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.