but rich flavoring, became a go-to for Truong and as life became increasingly busy, he found himself cooking it for dinner in college and now for a quick lunch during his workdays. 

Today, Truong’s grandparents are still cooking. He reflects on the ability of cuisine to connect families, as well as children, to their culture. 

“When you’re a kid of an immigrant when you’re young, you don’t really care,” Truong reflected. “But the thing that does make them care is the food. All the Americanized kids, they can’t deny that there’s at least one dish that their grandma or grandpa made that they liked — that made them more Vietnamese, less American.”

Black Voice News spent time with Truong in his home to learn about his cơm chiên recipe and how rice is utilized as a staple grain in Vietnamese culture. Check out the recipe and photos below.

The cơm chiên recipe, handwritten by Truong on a piece of paper, lists its various ingredients including sausage, eggs, white rice, soy sauce, pepper and butter. (Credit: Handwritten recipe by Ly-Bach Truong)
Eggs, sausage, butter and rice, ingredients for Cơm chiên, Vietnamese fried rice, sit on Ly Bach Truong’s kitchen table in preparation to make the dish on May 13, 2023. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
Truong places sausage into the pan to fry in the first step of the Cơm chiên recipe on May 13, 2023. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
Truong stirs egg into the rice in the second step of Cơm chiên, which comes after frying the sausage and setting it aside, on May 13, 2023. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
Ly-Bach Truong holds a fresh bowl of cơm chiên just after he finishes cooking it on the stove on May 13, 2023. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
Truong adds crispy onions to the top of the Cơm chiên on May 13, 2023. He explained that people modify the recipe to suit their taste by adding various toppings and sauces. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)

Still I Rice! is part of the Black Voice News series, Centerpoint: The Healing Power of Cultural Connections, funded by Ethnic Media’s Stop the Hate campaign administered by the California State Library.

Still I Rice!

Part 1: Origins: The History of Rice in American Culture

Part 2: A Visual Archive: Rice’s History in African American Culture

Part 3: Un-Gumbo

Part 4: Traditions and Core Memories: Stories through Rice

Part 5: Middle Passage into the Future

Part 6: A Tale of Two Rices

Part 7: Sitting Pretty

Black Voice News photojournalist Aryana Noroozi was born in San Diego, California and graduated with a master’s degree from The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her love for visual storytelling led her to document immigrant and deportee communities and those struggling with addiction. She was a 2020 Pulitzer Center Crisis Reporting Fellow and a GroundTruth Project Migration Fellow. She is currently a CatchLight/Report for America corps member employed by Black Voice News. You can learn more about her at You can email her at