Friday, February 28, 2014

Homemade Banh Beo - Steamed Rice cakes with Shrimp Flakes


Out of all the steamed cakes Vietnam has to offer, Banh Beo is definitely in my top three.  Banh Beo originated from Hue city in central Vietnam, but loved throughout Vietnam.  The rice cakes are made from steaming a rice flour batter in little bowls.  Once the batter has cooked we then pile on fine shrimp flakes.  Other common toppings associated with Banh Beo are oil scallion, ground mung beans, and roasted bread.  You can eat it them in individual bowls or the rice cakes can be transfer to a plate.  Banh Beo can be unique to certain city, therefore preparation of toppings and sauce may differ.  Like most rice cakes Banh Beo is eaten with prepared fish sauce, I prefer eating them with a light and sweet fish sauce so I can slurp everything up.

About 5 years ago I learned that my soon to be sister-in-law is from Hue.  Knowing that she will be moving to the Midwest where Vietnamese food is non-existent, I decided to learn a few specialties of central Vietnam so she won't feel so homesick.  I was lucky to be able to learn how to make Banh Bot Loc from my friend's mother.  As for Banh Beo, my first attempt was following the directions on the back of a bag of pre-mixed flour.  It was pretty successful but I know the rice cakes could have been better.  My mother often mix extra ingredients whenever she use a pre-mixed flour bag to make Banh Cuon so I thought I test it out.  After many ups and downs in the kitchen, I have found a recipe which I am very satisfy with the texture of the rice cakes. Every bite is soft and chewy!

I do not make Banh Beo very often because it is very time consuming.  Nowadays I usually only make it when i'm home and with my sister-in-law, because we have develop a pretty efficient system over the years.  I posted a recipe for Banh Beo before using pre-mixed flour package a several years ago, I finally got around to writing an entry this new recipe.   I love and cherish this recipe very much so enjoy!

Batter For the Rice Cakes:

3 cups of rice flour
1 cup of tapioca flour
5 cups of water
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Steamer
Little shallow bowls

1.  Mix all the ingredients together and let sit a couple hours to let the flour expand.  I like to mix the flour the night before and use it the next day.
2.  Before steaming make sure you stir the flour mixture again because it may have clumped up.
3.  Add water to your steamer and heat it up.
4.  Brush some cooking oil onto the little bowls and ladle in the rice flour mixture.  How much goes into the bowls depends on how thin you like your cakes to be.
5. Transfer to steamer and let cook for about 5 minutes or until cakes are firm.  Remove and let it cool a bit.

Toppings:
1 lb of shrimp ( I use Argentina shrimp that is naturally more orange, I usually do not add any coloring to my shrimp)
4-5 green onions (minced)
4-5 carrots julienned (optional I like eating pickled carrots with Banh Beo)
cooking oil
vinegar
sugar
fish sauce
water
fresh chili

1.  Wash and peel the shrimps.
2.  Heat up some cooking oil in a pan.  On low heat, cook the shrimp in the oil.  Once cooked remove to paper towel to soak up some of that oil.
3.  Smash the shrimp flat with a pestle on a cutting board.  And then use your hand to shred down the shrimp even more.
4. Transfer shrimp to a non stick pan (NO oil is needed) on low to medium heat.  Stir the shrimp meat until it dries up.  Transfer to a bowl.
5.  Marinade the julienned carrots with half a cup of sugar and 3 tablespoon of vingear.  Mix together, this is how I made super fast pickled carrots.
6.  Heat up some cooking oil in a pan, add the minced green onions.  Let onions cook in the oil.  Transfer to a bowl.
7.  Add 2.5 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of sugar.  Let cool.  Add fish sauce, lime, and fresh chili to the sugar water to make a sauce.

How to Prepare your Banh Beo:

Spread some scallion oil on top of the rice cakes, and then shrimp. Pour lots of fish sauce and pickled carrots on top and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mi Xao Bo - Stir Fried Egg Noodle with Beef


Having to work at a few Asian restaurants in my lifetime has taught me a few tricks on stir-frying.  I'm glad I was able to learn a few technique that I can use at home.  Mi xao is a pretty simple dish to make but if you want restaurant quality mi xao that's going to take a few extra steps.  Like many noodle dishes such as Pad Thai and Hu Tieu Xao, I like my mi xao a certain way.  The noodle and vegetables must be firm, can't tell you enough how much I dislike mushy noodle and vegetable in anything stir-fried.  The best way for all the components in your mi xao to cook perfectly is to cook them separately.  That's the reason why it requires a few extra step but I assure you it's worth the effort.

Ingredients:

1 bag of fresh chow mein
1 lb of eye round beef (sliced)
1 bag of Chinese broccoli (Cai Lan)
2-3 carrots
1 pack of mushroom
2 tablespoon of minced garlic
oyster sauce
fish sauce
soy sauce
ground pepper
salt
sugar
vegetable oil

1.  Marinade the sliced beef with 2 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
2.  Wash and prepare your vegetables so that they will stir-fry more easily.
3.  Boil a pot of water (enough for all your vegetables) and add 1/2 tablespoon of salt.  Have a big bowl filled with some ice water ready.  Once the pot of water have come to a boil, add your vegetables to the pot.  Removed the vegetables after about 30 second and drain all the hot water.  Transfer the veggies into the bowl with ice.  This will stop the vegetables from cooking any further and ensure that your vegetables will stay crispy.  After a minute drain the vegetables from the iced water.
4.  Boil water in a pot.  We will use this pot to heat up the noodle and let it cook gradually through steaming.  If you cook the noodles all the way now, it will be mushy after stir-frying it later.  Once the pot of water have come to a boil, add the noodles to the pot for about 15 second and make sure all the noodles have submerge under the boiling water.  After 15 seconds drain the hot water and just let the noodles cook gradually in the steam.  Make sure you toss the noodles so that it doesn't stick together especially the bottom batch.
5.  Heat up some cooking oil in a wok.  Add the marinaded beef and stir-fry.  When you are stir frying make sure the heat is on the highest setting and you are constantly stirring everything so it doesn't burn. Once the meat has cooked about 70%, add the vegetables.   Season everything with 1 teaspoon of salt.  Stir-fry everything together until all the ingredients is well seasoned.  Remember the vegetables has been pre-cooked, the purpose of stir-frying now is to season you do not want to overcook the vegetables.  Transfer beef and vegetables to a separate bowl.
6.  Heat up about 1/4 cup of cooking oil in  wok.  Add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to the oil.  Add the noodle to the wok, make sure the heat is on the highest setting.  Stir and mix the noodles in the oil and garlic. Add about 1/4  tablespoon of fish sauce and 2 teaspoon of soy sauce to the noodles and  mix.  The beef and vegetables from before should have produce some liquid.  Spoon that liquid to the noodles to season it, don't do it all at once.  Just a couple spoonful to coat the noodles.  Make sure the heat is still on high and you are constantly moving the noodles around.  Once you have season the noodle well turn off the heat.
7.  Drain the access liquid from the beef and vegetables, and then add the beef and vegetable mixture to the noodles.  Mix so that everything is evenly distributed.
8.  Transfer to a plate topped off with some ground pepper and enjoy!