Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bo Bia -Jicama Spring Rolls

I love just about every single spring rolls in existence, from pork belly to baked fish.  Bo bia, on the other hand, I didn't really care for it much.  I can't remember eating them a lot growing up, therefore I never crave for them.  Last year during a family reunion, my aunt had bo bia on the menu.  The females of the family got together to form an assembly line to make bo bia.  A few people were in charge of rolling them, while others were in charge of wrapping them up so they will stay fresh, and some were in charge of re-stocking the fillings.  It was a lot of fun being in the kitchen with my family!  We joked around declaring who were the worst rollers, and we were all so hungry at the time too.  Anytime someone's roll were deemed ugly, that roll was alright to eat at that instant.  We definitely took advantage of that and soon everybody started messing up on purpose.  My aunt and mom finally caught on when we kept asking for more fillings.  Ever since that day, I became very fond of bo bia!

Bo bia is made with a variety of ingredients; sauteed jicama, Chinese sausage, eggs, sauteed dried prawns, lettuce, and mint leaves.  Prepared fish sauce is my dip of choice for most spring rolls but bo bia is the only exception.  Bo bia is best eaten with a peanut-hoison sauce.  This type of sauce is richer but it's a nice balance with all the vegetables in the roll.

Ingredients:

3 jicama
2 carrots
1 cup of dried prawns
4-5 Chinese sausage link
5 eggs
salt
peanut butter
hoisin sauce
vegetable oil
paprika
chili paste
lettuce
mint leaves or cilantro
rice paper

1.  Rehydrate the dried prawns in warm water.  Once it has soften, sauteed the prawns in oil.
2.  Julienne the jicamas and carrots.  Sauteed them in a little bit of oil until tender and season with salt.
3.  Boil the sausage link in water until fully cooked and then thinly slice the sausage diagonally
4.  Beat the eggs and then fry them very thinly as if you are making crepes.  Once your eggs are fried, slice them in thin strips.
5.  Prepare your lettuce and mints/cilantro.  Chop them up and then mix them together.
6.  Lay out all the ingredients and get ready to roll.
7.  In a sauce pan, cook about a teaspoon of paprika in cooking oil on low heat.  Be careful not to burn the paprika.
8.  Once the paprika has dissolved into the oil, add 1/4 of peanut butter and 1 cup of hoisin sauce.  Stir in enough water so that the sauce is not too this (about 2-3 cups).  Let everything marry on low heat.
9.  Add chili paste or chili oil for some heat.
10.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pho Chay - Vegetarian Pho

There was a period of time when I wanted to ease myself into vegetarian cooking.  It was healthier and of course you feel a bit more humane.  It didn't last very long, however, I just miss eating steaks and seafood too much. I, however, got one thing out of it, I had lots practice with making pho chay.  I really admire vegetarian cooking, especially Vietnamese vegetarian dishes.  A lot of times it taste so much similar to the original dish and taste so good that you hardly notice the meat is missing.  

With any soups, the most important factor is the broth.  I use a lot of roots vegetables to make the broth for pho such as; daikons, carrots, leeks, cabbage, onions, and ginger.  You'll want to cook these vegetables down until they basically fall apart, and then remove them from the broth.  You will attain a very subtle and sweet broth and the only thing you will need to season the broth is salt and spices you use to make traditional pho.  Instead of meats, I use tofu, mock meats, and more vegetables.  You'll want to sauteed the tofu and mock meats with some soy sauce and sugar so it's not bland in the soup. I lightly blanch my favorite vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, baby corn, and mushroom to add to the soup.  Make sure you season each component well; the broth, the "meats", and the vegetables.  

I would totally choose traditional pho over pho chay any day of the week but it's nice having options for certain occasions.  When lent come around, I have another noodle soup option. When you are feeling ill and in need of something light and warm, pho chay is a great option.  Are you having vegetarian guests for dinner? You can't go wrong with introducing Vietnam's most famous soup pho, but vegetarian style.  Hope you will find this recipe helpful in the future, enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cabbage
1 daikon
3-6 medium carrots
1 leek
1 onion
1 ginger
broccoli
mushroom
baby corn
tofu
canned mock meat (optional, get the one without added flavoring)
star anise
cinnamon
cloves
pho noodles
green onions
lime
cilantro
salt
sugar
mushroom seasoning
soy sauce

How to make the broth:

1.  Wash and prepare the cabbage, daikon, and about 3 carrots.  Put these ingredients in a 6 quart pot and fill it up with water.  Let the vegetables cook down in the broth and then season with sugar, salt, and soy sauce, and mushroom seasoning. Once the vegetables fall apart or has cooked down enough, remove the vegetable.  
2.  Broil the ginger and onion in the oven. Remove any skins and then add to the pot as well.
3.  Roast the spices in the oven, you'll need about 2 cinnamon stick, 5 star anise, and 4 cloves.  Add the spices towards the end when the broth is done and ready.  Remove the spices after 15 minutes. 

The "Meats" and Vegetable:

1.  Cut the tofu and meats to bite size.  Heat up some cooking oil in a pan, and sauteed the tofu and mocked meats with some soy sauce and a little bit of sugar.  Make sure you seasoned it well and the tofu is cooked all way.   
2. Cut up the broccoli and carrots and mushroom.  Blanch all them and the baby corn in boiling water and add enough salt to give the vegetable some taste on their own.  If you prefer more flavor, you can sauteed the vegetables with soy sauce and sugar just like the tofu.

Assembling:

1.  Prepare the pho noodles, lime, and garnish for the soup.
2.  Put noodles in a bowl, add the tofu, mocked meat, and vegetables on top.  Add hot broth and then topped off with the garnish.  
3.  Add hoison and sriracha to your liking, and enjoy!