Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hen Tron Banh Trang - Clam Sauteed w/ Sesame Rice Cracker

I had the opportunity to try this delicious dish in Hoi An.  The baby clams were fresh picked from the river earlier that morning. The meat was so sweet and firm, not something I can find at home.   The clams were lightly sauteed with no seasoning just some fresh onions. It was eaten with rice cracker and mam nem (fermented fish sauce). Even though I was already full from breakfast and lunch, I pretty much inhaled a plate within 3 minutes.  

Whenever I make this at home,  I usually have to settle with canned clams or frozen clams. While it no longer has its natural sweet flavor, I still prefer using frozen clams because it has better texture than canned clams.  I use fresh minced garlic and shallots to help fragrance the clams and just a tad of fish sauce to season.  I also like adding some julienned green mangoes for tartness and freshness. For the sauce you'll want to dilute the mam nem with fresh lime juice, sugar, crushed garlic, and fresh chili.  The sauce can be eaten on the side but a lot of times I just mix some in because everybody in my family loves mam nem.  If you prefer to omit the mam nem, I would use more fish sauce when seasoning the clams. Of course this dish cannot be complete without Vietnamese coriander (rau ram), crushed peanuts, and fresh chili.   Enjoy!

1 pack of frozen baby clams
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of minced shallots
1 stalk of green onion minced
1/2 green mango (julienned)
chopped Vietnamese coriander
fresh chili
crushed peanuts
sesame rice cracker
cooking oil
fish sauce

3 tablespoon of mam nem
2 teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 of fresh lime (juice)
chili (your preference

1.  Thaw out the frozen clams.   The clam has absorb a lot of water you'll want to squeeze out as much as you can.
2.  Heat up cooking oil in a pan.  Add the minced garlic and shallots and cook until fragrance.  Add the clams and green onions.  Season lightly with fish sauce and sugar.  Transfer to a bowl.  
3.  Prepare mango, coriander, sauce, rice cracker, peanuts.
4.  Add green mango and fresh chilies to the clams and toss.  At this point you can add prepared mam nem or serve it on the side.   
5.  Transfer to a serving plate topped with crushed peanuts, chopped coriander, and additional fresh chilies.  Rice cracker
on the side.
6.  Scoop clams with rice cracker and enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Rau Muong Tron Thit Bo - Beef Water Spinach Salad

Firstly I like to wish everybody a happy new year!  May 2014 bring you lots of luck, love, prosperity, laughter, and of course good food!  I'm sorry for my absence but it was much needed.  I got the opportunity to travel so I disconnected myself from all social media and just appreciate what was in front of me.  This upcoming year marks my 6th year blogging, thank you everybody for your support all these years.  I can't wait to share new recipes inspired from my travels.

I'm a huge fan of Vietnamese drinking food.  Whenever I'm on vacation, I always look for a good restaurant to "nhau".  Nhau refers to getting together to eat and drink.  Getting together to drink is a way of life for Vietnamese men, they often get together several times a week.  They meet each other at a small restaurant that specialize in a specific protein.  Men sit for hours slowly drinking and enjoying delicious food.  You rarely see women at those type of establish but why deprive yourself from good food?

Rainier BBQ in Seattle, Washington is one of my personal favorite.  They have a variety of drinking food and everything I've tried has been pretty good.  One of my favorite dish is a beef salad with rau muong (water spinach).  It reminds me of Bo Tai Chanh another one of my favorite.  It's so refreshing with the finely julienned water spinach stem and dressed in a tangy dressing.  It's so addicting to eat, one serving is never enough!  The best part is how easy you can recreate this dish at home.  If anyone is complaining about eating too much salads this is the one you need to try!  I hope you like my interpretation is flavorful dish, enjoy!


water spinach stem (julienned)
1 lb beef (thinly sliced)
1/2 onion (finely sliced)
garlic (minced)
shallots (minced)
fresh chili
fresh mint leaves (rough chopped)
fish sauce
cooking oil

1.  Prepare the water spinach.  There is a tool you can use to julienned your water spinach easily.  Or you can use a razor but that require a little experience. http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2007/06/water-spinach-s.html  Let it soak in water so it will curls and then drain completely.
2.  You can use eye round beef if you prefer lean meat but I like some texture and fat so I used rib eye.  Marinade the beef with garlic, shallots, and fish sauce (~2 tablespoon).
3.  Marinade the slice onion with 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 tablespoon of vinegar.
4.  For the dressing combine 5 tablespoon of sugar, 4 tablespoon of lime juice, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, and 5 tablespoon of fish sauce.  The sauce should be sweet, tangy, and salty.  You can add more sugar, vinegar, and fish sauce to your liking.  Make sure you mix the sauce well so the sugar dissolves.
5.  Heat up a frying pan with some oil and cook the beef.  I cook mine about medium rare, the dressing will cook it some more.
6.  Mix the water spinace, sliced onions, and mint leaves together.  Move it to a serving platter.  Pour the meat mixture on top, and then the dressing on top.  I use about half the dressing, and reserve the remainder for later if needed.
7.  Top with chopped chili and more mint leaves if prefer.
8.  Toss lightly before eating, enjoy!