Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goi Ga - Shredded Chicken and Cabbage Salad

Goi Gai is one of my favorite salad, it only comes in a close second to Goi Vit(Vietnamese Duck Salad). I always have to have some when I'm back in Vietnam. Vietnamese chicken, often refer as walking chicken, is so much better than chicken from the States. The meat is firm and more fragrance. The skin, my favorite part, is chewy not mushy. My mom would buy live chicken around the holidays, slaughtering them is a hassle but so worth it. Whenever I visit home, I would turn the outside freezer inside out hoping there is still some left. You can also use Cornish hen at the American supermarket, there is some firmness to their meat. They are quite small so you might have to use two. Goi ga is often made with shredded cabbage but be creative. I like to add lotus roots and shredded banana blossom if I have some lying around. The herb is especially important for this salad, it's just not the same to me if I did not use Vietnamese coriander. Each bite should have a tang from the lime, the aroma of the ground pepper, and finally the spiciness of the coriander leaves. Every single ingredients makes a difference!


Ingredients:

1 Cornish hen
1/2 head of cabbage
1 medium sweet onion
Vietnamese coriander
limes
fresh chili
sea salt
ground pepper
fish sauce
sugar
vinegar

1. Shred the cabbage into thin stripes.

2. Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of vinegar and then pour over cabbage. Let it soak in the fridge.
3. Boil the chicken in a pot of water. When chicken is fully cooked, remove and cool. You can use the broth to make soup.
4. Thinly sliced the onions, set aside for later use.
5. Rinse the coriander, and let dry. Once dry, rough chop and set aside.

6. Once the chicken has cooled, begin to shred the meat and skin. You want to have a good size bite so don't over shred. Don't strip the bones clean, leave some meat. The bones goes in the salad as well.

7. Drain the excess liquid from the cabbage. You don't have to squeeze it so it stays crispy.
8. Combine cabbage, chicken, and onions in a mixing bowl. Add a couple dash of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper, and the juice of 1 lime. Mix thoroughly and then taste. Add more lime juice if needed as well as salt or pepper.
9. Minced some fresh chili and add to the salad.
10. When the salad is to your liking, add the chopped coriander leaves.

Serve and enjoy!

Mi Xao Xa Xiu - BBQ Pork Lo Mein

I had some leftover ingredients from making Mi Ga last weekend, half a bag of bean sprouts and a bunch of Chinese chives. I marinaded some xa xiu last night so it will be ready for lunch today. I ate something similar to this at a Cantonese restaurant I used to go to except they used chow fun noodles. It was extremely greasy but so so good. The spiciness of the chives really go well with the crunchy bean sprouts. Such an easy lunch to put together, I must do this more often!

Ingredients:

1 bag of egg noodles
a handful of bean sprots
a small bunch of Chinese chives
1/2 sweet onion sliced
xa xiu (BBQ Pork)
minced garlic
soy sauce
sugar
fish sauce
oyster sauce
cooking oil

1. Prepare xa xiu like in my earlier recipe, sliced thinly.
2. Boil the noodles until it slightly cooked, you will finish the cooking process later on. Rinse with cold water, drain, and let dry in colander.
3. Cut chives into 1-2 inch section.
4. Combine 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce, a couple squirt of fish sauce and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar to make a sauce.
5. Heat up a good amount of cooking oil in a wok or pot. Add garlic to oil and stir until fragrance.
6. Add the noodles, stir fry the noodle making sure the noodle is coated with the oil.
7. Add the sauce to the noodle and make sure it evenly distributed.
8. Add the xa xiu and slice onions.
9. Add the green sprouts and chives at the very end so yo don't over cook them.

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bi - Shredded Pork Skin

If you ever ordered a Broken Rice Platter at a Vietnamese restaurant you may have come across Bi. It looks like a pile of noodles but it's actually pork. It is a mixture of shredded pork skin and pork meat coated with roasted rice powder. Whenever my mom makes this at home she has to guard it with her life or else I will snack on this stuff like it's dried squid. Bi is great with rice or noodle, just add some prepared fish sauce. You can roll it up into a spring roll or stuff some in a baguette. If you are like me, Bi by itself is more than sufficient!

You can buy fresh pre-shredded pork skin usually in the frozen section of the Viet market. I have also seen dehydrated pork skin but I have never used or eaten those before. If you want to be able to control how thin or thick your shredded pork will be you can use a slab of pork belly and cutting everything up yourself. We usually just stick with the frozen kind. Bi is not all skin, but a combination of pork skin and meat. If you use pork belly you can make use of everything except the fatty part. For the meat portion I usually just pan fried a piece of boneless pork chop.

Ingredients:

1 package of frozen shredded pork skin
1-2 boneless pork chops
1 package of roasted rice powder
fish sauce
1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1. Place frozen shredded pork in cool water with plenty of salt. I change the water 4-5 times to make sure it is clean.
2. Marinade the pork chops with a couple squirt of fish sauce and let it marinade.
3. Drain the water from the shredded pork skin and let air dry.
4. Cook the pork chops by pan frying.
5. Cut the pork chops into thin strips.
6. This step is optional. My mom likes to spread out the pork skin in a plastic colander. Put it in the microwave on 1010 second intervals until it's soft. Don't over due this step because pork skin will melt together into clumps. Let the pork skin air dry again.
7. Combine pork skin, shredded pork meat, minced garlic, and a couple squirt of fish sauce. Mix everything together. Add the roasted rice powder and make sure all the ingredients are evenly coated.
8. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Canh Bun - Ricefield Crab Noodle Soup


Meet Bun Rieu's sister, Canh Bun, which also originated in Northern Vietnam.  During the short time I lived in Saigon, Canh Bun was my breakfast of choice. It is called "canh" because you cook the noodles and vegetables in the broth the same way we use the term Banh Canh.  Canh Bun is a tad lighter than Bun Rieu, but made in a similar way with smashed rice field crab (cua dong).  The usual suspect we find in Canh Bun are tofu, blanched morning glory, and pork blood.  All the ingredients are cooked in the broth with the noodles, which add their own flavors to the broth.

It may appear similar to Bun Rieu but definitely have some difference.  The crab mixture in Bun Rieu is sturdy and becomes almost like a cake. Canh Bun's crab mixture is fluffy and easy to break apart. To achieve that fluffy texture fresh rice field crabs are smashed, shell and all, into a paste.  The paste is use to flavor the broth, the cooked crab paste then floats to the top of the pot similar to bun rieu.  I use frozen ground rice field crab to flavor the broth, no Canh Bun is complete without the aroma and bits of rice field crabs in every bowl.  I use a jar of crab meat in soya bean oil instead of the jar we use to make bun rieu, there is less seasoning because it's just crab meat in oil.  Some canh bun vendor does not use tomato, I like tomatoes in mine so it's your call.

I also included rice paper (banh trang) in the ingredient list.  I'm not sure if vendors still sell Canh Bun with rice paper nowaday but it's a must for me.  Rice paper was used as another form of noodle.  Since rice paper is cheap, vendor would add it to Canh Bun to make it more filling.  I personally love it because the rice paper absorb all the flavor and the texture is just amazing. 


Ingredients:

pork bones (1 lbs)
1/2 cup of dried prawns (tom kho)
1 container of frozen rice field crab paste
1 jar of crab meat in soya bean oil
2 eggs
salt
mushroom seasoning
fish sauce
shrimp paste (mam tom)
rock sugar
3-4 large tomatoes (quarterd)
1 large bunch of morning glory
tofu 
pork blood (cubed)
large rice noodle (use for Bun Bo Hue)
Vietnamese chive
lime
herbs of choice (optional)
rice paper (optional)




1. Par boil pork bones.  Rinse bones well under cool water.  Transfer clean bone to a 6 quart pot and fill with water.
2. Let bone simmer in pot.
3. Soak dried prawns in warm water until soften, and add dried shrimp to the pot.
4. Season the broth with 4 tablespoon of salt, 1 chunk of rock sugar, and 2 tablespoon mushroom seasoning.
5.  Sauteed the crab meat in soya bean oil in a smal sauce pan and then add it to the pot.
6.  Combine the ground rice field crab with 2 eggs, and blend them together in a blender.
7.  Pour the crab mixture into a microwave safe container.  Wrap the container with plastic wrap and cook this crab mixture for 10-15 in the microwave.  Let the crab mixture cool. There might be excess liquid in the crab mixture, drain as much of it as you can add it to the pot.  Set the crab mixture aside for later.
8. Wash morning glory and then blanch, drained and let dry.
9. Cook the noodle until al dente, drained and then let dry.
11. Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a sauce pan, add 2 tablespoon of shrimp paste and let it cook.  Once the shrimp paste dissolved completely, add the shrimp paste liquid into the pot.  This will help flavor the broth.
12. Add tomatoes, tofu and blood cubes.  
13. Add more sugar, and fish sauce if needed.
14.  The broth is ready for eating.You can put noodle and morning glory right into the pot and start cooking it. I like to use a separate smaller pot to prepare each bowl. Cook a little bit of everything in the broth.  Since the crab mixture is very delicate, keep it on the side until the very end when you are about to transfer the soup to the bowl.  Since it is already cooked, I just scoop a little bit of it into the bowl.  Enjoy!



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ca Nuong - Baked Fish

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life...what would it be? My mom and I had a conversation about this over dinner a while ago. We made a nice dinner spread which included ca kho (fish braised in caramel sauce), dau hu chien (fried tofu), and canh kho qua (bittermelon soup). We both agreed it was the best meal EVER, and could literally eat it everyday. Things got semi-serious when I asked her what she would eat if she could only eat one dish for the rest of her life. She said hands down it was ca kho. Then it was my turn. First I picked Bun Bo Hue, then I changed it to Canh Chua, and then it was Bo Luc Lac. I thought about it for days. I finally decide that I can seriously eat banh trang cuon (summer roll) for the rest of my life. With good fish sauce, anything rolled in rice paper will be satisfying. My protein of choice is definitely fish, baked fish!

Simplicity is key to baking the perfect fish! You just want to lightly salt both side of the fish. Brush a little oil on your cooking sheet so the fish doesn't stick and fall apart. Bake the fish in the oven at 375 degrees. I don't really have a set time, just until both side become golden brown, and the top side I will leave it in until it's crispy. In my family we fight for the crispy tail! Just before I take out the fish, I will sprinkle minced green onions on top. I don't brush any additional oil on the fish because catfish is oily enough. When the fish is ready to serve, I top more green onions as well as fried onions (hanh phi). It's really that simple. Once you combine the fish, herbs, and noodles and drench it in fish sauce, every bite will leave you wanting more. I can sit there and eat 10+ of these rolls! Honestly, I pray I NEVER would be limited to one food item for the rest of my life and wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

Components to Ca Nuong
Rice paper ( banh trang)
Vermicelli rice noodle (bun)
Cucumber
Choice of lettuce
Pickled vegetable (optional but I usually have pickled carrots at hand)
Herbs (cilantro, basil, fish mint, etc)
Dipping sauce
Green onion in oil (sautee green onions in oil)
Crushed Peanuts

Preparing the Fish: I like to use catfish for this recipe.  If it's a bigger fish, you might want to butterfly it.

1. Lightly rub both side of the fish with salt.
2. Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees until the fish has crisp up.
3.  Mix one teaspoon of honey with one teaspoon of vinegar and brush it on top of the fish.
4.  Pop it back in the oven on broil until the fish is golden brown.  The honey/vinegar will form a sweet coating and help achieve more color.
5.  Brush the fish with some sauteed green onions and topped off the fish with some crushed peanuts.
6.  Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beef Chow Fun - Banh Uot Xao Bo

I love eating Chinese Chow Fun and Thai Pad See Ew because of the use of wide flat rice noodle. When it is done right the noodles will be soft yet chewy. I'm definitely not a fan of overcooked mushy noodles. I used to buy the fresh rice noodles from the Asian market to make stir fry. It sadden me that 75% of time it ended up in the garbage because I just could not find the time to use them before it went bad. I finally found the perfect substitute that has a much longer shelf life!

I came across these one day, had very low expectations since it is not fresh. Once I finally tried it out, I was in love! These rectangular shape noodles are great to use after a good soaking in water. I use them anytime I want to fix something up really fast. I had 2 hour before work so I decide to make some Beef Chow Fun for lunch. I had already thawed out some slice beef the night before and just used whatever I had laying around in the fridge.

Ingredients:

sliced beef
green onions (cut into 1/2 in)
yellow onions (thinly sliced)
Chinese kale choy sum (cut in half)
rice noodle
minced garlic
fish sauce
oyster sauce
soy sauce
sugar
cooking oil

1. Soak noodles in warm water.
2. Marinade sliced beef with soy sauce,minced garlic, and sugar.
3. Clean and cut all your vegetables.
4. Drain noodles and let it dry for a bit. The noodles has soften but not enough to eat.
5. Heat up some cooking oil in a pan.
6. Add the beef and stir fry until brown, remove and put aside.
7. Repeat #5, flash fry the choy sum. Remove and put aside.
8. Repeat #5 enough to cover the surface of the pan, add minced garlic and then rice noodles. Add two tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1/2 cup of water, a little bit of sugar. Cover the pan and let the liquid soak into the noodles.
9. Uncover the pan and you shouldn't have very much liquid left and the noodles should be softer. Add the yellow onion, green onion, a dash of fish sauce, a dash of soy sauce and continue to stir all the ingredients together.
10. Re-add the beef and choy sum. Stir everything together.
11. If you prefer the noodles to be extra soft, just add more water and cover the pan.

Enjoy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pho Bo - Beef Rice Noodle Soup

You would think Pho would be one of the first entry I write about, since this is a blog about Vietnamese cooking. Two years later, I finally did it! Pho is something I grew to appreciate. I never really care for it when I was younger because I much prefer Bun Rieu or Bun Bo Hue. It's very intimidating to make pho for my family, especially for my dad. My dad can eat pho three times a day, every day. It is his absolute favorite, and he's not afraid to tell you what he thinks. We often order pho at Vietnamese restaurant but he is never satisfied. The broth has to be clear, the spices should not be overwhelming, the noodle has to be the right texture. My mom loves it when he says nothing compares to her pho, but I'm sure that is required by all Vietnamese husband.

I wanted to try my pho recipe using a crock pot because it's suppose to reduce a lot of time hovering over the stove. I, however, was not able to go on with my day without checking the crock pot every now and then. Yes I realize it defeats the purpose of a slow cooker but hopefully I will perfect my slow cooking method in the future.

People say I have a knack for making soup because I do make them very often. If I can enjoy a steaming bowl of soup in 90 degrees weather it's because I can taste the love. When I make soups for my family and friends I want them to taste the love as well so I put a lot of time and effort when I make soups. I don't like to take short cuts or substitutes when it comes to my soup. I truly believe there are crucials steps that makes a great bowl of soup and this is certainly true for pho.

1. Roasting the Ginger and Onion:
Some may think this step is unnecessary but it makes a huge difference. Roasting these two ingredients brings out their sweetness in taste and smell. I love the fragrance of roasted ginger!

2. Time can tell: I swear our parents has a six sense to detect how long we simmer the bones. My mom can always estimate how many more hours I should have simmered the bones to make a better broth. The longer you simmer your bones the better.

3. Spices:
Spices should not overwhelm your broth, the last thing you want is your pho to smell like herbal medicine. I like to add my spices in a tea strainer at the very end for like 30 mintues. You can get a bag of mixed pho spices at the Asian market but all you really need is star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. You do not need a lot just a few of each spice will suffice.

4. Rice Noodle (Banh Pho): My mom sometimes precook her noodles to save time but I am very much against this. Cooked noodles breaks so easily. Rice noodle should be al dente, it's soft enough to eat but still has a little bit of chewiness to it. You can buy the "fresh" rice noodle in the refrigerated section or it will work with the dry ones as well. You will just need to soak the dry one a lot longer. Portion some noodles in a strained ladle and place it in boiling water for like 5 second. Remove from boiling water and run the noodle under warm water to wash away the excess starch. Strain excess water from noodle and place noodle in the bowl.

5. Herbs and Garnish: I know this should be personal preference because some people just can't eat herbs or onions. If you are a first time eater, please try it with basil leaves and sawtooth herb because it really does complete the soup.

Ingredients:

Ox Tail
Beef Bones
Beef Trife
Beef Shank
Eye Round Beef Thinly Sliced
2 Large pieces of Ginger1 Large Yellow OnionRock SugarStar Anise
Cinnamon StickCloves
SaltPepper
Fish Sauce
Mushroom Seasoning
Rice Noodles
Green OnionsCilantroLimesBasil LeavesSawtooth Herb

Cookware:


Soup Pot
6 Quart Slow CookerTea Strainer
Ladle Strainer

Start Time : 6:00 AM

1. Rinse your bones with plenty of salt under running water.
2. I recommend parboiling your bones twice in a regular pot before transferring them to the slow cooker. Slow cooker will not get to a boiling point where you can remove the excess scum. I rinse the bones with cool water in between each boil. Transfer your bones to the crock pot and fill it up with water and turn on your cooker.
3. Broil the ginger and yellow onion in the oven until the outside is charred. Remove and place in cold water to help peel the skin away.
Time: 7:00ish AM4. Add ginger, yellow onion, rock sugar, 2-3 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning to the crock pot. At this time you can leave the crock pot alone for now.
5. I check my slow cooker every hour because i'm just anal. I have to be in control and make sure it's doing what it's suppose to. You really do not have to do this, it's just me.

Time: 3:00 PM

6. Wash the beef shank and beef tripe with plenty of salt.
7. Taste the broth and now you want to add fish sauce( approx. 1 tablespoon) to your liking, and couple dash of ground pepper. Add more sugar if necessary. 8. The water should have reduced a bit. Add the beef shank and tripe to the crock pot. If there is not enough room, store some of the broth in a smaller pot and save for later. Leave crock pot alone.

Time: 6:00 PM

9. Beef shank and tripe should be tender enough, or you can leave it in the cooker longer. I remove shank and trip from cooker and let it cool. Add the excess broth you save from before back into the cooker.10. Soak "fresh" rice noodles in cool water.
11. I'm ready to thinly sliced my eye round beef. If you cannot slice thinly, place the beef in the freezer for an hour and would be so much easier. If you ask the butcher at your grocery store they could also shave your beef for you.
12. Prepare your garnish. Finely chop your green onions, cilantro, and yellow onions. Cut limes into wedges.13. Thinly slice your beef shank and cut your trip into smaller pieces.

Time: 8:00 PM

14. Place your tea strainer with the pho spices in the crock pot for 30 minutes.
15. Prepare noodles the way I have stated above. Place raw beef slice on top of the noodles as well as the beef shank and beef tripe.
16. Again the cooker does not get to a point where it is boiling so I place broth in a smaller pot to boil. Pour boiling broth to your prepared bowl. The meat should be submerge in the broth to cook thoroughly.
17. Add desired garnish and enjoy :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Che Suong Sa Hot Luu - Tapioca in Coconut Milk Desert


I fell in love with this dessert on my latest visit to Vietnam. The ones I tried from the States are overly sweet, the ones in Vietnam are not as heavy and more refreshing. I love eating the "hot luu" which are suppose to be mock pomegranate seed made from tapioca and jicama. It's like eating the tapioca balls in bubble tea but with something in the center. I made this che on a hot sunny day during my last trip home and it was a hit! My mom really appreciate me making a batch for everybody because she thought it was such as hassle, but it really isn't that bad to make.

You simply prepare are the components of the che; I used suong sa, hot luu, mung beans, coconut milk, sugar water, and crushed ice. Once that is all done you can just put together a cup to your liking. To cut back one some of the work I used canned suong sa which tasted just as good, but you can always make your own. I couldn't find any fresh jicama so I used canned water chestnut. Semi-homemade didn't cut back on taste here!

Ingredients:

simple syrup (2 part sugar to 1 part water)
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of already peeled and split mung bean
1 bag of tapioca start
1 can 14 oz can of water chestnut
2 can of suong sa ( I bought two different version, one in a lime green color and one that dark greenish black)
red food coloring

Preparation:

1. Wash mung beans.  Soak in hot water until soft.
2.Prepare simple syrup and then chill in fridge.
3. Cut dark suong sa into cubes, and lime green suong sa into long strips.

3. Soak the mung beans in water.
3. Dice up the water chestnuts.  Mix with red food coloring to make the faux pomegranate.
4. Place tapioca starch into a large mixing bowl. Separate the faux pomegranate into 3-4 batch.  Add first batch of water chestnut to the tapioca starch and mix.   Use a strainer so it's easier to separate.  Keep adding tapioca starch to the water chestnut until it is evenly coated.  Shake off the excess.

5. Boil some water in a pot. Prepare a cold bowl of water with some ice cubes.
6. Once the water boil add the first batch of tapioca/water chestnut mixture to the pot. The tapioca mixture will coagulate use chopstick to help separate the huge clumps.
7. Once the red "pomegranate seed" float to the top, dump the whole pot into a colander and rinse with cold water. Place fresh "pomegranate seed" aside in the the bowl of ice water to cool. You can remove pomegranate seed from ice bath once it has cooled.
8. Repeat with remaining batch of water chestnut. You don't have to change tapioca starch between batch.  Add more starch if needed.
9. Strain the water from the mung beans. Boil mung beans1/2 cup of water on low heat. Boil until all the water have been absorbed and mung bean are soft. Remove from heat and mash into a paste (I used a potato masher).

10. Boil the coconut milk. Set aside to cool.

Now it's time to build your che!  I put a layer of pomegranate seed at the bottom, grass jelly, mung beans, more pomegranate, simple syrup, coconut milk, and then ice.  The great thing about this dessert is you can control the sweetness by adding more or less syrup.  Enjoy!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Nui Ga - Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup


I like to change things up every now and then. I can't eat rice everyday, and yes I do prefer noodles over rice. I love slurping noodles and the warmth of hot broth in my tummy. So at least 2-3 times a week I have to make a pot of some kind of noodle soup. But on those busy days when I don't have time to hover over the stove all day, nui ga is my quick fix.

Nui ga is definitely my ideal comfort food. It always bring me back to my childhood when I use to experiment with my mom's nui ga. I use to put different condiments in my soup to give it a little something more. One day it could be soy sauce, sometimes ketchup, but mostly hoison sauce. Of course my mom did not approve of this behavior but I was just a kid. I don't do it as often now but I do grab the bottle of ketchup if I ever feel nostalgic.


Ingredients:

1 Cornish hen
1 piece of ginger
1 can of chicken broth
1 box of pasta of your liking
salt
sugar
mushroom seasoning
fish sauce
black pepper
green onions
cilantro
water



1. Wash chicken and remove excess fat.
2. Place chicken in pot and add 2-3 quart of water with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
3. Let pot come to a boil and remove any scums.
4. Let chicken cook on medium heat.
5. Once chicken is cooked, remove from pot and let chicken cool down.
6. Peel ginger and throw in pot.
7. Add the can chicken broth and 1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning.
8. Taste with more sugar and fish sauce.
9. Once chicken has cooled, remove from broth and shred chicken.
10. Throw chicken bones back into the pot.
11. Continue to taste the broth with fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper.
12. Finely chop the green onions and cilantro.
13. Cook your pasta so that it is ready to be eaten. I prefer the pasta soft not al dente.


Before serving I like to warm up pasta in the microwave. Place shredded chicken on top of pasta and pour boiling broth over. Top off with green onions, cilantro, and black pepper. Enjoy!

Banh Bot Chien - Fried Rice Cubes w/ Eggs


Crispy cubes of dough dip in a special soy sauce, I can eat these like candies! I actually have no recollection of eating bot chien as a child when I still lived in Vietnam. I was first introduced to this popular street snack in Seattle by my brother. The dough is pan fry to a crisp on the outside but soft and warm on the inside. It doesn't stop there, they scramble these crispy goodness with eggs. Eggs makes everything oh so more delicious! Banh Bot Chien is often pair with a plate of raw green papaya salad. I'm not sure why they are paired that way but the special soy sauce is very similar to the sauce eaten with Green Papaya Beef Jerky Salad.

I always crave these but the thought of mixing flour, steaming, and then frying doesn't really work well with my schedule lately. I'm so glad I found some premade cake at our local Vietnamese market. All you have to do is cut them into small cubes, and then start cooking. In Vietnam, we often eat Bot Chien after dinner almost like a dessert. Over here I like eating these at brunch, you got your eggs and carbohydrate to jump start your metabolism. I would so take Bot Chien over pancakes any day!


Ingredients:

Premade cake
eggs (to your liking because I like A LOT of eggs)
1-2 stalk green onions minced
cooking oil

Sauce:


2 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of vinegar
fresh chili (optional)



1. Cut cake into the size of your liking.
2. Heat up a pan with a oil.
3. Add 1/2 of the green onions until your can smell fragrance.
4. Add cake cubes to the pan and let it fry to a crisp on the outside.
5. Once the cubes is to a crisp, slightly burned, add enough eggs to cover every single cube. Continue to flip and fry until the eggs are cook.
6. Sprinkle the remaining half of the green onions and serve.

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mi Hoanh Thanh - Wonton Noodle Soup


   
I posted a recipe for Wonton Soup before but this version is with egg noodle and the broth is slightly different. I really despise the pictures quality of the previous post so this give me a chance to redeem myself.

I am a huge fan of wonton noodle soup especially with roasted duck. Roasted duck is not exactly easy to make at home so I usually make Xa Xiu instead. There's something about adding BBQ meat to the broth, it take the flavor to another level. With that being said I think it's best to let the meat marinade in the xa xiu seasoning overnight. Enjoy this recipe and the pictures!

Broth:

1 lb pork neck bones
1 large chunk of ginger
1 medium yellow onion
fish sauce
rock sugar
mushroom seasoning
salt
black pepper

Wonton Filling:

1 lb of shrimp (cut into smaller pieces)
a couple dash of salt
ground pepper
finely minced green onions
1 teaspoon of mushroom bouillon
2 teaspoon of oyster sauce
2teaspoon of sugar

Other Ingredients:

Xa Xiu
1 package of egg noodle soup
green onions
wonton wrappers


Cooking:




1. Marinade pork in xa xiu seasoning over night.
2. Rinse and clean the pork bones with plenty of salt.
3. Pre-boil bones.
4. Add ginger and onion to broth. Season broth with 1/4 tablespoon of salt, a good chunk of rock sugar, and 1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning. Let simmer for an hour.
5. Prepare the wonton filling by combining all the listed ingredients. Let the mixture sit in the fridge until ready so it will get a chance to stick together.
6. Pan fry the Xa Xiu. Let it cool down and then slice into thin pieces.
7. Boil egg noodle with water and a pinch of salt. Rinse with cold water and let it dry out a bit.
8. Season the broth with 1-2 tablespoon of fish sauce and a couple dash of black pepper. Add more sugar if needed.
9. Once the broth is ready, start preparing the wonton. Scoop a teaspoon of shrimp filling onto a wrapper and pinch the corners together with warm water.
10. Add wonton to broth to cook. I like to make each bowl of soup individually in a small saucepan. There is more heat to cook the wonton faster.


Pour hot broth and wonton over egg noodle. Add the xa xiu meat and garnish with some green onions. Enjoy!

Bun Oc - Snail Noodle Soup


Don't mistake Bun Oc for a bowl of Bun Rieu, they do appear very similar. Both soup has a reddish hue from the tomatoes simmering in the broth. The misconception of these two soups started when people often add Oc to their Bun Rieu, which I love by the way. The broth to Bun Oc is much lighter and there is more emphasis on the tomatoes.

This recipe is inspired by my first visit to Maryland. After a long 4 hour ride I was welcomed with a bowl of noodle soup with fresh conch meat. Upon slurping the broth I can smell the sweet aroma of ginger, lemongrass and taste the sourness of the tomatoes. I added fresh fish mints, dills, and perillas to the steaming bowl, and flavor it with a teaspoon of fermented shrimp paste(mam tom). The conch meat was incredibly sweet and it felt like the lemongrass was created just to be use for this soup. At that moment I felt like I was eating at a street stall back in Vietnam, a taste of Que Huong.

Since it is lent season I used dried shrimp (tom kho) for the broth, otherwise a pork broth would be just as great. I used frozen snail meat labeled as Oc Buou (the larger snails), which saved me a lot of time on removing the shell. To flavor the broth I used a lot of ginger and lemongrass. Since snail meat is not exactly filling I added tiger shrimp to fill in the voids. Enjoy!

Ingredients:


1/2 cup of dried shrimp (tom kho)
2 chunk of ginger (about the size of your thumb)
4-5 stalk of lemongrass
6 large tomatoes (cut into large pieces)
2 tablespoon of tomato paste (for color)
1 package of frozen snail meat
1/2 lb of tiger shrimp (remove shell)
1 shallot minced
fish sauce
salt
rock sugar
fermented shrimp paste (mam tom)
mushroom seasoning
cooking oil
green onions/red onions (optional) chopped
1 package of rice vermicelli

Cooking:


1. Rinse and soak dried shrimp in warm water. When it has soften rough chop it into smaller pieces.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil, add the dried shrimp, lemon grass stalk, and ginger. Let this simmer for about 30 minutes.
3. Add rock sugar, 2-3 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning to the broth.
4. Heat up a large pan with cooking oil. Caramelized the shallots and then add the snail meat. Season the snail meat with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and 1 teaspoon of mushroom seasoning.
5. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste to the snail meat and stir fry. Add 1 tablespoon of shrimp paste. Stir fry for a couple minutes.
6. Add the snail meat/tomatoes mixture to the broth and let simmer.
7. Add another 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and additional sugar if needed.
8. Add shrimp and let it cook through.
9. Prepare the rice vermicelli.

Pour boiling broth over noodles and garnish with some onions. A simple and healthy meal, enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mi Quang - Quang Nam Noodles

Whoever came up with the idea for mi quang, thank you!  Mi quang originated from Quang Nam province in central Vietnam, hence the name mi quang.  According to my dad mi quang was created during tough times when food were very scarce.  People made the most out of whatever ingredients they have at home.  For that reason, there are many different ways you can make mi quang.  I guess that's why I love this dish so much because you can can throw whatever you want in the pot.

Mi quang is eaten with a lot of fresh vegetables another reason why it appeals to me because i'm a veggie lover.  It is not exactly a soup but it's not like hu tieu kho either.  You add just enough broth to the bowl so you can easily mix all the ingredients together and slurp that thick noodle.  Because you add very little broth, it is important that you season your broth and meat very well.  That's the one thing I notice when I eat a bowl of mi quang from Vietnam versus a bowl from the states.  Mi quang from Vietnam is seasoned very well and I find the mi quang I've had from the states to be too bland.  You almost want to over salt your broth and meat because the vegetables and noodles will balanced everything out.

The most common version of mi quang contain shrimp and pork belly.  Chicken mi quang is a close second.  I've tried it with king crab and beef as well.  Honestly, anything will work!  One day i'm going to have to experiment with fish.  To me the most important part about mi quang is the broth.  It doesn't matter to me if you use pork or chicken to make the broth, the deal breaker is the shrimp head.  I always use shrimp with the head to make mi quang because it gives the broth so much flavor.  I also like using fresh pineapples to give the broth a very subtle tart.

Ingredients:  
1 lb of pork bones
2 lb of pork belly
1 lb of shrimp w/ head
1 can of quail egg
2 yellow onion
2 cups of fresh pineapple (1in chunk)
sesame rice cracker
roasted peanuts
lettuce/bean sprouts/herbs
dry mi quang noodles
rock sugar
mushroom seasoning
salt
fishsauce
paprika
cooking oil
onion salt
garlic powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoon of minced shallots
8-10 green onion head ( optional for sweetness)
minced green onions/cilantro (garnish)
lime
chili
water

1.  Par boil your pork bones with plenty of salt.  Rinse with cool water.
2.  Fill a 6 quart pot with water.  Add the clean pork bones to the pot.  Let simmer meat on the bone begin to fall apart and remove scum when necessary.
3. Add the yellow onions, 4 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of rock sugar, and 1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning.
4.  Thinly slice the pork belly.   Marinade with a little bit of sugar, 4 tablespoon fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 of the shallots, 1/2 of the minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon of paprika.
6.  Trim your shrimp, you can peel the shell or leave the shell on your preference.
7.  Now it's time to cook all the proteins.
8.  Heat up 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil in a pan,  add the shrimp season with just a dash of fish sauce, paprika and sugar.   Cook shrimp all the way through.
9.  Drain any extra liquid from cooking the shrimp to the broth.   Set shrimp aside for later.
10.  Repeat step #9 with the marinaded pork belly.  You can sprinkle additional paprika for more color.  Don't forget to drain left over liquid to the broth.
11.  Add pineapple chunk to to the broth.
12.  Heat up 1/8 cup of oil and cook the rest of the garlic and shallots until fragrance.  Lower your heat source and then add two tablespoon of paprika.  Let the paprika dissolve into the oil.  This will be the coloring of the broth, add the oil mixture to the broth.
13.  Remove pork bones (you can munch on this) and onions from the pot.  You are left with only the liquid and pineapple chunk.
14.  Taste your broth, remember it's ok to over salt the broth slightly.  Add additional sugar and fish sauce if needed.
15.  Your broth is done!  Prepare green onions, cilantro, lime, quail eggs, roasted peanuts, and fresh greens for eating.

How to Serve
1. At the bottom of the bowl add your lettuce and bean sprouts.
2. Add noodles.
3.  Add the pork belly, shrimp, and quail eggs.
4.  Add the sesame cracker and roasted peanuts.
5.  Add herbs, green onions, and cilantro.
6.  Ladle enough broth to the bowl.
7.  Squeeze some lime and add chili to your liking.
8.  Mix and enjoy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Che Thai - Fruits in Coconut Milk


I'm not a sweets person so I pass on desserts about 99% of the time. My parents, on the other hand, are major sweets junkie. they especially love to eat che! I never really got into making Vietnamese dessert but I really do want to change that. But if you ask anybody in my family they will vouch that I can whip up a good cup of Che Thai.

Che Thai is a Vietnamese adaptation of a Thai dessert. I much prefer the Vietnamese version because the Thai version is too sweet for me. It's basically fresh fruits in a coconut/milk mixture. Back in Vietnam you can pretty much smell this dessert a mile away because it often contain durian (sau rieng), a very pungent fruit. In fact if you are not eating true Che Thai if it does not contain sau rieng according to my mom. I grew accustomed to the the Americanize version you often find a Vietnamese bakeries where it is more milk base. Half and half milk is often used because it's a lot more "beo", beo is the Vietnamese term to describe food that are rich and fatty.

We don't have the pleasure of using fresh fruits but canned fruits will do. I usually stick with jack fruits, logans, lychees, coconut gels, and palm seeds. You can add a variety of other things such as tapioca pearls, agar strands, thach (Vietnamese jello), and etc. I like playing around with Knox gelatin because if you make it just right it does have this chewy texture that I just love. I had a a lot of variations of Che Thai, and I try to incorporate different elements I like. I'm always careful not to make it too sweet. It must be the right about of sweetness, to the point where you can down couple cup without feeling overwhelm. You can definitely make this dessert ahead of time because it always taste better the next day. This is such a versatile dessert so please play around with this recipe!

I found these "green worm" dessert at our local Vietnamese market, and it would look so pretty in the Che Thai. I also picked up some food coloring so I can play around with the colors, too bad the pictures did not turn out too well due to my awful lighting. Don't worry it still taste great! Just add some crushed ice and you have yourself a refreshing treat.


Ingredients:


1/2 gallon + 4 cups of 2% milk
1/2 gallon of half and half milk
1/2 can of coconut milk
2 can of jackfruits
1 can of logans
1 can of lychees
1 jar of coconut gel
1 jar of palm seeds
1 box of Knox gelatin
sugar
food coloring (optional)

Milk Gelatin:

1. Boil 3 cups of milk with 3 tablespoon of sugar.
2. Sprinkle for package of gelatin on top of 1 cup of cold milk.
3. Combine boild milk and cold milk and stir until everthing dissolved.
4. Add a couple drops of red food coloring.
5. Pour in a container and freeze for about 20-30 minutes.

Che Thai:

1. Drain and sliced all the fruits into smaller pieces (except for coconut gel and palm seeds).
2. Combine 1/2 gallon of 2% milk, 1/2 gallon of half and half milk, 1/2 can of coconut milk, 1 cup of sugar, and couple drop of green food coloring. Stir everything together.
3. Pour int he whole can of palm seeds even the syrup, the same goes for the coconut gel.
4. Add the sliced fruits.
5. Take the gelatin out of the freezer and cut into 1cm cub. Add to the milk.
6. Give it one last tasting, add more sugar if you like it sweeter.