Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Banh Cuon - Pork Rice Crepes

I am very excited about this entry because this recipe has been long overdue. A friend of mine, a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, specifically requested for Banh Cuon. I was happy to oblige because I have put off making this dish long enough. I've literally seen my mom makes this dish hundreds of times. I'm usually very nervous when making something new for the first time but I felt as if it was second nature to me.

Banh Cuon originated from northern Vietnam commonly eaten during breakfast. It is made by steaming rice flour into thin, round sheets. A mixture of ground pork, wood ear mushroom, and onions are spread on to the rice sheet and then folded into a roll. Banh Cuon is usually eaten with different type of sides such as cha lua (pork patty), cha chien (fried pork patty), and nem chua (fermented pork patty). I prefer thinly sliced cha chien with a lot of steamed bean sprouts and basil leaves. And of course the fish sauce, never forget about the fish sauce!

The trickiest part about making banh cuon is the rice flour in general. You will likely run into some trouble when you mix the rice flour and then steaming it into thin sheets. My mom's secrets for good banh cuon is being comfortable with mixing your own flour, letting your flour sit overnight and finding the best nonstick pan you could find. I used a pre-packaged banh cuon mixture that could be found at any Vietnamese grocery store. Instead of following the directions from the back I constantly revise ingredients as I cook. Once you steamed the rice flour into thin sheets you can pretty tell what it will needs by the taste and texture. Don't worry if the first few sheets turns out to be horrible, over time it will come out better. Another problem you may run into is getting the rice sheet off the pan. This is where it gets fun! Dont be afraid to slam the pan down on the table. I know I make a lot of noises trying to get the sheets off the pan but just consider it music from your cooking.

All the pictures from this entry are courteous of my friend Duc who did a great job capturing every step throughout the cooking process. And thank you to Thu for a beautiful presentation of the banh cuon. I hope you will enjoy this recipes as much as I enjoy making it :)


Ingredients:

Rice flour mixture:
-2 bag of prepackage banh cuon mix
-2 tablesoon of tapioca flour
-2 tablespoon of cooking oil
-5 cups of water

Pork mixture:
-1 lb of ground pork
-1 medium onion minced
-1 cup of wood ear mushroom minced
-salt
-ground pepper
-sugar
-mushroom seasoning
-fish sauce
-cooking oil

Other:

-basil leaves rough chopped
-bean sprouts steamed
-cha chien/ cha lua cut into half circle or thin strips
-prepared dipping sauce

1. Mix all the ingredients for the rice flour mixture and let sit over night.
2. Heat up cooking oil in a pan. First sauteed the wood ear mushroom for a couple minutes. Add the pork and sauteed until about 3/4 done. Add the mince onions last and continue to sauteed.
3. Flavor the pork mixture with salt, sugar, mushroom seasoning, ground pepper, and fish sauce. Avoid over salting the pork mixture because you will eating banh cuon with fish sauce later on.

Making the banh cuon:


1. Even if you use a nonstick pan, rub the surface with some cooking oil. Wait for the pan to get hot on medium heat.
2. Ladle some rice flour onto the hot pan. Tip the pan back and forth making sure the rice flour cover all the surface of the pan. Put the lid on and let flour steam for about a minute.
3. Remove pan from heat and flip the pan upside down onto a baking sheet.
4. Add a spoonfull of pork mixture to the center of the rice sheet.
5. Fold the sides inward. Roll from bottom to the top sides.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Goi Thit Bo Xao - Sauteed Beef Salad

A fellow reader gave me a great tip to add cucumber and tomatoes to my Bo Tai Chanh recipe. Since I love both very much, I was glad to try it out. As I was picking up the ingredients at the grocery store I had this craving for "xa lach tron thi bo", sauteed sliced beef on a bed lettuce and tomatoes. I tend to do that a lot, change my dinner plan base just like that. Xa lach tron is one of my favorite dish to eat in the summer time because it's light but still has a lot of flavor. I thought it would be fun to turn it into a goi simply by using cabbage and a lot of fresh herbs. This is simply why I love to cook so much. It makes me so happy to be able to play around with ingredients to satisfy my craving. Don't be scared, play with your food!

Ingredients:

1/2 sliced beef (it's doesn't have to be an expensive cut)
1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon of minced shallots
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes (cut in half if needed)
1 carrot julienned
1 cabbage julienned
1 cucumber (cut into 3 section and then thinly sliced)
1 lime
fresh herbs rough chopped (i used a litttle bit of everything basil. coriander, mint, and cilantro)
oyster saucefish sauce
salt
ground pepper
sugar
fresh chili
roasted peanut
vinegar
cooking oil

1. Marinade the beef with salt, ground pepper, and oyster sauce. Just a little bit of everything.
2. Prepare your vegetables.
3. Add a sprinkle of salt to the cabbage and carrots. Use your hands to lightly squeeze it, this will take out some of the moisture.
4. Heat up 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil and sauteed the beef to your liking. I prefer not to cook mine all the way, about medium rare. Let the meat cool down.
5. Prepare the sauce by combining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 2 teaspoon of vinegar, and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, and sliced chilis.
6. Add tomatoes and cucumber to the cabbage mixture. Toss everything together with the fish sauce.
7. Add the sauteed beef right on top and squeeze 1 lime over the beef. This should help cook the meat a little bit more.
8. Add more fish sauce or lime to your liking.
9. Toss in fresh herbs right before serving.
10. Sprinkle some roasted peanuts right on top.

Enjoy!