Monday, October 3, 2011

Thit Ga Ham Khoai Tay Ca Rot - Chicken Soup with Potatoes and Carrots

Yet another dish that takes me back to my childhood. This soup is the epitome of Vietnamese comfort food. The broth is simple and clean, flavor by the sweetness of the vegetables and bones. I love eating this soup when I'm feeling under the weather, it make you feel like everything is going to be alright.

This soup is quite versatile because you have a lot of choices for ingredients. For the meat you can use chicken, pork, or beef. I prefer using pork neck bones but I had some left over chicken from another dish. You can also use ground beef or pork instead of bones. Choices of vegetables can also varies depending on your taste or whatever you have available at home. My mom usually makes it with potatoes, carrots, and sometimes beets. Beets has to be my favorite, it's incredibly sweet, but unfortunate beets are not on my weekly grocery list. For this recipe I used carrots, red potatoes, and cauliflower. Play around with the ingredients, you really can't go wrong with this recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 chicken
3 red potatoes
3 carrots
1/2 cauliflower
1/2 an onion
cilantro
salt
rock sugar
mushroom seasoning
fish sauce
black pepper
water

1. Rinse your chicken and remove some of the fat if needed.
2. Place the chicken in a pot, add about 5 quart of water an half the onion. Add half a tablespoon of salt and let the pot come to a boil. Remove the excess scum from the pot. Once the scum has been removed, turn down the heat to medium heat until chicken get cooked.
3. Wash the vegetables and cut them into desired size. I like my vegetables pretty chunky so it doesn't overcook as easily.
4. Throw in a quarter size chunk of rock sugar and a couple teaspoon of mushroom seasoning to he broth.
5. Once the chicken is done, remove from pot and let it cool enough to handle.
6. Taste the broth with 2 tablespoon of fish sauce and a couple dash of black pepper.
7. After tasting he broth throw in the carrots first and then potatoes. The vegetables should be soft enough to eat but should still have texture. Throw in the cauliflower at the very end.
8. Last minute tasting with more sugar and fish sauce if needed.
9. Serve with chopped cilantro and more black pepper.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dau Hu Nhoi Thit Sot Ca - Tofu Stuffed w/ Pork in Tomato Sauce

I love tofu in every form; soft, firm, extra firm, fried, and so on. One of my favorite recipe is Dau Hu Nhoi Thit Sot Ca. You stuff fried tofu with a minced pork mixture. Next you pan fried the stuffed tofu and then braise it in a tomato sauce. It's one those dish that appeared every week in my family, I can never get tired of it. I recently receive a couple request for this recipe and I'm glad to do it.

Ingredients:

2 packs of fried tofu (makes 16)
1/2 lb of ground pork

1/2 a cup of dried wood ear fungus
3 tomatoes
2 green onions
oil
salt
fish sauce
sugar
black pepper
mushroom seasoning
onion powder
minced garlic
chili powder (optional for spiciness)

1. Soak the wood ear fungus in warm water until soften, rinse it well before using. Once it has soften, mince
the wood ear fungus.
2. Combine the ground pork and wood ear fungus and taste it with some salt, black pepper, onion powder, and mushroom seasoning.
3. Wash the tofu before cooking and then tow
el dry.
4. Cut your tofu in half so you'll have one side with the white side exposing.
5. Make a split in the middle on the white side. Use a small spoon to carve some of the white part out to create a small pocket. This will make it easier to stuff the pork mixture.
6. Stuff the tofu with the pork mixture.
7. Cut your tomatoes into smaller chunks
8. Chop you green onions.
9. Heat up oil in a large pan (big enough to fit all your tofu). Once the oil is hot enough add the tofu, and pan fried all side of the tofu.
10. Once the tofu has been lightly seared on each side, remove from pan.
11. Add another tablespoon of cooking oil to the pan again. When it is hot enough add the tomatoes.
12. Add 3-4 tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of sugar, chili powder, and a couple fish of mushroom seasoning. Stir the dry ingredients into the tomatoes and fish sauce.
13. Add the tofu and let it braise in the tomato sauce on low-medium heat. Make sure all side get the opportunity to braise into the sauce.
14. Braise the tofu until the sauce has reduce a bit and add the green onions at the very end.

Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ca Tai Chanh - Vietnamese Style Ceviche


My first ever ceviche experience is through the Travel Channel. Every time Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern travel to any places near water, they always get to eat the most amazing ceviche. Yes I know we can't possibly experience what they experience with their taste buds but it was still a beautiful experience with my eyes.

The Midwest is probably the last place you would ever find ceviche but I lucked out. I went to lunch with a friend at this Peruvian restaurant in a shady area of town. Yelp boast it was the best ceviche in town but I took it with a grain of salt, we do live in corn country after all. The ceviche arrived on a huge plate, and still the shrimp, squid, and fish were spilling every where. I knew I would love it just by looking at it and I did! It was so amazing, I can't imagine how even more amazing it would be to have ceviche made fresh right out of the water.

I wanted to recreate the ceviche I had but of course with a Vietnamese twist. This is a great dish to beat the summer heat, enjoy!

Ingredients:

sushi grade tilapia or cod
sushi grade octopus tenacles
shrimp (I bought already cooked cocktail shrimp)
red onions (thinly sliced)
cilantro (rough chopped)
Vietnamese coriander (rough chopped)
2-3 lime
fish sauce
sliced habanero pepper (or whatever you like)
crushes peanuts
fried shallots (hanh phi)

1. Cut the tilapia into flat pieces.
2. Squeeze enough lime to cover the fish and let the fish cook in the lime juice.
3. Thinly sliced the octopus.
4. Add the octopus and shrimp to the lime juice with the fish.
5. Drain about half of the lime juice from the seafood mixture.
6. Add two tablespoon of fish sauce to the sea
food mixture.
7. Add the sliced onions and pepper, toss thoroughly.
8. Right before serving add the cilantro and coriander.
9. Top off with peanuts and shallots.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Che Ba Mau - Vietnamese Three Color Dessert

Che Ba Mau meaning Three Color Dessert; consist of YELLOW
mung bean paste, GREEN agar strips, and RED beans. It looks and taste pretty similar to Suong Sa Hot Luu but there are some differences. We use red beans in Che Ba Mau and a different type of agar. Suong Sa Hot Luu uses a grass jelly agar which has a really distinct grassy taste and a dirty pondgreen color. You can make your own agar strips but to save time I just buy a can of agar called Suong Sam, it's lime green in color and has a lighter taste than grass jelly. Finally we usually sweeten Che Ba Mau with condense milk. I like faux pomegranate seeds so I like to include it in my Che Ba Mau as well.

I have to admit Che Ba Mau is pretty time consuming and tricky to make. Making the red beans and mung beans can be a nightmare. You have to cook it on really low heat over a long period of time. I've burned quite a few batch over the years. I recommend soaking the mung beans and red beans overnight.

Ingredients:

1 can of Suong Sam agar
2 cups of red beans (soak in water overnight)
2 cups of already peeled and split mung beans (soak in water over night)
1 can of coconut milk
condense milk
rock sugar
faux pomegranate seeds
finely crushed ice (prepare with a blender)

1. Rinse the red beans in water until the beans no longer makes the water cloudy.
2. Boil 5 cups of water in a pot and throw in a medium size rock sugar. Drain the red beans and pour into pot. Cook the red beans on low heat for around 2 hours or so. Once tender, drain and set aside for later.
3. Prepare the mung bean paste (refer to my Suong Sa Hot Luu entry for cooking instruction).
4. Prepare the faux pomegranate seeds (refer to my Suong Sa Hot Luu entry)
5. Slice the Suong Sam agar into strips.
6. Heat a can of coconut milk in a small pot and add 2 tablespoon of sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, let cook for later use.
7. Prepare the crushed ice.
8. In a bowl, spread some mung bean paste at the bottom of the bowl. Second add agar strips, next the red beans, and then the faux pomegranate seeds. You can prepare these bowls ahead of time and store in fridge.
9. Before serving, add the condense milk to the bowl and then top off with some crushed ice. Finally drizzle the condense milk at the very end, depends on how sweet you like it add as much as you like.

Mix and enjoy!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Thit Heo Kho Trung - Pork and Eggs Braised in Caramel Sauce

When I was growing up, not a week went by when my mom did not make a pot of Thit Kho for lunch. But i'm sure Thit Kho is a weekly regular in most Vietnamese household. Because it is easy and cheap to make, Thit Kho is categorized as "com binh dan" or meal of the commoners. In Vietnam during lunch time, you can find many stand that sells meal for the working person which includes Thit Kho.

Thit Kho is made by braising chunks up fatty pork such as pork belly in a caramel sauce made of caramelized sugar and fish sauce. The pork is braised in the sauce until it becomes so tender you can cut it with your chopsticks. Since I do not always have access to pork belly, I often use Boston pork butt instead. I suggest using any pork cut that has some fat because fat is flavor.

As much as I love eating tender and fatty pieces of pork, my favorite part is the egg. I eat my Thit Kho Trung a certain way since I was a little girl. I break the egg in half and take out the yolk and mix the yolk bits into the rice. I then drizzle a lot of the caramel sauce on top and mix everything together. My favorite part is the egg whites so I always eat that last. Some things just can never change, and i'm OK with that!

Thit kho is often link to the Lunar New Year celebration 'Tet'.  Every year our family welcome the new year with a big pot of braised pork and egg along with pickled bean sprouts.  I especially love to at thit kho with rice paper rolls and dipped the delicious caramel sauce we cook the pork and egg in! 

Ingredients

3 lbs of Boston pork butt
2 shallot finely minced
2 tablespoon of sugar
1/3 cup of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
2 teaspoon of salt
12 eggs
1 can of Coco Rico
1.5 cups of water
1 tablespoon of cooking oil

1. Cut pork into 1-2 inch cubes.
2. Marinade pork with shallots, fish sauce, cooking oil and mushroom seasoning. Let pork marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.  
3. Begin cooking marinated pork on low heat in a large pot.
4. In a separate smaller pan, cook  2 tablespoon of sugar until it turns dark brown turn.  Add 2 tablespoon of water which will cause it to bubble vigorously mix the mixture.  
5. Pour caramelized sugar to the pot of pork (this will add the color).  Mix pork into the caramel sauce, make sure every pork pieces is coated with the sauce.
7. Add 1 can of coco rico and 2 cups of water.  Simmer on medium heat reduced by a 1/4.  
8. At this point you can begin preparing your eggs. Boil as much eggs as you would like or fit in the pot. I try to under cook the eggs so it won't over cook when I add it to the pork. So cook it to the point where the egg whites are firm but the yolk is still runny. Cooking time will depend on however many eggs you'd like.
9. Once the eggs are prepared, peel and then add to the pork.
10. Once eggs turn color, your pork is done and ready to eat!  

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mi Kho Thap Cam - Combination Dry Egg Noodle


Once upon a time I fell in love with a bowl of Mi Kho from Hai Ky Mi Gia in Falls Church, Virginia. This place only sells different type of Hu Tieu/Mi dry or wet. I like places that has a very limited menu which mean they can spend more time on perfecting that one dish. While I ordered a bowl of egg noodle soup, my friend ordered the dry version. She said the secret is the sauce for the Mi Kho, of course it's always the sauce! I mooched a couple bites from her bowl, while I very much enjoyed my soup I really wished I ordered the Mi Kho instead. After I polish off my bowl, I began to analyze what was left of the sauce. The sauce was definitely soy base, it was sweet and had hints of familiar spices. At the time I was very determine to recreate this sauce at home.

I posted an entry for the soup version of Hu Tieu two years ago but was unable to come up with a sauce for the dry version. I tried a lot of different sauces and I just wasn't satisfied with any of them. I pretty much threw in the white flag until I saw the comment from a reader that has been waiting for me to come up with the sauce. Thank you for reminding me and motivating me to get back on the saddle.

I remember when I first tried the sauce from Hai Ky Mi Gia, I thought it reminded me of Xa Xiu, Chinese BBQ pork. I love the Xa Xiu seasoning I use by NOH so I took out the seasoning package and look through the ingredients. For the next two hours I begin playing around with the ingredients and I finally ended up with a sauce that I am satisfy with. I'm just so glad I got this recipe out of the way and hope you will like it.

Please refer back to my Hu Tieu entry on how to prepare the toppings. I will only be listing the steps to make the sauce for Hu Tieu/Mi Kho.  I like to make the sauce directly from the pan I use to fry the xa xiu.  After you fry your xa xiu for the toppings, save the liquid!

Toppings:



Xa Xiu (thinly sliced)
Ground Pork (pan fried until crispy)
Cooked Squid
Cooked Shrmip
Chinese Chives
Fried Shallots

Sauce:

soy sauce
oyster sauce
sugar
broth (use the broth from hu tieu/mi soup, if you don't plan to make the broth to go with your mi kho, use chiken broth)
rice vinegar
left over xa xiu liquid

1. Use the same pan you use to fry the xa xiu, the left over liquid will help make a good sauce.  Add about 1 cup of hu tieu broth, approx. 1 tablespoon of sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you like it), 2 teaspoon of soy sauce,1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoon of oyster sauce.
2.  Let all the ingredient combine on low heat.
3.  If you don't plan to make xa xiu for your hu tieu, add two tablespoon of cooking oil instead.


Prepare a bowl with all the toppings to your liking and enjoy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio - Vermicelli Noodle with Grilled Pork and Vietnamese Egg Rolls

A great dish for this time of year; you can practically see, smell, and taste summer in every bowl. I love the smell of marinated pork hitting the hot grill, which gives out this wonderful lemon grass and garlic aroma. You can add an array of fresh herbs, sliced vegetables, and pickled vegetables that makes this dish both delicious and healthy to eat.

If you don't have a grill or simply do not want to deal with the hassle, use the stove top. Pan fry the pork on medium to high heat, constantly flipping the meat on both side until it has a nice char. Cook the noodles to an al dente texture, and give it time to cool down to achieve springiness. When you pull the noodles apart you should be able to hear a faint snap. I also fried up some egg rolls from the freezer and added to my bowl, sometimes more can be a good thing.

Ingredients:

(Pork marinade)
2 lbs of sliced Boston butt pork roast
1 tablespoon of spoon of minced lemon grass
1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon of minced shallots
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce
1/4 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
skewers (if grilling)

vermicelli noodle
1 cucumber
lettuce
herbs
prepared fish sauce
crust peanuts

1. Marinate the pork with oyster sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, mushroom seasoning, garlic, lemon grass, and shallots. The longer you let the pork marinate, the flavor will soak through the meat more.
2. If you are using wooden skewers, soak the skewers in water to avoid burning on the grill. Skewer enough meat on the skewer.
3. Cook the vermicelli noodle and let dry.
4. Wash and pick out the lettuce and herbs.
5. Slice the cucumber into thin slices or strips.
6. Cook the pork skewers on the grill.
7. Build a bowl to your preference, add your finest batch of prepare fish sauce, and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do Chua - Vietnamese Pickled Vegetables

I love eating anything pickled but nothing can beat Vietnamese Do Chua (pickled vegetagbles). Some people add Sriracha to everything, well that's how I feel about Do Chua. Anything that requires prepared nuoc mam, I will add Do Chua. It add some sweet, sour, and crunchiness to dishes such as Banh Beo, Banh Xeo, Banh Mi, Ca Nuong, Com Tam, Thit Kho, and many more. I always have some handy in the fridge because you will be surprise what you can eat with it.

There's a variety of vegetables you can pickle; cucumbers, onions, peppers, but the most common in Vietnamese cuisine are carrots and daikons. The pair are often found in Vietnamese Banh Mi, and it does make a huge difference. I always have to make sure they did not forget my Do Chua, or else I will be a very unhappy camper. Do Chua comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, and that is completely up to you. I prefer it a little smaller than what you would find in a Banh Mi but not as fine as being julienned, one of the best thing about Do Chua is the crunch and you just can't get that when it's too fine. Be prepare to do a lot of peeling but I guarantee it's worth all the effort!

Ingredients:


1 daikon
12 medium carrots
10 Thai chili (optional but it does add a hint of spice)
3 cups of water
1.5 cups of vinegar
1 cup of sugar
2-3 teaspoon of salt

1. Prepare the daikons and carrots to your liking.
2. Warm the water in pot, it does not have to come to a boil. Add the vinegar, sugar, and salt to the water and stir.
3. Add the daikons, carrots, and chili to a jar.
4. Add the warm mixture from step #2 to the jar.

If you would like to eat it within a couple of hours, it will pickle faster at room temperature. If you are in no hurry just stick it in the fridge. Enjoy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Goi Vit - Duck Salad

Like I have mention many times before, Goi Vit is my all time favorite salad. Today was such a hot day, it just put me in the mood for something light and flavorful. In Vietnam a plate of Goi Vit usually consist of sweet, tender duck meat on top of shredded banana blossom and morning glory. All the ingredients is soaked in this wonderful concoction of fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. It is so good that I always slurp up all the excess dressing at the very end, when my mom isn't watching of course.

Like Goi Ga, you HAVE to use coriander leaves in Goi Vit. It must be poultry thing! When there is coriander leaves, I just can't leave out the onions. You get spicy sweet from the onions and spicy bitter from the coriander leaves, they are just meant for each other! I don't always have access to banana blossom so I replace it with cabbage and carrots. Cabbage doesn't really have a lot of flavor, it's really there for texture. So all the ingredients I use such as the mint leaves and cilantro really compliment the shredded cabbage. I want this dish to set a pace for my cooking for the rest of the summer, lots of flavor!

Ingredients
1/2 a duck
1/2 cabbage
2-3 carrots
1 sweet onion
sugar
vinegar
fish sauce
2 lime
fresh chili
cilantro
Vietnamese coriander
cilantro
roasted peanuts

1. Boil your duck in a pot of water until fully cooked. You can use the broth to make soup such as Bun Mang.
2. Finely shred the cabbage, thinly slice sweet onions, and julienned carrots.

3. Marinade the cabbage, carrots, and onions with 4 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup of sugar for like 15-20 minutes in the fridge.
4. Rough chop the cilantro, coriander, and mints, set aside for later.
5. Crust roasted peanuts and set aside for later.
6. Remove the duck and let cooled. Butcher into smaller pieces.

7. Drain excess fluid from the cabbage mixture, no need to squeeze the juice out.
8. Add the duck pieces to the cabbage mixture.
9. Squeeze one whole lime to the cabbage/duck mixture, add 2 tablespoon of fish sauce, fresh chilies to your liking and mix thoroughly.
10. Mix in the fresh herbs right before serving and top off with some crush roasted peanuts.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Suon Ram Man - Carmelized Pork Spare Ribs

When we first moved to the States my parents were always working, sometimes day and night. We never really sat down together to enjoy dinner, we just ate whenever we had some free time. Now when I come home to visit I always make an effort with dinner, food always bring the family together. I actually look forward to sitting together with my family to enjoy a traditional family style meal where we share rice, some sort of protein, and a soup. It feel like time slows down; my dad reminiscing about his past and our family nearly choking on our food due to his out of this world stories. You just can't do the same thing with a bowl pho. Vietnamese family style meal is meant for family to chit chat between bites. We must cherish these times that we easily take for granted.

One of many favorite family style dish is Suon Ram Man, it taste like a dry and saltier version of thit kho (pork belly braised in caramel sauce). You braise the spareribs in caramel sauce until it is completely reduce. In the end you are left with crispy spare ribs from the caramel sauce sticking to the outside of the meat. I used to not like a lot of pork products when I was little (don't worry I got over that stage), but every time my mom made suon ram I would pick at every little pieces to the bone. Every part of the meat was glazed with the caramel sauce, the outside was crispy but the inside was so juicy. I love biting into all the fat and of course my favorite part is the cartilage. When it's cooked long enough I will gnaw on the bone, don't judge me bones are awesome!

To reduce some of the cooking time and achieve a wonderful crust on the outside, I cheated and used my deep fryer. You can totally skip this step and do it the old fashion way. Family style dish is meant for sharing, so please share this recipe with your love ones.

Ingredients:

2 lb of spare ribs
2 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 teaspoon of minced shallot
1/2 can of coconut soda (coco rico)
fish sauce
garlic powder
sugar
black pepper
cooking oil
green onions (optional)

1. Chop spare ribs in small pieces (1.5 inches)
2. Marinade with a couple dash of garlic powder and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce in the fridge for a couple hours.
3. Throw it in the deep fryer until the outside become crispy. Remove and let meat cooled in a lot of paper towel. This will help remove some of the oil.

4. In a pot (I like using nonstick pot or pan), melt tablespoon of sugar. As soon soon as you see some color, add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce. This part will probably be the most difficult part. If you let the sugar cook too much it will burn by the time you add the fish sauce.
5. Add the deep fried spare ribs, garlic, and shallots. Coat all the spare ribs in the caramel sauce.

6. Add 1/2 a can of coconut soda. Let the meat braised in the sauce for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.
7. Turn the heat up a little and let it it cook until the sauce begin to charring the outside of the meat. Be careful not to let it burn. Sprinkle some black pepper on top.
8. Serve and enjoy with a bowl of white rice.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bun Rieu - Crab Cake Vermicelli Noodle Soup (Lent Friendly)

Sorry for posting this up when Lent is about to end. I promise you won't notice a big difference from the traditional recipe, so feel free to use this recipe year round. I actually prefer the meatless version of Bun Rieu, so I have an excuse to LOAD up on seafood. When I was younger, I was not a fan of pork products so my mom usually makes meatless Bun Rieu anyways.

I buy canned crab meat in the refrigerated seafood section at Costco or Meijer, I prefer Costco crab meat even though it is more expensive. Believe me they are good right out of the can!

Usually we use pork neck bones to make the broth but dried prawns will work just fine. Ground pork is usually added to the "rieu" to glue all the wet ingredients together but ground dried prawns actually does a better job. I also listed V8 vegetable juice as an ingredient but you definitely can leave that off. I actually bought a case of it from Costco thinking it was something else so I'm just trying to get rid of it in my cooking. The vegetable juice add a really nice color to my broth and an extra umphh of tomato flavor. Try this recipe out and see if anybody can tell a difference, my boyfriend sure didn't!

Ingredients
1/2 lb of shrimp with head
2 cups of dried prawns (tom kho)
1/2 can of crab meat
2 eggs
1 jar of crab paste in soy bean oil (cach cua)
4-5 large tomatoes
1/2 can of V8 vegetable soup (optional)
shrimp paste (mam tom)
salt
sugar
mushroom seasoning
black pepper
green onions
water

1. Soak dried prawns in warm water until it is more tender to use. Peel the shrimp but leave the head intact.
2. Fill 6 quart pot with water and add 1/2 of the dried prawns rough chopped. Let the dried prawns simmer in the water until tender.
3. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning to
the broth, 1 tablespoon of the crab paste in soy bean oil, 1/2 a can of V8 vegetable juice.
4. With a food processor, finely mince the other half of the dried prawns, and shrimp with head.
5. Place the minced prawned and shrimp in a mixing bowl, add the crab meat, the rest of the crab paste from the jar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste, and a couple dash of black pepper. Mix thoroughly until it become a uniform mixture.

6. Transfer some broth into a small pot and add 1/2 tablespoon of shrimp paste. Let the broth boil until the shrimp paste completely dissolve. Transfer back to the original pot.
7. Bring pot to a boil and then add small amount of the seafood mixture into the pot.
8. Cut the tomatoes into big chunks. Add to the pot.
9. Do one last tasting, add nuoc mam or sugar if needed.
10. Garnish your bowl with green onions and serve, enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goi Xoai Ca - Mango Salad w/ Cod


I went a little mango crazy this past week, the local grocery store was having a sale and the mangoes looked very promising. I love eating mangoes by itself but decided to switch things up as a salad. The mangoes were a tad bit unripe and very firm, perfect for a salad. It was till very tart which I like, but I know if I had made this for my mom she would be squirming. If you can't handle the sourness then I would suggest marinading the mangoes in a lot of sugar. For proteins I used some left over cod, it would have been great if I had some sashimi grade fish to make a mango ceviche but maybe next time. For little time and effort, you can take dinner to a tropical paradise!

Ingredients:

2 firm mangoes (julienned)
1 red bell pepper (julienned)
2 small carrots (julienned)
1 red onions (thinly sliced)
1 lb of cod
a bunch of Thai basil (rough chopped)
a bunch of Vietnamese coriander (rough chopped)
1 lime
Thai chili to your liking
fish sauce
sugar
olive oil

1. Marinade the mango, carrot, bell pepper, and onions w
ith 3 tablespoon of sugar. Let sit int he fridge for about 1-2 hours.


2. Heat up some olive oil in frying pan. Pan-fry the cod but
try not to over cook it. Remove from and let cool.

3. Removed the mango mixture and drain all the excess liquid.
4. Break the cod into large chunks with your chopstick and add squeeze half a lime on it.
5. Add 1-1.5 tablespoon of fish sauce to the mango mixture, 1/2 a lime, and chili to your liking. Mix together well. Add more fish sauce if the mango is still too sour for your taste.
6. Add the cod chunks and the chopped basil and coriander.
7. Serve and enjoy!


Friday, February 25, 2011

Bo Tai Me - Tamarind Beef Salad


I saw a friend posted a picture of his Bo Tai Chanh on Facebook last night. I literally stared at the screen in a dazed, it looked amazing! I could not stop thinking about it all day, all I want is some of that fresh tender sliced beef marinated in that tangy dressing. I could taste the spicy coriander leaves, sweet juicy onions, and fresh roasted crushed peanuts just thinking about the dish. I wasn't going to fight myself so off to the grocery store I went.

Since I already posted a recipe for Bo Tai Chanh, I decided to make something very similar. A while ago I had a dish at a local Vietnamese restaurant called Bo Tai Me. It tasted very similar to Bo Tai Chanh but with a hint of Me (tamarind). Even though it was called Bo Tai Me, I could taste the lime juice and it somewhat overpowered the tamarind flavor. For this recipe I really want the tamarind to be the star, I used less lime and a lot of tamarind. I hope you enjoy this refreshing dish as much as I did.

Ingredients:

2 lb of thinly sliced beef (eye round will suffice)
3-4 pods of fresh tamarind removed from outer shell
1/2 large red onion thinly sliced
your choice of hot chili diced
a bunch of Vietnamese coriander leaves roughly chopped
crush peanuts
1/2 lime
fish sauce
sugar
vinegar

1. In a pot, bring the tamarind juice, fresh tamarind pod, and a 1/3 of the jar of tamarind concentrate to a boil.
2. Dip the 4-5 pieces of thinly slice beef into the tamarind boil for 5 second, remove and place in a mixing bowl. Repeat with the rest of the beef. I like my beef a little rare but everybody is different so how long you cook the beef is up to you.
3. Squeeze excess liquid from the beef, and have it ready in a mixing bowl.
4. Marinade the red onions with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar.
5. Mix 1 tablespoon of tamarind concentrate and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar together. This will be your dressing.
6. Add 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce and all of the tamarind dressing to your sliced beef, mix well.
7. Add the red onion and chili to the beef and mix again.
8. Taste and add additional fish sauce and tamarind concentrate if needed.
9. Right before you serve toss in the chopped coriander, and the juice of 1/2 a lime.
10. Top your salad with crushed roasted peanuts and more coriander leaves you like.

Serve and enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bun Mang Vit - Duck and Bamboo Vermicelli Noodle Soup


My dad is a major hoarder! Everyday he would come home with bags and bags of goodies or junk. Most of the time it's just whatever cheap he can find from Big Lots or K-mart. One day he drag home five frozen ducks from Aldi, yes I'm talking about the discount supermarket chain. Apparently they were only $6 for a whole duck! That weekend I came home for a visit and sure enough my mom put out the duck to thaw. She boil the duck in water to make a broth for Bun Mang Vit while I used the meat to make Goi Vit. Yes we were all skeptical but it turn out fantastic. The meat was tender and juicy, so much better and cheaper than what we would find at Meijer or even the Asian store. My dad was very happy that we all enjoyed the duck, in fact early the next morning he went back to Aldi to buy whatever was left. Since my mom had enough duck to last the whole winter I couldn't help snatching a few to take back with me.

Bun Mang Vit is one of my mom's favorite soup, my mom is a soup person so she has a lot of favorites. I consider it to be an easier soup to make because there is less ingredients to work with and less preparation. The hardest part about making this soup is probably working with the duck. Whole duck have a lot of fat, it's best that you trim most of it out or the soup will be very heavy to eat. I don't have much experience butchering a duck either as you will see in my pictures. The broth is made by simmering a whole duck with smashed ginger root and sliced bamboo. Since duck alone will not give enough natural sweetness to the broth, you can use additional pork bones or a can of chicken broth.  I prefer using dried bamboo from Vietnam over fresh bamboo from the States. I compare dried bamboo to pasta because you can achieve a chewy "al dente" texture. The smell of fresh bamboo can be really strong and I don't want it to overwhelm the broth. The broth to this soup is very simple, similar to a chicken broth with hints of ginger and bamboo. I always make a bowl of gingered fish sauce for Bun Mang Vit, it's great to dip the meat in and a teaspoon in every bowl enhances the soup.

Ingredients: (Makes about 4-5 bowls)


1/2 duck
1/2 lb of dried bamboo (don't use too much because it will expand)
1/2 lb of pork neck bones
1 large ginger
1 whole onion
water
salt
mushroom seasoning
rock sugar (the size of your thumb)
fish sauce
vermicelli rice noodle
green onions
cilantro
bean sprout

1. Rinse the dry bamboo with cold water.  Transfer to a pot and cover the bamboo with water.  You will need to boil the bamboo until tender.  Dry bamboo will give out a yellow/orange color.  If you want to achieve a clear broth, you'll want to change the water a couple time until the water doesn't turn too much color anymore. When the bamboo has soften, you'll want to discard any parts that are too chewy and then cut them into small strips.
2.  Par boil the pork bones and then rinse with plenty of water.  Set aside for later use.
3. Wash the duck with some salt and cut out as much fat as you can. Place duck in a 6 qt. pot (or a bigger pot if you are planning to use a whole duck)  and then fill with water.
4. Add some salt and let it come to a boil. Remove as much scum as you can.
5. Roast the ginger and onion in the oven.  Peel the skin after roasting. Smash the ginger in a mortar and pestle, this will bring out a lot of the juice. Add the smashed ginger and onion to the pot and let the duck cook fully.
6. Once the duck is fully cook, remove and let it cool down.
7.  Add the pork bones to the duck broth and fill the pot with more water.  Let pork bones simmer.
7. Add rock sugar , salt, and mushroom seasoning to the broth.  Continue to taste and add more salt if necessary.
8. Cut the duck into smaller section. You can throw meat back into the broth but I like to have them separate so I can eat it with the ginger fish sauce or eat it as a salad. I usually throw the bonier piece back into the pot.

9. Add the bamboo to the broth.  Taste with fish sauce if necessary.
10. Mince the green onions and cilantro.
11. Wash the bean sprouts.
12. Prepare gingered fish sauce.

Ginger Fish Sauce:

1/2 lime
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1/4 tablespoon of sugar
chili
1 section of ginger

1. I like to smash the ginger and chili together with a mortar and pestle.
2. Add the sugar, fish, sauce, and lime juice and mix.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Goi Cuon Thit Ba Roi - Vietnamese Summer Roll w/ Pork Belly

I'm sure many of you are already familiar with Goi Cuon so I won't write too much about it. Like I have said before I love just about anything roll in rice paper. This particular Summer Roll has thinly sliced pork belly, shrimp, vermicelli rice noodle, lettuce, cucumber, and Chinese chives. Most Vietnamese restaurant serve Summer Roll as an appetizer along with a hoison-peanut sauce, I always ask for nuoc mam cham (diluted fish sauce) instead. I'm one of those people that really appreciate a good batch of nuoc mam cham. I actually base restaurant on how well they prepare their nuoc mam cham. I really do see a correlation between how well restaurant cook their food and how well they prepare their fish sauce. Making the perfect fish sauce for dipping require a balance between sugar, lime, chili, water, and fish sauce, and if you can master that you definitely can balance the flavor in other food. I sure have a lot to say about nuoc mam cham therefore I will save that entry for another time.

Ingredients:

pork belly
tiger shrimp
vermicelli rice noodle
rice paper
lettuceEnglish cucumber
Chinese chives
nuoc mam cham

1. Boil a portion of pork belly in water until it is fully cooked. Remove, let it cooled, and then slice thinly.
2. Boil the dry vermicelli rice noodle in water.
3. Cook shrimp the shrimp, in water or microwave, and then cut in half.
4. Wash the lettuce and chives and let it dry.
5. Thinly slice the cucumber into flat strips.

To Roll:

1. Have a bowl of hot water ready.
2. Reconstitute the rice paper in hot water and wait until it's flexible again.
3. Add the remaining ingredient be careful not to over stuff. Fold the two side toward the middle and then roll foward.

Serve with nuoc mam cham and enjoy!

Com Tam Suon Bi Trung - Broken Rice w/ Pork Chops, Shredded Pork, and Egg

My room mate mistakenly brought a bag of broken rice instead of the regular jasmine rice. I took it as a sign to finally write an entry about Com Tam. While I was in Vietnam, I love waking up to the smell of grilled pork chops. One of my grandparent's neighbor actually sells Com Tam for a living. Com Tam is a plate of broken rice topped with grilled pork chops amongst other things. The usual suspects for Com Tam is usually bi, cha, and trung opla but I have seen grilled shrimp, tofu, stuffed bean curd, and Chinese sausage. Whenever we are making Com Tam we like to set up a buffet of toppings and then you would just go around the table and build your Com Tam platter the way you like it. I like mine with just pork chops, bi, cha, and lots of good fish sauce.

Ingredients:

broken rice
4-5 pork chops (don't get them too thick)
bi
eggs
tomatoes/cucumber/lettuce (optional)
pickled vegetables (optional)
prepared fish sauce
cooking oil
2 stalk green onion
minced lemongrass
minced garlic
brown sugar
oyster sauce
mushroom seasoning
fish sauce


1. Marinade the pork chops with 1/2 tablespoon of minced lemongrass, 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar, a pinch of mushroom seasoning, and a couple squirt of fish sauce. Marinade over night if you can.
2. Make the bi.
3. Cook a batch of broken rice the same way you would make regular rice.
4. Finely minced the green onions.
5. Heat up 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add the green onion and sauteed until fragrance but do not let it burn.
6. Pan fry your pork chops and eggs to your liking.
7. Place some broken rice on a plate, brush some of the green onions and oil on the rice. Add the pork chop, bi, eggs, slices of tomatoes and cucumber, and lettuce. Brush on additional green onions and oil. Serve along with a bowl of prepare fish sauce, enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vietnamese Herbs

Herb is a very important element of Vietnamese cuisine. Herbs are not just for garnish but it enhances the taste and smell of each dish. A bowl of pho is not the same without a couple leaves of Thai basil. You simply cannot replace Vietnamese coriander with any other herb when you make Goi Ga. Each herb has a specific aroma and taste that compliment and complete a dish. In this entry I will only reference the best usage for specific herbs when preparing Vietnamese food. I do not have pictures for everything yet but will continue to update. Please visit Vietherbs if you would like more detailed information and pictures.

Hung Que (Thai Basil)

Soup: Pho, Bun Bo Hue
Salad: Goi Du Du, Bo Tai Chanh, Goi Ngo Sen, Goi Xoai Xanh
Others: Banh Cuon, Cha Gio

Rau Ram (Vietnamese Coriander)

Soup: Banh Canh Cua, Canh Ca Chua
Salad: Goi Ga, Goi Vit, Goi Do Bien, Hen Suc Banh Trang, Ga Xe Phay
Others: Seafood, Hot Vit Lon, Tiet Canh

Tia To (Vietnamese Perilla):
Usually an accompaniment for soups with seafood and it does goes very well with blood cubes.

Soup: Bun Rieu, Canh Bun, Bun Oc
Others: Doi Tiet

He (Chinese Chives)
Soup: Canh Dau Hu, Hu Tieu, Mi
Others: Goi Cuon, Gia Xao, Mien Xao, Mi Xao

Ngo Gai (Sawtooth Cilantro)
Soup: Pho, Mien Ga, Chao Long
Salad: Goi Do Bien, Tiet Canh

Ngo (Cilantro)
Chopped cilantro is often mixed together with green onions to topped off most soups

Ti La (Vietnamese Dill)
Soup: Canh Ca Ca Chua, Canh Khoai So
Others: Cha Ca Thang Long