Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ga Xao Xa Ot - Lemon Grass Chicken

If you like sweet and savory flavors with a kick, you will love Vietnamese lemongrass chicken!  This is a dish you will find at most Vietnamese restaurants but it just never taste as good as homemade because they just  never make it spicy or aromatic enough.  I love using lots to of minced lemongrass because lemongrass smells amazing and it's even better when you stir fry chicken and lemongrass together and let all the flavors melds.

I would highly recommend using bone in and skin on chicken, instead of just chicken meat.  If you don't want to butcher the whole chicken you can definitely just use chicken wings. 


2 lbs of chicken of whatever cut you like
1/2 cup minced lemongrass 
1 shallot minced
1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
1 tablespoon of crushed Thai chili( add this your liking base on your preference)
1 table turmeric powder
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
fresh chili 

1.  Marinade chicken with 1 tablespoon of turmeric, 2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning, 1 shallot minced, crushed Thai chili to your liking, and 2 tablespoon of cooking oil.  Marinade for 1-2 hours.  
2.  Heat up a good amount of oil in a wok and start browning your chicken on low-medium heat.  Make sure you turn your chicken so ensure all sides will get brown.
3.  Once chicken are brown, season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, and approximately 1 tablespoon of sugar.  If you like your food sweeter you can always add more sugar to your liking a little bit at a time.
4.  Add minced lemongrass to the chicken and turn up the heat.   Start stir frying the chicken and minced lemongrass to melds the flavors together.
5.  Add more cooking oil to the chicken if needed.
6.  Continue to the stir fry until lemongrass is fragrance and become crispy.
7.  Add fresh chili at the very end for more heat.
8.  Enjoy with steamed rice!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goi Du Du Kho Bo - Beef Jerky Papaya Salad

My family is very fond of this salad, unfortunately we do not have access to good Vietnamese beef jerky in the Midwest.  This recipe calls for a specific kind of beef jerky.  It's red in color and it's wet not dry like what you would think.  My aunt uses the Bach Cuc brand she get from out of state.  I recently visited Seattle and notice the same brand at the Vietnamese market in Seattle.  Even though it's $10 per package, I just had to get a few bag to bring home.  Thai basil is also a must have for this dish, you cannot substitute basil for another herb.  You only have to worry about three ingredients; Thai basil, green papaya, and Vietnamese beef jerky. 


Hand downs, this is the easiest Vietnamese salad to make.  There is literally no cooking involve, except to boil some water to make the sauce.  You just prepare all the raw ingredients, cut the beef jerky into strips, and then prepare the sauce.  The hardest part to this recipe is making the sauce, it's always the sauce!  I've tried quite a few sauces from restaurants and my aunt, and it never quite satisfy my taste buds.  So I've experimented a few time and came up with something I like very much and it was well received by my family.  I hope you will enjoy this easy and refreshing salad, just in time for summer!


1 green papaya julienned
Thai basil rough chopped
Vietnamese beef jerky

1.  Soak the julienned papaya in water.  Papaya tend to very slimy, so you'll want to change the water a couple time.
2. Once the the papaya is clean and ready to eat, you'll want to squeeze all the excess water out of it.  The best way is to use paper towel to help absorb the water.  Place the already squeezed papaya in a clean container.
3.  Remove beef jerky from package and cut the jerky in smaller strips.
4.  Prepare the sauce, recipe below.
5.  Put some already prepared papaya in on a plate, top off with some chopped Thai basil and beef jerky strips.  When you are ready to eat add the sauce to your liking, mix, and enjoy!

How to make the sauce:

1/4 cup of water
1-2 clove of garlic
2 tablespoon of sugar
1.5 tablespoon of soy sauce
3/4 tablespoon of rice vinegar
fresh chili or chili paste

1.  Crush the garlic with a mortar and pestle (or a knife).
2.  You'll want to cook the garlic into the water on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
3.  Discard the garlic and just keep the garlic infused water.  Remove to a bowl.
4.  Add the sugar, soy sauce, and rice vinegar to the water.  Mix everything together.
5.  Add chili to your liking for some heat.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Banh Canh Cua - Crab Noodle Soup

Even though I have already posted a recipe for Banh Canh Cua, this version is more authentic. The other version is like a quick fix, this version will take some time but it's definitely worth the extra effort.

The other day I went to our local supermarket looking for ingredients to make dinner. I wasn't really looking for any specific ingredients, kinda hoping something would jump out at me. As I was walking through the seafood section, I notice a sign, "wild caught stone crabs". They were running a stone crab claws special for $7.99 a lb. There were around 4-5 five claws per package and each package ran around $7-$8. I knew this is what I have to make for dinner, so I grabbed five packages with the largest claws.

After coming home, my sister-in-law looked through our freezer outside and dug up two dungeness crab parts. We use the meat a couple weeks ago to make Tamarind Crabs, and save the head with all the eggs for later use. There was no other option, these ingredients screamed Banh Canh Cua.

Instead of buying premade noodles, I wanted to make the noodles from scratch out of rice and tapioca flours. Again this took extra time but it's really not hard. It taste so much better than the premade noodles. The broth is a little tricky because I use some left over ingredients and then frozen stone crabs. The frozen stone crabs are already cooked so it's not going to give off a lot of crab flavor. Using mushroom will also give sweetness and lots of flavor to the broth. If you do not have access to stone crabs just use two whole dungeness crabs. On some occasion, Costo sells whole frozen dungeness crab for around $10 each.

For this recipe, I'm going to list what I did with my ingredients (5 lbs of stone crabs claws and 2 head parts of the two dungeness crabs). Since most people will not have the heads of two dungeness crabs laying around, I'm also going to list the procedure if you were going to use two whole dungeness crabs. I'll try not to sound confusing but please let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!

3 cups of rice flour
2 1/2 cups of tapioca flour
1/2 cups to the side
boiling water
a big bowl
wooden spoon
rolling pin

1. Sift together 3 cups of rice flour and 2.5 cups of tapioca flour.
2. Slowly add boiling water a little bit at a time to the flour mixture. With a wooden spoon work the flour and boiling water together. You want to add enough water to form a dough that you can knead and then flatten.
3. Once you have achieve a texture where you can mold the dough, split the dough into smaller balls (about the size of racketball).
4. Use the rolling pin to flatten the dough balls and then cut the flatten dough in half. With a knife cut the half sheet of dough into 1 cm strips.
5. Store the noodle in a container and sprinkle tapioca flour in between noodles so it doesn't stick together. The additional tapioca flour will help thicken soup later too.


2 lbs of pork neck bones
5 lbs of stone crabs
the hard shell and it's content to two dungeness crabs
1 teaspoon of of minced shallots
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
cooking oil
4 cup of mushroom quarters
rock sugar
mushroom seasoning
fish sauce
green onions

1. Steam the stone crab claws and save the liquid that is produced. Let the claws cool.
2. Preboil the pork bones with a good amount of salt. Re
move the pork from the dirty liquid and rinse under cold water.
3. Transfer the pork bones in a big pot filled with water. Let bones simmer in water up to 2 hours.
4. If you are using dungeness crabs, you want to remove the hard shell and scrape as much of the yellow content from the shell. You then would want to steam the crab meats and save the crab liquid for later.
5. Add the dungeness shell I just cleaned out into the broth. Add all the liquid produce from steaming the crabs.
6. Taste the broth with salt, rock sugar, and mushroo
m seasoning.
7. Heat up some cooking oil in pan and fragrance the minced garlic and shallots.
8. Add the head/egg content of the two dungeness crabs to the garlic and shallots. Sauteed the egg content until fragrance.
9. Add the content to the broth, which will give the broth some color.
10. Add the mushroom.
11. Taste the broth with additional fish sauce if needed.
12. Crack the claws and remove the meat.

13. Rough chopped the green onions and cilantro for garnish.
14. Like the previous recipe, you should prepare each bowl individually. Whenever you want to cook up a bowl, transfer the broth to a separate pot. Once the broth comes to a boil add the noodle and then turn down the heat. Make sure you stir the noodle around with a spoon or it's going to stick to the bottom. The noodle and extra tapioca powder will thicken the broth so add additional broth if needed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thit Bo Xao Dua Chua - Beef Sauteed with Pickled Mustard Green

My mom makes the best dua chua (pickled mustard green), I swear i'm not bias! I have eaten others and it never compares to my mom. It always lack one of the following; texture, color, or taste. Good dua chua must come out crunchy, if there is no crunch when you bite into it something went wrong during the pickling process. The color should be yellowish green, like an olive green. Finally it should taste sour and not too bitter. She knows I love her dua chua, so every time I visit she has a tub for me to take home.

There are a lot of different ways to use dua chua in Vietnamese cooking but my favorite is to sauteed it with beef. A while ago one of my reader asked me to post a recipe on canh dua chua (pickled mustard green soup). I will get to that recipe the next time I have access to my mom's dua chua.

For this recipe you want to use a fatty cut of beef with a little bit of tendons, I like to use beef chuck. Not only will it give the dish more flavor but I just love the chewy texture with the crunchy mustard green. During Lent I also like sauteing pickled mustard green with squids, I will save that for a future post.

I have to say there's something very addicting about dua chua. The dua chua give a sourness to your dish that is very pleasing to our taste buds. The liquid that is produce from the pickled mustard green and beef marry together and become this wonderful sauce. I can seriously just eat the sauce alone with white rice and you can still taste the beef and pickled mustard green.


1 lb of beef chuck cut into thin strips
2 cups of pickled mustard green
2 medium tomatoes (cut into smaller chunks)
4 stalk of onions (cut down to 1 inch)
2 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 teaspoon of minced shallots
fish sauce
cooking oil

1. Marinade the beef with the garlic, shallots, and 3 tablespoon of fish sauce for about 30 minutes.
2. Heat up cooking oil in a pan/wok.
3. Once the pan is hot enough add the beef and stir. You don't have to cook it all the way through but enough to brown the outside.
4. Add the pickled mustard green to the beef and add 3 additional tablespoon of fish sauce.
5 At this point there should be a lot of liquid produce in the pan by the beef and pickled mustard green. Let the beef and pickled mustard green braise in the liquid on medium to low heat for about 10 minutes.
6. Add the tomatoes and let it cook down.
7. At the very end add the green onions.
8. Enjoy with a bowl of rice!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ga Kho Gung - Chicken Braised in Ginger and Caramel Sauce

Ga Kho Gung is a dish that brings a lot of laughs to my family. My mom goes to work really early in the morning and she usually wake up extra early to prepare lunch in advance for my the rest of the family. On occasion when she doesn't get the chance to cook in the morning my dad becomes the cook for that day. Even though my dad has great taste in food, he cannot cook. Whenever I come home after school and see fried eggs and boiled green beans on the dining room table, I know my dad made lunch that day. Sometimes it's edible, other times it's not. My dad likes to flavor his cooking with only one ingredients, salt. My mom and I always have a good laugh anytime my dad cooks.

One afternoon I came home from school to a huge pot of ga kho gung. It was incredibly good! When my mom came home from work I complimented her pot of ga kho gung. She, however, did not make the ga kho that day. We both thought for sure it cannot be my dad, but who else could it be? The next day, I praised my dad on his ga kho. It made him really happy to hear that both my mom and I love his ga kho. When I came home after school that day, my dad had made another pot of ga kho. Again it was delicious. The next day I told him again he did a great job on this chicken. After school of that day, again there was another pot of ga kho. My dad made ga kho FIVE days in a row! Even my brothers, who never really have much to say about food were getting tired of chicken. That weekend we had an emergency family meeting with my dad. No more ga kho please! My dad learned a valuable lesson that day, less is more. Recently, my sister-in-law reported that my dad had pulled another ga kho week at home. It made me laugh but that's my dad!

The process to make Ga Kho Gung is very similar to Thit Heo Kho. You basically braise the chicken in the same caramel sauce and then add ginger. The ginger turn the caramel sauce into a totally different flavor. This is a great recipe if you like spicy food, adding chilli powder to the chicken elevate the flavor even more.


3 lbs of chicken of your choice (fat trimmed , chopped into smaller chunk with the bones)
2  knob of ginger (julienned
2 shallot (minced)
fish sauce
mushroom seasoning
black pepper
vegetable oil
chicken broth or water
crushed chili (optional)

1.  Wash the chicken thoroughly or you can even par boil it.  If parboil drain and rinse.  
2. Marinade the chicken with the minced shallot, julienned ginger, 4 tablespoon of fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning, 3 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and crushed chili to liking . Let chicken marinade for an hour or so.

3. Heat up a pot on medium heat.  Add the marinated chicken and start cooking on medium heat.  Turn meat as needed to brown the surface.

4. In a small sauce pan, caramelized 1 tablespoon of sugar.  When the sugar turn dark brown add 1 tablespoon of water and stir together to become a liquid.  Add liquid to the pot of chicken.  Make sure every pieces of the chicken is coated with the sauce. The caramel sauce should give the chicken some color.

5. Add enough liquid to the pot (2 cups of water or chicken broth) to braise the chicken (enough liquid to barely cover the chicken).

6. Cook on medium heat until the liquid is reduce and chicken is tender ( about an hour). 
7. Once the cooking process is done, top some black pepper on top.
8.  Serve with white rice and enjoy!