Monday, April 3, 2017

Bun Cha Ca - Fish Cake Noodle Soup ( Lent Friendly)


One of my favorite dish I was introduced to in Da Nang was their Bun Cha Ca.  It was the very first dish I ate when I first got off the plane.  Their take on Bun Cha Ca was so delicious and light, and I love the sweetness from all the vegetables they use like cabbage and squash.   This is my my quick take on this soup and it's Lent friendly.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:




1 lb of ground shrimp
1/2 cup of dried prawn (tom kho)
cha ca (fish cake)
1 cup of pineapple
1 cup of kabocha squash (optional)
1 cup of bamboo tips
2 cups of cabbage
2 roma tomato (quartered)
4 quart of water
2 shallots (minced)
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon mushroom seasoning
fish sauce
cooking oil
1 teaspoon of paprika
vermicelli noodle
lettuce
green onions

1.  Cook down the dried prawns in water to start the broth. Sauteed ground shrimp with 1 minced shallot and season with some fish sauce.   Add ground shrimp to the broth.  Add salt, sugar, and mushroom seasoning to the broth.


2.  Sauteed the pineapple, tomato, and bamboo with some fish sauce.  Add this mixture to the broth.


3.  Add the cha ca and cabbage to the broth.  Let everything cook thoroughly.

4.  Sauteed remaining minced shallots in some oil, add the paprika and cook on low heat.  Add this mixture to the broth for color.

4.  Make noodles, and prepare lettuce and green onions.

5.  Enjoy with some shrimp paste and chili!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Better Late Than Never...my You Tube Channel is now online!

I realized I have been neglecting this blog for so long and i'm sorry for the lack of post.  I have been thinking of what direction I should take with my blog and how I can make it better.  Nowadays video tutorials are so popular and I realized how much more better they are when it come cooking tutorials.  For those reasons I will now start uploading cooking tutorials on You Tube.  I will still keep this blog so I can share the background of each recipes because I still want to be able to spread awareness and educate the Vietnamese culture through Vietnamese food and cooking.  

Thank you so much for all your support and love throughout the years and I hope you will continue to support me with my You Tube channel.  My very first cooking video will be one my childhood favorite Mi Xao.  Please subscribe to and share my channel, and leave feedback and request for future videos!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Gỏi Cuốn Chay - Vegetarian Spring Roll


I've been on a vegetarian fast for the past two weeks, this is absolutely one of my favorite vegetarian dish!  It's healthy, simple, and fast to make.  You can pretty much use any kind of vegetables you like.  Enjoy!
 
Ingredients:


2 cup of sliced cabbage
1 cup of shitake mushroom
1/2 cup of julienned carrot
1  cup of julienned tofu
1/2 cup of wood ear mushroom (reconstitute with warm water beforehand)
iceberg lettuce (cut into smaller pieces)
cilantro
minced garlic
peanut butter
hoisin sauce
sriracha
pickled carrots (optional)
vermicelli noodle (optional)
salt
sugar
soy sauce
cooking oil
rice paper

1.  In a large pan add about 2 tablespoon of cooking oil and saute the minced garlic.  Add the wood ear mushroom because that takes the longest to cook > shitake > tofu > carrots > cabbage.  Cook until everything is tender.  Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.


2.  Have the rice paper, iceberg lettuce, noodle, herbs ready to roll.


3.  In a sauce pan add 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoon of peanut butter, 4 tablespoon of hoisin sauce, and sriracha to your liking.  Let everything dissolve and marry together on medium heat.  You can add pickled carrots to your sauce.

4.  Enjoy with the yummy peanut sauce.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Banh Trang Tron - Rice Paper Salad


Banh trang tron 'rice paper mix' is a street food that has won the hearts of children and teenager all over Vietnam.  I was first introduced to this popular street snack several years ago while I was in Saigon.  My cousin picked up a bag on his way home from class.  He walked in with a clear plastic bag dangling from his fingers with two skewers (used as chopstick) poking out from the bag.  I opened up the bag to examine what was inside; strips up rice paper, julienned green mango, shredded beef jerky, quail egg, roasted peanuts, and chopped Vietnamese coriander (rau ram).  It was such an unusual concoction but had all of my favorite components.  I'm always excited to try new food so I had no problem digging in.  While I very much enjoy the explosion of flavors, my mom thought it was 'nonsense' food.

Upon my first tasting of banh trang tron, I thought it tasted similar to padd Thai.  After a few more bites the flavor became more coherent; it was tangy and spicy similar to other Vietnamese goi but more salty and dry.  I can see why adults would be against this type of snack, it's not very nutritious.  But it's FUN food, something I like to make every now and then.  I hope you enjoy my interpretation of this popular street food!

Ingredients:
8-10 sheets of rice paper cut into 3 inch strips
1 cup of julienned green mango (adding more green mango will add more moisture to this salad)
1 cup of chopped rau ram
1/4 cup of dried proteins (shredded beef jerky, shredded squid, dehydrated field shrimp, or none)
quail egg (or 1 hard boil egg cut into 8 pieces)
2 tablespoon of cooking oil
3 tablespoon of minced green onion
shrimp salt 'muoi tom' ( or sea salt)
sugar
1 lime
maggi seasoning
chili oil
fried shallot
crushed peanuts
large bowl
plastic gloves

1.  Sauteed the green onions in the oil until fragrance.  If you are using tep kho (dehydrated field shrimp) add it to the oil and sauteed until fragrance.
2.  Add the rice paper strips to a large bowl and the add the hot oil with green onions and tep kho.  Use your gloves to mix as much of rice paper and oil together to help soften the rice paper.
3.  Season the rice paper with 1 lime, some shrimp salt (sea salt is a lot saltier so use it sparingly), a sprinkle of sugar, juice of 1 lime, hot chili oil, and a couple dash of maggi seasoning.  Mix well or it will get clumpy.  Make sure every portion of the rice paper is season thoroughly.
4.  Once you are satisfied with the seasoning add the green mango, shredded protein, quail egg, chopped rau rau, crush peanuts, and fried shallot.  Toss and mix so that all the components are evenly distributed.
5.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pho/Mi Ga Kho -Dry Chicken Pho

In my family, chicken pho isn't as popular as beef pho.  I definitely would choose beef over chicken any day.  However, chicken pho is so much easier to make than beef pho and only take 1/3 of the time.  For those reasons, I still make chicken pho pretty often.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine mention having pho ga kho and how much she enjoyed it.  I thought it was a great idea because this way we can switch things up a bit with pho ga.  I love hu tieu kho more than the soup version, maybe I will like the dry version of pho ga more than the soup version as well.  Plus I love eating dry noodle because we can add a lot of veggies and herbs to your bowl.  

It's really simple, you pretty much just make a pot of pho ga like usually.  The only thing you will need to do extra is come up with a sauce.  This was the part where I had a little trouble with in beginning because at the time I've never had pho ga kho before.  I had to rely solely on my friend's description.  I played around with the sauce several time and a lot of time it came out pretty similar to the my hu tieu kho sauce.  During my recent trip to Vietnam, I had the opportunity to try this dry chicken noodle dish from Da Nang.  Instead of pho noodles, they used an egg noodle similar to lo mein.  It was so delicious that we kept going back to eat it several times a week!  I fell in love with the sauce, it was sweet and more soy base.  

Please refer back to my Pho Ga recipe.

Ingredient:

Shredded chicken from Pho Ga
Pho noodle/egg noodle
Bean sprout
Lettuce
Cilantro
Green onions
Lime
Fried shallots
Chili
Sauce
Pho ga broth (as a side)

1.  I like putting my veggies(bean sprout/lettuce) at the bottom of the bowl.
2.  Add noodle of choice on top of veggies.
3.  Add shredded chicken on top veggies.
4.  Spoon enough sauce(sauce recipe below) into your bowl.
5. Top everything with herbs of choice, fresh minced chili, and fried shallots.
6.  Squeeze some fresh lime juice and stir everything together.
7.  Enjoy with some broth on the side!

Sauce:

4 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of soy sauce
2 cup of pho ga broth
1/4-1/3 cup of brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like your sauce)

1.  Combine all ingredients in a pot.  
2.  Heat up all the ingredient until they marry together and the sauce has reduce a bit.  

Garlic Noodles

It's all started when my oldest friend told me how much she loves eating garlic.  The first thing that came to mind was garlic noodles!  Luscious noodles covered in a savory butter sauce with lots of minced garlic.  I was told the noodles were so good the jumbo shrimps were not even necessary!

Ingredients:

1-16 0z bag of lo mien noodles
1/2 stick of butter
2 tablespoon of finely minced garlic
3 tablespoon of oyster sauce
2 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoon of chopped green onions
Parmesan cheese

1.  Boil the lo mein noodles in water until it's about 80% done.  I like my noodles with a firm bite, so it's important to NOT overcook the noodles
2.  Drain and set aside.
3.  Melt 1/2 stick of butter on medium heat and add the minced garlic.  Let the garlic infused in the butter and become fragrance.
4.  Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar to the garlic butter.
5.  Toss in the lo mein noodles and coat the noodles with the sauce. Add the garlic powder to the noodles.
6.  Just when the noodles are about done add the chopped green onions.
7.  Serve with your choice of protein and top with rated Parmesan cheese.
8.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nuoc Cham - Vietnamese Fish Sauce/ Dipping Sauce

I secretly critique Vietnamese restaurant base on their nuoc cham.  Seriously 9/10 times it's right on the money!  If they have good nuoc cham, most likely their food will be decent as well.  The reasoning behind this theory stems from my mom.  She said "If you want to be good at Vietnamese cooking, practice making nuoc cham."  Making nuoc cham is combining and balancing different flavors; salty, sour, spicy, and sweet.  If you can learn to balance flavors then you can easily cook Vietnamese, it's really that simple.  If you know what the final product should taste like, think about what flavors are missing.  Get in the habit of tasting your food instead of relying on measurements.

I've been meaning to write an entry on nuoc cham for so long now, I can literally write a novel on it!  There are so many different ways to prepare nuoc cham. Nuoc cham for deep fried fish is not the same nuoc cham for spring rolls.  Nuoc cham for banh beo is not the same nuoc cham for banh bot loc.  Today I will share the recipe for a multi-purpose nuoc cham that you can use for many Vietnamese dishes.  Hopefully once you get the hang of making nuoc cham, you will no longer need to rely on measurements and just start making it by taste alone.  Here are a few helpful tips before you make your batch of nuoc cham.

1.  Fish Sauce:  
This is what makes the sauce so the brand does matter or I should say the concentration.  There are so many brands of fish sauce, I usually stick with the Vietnamese brand or the Squid brand (Thai) because it's what I know.   So you have the Squid Brand, Red Boat, 3 Crabs, and etc.  They all vary in prices due to how well it's filter and the purity of the product.  Squid is probably consider the worst quality and the cheapest, yet it's my only choice when I make nuoc cham.  Before you call me crazy, let me explain my reasoning (stems from mom)!  Squid brand is the most concentrated because it hasn't been filtered very much, therefore it is very salty and pungent.  It's the best to make nuoc cham because it has the most depth of flavor.  The more expensive brand are filtered and diluted for taste, therefore if you use it to make nuoc cham the flavors will get lost once you add water.  Basically you are diluting your fish sauce even more once you prepare your nuoc cham.  Don't get me wrong the expensive brand (filtered fish sauce) is good fish sauce but it's good on its own.  Once you start adding water, sugar, and lime it's going to dilute it and it will lose its flavor.  I prefer Squid brand because it's the most concentrated and salty.  I use the Squid brand when I cook as well because you don't need to use a lot of it compare to the expensive brand. 

2. Vinegar Vs Lime
Both are fine to use but I prefer lime because it just gives the nuoc cham some freshness.  

3.  Boiling the water
It's important to use boiling water so you can dissolve all the sugar so you can actually taste the sweetness.  Note that not all nuoc cham required water such as the ones for deep fried fish.  

4.  Garlic
Some nuoc cham are more syrupy (such as the one use for banh hoi and heo quay) which is made by smashing garlic together with the sugar.  If the food doesn't call for a syrupy nuoc cham you can just minced it up finely.

5.  Boiling Water > Sugar > Minced Garlic > Chilli > Lime > Fish Sauce
Remember this step if you want to start making nuoc from taste, trust me it's better than measuring!  Add boiling water to the sugar and stir so it dissolved.  Let the sugar water cool.  Add the minced garlic and fresh chili.  Add about 1/2 a lime first.  Then slowly start adding the fish sauce.  As you are adding more fish sauce, taste to see what it is missing.  More lime? More fish sauce?  More chili? Add whatever you feel is needed!

6.  For some reason when you store your prepared fish sauce in the fridge it tend to get diluted, so I usually make it a little saltier when I make them to store.  I know pickled carrots (do chua) taste really good in nuoc cham but avoid storing them together otherwise your nuoc cham will get diluted.
7.  Below is the recipe for a basic nuoc cham for spring rolls, cha gio, banh xeo, bun thit nuong, and the likes.  Usually nuoc cham for banh beo, banh uot, and banh cuon calls for a sweeter fish sauce so just use a little more sugar then the recipe below.  Good luck!

Ingredients: This will make one big container.

3 cups of boiling water
3/4-1 cup of sugar (for a sweeter nuoc cham use 1 cup)
1 lime (1/4 cup)
~ 3/4-1 cup of fish sauce (I use Squid brand, if you are using a more filtered fish sauce you will need to use more)
fresh chili (your liking)

1.  Boil your water and then add it to the sugar.  Stir the sugar to dissolved and let the sugar water cool down.

2.  Add the minced garlic and fresh chili.  If you add garlic to hot sugar water, it will turn green. 

3.  Add 1 lime. 

4.  Measure out one cup of fish sauce, you may or may not use the whole 1 cup.  Slowly add your fish sauce and taste as you add additional fish sauce.  Note:  If you are using a filtered fish sauce you may need to use more than 1 cup.