Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ga Xe Phay - Shredded Chicken Salad

Summer is around the corner and I'm always in the mood for something light but flavorful. I had a whole chicken sitting in the freezer taking up space so this is a great way to help get rid it. The key to a good plate of goi ga is tossing the shredded chicken in a well balance dressing and the use of fresh herbs. You taste a little bit of everything from the sourness of the lime to the spiciness of the herbs. Turn this into a healthy dish by trimming off the fat and discarding the skin before cooking.

Ingredients: Serves 4-6 people

1/2 chicken
1 red onion
Vietnamese Coriander


a couple dash of ground pepper
1 lime
2 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 fresh chili cut into small pieces


1. Wash and clean your chicken. Boil your chicken with a little bit of salt in a pot of water. You can use this broth to make soup.
2. Shred your chicken into smaller pieces. I love the skin but if you want to cut some calories you can discard them.
3. Thinly sliced the red onion. Soak onion in bowl with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and a dash of salt.
4. Wash the coriander and then rough chop.
5. Prepare the dressing.

How to make salad:

1. Add the dressing to the shredded chicken toss. Add additional limes and fish sauce to your liking.
2. Drain the vinegar mixture from the onion and toss with the shredded chicken.
3. Toss in coriander before serving.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Banh Beo - Steamed Rice Cake

Banh Beo is another steamed specialty from Hue. It is usually eaten during breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. It is made by steaming a flour mixture into mini pancakes and then topping it with mung bean paste, green onions, and shrimp dust. A plate of Banh Beo is very pleasing to the eyes with all the colorful toppings but I have to admit it is not that flavorful by itself. I always have to drench my plate with good fish sauce and a lot of pickled vegetables (do chua). My friend and I actually had more fun decorating these mini rice pancakes than eating them. I was able to watch my aunt's friend prepare some Banh Beo while I was in Vietnam. I always thought it would be hard to make but it's actually very simple, just require a lot of work to make different toppings. This version does not have the mung bean paste but will still satisfy your Banh Beo craving.


1 bag of Banh Beo flour
1/2 lb of shrimp
3-4 stalk of green onions
fried shallots (hanh phi)
cooking oil
prepared sweeten fish sauce

How to prepare green onion topping:

1. Chop green onions into small pieces.
2. Heat up about 1 and 1/2 table spoon of cooking oil.
3. Sauteed the green onions for about 30 second in the hot oil.
4. Remove from heat and put in another container to cool.
5. I continue to chop it into smaller pieces with a scissor.

How to prepare shrimp topping:

1. Peel and wash shrimp. Make sure shrimp is pretty dry until going any further.
2. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan. Sautee shrimp until it is about 80% cooked and remove from pan.
3. Using the handle of a knife, smash each shrimp so it's easier to work with.
4. When cooked shrimp come apart they are very stringy. Use your fingers to help shred the shrimps into smaller pieces. Using fresh shrimp will produce the best result.
5. Heat up a little bit of oil in the same pan. Add the shrimp pieces to the pan. Push the shrimp pieces against the pan to make sure the shrimp pieces becomes dry and crispy. Continue to do this until all the shrimp pieces are evenly fried.

How to prepare flour:
I use the direction on the back of the flour bag.

1. Combine the whole bag with 2 and 1/2 cup of water and stir well.
2. Boil 2 and 1/2 cup of water.
3. Add #1 and # 2, and a pinch of salt and continue to stir.

How to steam flour:
You can achieve the small circular shape in two ways. You can use small individual circle dish or you can buy an aluminum Banh Beo tray. It would be a lot easier if you have a large steamer such as one that you would use to make sticky rice (xoi). I didn't have one at school so I had to play around with this steamer to make it work.

1. Brush some oil on the small dish and place them in the steamer. Let the steam heat up the dish for about a minute.
2. Pour some flour mixture into the dish and cover it with a lid. Let it steam for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from steamer. You can eat right out of the small dish or prepare it on another plate.
4. Repeat until the flour mixture is gone.

How to assemble Banh Beo:

1. Brush some green onion oil on the banh beo.
2. Sprinkle on some shrimp pieces and fried shallots.
3. Add prepared fish sauce to your liking and enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ca Kho - Braised Fish in Caramel Sauce

Ca kho is one of my favorite dishes growing up. We often eat variation of this dish each week because it's simple to make and does not require a lot of ingredients. My mom loves experimenting with different type of fishes and I am always an eager guinea pig.  I especially love fatty fishes like bass and catfish because it doesn't try out as easily. 

Here are some helpful tips from my mom herself to make delicious moist ca kho.  Cooking oil will help your fish stay moist throughout the cooking process.  Avoid adding any type of liquid to your fish, mom says it will only enhance the fishy smell.  Cook the fish on low heat, this will allow fish to release their juice and also allow the sauce to reduce gradually.  I like my sauce to be savory sweet but you can definitely play around with the sweetness by adding additional sugar.  Enjoy!


4-5 fish steak
3 tablespoon of sugar
3-4 stalk of green onion
ground pepper
fish sauce
fresh chili
cooking oil

1. Wash and clean your fish.
2. Marinate your fish with 1/4 cup of fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 3 tablespoon of cooking oil.  Let marinate for about 30 minutes.
3.  Transfer fish to a pan.  Let pan heat up all the way and then turn it down to low. 
4.  In a separate pan heat up 1 tbl of sugar.  Once sugar turn color (caramelizes), turn off heat and then add 1 tbl of water.  This mixture will be use to color the fish.
5.  Add the color to your fish.  Gently flip fish steaks to ensure you coat the fish with the coloring.
6.  Sprinkle 2 tbl sugar to the fish, you can add more to your liking.
7.  Let fish steaks braise on low heat for about 30 minutes.
8.  Near the end add 1/2 cup of green onions and as much chili as your like.  Top off with some ground black pepper.
9.  Enjoy with a hot bowl of rice :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Banh Pate So - Pork Pastry

One of my favorite memory growing up in Vietnam is walking around our neighborhood in the morning with my dad. As always we are trying to figure out what to have for breakfast. My dad love eating some kind of banh for breakfast and his favorite is Banh Pate So. Banh Pate So is a French-Inspired Vietnamese pastry with a pork filling. Every bite consist of the spicy aroma of fresh ground pepper and a flaky golden crust. We often share a Pate So before filling our stomach with a bowl of pho. Woke up a little earlier then intended today so I thought I would fill the air with the smell of fresh pastry.

Ingredients: Makes 36

1/4 lb ground pork
1/4 lb ground chicken
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup of minced shallots
2 tablespoon of pork pate
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 teaspoon ground pepper
fish sauce

2 box of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet
1 egg


1. Minced shallot and grate carrots.
2. Let the pastry sheet thaw for a bit, makes it easier to work with.
3. Combine filling ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Test taste by frying a small portion of it. Add more salt, sugar, gtound pepper, or fish sauce to your liking.
4. Melt 1/2 a tablespoon of butter.
5. Beat one egg.
6. Pre-cut pastry to your liking. I use a cup to cut it into circles.
7. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

To Assemble:

1. Lay out all your materials; filling, pastry, melted butter, beaten egg, and etc.

2. Scoop some filling onto a circle of pastry, I use a tablespoon to help portion.
3. Place another circle pastry on top and use a fork to pinch the two pastry together.
4. Brush the bottom with some butter and the top with some egg.
5. Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes.

You can make these ahead of time and store them in your freezer!