Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cháo Gà - Chicken Congee



When I was little I always correlate chao with being sick.  Supposedly you are not suppose to eat anything fatty or overly seasoned because it might irritate your stomach while your sick.  Therefore when I was sick my mom makes chao with very little seasoning and no meats, it totally scarred my taste buds.  I don't think I ever liked eating chao until I reach my 20s when I finally learn how to cook it myself.  Chao doesn't have to be bland, remember you control the seasoning and flavors when you cook.  I will show you a few tricks that will give your chao wonderful flavors and aromas!

Everybody likes chao a certain way!  Some people like it very watery and the rice grain still intact while others like the rice grain to be cooked down into a thick paste like consistency.  I love my chao to be cooked down completely, in which you can't even see any sign of the rice grain or liquid, as if the rice and the broth has become one.  The best way to achieve this is to avoid washing your rice, rice is covered in starch which will naturally thicken your broth.  Add unwashed rice straight to the broth.  Be patience and let your rice grain cook down until it disintegrate into the broth.


I like my chao to be well seasoned and aromatic from ginger, garlic, and shallot.  And like most soups, the best way to bring out the flavors from your roots is to roast them before ending them to the broth.  The best way to season chao is with just salt, that will give your chao enough taste without overpowering like fish sauce will.  

Ingredients: 

2 cornish hen or 8 drumsticks 
4 quarts of water 
1 cup of rice 
2 knob of giner
2 shallots
3 garlic 
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1/4 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
chopped green onions/cilantro/onions mixture 
ground black pepper
fried shallots
fresh chili 

1.  Par boil the chickens and drain the dirty water.  Rinse chicken clean with cool water.
2.  Add clean chicken to pot with 4 quart of water to cook the chicken.   Add the salt and mushroom seasoning.  
3.  Roast your roots either in the oven or in  pan on the stovetop.


4.  Add the roasted ginger to the broth.
5.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove from broth and set chicken aside.
6.  Add the rice to the broth along with the roasted garlic,shallots, and sugar.  Let rice cook down on medium heat.  It will be faster if you cover with lid.  Every now and then scrape the bottom of the pot to ensure rice isn't sticking to the bottom.
7.  Once chicken has cooled, remove bones and shred into smaller pieces.  
8.  Taste your chao, add additional salt if needed.  
9.  Once the rice has cooked down to your liking, add the chicken to the chao.


10.  Your chao is done!  Enjoy with garnishes to your liking and ground black pepper.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chả Trứng - Vietnamese Egg Pie



Chả Trứng has many identities such as egg pie, egg cake, egg loaf, Vietnamese quiche.  You can call it whatever you want but we all know what you mean, the yellow square or triangle that come along with Vietnamese pork chop ' Cơm Sườn'.  Honestly sometimes i'm totally content with eating egg pie, hot rice, and sweet fish sauce!


This is a simple recipe with ground pork, dried wood ear mushroom, bean thread, eggs, and green onions.  Since I always end up drowning it with sweet fish sauce I do a simple season of salt, pepper, and sugar. You can either steam this on the stove top or bake this in the oven.  My mom used to make this 

Ingredients: serves 4


8 eggs
1 cup of ground pork
1/2 cup wood ear mushroom
2 oz dried bean thread  ( roughly 1 cup after you rehydrate it)
3 stalks of green onion (minced)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce 
1 teaspoon of black pepper
3 teaspoon of sugar 
steamer ( or any large pot with a lid)
baking dish (bread pan should be perfect for this recipe)
cooking oil

1.  Rehydrate the wood ear mushroom and dried bean thread by soaking in hot water. Use scissors to cut up the bean thread.  Once they have soften, make sure you squeeze off excess water.


2.  Combine 3 eggs, ground pork, minced green onions, wood ear mushroom, bean thread, salt, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper.  

3.  Separate the yolk from the remaining 5 eggs.  We will not be using the whites so you can use for other things.  
4.  Coat your baking dish with some oil.  
5.  Pour step #2 into your baking dish and make sure the surface is flat and even.
6.  Mix the 5 egg yolks from before and pour on top of the pork mixture.





7.  In a large pot add enough water so that it will come up 1/2 way to your baking dish.  Put on the lid and steam on medium heat.  If you would like to you the oven, you'll need a larger baking dish and same concept you'll need to add enough water so it comes up 1/2 way to your smaller baking dish.  Wrap with foil and bake on 400 degrees until egg pie is cooked all the way through.  The best way to know when your egg pie is fully cooked is using toothpick just like you were testing a cake.  If it comes up clean, you are done!  




8.  I like to steam and it took about 45 minutes to cook completely.  If you are steaming, pour liquid condensation away.  Let egg pie cool down completely before cutting into it.


9.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bánh Xèo - Vietnamese Sizzling Cake


Every time somebody ask me to make Banh Xeo for them I cringe and ask politely to pick another dish, actually it's more like 'pick something else or you don't eat'!  I hate making banh xeo; it takes forever, you get oil spatter everywhere, and you and everything in your house end up smelling like fried food for days.  But if I don't have to make it myself, I absolutely love it!  

Banh Xeo is a popular street food made from a rice flour batter fried into a crispy crepe filled with pork belly, shrimp, and bean sprouts.  You eat it with a lot of fresh veggies and herbs and dipped in sweet fish sauce.  I always crave it on the hottest summer day when my family's garden is at its peak with plentiful of herbs.  

When somebody makes it for you, appreciate it because it is a labor of love.  I can still remember when I was little at my grandma's house, my mom and her sisters were in the kitchen making banh xeo as we wait to eat them fresh right out of the frying pan. That's the only way to eat banh xeo, hot and sizzling!  

Tips:

1.  Always let your batter sit overnight to rest (ie Banh cuon, banh khot, banh beo) this will allow the flour to expand and won't become rubbery. 

2.  The first couple of banh xeo will usually be the worst!  Your frying pan needs time to adjust to the heat and oil.  

3.  Use a light pan which will be easy for you to turn/rotate which will help you distribute the batter more evenly and thinly.  

4.  Don't use too much oil it will absorb into the batter and become soggy. Don't use too little oil it will not become crispy.  You will figure this out as you cook.

5.  Stir the batter especially at the bottom before every use.

6.  You can cook your pork belly and shrimp ahead of time to speed up the cooking the process.  

7.  Use a specific ladle or a measuring tools to help you stay consistent with how much batter you'll need to use  according to the size of your frying pan.

8.  Use a nonstick pan or you will be sorry.  I use one that has an aluminum coating. 

9.  Use a cooking brush (or paper towel or cotton) to evenly brush/spread oil onto your pan.

10.  Use cheap beer that is really carbonated like Bud Light. 

11.  Don't be scared, the outcome will be worth it! 

Ingredients:



pork belly thinly sliced
shrimp (cut in half)
bean sprout
rice flour
tapioca flour
coconut milk
beer
green onions (just the green bottom)
1/2 thinly sliced sweet onions
1 wedge of lime
cooking oil
lettuce 
cucumber
herbs of choice

Batter:  This will make about 20-25 crepes.




4 cups rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup coconut milk 
1/2 cup warm water
25 oz can beer
2 teaspoon of turmeric powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of minced green onion
a squeeze of lime juice

Mix and let rest!

1.  If you like to cook your pork belly into the batter then do this first.   Add sweet onions at the very end. You can use as much pork belly and shrimp as your like.


2.  Once your meats are cooked brush the surface of your pan with oil and wait for the pan to be hot ( not smoking hot) but you should be able to feel the heat.  Pour batter evenly in the pan, rotate/turn your pan so the batter coats the pan evenly.  You can always add more to fill in the spot.






3.  You can add pre-made pork belly and shrimp at this point, and then add bean sprouts ( a little under a handful). Cover with lid to help cook your filling (this takes about 10-15 seconds)


4.  Uncover the lid.  Lift up the crepe from the pan and I like to add a little bit more oil, turn down the heat a bit and let it fry until crispy.

5.  Fold the crepe in half and remove from pan.

6. Repeat.



Monday, April 3, 2017

Bun Cha Ca - Fish Cake Noodle Soup ( Lent Friendly)


One of my favorite dish I was introduced to in Da Nang was their Bun Cha Ca.  It was the very first dish I ate when I first got off the plane.  Their take on Bun Cha Ca was so delicious and light, and I love the sweetness from all the vegetables they use like cabbage and squash.   This is my my quick take on this soup and it's Lent friendly.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:




1 lb of ground shrimp
1/2 cup of dried prawn (tom kho)
cha ca (fish cake)
1 cup of pineapple
1 cup of kabocha squash (optional)
1 cup of bamboo tips
2 cups of cabbage
2 roma tomato (quartered)
4 quart of water
2 shallots (minced)
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon mushroom seasoning
fish sauce
cooking oil
1 teaspoon of paprika
vermicelli noodle
lettuce
green onions

1.  Cook down the dried prawns in water to start the broth. Sauteed ground shrimp with 1 minced shallot and season with some fish sauce.   Add ground shrimp to the broth.  Add salt, sugar, and mushroom seasoning to the broth.


2.  Sauteed the pineapple, tomato, and bamboo with some fish sauce.  Add this mixture to the broth.


3.  Add the cha ca and cabbage to the broth.  Let everything cook thoroughly.

4.  Sauteed remaining minced shallots in some oil, add the paprika and cook on low heat.  Add this mixture to the broth for color.

4.  Make noodles, and prepare lettuce and green onions.

5.  Enjoy with some shrimp paste and chili!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Better Late Than Never...my You Tube Channel is now online!

I realized I have been neglecting this blog for so long and i'm sorry for the lack of post.  I have been thinking of what direction I should take with my blog and how I can make it better.  Nowadays video tutorials are so popular and I realized how much more better they are when it come cooking tutorials.  For those reasons I will now start uploading cooking tutorials on You Tube.  I will still keep this blog so I can share the background of each recipes because I still want to be able to spread awareness and educate the Vietnamese culture through Vietnamese food and cooking.  

Thank you so much for all your support and love throughout the years and I hope you will continue to support me with my You Tube channel.  My very first cooking video will be one my childhood favorite Mi Xao.  Please subscribe to and share my channel, and leave feedback and request for future videos!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Gỏi Cuốn Chay - Vegetarian Spring Roll


I've been on a vegetarian fast for the past two weeks, this is absolutely one of my favorite vegetarian dish!  It's healthy, simple, and fast to make.  You can pretty much use any kind of vegetables you like.  Enjoy!
 
Ingredients:


2 cup of sliced cabbage
1 cup of shitake mushroom
1/2 cup of julienned carrot
1  cup of julienned tofu
1/2 cup of wood ear mushroom (reconstitute with warm water beforehand)
iceberg lettuce (cut into smaller pieces)
cilantro
minced garlic
peanut butter
hoisin sauce
sriracha
pickled carrots (optional)
vermicelli noodle (optional)
salt
sugar
soy sauce
cooking oil
rice paper

1.  In a large pan add about 2 tablespoon of cooking oil and saute the minced garlic.  Add the wood ear mushroom because that takes the longest to cook > shitake > tofu > carrots > cabbage.  Cook until everything is tender.  Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.


2.  Have the rice paper, iceberg lettuce, noodle, herbs ready to roll.


3.  In a sauce pan add 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoon of peanut butter, 4 tablespoon of hoisin sauce, and sriracha to your liking.  Let everything dissolve and marry together on medium heat.  You can add pickled carrots to your sauce.

4.  Enjoy with the yummy peanut sauce.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Banh Trang Tron - Rice Paper Salad


Banh trang tron 'rice paper mix' is a street food that has won the hearts of children and teenager all over Vietnam.  I was first introduced to this popular street snack several years ago while I was in Saigon.  My cousin picked up a bag on his way home from class.  He walked in with a clear plastic bag dangling from his fingers with two skewers (used as chopstick) poking out from the bag.  I opened up the bag to examine what was inside; strips up rice paper, julienned green mango, shredded beef jerky, quail egg, roasted peanuts, and chopped Vietnamese coriander (rau ram).  It was such an unusual concoction but had all of my favorite components.  I'm always excited to try new food so I had no problem digging in.  While I very much enjoy the explosion of flavors, my mom thought it was 'nonsense' food.

Upon my first tasting of banh trang tron, I thought it tasted similar to padd Thai.  After a few more bites the flavor became more coherent; it was tangy and spicy similar to other Vietnamese goi but more salty and dry.  I can see why adults would be against this type of snack, it's not very nutritious.  But it's FUN food, something I like to make every now and then.  I hope you enjoy my interpretation of this popular street food!

Ingredients:
8-10 sheets of rice paper cut into 3 inch strips
1 cup of julienned green mango (adding more green mango will add more moisture to this salad)
1 cup of chopped rau ram
1/4 cup of dried proteins (shredded beef jerky, shredded squid, dehydrated field shrimp, or none)
quail egg (or 1 hard boil egg cut into 8 pieces)
2 tablespoon of cooking oil
3 tablespoon of minced green onion
shrimp salt 'muoi tom' ( or sea salt)
sugar
1 lime
maggi seasoning
chili oil
fried shallot
crushed peanuts
large bowl
plastic gloves

1.  Sauteed the green onions in the oil until fragrance.  If you are using tep kho (dehydrated field shrimp) add it to the oil and sauteed until fragrance.
2.  Add the rice paper strips to a large bowl and the add the hot oil with green onions and tep kho.  Use your gloves to mix as much of rice paper and oil together to help soften the rice paper.
3.  Season the rice paper with 1 lime, some shrimp salt (sea salt is a lot saltier so use it sparingly), a sprinkle of sugar, juice of 1 lime, hot chili oil, and a couple dash of maggi seasoning.  Mix well or it will get clumpy.  Make sure every portion of the rice paper is season thoroughly.
4.  Once you are satisfied with the seasoning add the green mango, shredded protein, quail egg, chopped rau rau, crush peanuts, and fried shallot.  Toss and mix so that all the components are evenly distributed.
5.  Enjoy!