Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crêpes)

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe)

Bánh Xèo

Bánh = Cake

Xèo = Sound of the “sizzle” from the skillet

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe)

Growing up, I always considered Bánh Xèo to be a treat when my mom made them. She insisted that they needed to be eaten immediately from the skillet to maintain its crispy exterior. And unlike when you order them from restaurants, she would fill mine with tons of filling. :)

Bánh Xèo gets its yellow hue from the turmeric and is flavored with coconut milk. Traditionally, Bánh Xèo is filled with pork, shrimp, onions, mung beans, and bean sprouts. And just like chả giò (egg rolls), you wrap pieces of the Bánh Xèo with herbs and lettuce leave before dunking it into Nước Chấm–a fish sauce based dipping sauce. The freshness of the veggies is the perfect balance to the slightly fried crêpe.

Enjoy!

________________________________________________

Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crêpes)

Batter:
1½ Cups Rice Flour
½ Teaspoon Turmeric
¼ Cup Coconut Milk
1 Cup Cold Soda Water, more if needed
½ Cup Scallions, diced
1-2 Dashes Nước Mắm (fish sauce)

Filling:
½ Pound Shrimp, peeled and cleaned
½ Pound Pork Loin, sliced thinly
½ Cup White Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, finely diced
2 Cups Fresh Bean Sprouts
Nước Mắm (fish sauce)
Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Nước Chm (Dipping Sauce):
½ Cup Nước Mắm (fish sauce)
½ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
¼ Cup Warm Water
1-2 Thai Chilies, finely diced

Accouterments:
Lettuce
Thai Basil
Mint
Cilantro
Cucumbers

In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and turmeric. Add in coconut milk and mix until well combined. Slowly whisk in the soda water until all the lumps have dissolved. Whisk in Nước Mắm and scallions. Set the batter aside for 30-45 minutes.

Prepare the Nước chm. Combine Fish Sauce, Sugar, Lime Juice, Warm Water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in chilies. Cover and set aside.

In another bowl, add in pork and shrimp. Toss with garlic, white onions, a few splashes of Nước Mắm, and pepper. Heat a pan with a few tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat. Add the mixture and cook for a few minutes until the pork and shrimp are almost done. Remove from pan.

In a large nonstick skillet, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Stir the batter and carefully spoon a ladleful into the skillet. Tilt and swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly. After 1-2 minutes, place some of the pork/shrimp mixture on one half of the skillet. Top with the bean sprouts. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove lid and drizzle a little bit of oil on the outer edge of the crêpe. Cover the skillet for another 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully fold the crêpe in half, gently pressing down on top. Transfer to a plate. Serve with lettuce, mint, cilantro, thai basil and nước chm (dipping sauce).

 

 

This is my submission to the final Delicious Vietnama monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. Thank You Anh, Kim, and Hong!

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

 

 

Growing up, whenever my family celebrated a special occasion or holiday, we would head out to enjoy Bò 7 Món – 7 courses of beef. This may seem strange as Vietnamese cuisine isn’t really known for heavy amounts of beef but maybe that’s why this specialty is often saved for momentous occasions.

These days you can find many restaurants that offer Bò 7 Món, but in my family’s opinion, no one does it better than Pagolac Restaurant in Westminster, California.

 

 

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

My family has been coming to Pagolac Restaurant for over 20 years. Most of the dishes you order, you cook yourself on table top grills or mini boiling pots of vinegar water. All proteins are meant to be wrapped in the rice paper sheets with assorted veggies then dipped in a very pungent and savory sauce called mắm nêm.

And although there are a standard set of items when eating  Bò 7 Món, my family typically orders à la carte as there are some of the dishes that just aren’t our fav. We always order the thinly sliced beef, shrimp, squid, meatballs with shrimp crackers—and my personal favorite, Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt  or Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves. I would always plead for my mom to order extra plates of it as the dish was amazing to me. Just the right mixture of spices in the beef and all enveloped in the fragrant betel leaves that tasted even better slightly charred from the grill.

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Betel leaves are used quite often in Việt Nam in food, medicine and also as a “chew” to produce a kind of stimulant.Though, the latter does cause some serious ICK counter effects over extended amounts of time such as black teeth.  Yikes! However, the leaves are quite fragrant and literally produces a trigger effect for my mouth to start watering when I smell it being grilled.  :)

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Once wrapped and grilled up, Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt can be enjoyed a number of ways…..with rice or vermicelli noodles and even as a đồ ăn nhậu (beer food). But my favorite is to wrap some in Rice Paper Sheets (bánh tráng) and throw in a few veggies such as the pickled cucumbers or carrots. Delicious balance in texture and taste!

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Truth be told, I can’t recall a time when Mom made Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt at home but that doesn’t stop me from associating them with her.  Because when I think about this dish,  it makes me reflect on happy, celebratory times and images of Mom come flooding back to me as she stood over the table top grills at Pagolac Restaurant laughing and distributing all the sizzling items to our plates.

And when all is said and done, anything that can evoke those precious images while making my tummy happy is a  Nguyen-Win Situation. :)

_______________________________________________________________

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:

2-3 Dozen Betel Leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
½ Pound Ground Beef
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Shallots, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Lemongrass, very finely minced (s bm)
1 Scallion, chopped
1½ Teaspoon Fish Sauce (nước mm), or more to taste
½ Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
¼ Cup Green Onion infused Oil (hành mơ)*

Accouterments
1 Cup Slightly Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers**
¼ Cup Roasted Peanuts, crushed
1 Cup Dipping Sauce (nước chấm)***
Rice Paper Sheets (bánh tráng)

In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Mix well and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. While beef is marinating, prepare the accouterments:

Scallion Oil (hành m
ơ): In a sauté pan, slowly heat ¼ cup of canola oil. Add ½ cup chopped scallions. Cook the scallions on very low heat until they are wilted but still bright green. Approximately 2-3 minutes. Pull from heat and set aside.

Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers: Cut carrots and cucumbers into small matchsticks and place in a small bowl. Cover them with Rice Wine Vinegar and a pinch of Sugar.

Dipping Sauce (n
ước chấm): Combine ½ Cup Fish Sauce (nước mm), ½ Cup Sugar, ½ Cup Fresh Lime Juice, ¼ Cup Warm Water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 Teaspoon Chili Paste. Adjust amounts to desired to taste.

To assemble the rolls, take one betel leaf and place it shiny side down. Scoop out about ¾ tablespoon of the beef mixture and shape it towards the center of the leaf in a row. Slowly and tightly roll the leaf from tip to base. Once you get to the base, use a toothpick to prick a hole in the center of the roll and tuck the stem of the betel leaf in the hole to secure it. (Alternatively, you can use soaked toothpicks or skewers to hold the rolls together).

Cover a baking sheet with foil and brush it with the scallion oil (hành mơ). Place the rolls, seam side down, on the sheet and brush them with additional scallion oil (hành mơ).

If cooking with an oven: Turn broiler on high and place baking rack directly underneath it. Transfer baking sheet with rolls to the oven. Broil for 6-8 minutes, turning the rolls every 1½ minute to cook evenly and prevent burning.

If cooking on a grill: Place rolls in a wire mesh grilling basket. Grill rolls on each side for 1 minute.

Transfer rolls to a plate and brush with scallion oil (hành mơ) and sprinkle with crushed peanuts. Serve with nước chấm, pickled vegetables and moistened rice paper sheets.

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #19 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to  Sandy from ginger and scotch for hosting this month!**

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (also spelled Pâté Chaud) are deliciously flaky pies with a savory filling.

I know what you’re thinking. Puff pastry isn’t exactly among the first things that comes to mind when you think of Vietnamese cuisine. But, like the baguette and coffee, we’ve taken these items initially introduced by the French and have given them a Vietnamese makeover.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Pa Tê Sô are usually cut into round shapes but if you want to minimalize the waste of excess pastry dough, you can shape them into squares, rectangles, or triangles. But for the record, when I shape them into rounds, I never throw away the excess dough. Instead, I take the leftover strips, twist them and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar before baking them. That way, I get a little sweet treat, too. Yum.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

The pork filling I use is essentially a riff off of my Chả Giò (eggrolls) filling with the slight adjustments of a few things—such as the addition of peas. I also make a curry-lemongrass pork filling that is really fantastic with the buttery puff pastry, too. But whatever you choose to fill your Bánh Pa Tê Sô with, just be sure to not over stuff them or it will not cook through and may bulge out of the seams.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

You can also freeze the pre-baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô. Just wrap them up individually with plastic wrap and freeze. Before baking, thaw them out to room temperature and bada-bing, bada-boom. Freshly baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô, whenever your heart desires.

Of course if you’ve got some time and ambition on your hands, homemade puff pastry dough would be ideal. I just don’t have that kind of patience and think the store bought pastry dough works just fine for me.

And no, that’s not cheating–despite what my sister, P, would say :)

_________________________________________

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Ingredients:

1 Package Puff Pastry Sheets (typically contains two 10×15 inch sheets)
½ Pound Lean Ground Pork
¼ Cup Rehydrated Wood Ear Mushrooms, minced
¼ Cup Rehydrated Bean Thread Noodles, minced
¼ Cup Peas
1 Small Shallot, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together pork, mushrooms, noodles, peas, shallots, garlic, fish sauce and pepper until well combined.

Using a 3-inch ring biscuit cutter, cut rounds of puff pastry. Place one tablespoon of the filling in the center of one round and place another piece of puff pastry on top. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges of the rounds to seal the pastry. Transfer the Patê Sô to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pastry rounds. Brush the tops of each Patê Sô with the beaten egg.

Bake the Patê Sô for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #18 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Bonnibella for hosting this month!**

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

To me, comfort food consists of simple, everyday dishes my family grew up eating. Uncomplicated Vietnamese dishes really…. but packed with flavor—and memories.

They included braised bamboo shoots, sauteed greens in shrimp paste, beef stir fry with potatoes, and  if we were lucky–fried shrimp.

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Depending on Mom’s mood—meaning if she was in the mood of peeling the shrimp or not, we would be treated to either Tôm Lăn Bột (batter fried shrimp) or Tôm Rang Muối (salted fried shrimp). Either way–I LOVED both dishes.

Tôm Lăn Bột are peeled headless shrimp, dipped into a batter, and then fried until golden brown. Tôm Rang Muối are head-on shrimp that are tossed into salt and flour (or cornstarch) and quickly fried. Since the shrimp are left with their shells on, they retain a lot of their moisture and add great texture. And the bonus—you get to suck the deliciousness from the heads!

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Mom and the aunties would often make Tôm Rang Muối at our family parties, too. Since it’s so quick to make, they would whip up several batches to tie us over before we got to eat. Big plates of Tôm Rang Muối would also get sent over to wherever the “menfolk” were sitting to “nhậu“—-which is the Vietnamese word for drinking adult beverages while nibbling on food.

I’m sure my mom would scold me for broadcasting this but THANK BUDDHA that I can nhậu now, too! :)

Hope you enjoy!

_________________________________________________

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Prawns, heads-on
1 Cup Rice Flour (or cornstarch, tempura powder, etc.)
1½ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Red Chili Pepper, sliced
¼ Cup Green Scallions, sliced
Vegetable Oil for Frying

Devein the prawns while keeping the shells in tact. This can be done by using a sharp knife to slice the backs of the prawns. Remove and discard the veins. Using kitchen shears, snip off the antennas and legs. Place the prawns in a colander and run cool water over them. Gently shake to drain the water and use paper towels to dry off excess moisture. Sprinkle salt over the prawns, tossing well to cover each prawn. Place the colander with prawns (with a bowl underneath to catch any excess fluid) in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

In a large pot (or deep fryer), preheat oil to 375 degrees.

Remove prawns from the refrigerator and sprinkle rice flour all over. Toss the prawns to coat and sift to get rid of any extra flour. In batches, carefully add the prawns into the hot oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy. Transfer the fried prawns to a paper towel lined plate. When the grease has been drained, gently toss the prawns with scallions and chilies. Serve immediately.

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #17 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Phuoc from Phuoc’n’delicious for hosting this month!**

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)


Desserts (tráng miệng) are not a huge component to Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnamese “desserts” are usually fresh fruits but there are a few such as various forms of chè (sweet soups/puddings), rau câu (flavored jellos/gelatin), bánh (“cakes” that could include sweet cassava cakes, taro cakes, glutinous rice flour & coconut milk cakes, doughnuts, etc.), or kẹo (“candies” that are flavored with coconut, sesame, etc.).

Growing up, our Mom and grandma Mệ would often make such desserts. Some family favorites included Chè xôi nước (sticky rice dumplings filled with mung beans in a ginger-sugar soup), Chè đậu trắng (with black eyed peas),  Chè đậu xanh (with mung bean), and the gorgeous & colorful thạch Mom would create.

Lately, our big sis, N, has taken up the reigns in this area and has shared her preparation of Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup) with me…..and well, now you :)

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (also spelled as “đậu phụ” ortàu hũ”) is surprisingly easy to make, tasty, and only uses 5 ingredients! Unsweetened soy milk is combined with agar-agar and is topped with a generous helping of syrup that has been flavored with slightly spicy & aromatic ginger. You just can’t get any easier than that!

The texture of Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng is up to personal preference. You can find it quite soft and silky—kind of like the texture of panna cotta. In those cases, the Đậu Hũ  is usually made with gelatin. However, if you prefer a slightly firmer texture (like how my nieces and I do) then the ratios below with agar-agar are the way to go. And by using agar-agar and the appropriate sugar, it can be a great Vegan dessert, too!

I also like to sometimes flavor my Đậu Hũ with lá duá (pandan). To me, pandan has a floral and even coconut flavor to it. If I have fresh leaves, I’ll bruise the leaves up and steep it in the soy milk before adding in the agar-agar. If using the pandan flavoring (as seen above), I add about 1-2 teaspoons of it into the liquids before ladling it into the serving dishes.

If you’re looking for a dessert to cool down with this summer, try out this Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng. It’s light but will fulfill any sweet tooth with very minimal guilt :)

___________________________________________________________

Đậu Hũ Nước Đường Gừng (Vietnamese Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 Cups Unsweetened Soy Milk
½ Tablespoon Agar-Agar Powder
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
½ Cup Warm Water
3 Inch Ginger Knob, peeled and sliced

In a saucepan, heat soy milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Whisk in agar-agar powder until dissolved. Cook on a low simmer, mixing frequently for approximately 7-8 minutes. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the liquids before dividing between 8 4-ounce dishes. After a few minutes, use toothpicks and run along the side/tops of each dish to remove & discard the thin “skin” layer that has formed on top. Allow to cool to room temperature on the counter then, cover each dish and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or until firm.

While the tofu is chilling, prepare the ginger syrup. In a sauce pan, use a rubber spatula to stir and dissolve the water and sugar. Add in the ginger slices and cook on medium low heat until it reaches a slight simmer. Reduce the heat to low and allow the syrup to cook and thicken for about 10-15 minutes—-be careful not to burn the sugars. Cool the syrup before using.

To serve, spoon a heaping tablespoon (or more if desired) of the ginger syrup over each dish. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #16 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Chi Anh from Door to My Kitchen for hosting this month!**

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

When our clan gathers, you can be sure that there will be a massive array of delicious food. One can always count on the usual favorites such as Bánh Ít (sticky rice dumplings), Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup),and Cua Rang Mui (salt roasted crab). And intermixed with all the Vietnamese goodies would often be a sprinkling of “American” dishes such as mom’s Turkey.

Growing up, each dish became linked to one of the aunties or Mom as they each refined the recipes to make it their own. But as my generation grew older, the proverbial baton was passed and we in turn began to make these iconic family favorites.

And I find comfort in knowing that these dishes that my siblings, cousins, and I create will pass on my family’s traditions through food.  It’s kind of remarkable to think that the Phở Gà I’ll make for my kids will be exactly the same recipe my mom would have made for them.

Incredible, really.

One dish that I hope to continue is Gỏi Mít Trộn. At the heart of the salad is Mít Non—young, unripe jackfruit. The flesh of the young jackfruit is tender and mild in flavor. In the states, Mít Non is sold both canned and frozen. However, if you use the frozen type, you’ll need to boil it for a bit.

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

After being washed and well drained, the Mít is stir fried for a few moments before it’s tossed with shrimp, pork and several herbs like Rau Răm (Vietnamese Cilantro).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The Gỏi Mít Trộn is then topped with fried shallots, crushed peanuts and accompanied with nước chm (dipping sauce).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

It’s best served with Bánh Đa – crispy rice crackers flecked with black sesame seeds. Want to know something funny? When I was little, I used to think that the black sesame seeds in these were ants and stayed clear of these crackers for many years :)

 

 

 Bánh Đa

 

I like to eat Gỏi Mít Trộn by drizzling nước chm with lots of chili on top of the salad with a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice. Then I take a piece of the Bánh Đa and use it to scoop up the goodness. YUM!

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The layers of flavor and textures in this Gỏi really rock it out. Extremely savory from the proteins and fish sauce with bright herbaceous notes from the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. With each bite you get a lovely crunch from the rice crackers and peanuts that balances so well with the tender Mít.

If done correctly, everything is in perfect harmony.

I doubt my Gỏi Mít Trộn will ever be as good as my mom’s or aunties’. But one thing is for certain— in due time, our kids will be trying their hand at it, too :)

 

______________________________________________

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

3 Cans (20 ounces each) Young Jackfruit
1 Pound Shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 Pound Pork Loin, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
½ Cup Scallions, chopped
1½ Cups Rau Răm Leaves (Vietnamese Cilantro), roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
N
ước Mm (Fish Sauce)
Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Accouterments:
Bánh Đa (rice crackers)
N
ước chm (dipping sauce)
Fried Shallots
Crushed Roasted Peanuts
Lime Wedges
Thai Chilies

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, pork, ½ tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon shallots, and a few dashes of fish sauce. Mix and season with black pepper. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

Drain the cans of jackfruit. Remove any seeds (including the shell layer surrounding the seeds) and cut off and discard any hard sections. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the jackfruit and transfer to a large bowl that has been filled with cold water. Repeat until all the jackfruit has been cut and rinsed. Using clean dishcloths, gently squeeze out the excess liquid. If too much moisture is left, your salad will be really wet and mushy. Set the jackfruit aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium flame. Add pork and shrimp and sauté until cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add another 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium flame. Add the remaining shallots, half the scallions and sauté until softened before adding the rest of the garlic. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the jackfruit and remaining scallions and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes before seasoning with a few dashes of fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from heat and mix in the shrimp and pork. Toss in the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. Taste and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that additional Nước chm will be used. Plate the contents to a large dish. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots and crushed peanuts.

Serve the Gỏi Mít Trộn with Bánh Đa, Nước chm, limes, and chilies. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #15, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Angry Asian Creations for hosting this month!**

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Growing up, our mom never measured her ingredients out. It was a toss of this, a pinch of that…..taste, adjust, and a few more shakes of whatever just for kicks. And even when she was coerced into documenting her dishes, they were vague amounts such as a “1/2 rice bowl of sugar” and a “handful of garlic”. Everything was “to taste”.

It made it difficult as heck to learn her “recipes” but I soon realized all of our aunties were like that too. And that’s what I’ve come to believe Vietnamese cooking to be. It’s pretty tricky as it’s all “to taste” and highly subjective.

You’ll find this quandary even more prominent in “simple” dishes as one slight off-balanced proportion will throw your taste buds for a spin. Things like nước chấm, soups, and even salads will have you repeatedly tasting and adjusting for the perfect balance.

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)

 

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm, is a perfect example of this challenge and was a staple in our household growing up. Popularized from the Huế region of Viet Nam, shredded poached chicken is tossed in a light vinaigrette and packed FULL of fresh herbs and thinly sliced onions. And although I’ve given some measurements in the recipe below, it really depends on your flavor palette to add as much or as little lemon juice and sugar or salt and pepper. Just keep in mind that it’s also served with the nước chm dipping sauce so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

With all that said, the rau răm (known as Vietnamese Cilantro or Vietnamese Coriander) is my favorite part of the dish. The uniquely bright and slightly peppery flavor this herb adds is something that is difficult to describe but must be experienced. In fact, I’d say that it’s my favorite herb, closely followed by fresh cilantro and Thai basil. The addition of the shredded red cabbage is my nod to the restaurant, Hue Rendezvous in Westminster, California. They serve their Gà Bóp on top of shredded green cabbage, which I think is such a great addition for the added crunch and texture. This time around, I chose to use red cabbage because it’s a little milder in flavor and because its beautiful color provided such a striking contrast.

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm is best served at room temperature and would be a great addition to any summer picnic or luncheon. I’d even venture to say a light Rau Răm Mojito would be a great cocktail pairing for this dish. And that, my friends, is how I also come up with random cocktails :)

________________________________________________________________

Thịt Gà Bóp Rau Răm (Huế Style Chicken Salad with Vietnamese Cilantro)
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken, preferably Free-Range
2 Tablespoons Nước Mắm, fish sauce
2 Inches Fresh Ginger
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, lightly crushed
½ Tablespoon Black Pepper Corns
1 Small Sized Red Cabbage, shredded
1 Medium Sized White Onion, sliced paper thin
½ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Bunch (about 1½ cups) Rau Răm leaves, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Optional: Nước chấm, fried shallots, crushed peanuts, and chilies

Thoroughly wash and clean the chicken. I usually lightly scrub several tablespoons of table salt all over the exterior body/interior cavity of the chicken and rub cut lemon wedges over the skin. This acts as a type of “exfoliant” and helps to reduce impurities and grit as the chicken is poaching. Trim any excess fat and skin as well as be sure to remove the bag of giblets and neck. Rinse the chicken well with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Prick the skin of the chicken all over with the tines of a fork.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the nước mắm, ginger, garlic cloves, and pepper corns. Gently ease the chicken into the pot and lower the heat to an even simmer. Poach until cooked—about 25-30 minutes. (Skim off any impurities that may form and discard.) Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and cool to room temperature. *At this point, the poaching liquids can be strained and stored to be used as a light chicken broth at another time.

While the chicken is cooling, combine the sliced onions and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Toss to cover thoroughly and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. In another small bowl, dissolve the sugar into the lime juice.

When the chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred all the meat into bite sized pieces discarding the skin, bones, and fatty portions. Toss the shredded chicken with the pickled onions and add in the rau răm and cilantro.  Add the lime juice mixture a little bit at a time to your taste preference. Season with salt and pepper.

To plate, spread the shredded cabbage on a large plate and top with a pile of the  shredded chicken salad. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots, chilies, crushed peanuts and serve with nước chấm on the side.

*It should be noted that Gà Đi B (free range chicken) is preferred in this dish for its texture and flavor.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #14, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Rau Om for hosting this month!**


Chả Cá Thăng Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Turmeric & Dill)

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Chả Cá Thăng Long (also known as Chả Lã Vọng and Chả Cá Hà Nội) is an infamous Hà Nội dish. At it’s originating roots from the 100+ year old Chả Lã Vọng restaurant, turmeric marinaded fish is first grilled and then fried table-side. It’s served with tons of fresh dill, other herbs, crush peanuts, and rice noodles.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I began to truly appreciate this dish with it’s complex, yet well balanced, flavors. In Orange County, I would order it as a treat when I was out with my parents in Little Sài Gòn. The only popular place to get Chả Cá Thăng Long at that time was from Viễn Đông Restaurant where it would come out on sizzling cast iron plates. Now, Chả Cá is pretty readily available at many Vietnamese restaurants.

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Traditionally, in Hà Nội, this dish is made with cá lóc –or snakehead fish. Which, on a random note, was my dad’s nickname in the navy. :)

Here in the states, most restaurants will make it with catfish or other firm white fish. But mom also used to make it with salmon, too.

If you’ve never had Chả Cá before, you may be surprised to see how much fresh dill is used. But trust in the process because it’s the plentiful dill and turmeric that makes this dish so special.

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

Typically, Chả Cá is served with Mắm Nêm—a very pungent, fermented anchovy sauce. I love the stuff but it’s definitely a flavor to get used to—even if you are Vietnamese! As such, you see this dish also served with a standard Nước Chấm which is much more mild compared to its counterpart.

Not up to mixing up a batch of your own Mắm Nêm? No worries, I buy mine premixed and bottled. Mắm Nêm is just one of those tricky things that I seem to never be able to get the right ratios down. :)

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

At home, you can cook Chả Cá in several different ways. Either on a grill (or grill pan), underneath the broiler, or simply pan fry like I did. But be sure to get all the crispy brown bits in your bowl because that’s what is packed full of yummy flavor.

Thanks for reading!

Cha Cá Thang Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Tumeric & Dill)

On a side note, I’d like to dedicate this post/dish to our Mom who instilled in us the love for cooking and sharing food with loved ones. She would have turned 70 this coming Tuesday. Wasn’t she lovely? :)

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday, Mom! We miss you and love you!

______________________________________________________

Chả Cá Thăng Long (Vietnamese Style Fish with Turmeric & Dill)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For Fish:
1 Pound Firm White Fish, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Vietnamese Fish Sauce
1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
½ Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill Fronds, chopped (for marinade)
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
4 Scallions, sliced into 2 inch segments
1 Small White Onion, sliced
1 Large Bunch of Dill, without stems
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided

Accouterments:
½ Cup Peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Fresh Dill Fronds, chopped
Red Thai Chiles, diced
Chili Paste
Nước Chấm (fish dipping sauce) or Mắm Nêm (fermented anchovy dipping sauce)
1 Package Vermicelli Noodles, boiled according to package directions

In a large bowl, mix fish sauce, turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallots, dill fronds, and black pepper. Add fish and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook the white onions until lightly golden. Add 1/3 of the dill and ½ of the sliced scallions. Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. Plate the onions, scallions and dill on a serving platter.

Remove fish the refrigerator and drain off the marinade. Using paper towels, pat off any excess liquids. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining oil to medium high. Pan fry the fish—about 3-4 minutes on each side until the fish is evenly browned. Plate the fish on top of the bed of cooked onions, scallions and dill. Immediately top with the remaining fresh dill and scallions. Sprinkle peanuts on top and serve immediately with vermicelli noodles and sauces.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #13, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**

Sinh Tố Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee Shake)

Sinh Tố Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee Shake)

 

 

Vietnamese Coffee is a rich, dark roast that is slowly dripped through a small metal filter. More often than not, the coffee grinds are mixed with a chicory blend that gives the coffee a “woody” flavor profile. With a spoonful of rich condensed milk, it’s called Cà Phê Sữa and without it’s called Cà Phê Đen.

For this month’s Delicious Vietnam, I decided to utilize Cà Phê Sữa to make one of my favorite treats — Sinh Tố or Vietnamese Shake. In Việt Nam, Sinh Tố is usually made with fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, and avocados. It’s blended with milk, condensed milk, and ice to make a deliciously refreshing treat. But since I’m a major caffeine addict, I thought a Cà Phê flavored Sinh Tố would be the best of both worlds.

Instead of milk, I opted for Vanilla Ice Cream. And with the use of slow dripped Vietnamese coffee, this “shake” has a completely different flavor than any coffee shake you’ve ever tasted. It’s all in the chicory!

Don’t be surprised if your nearest mega-coffee-shop started offering Sinh Tố Cà Phê!

________________________________________

Sinh Tố Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee Shake)

Ingredients:

5 Ounces Freshly Brewed Vietnamese Coffee
2 Heaping Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
1/2 Cup Crushed Ice
1 Tablespoon Condensed Milk

While the Vietnamese Coffee is slightly warm, stir in the condensed milk until it’s combined. Allow the coffee to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour coffee mixture into a blender and add ice cream and crushed ice. Pulse/blend the contents until smooth.

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #12, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**

 

Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Chicken Noodle Soup…..what could be more comforting?

Cultures all around the world have their own spin on this soul warming dish. For the Vietnamese, we have at least two versions— Phở Gà and Miến Gà.

Phở Gà is the lighter alternative to the traditional beef Phở and follows a similar cooking method. Due to the slow simmering process of the broth and spices, it takes me a couple of hours to complete a quality Phở Gà. Miến Gà offers a lighter broth and is served with glass noodles (Miến). White on Rice Couple gives a great overview of Miến.

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Both soups are delicious–especially on cold days. However, I find myself making Miến Gà more often. My version of Miến Gà can be done in a quick 20 minutes. In addition, you can tailor the ingredient amounts to make anywhere from 1 to 8+ bowls. Whereas with Phở Gà, you need a couple hours (at least) and are committed to a huge pot of it!

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)
The key to my Miến Gà is homemade chicken stock—something I almost always have on hand.  That combined with a splash of what I call “Vietnamese Liquid Gold” and you will have a wonderful and clean broth for your Miến Gà.

Wondering what Vietnamese Liquid Gold is? Nước Mắm (fish sauce), OF COURSE! :)

 


Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)

 

Serve your Miến Gà with fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai Basil), a few slices of red chilies, and a squeeze of lime. The herbs, spice, and the tiny bit of citrus perfectly rounds out the flavors. This type of balance is the quintessential foundation in Vietnamese cuisine.

Miến Gà— now that is comfort food :)

_____________________________________________

Miến Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Glass Noodle Soup)
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1.5 Quarts Homemade Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Nước Mắm (fish sauce)
1 Inch Fresh Ginger, peeled
1 Teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1 Boneless Chicken Breast
4 Ounces Dried Miến (glass noodles)
Hot Water
Garnish: Chopped Scallions, Chopped Cilantro, Thai Basil, Slices of Red Chilies, Lime Wedges

Fill a large bowl with hot water and add Miến. Soak Miến for at least 15 minutes until they have softened.

In a medium size pot, add chicken stock, Nước Mắm, peppercorns and ginger. Bring to a simmer and add chicken breast. Continue poaching chicken breast until it is fully cooked, about 8 minutes–depending on size. Remove the chicken breast. Once it’s cooled slightly, slice or shred the meat.

Turning back to the the broth, skim off any impurities that may have formed. Taste and adjust the seasonings—adding more pepper or a dash of Nước Mắm as needed. Keep the broth at a low simmer to ensure it stays hot.

Drain the Miến and add to bowls. Sprinkle with scallions, cilantro, and arrange chicken slices on top. Ladle hot broth over and noodles. Garnish with additional scallions, chilies, basil, and lime.

Note: It’s important that the broth remain piping hot when it’s poured over the noodles. The heat will finish cooking the Miến.


**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. To participate,  please send entries to theculinarychronicles@gmail.com by March 13th! For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam**