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 :)

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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!

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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 :)

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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 :)

 

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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!**

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!

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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!

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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 :)

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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**

 

 


Celebrating Tết with Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)

Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)

 

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

That’s right, it’s Tết–the Vietnamese Lunar New Year! For Vietnamese folks, we are welcoming in the Year of the Cat. For our Chinese neighbors, it’s the Year of the Rabbit. :)

There are so many customs and traditions that go along with Tết–from making sure your house/home is clean, offering ancestral prayers and thanks, eating delicious food, playing games like bầu cua cá cọp, going to festivals and my personal favorite—getting lì xì (red envelopes of money to bring luck and good fortune).

Tết is a multiple day celebration—which means food galore! Bánh chưng (sticky rice cakes filled with meats, mung beans, etc.), Xôi (savory or sweet glutinous rice), Măng khô (braised bamboo shoots), and all sorts of Mứt (preserved/candied vegetables and fruits).

And although the trays of Mứt always had a wide variety of fruits, veggies, & nuts to choose from (coconut, lotus seeds, persimmons, mandarins, etc.), my favorite was Mứt Gừng —candied or crystallized ginger which my grandmother made all of the time.

 

Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)

 

The thin slices of candied ginger are not only yummy but they can be used for health ailments too. Nausea or motion sickness can often be curtailed by chewing/sucking on Mứt Gừng and next time you have a cough, forgo the drops and grab a bag of Mứt Gừng instead. You can also filter the boiling water used to cook the ginger into a calming ginger tea. All natural! And as for baking, I’ve also used this Candied Ginger in my Scones and to top Spiced Cupcakes. So many options!

I want to give a big THANKS to my cousin An for giving me a tutorial on Mứt Gừng—the woman even took step by step pics on her phone for me. Now that’s a trooper—-although I’m not sure how she’ll feel about me adding the lemon zest. :)

So allow me to wish you all an extremely happy, prosperous, and healthy New Year!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

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Mứt Gừng (Vietnamese Candied Ginger)
Makes approximately one pound

Ingredients:

1 Pound Fresh Ginger
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice, divided
1 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Peel the ginger, removing any blemishes from the root and then place in the bowl of water until all pieces have been peeled. Using a mandoline with its thinnest plate, slice the ginger roots. Place the ginger slices in the bowl of water until all have been cut.

Fill a large pot with water and the rest of the lemon juice. Transfer the ginger slices to the pot and bring to a boil. While the ginger is boiling, spray two cooling racks with nonstick spray and place them on cookie sheets that have been lined with foil. Cook the ginger for 25 minutes, skimming off any impurities that may build up. Drain the slices in a colander and flush with cool tap water. Rinse the ginger 2 or 3 times and shake off excess water. Use paper towels to dry the ginger slices off well.

In a large pan over medium-low heat, add the ginger slices with sugar. Use chopsticks to coat the slices with sugar. Continue to stir as the sugar begins to melt and bubble. Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Continue cooking and stirring the ginger until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar has crystallized onto the slices. This process takes about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer the slices to the cooling racks. Be sure to spread the slices into one even layer—flatten out any slices that may have folded over or curled up. Allow an hour for the slices to completely dry. Store in Ziploc bags or other airtight containers.

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

 

Growing up, our normal dinners would include several family-style dishes to be eaten with rice (cơm). We always had some type of soup (canh), vegetable dish, and a protein dish. This is what standard Vietnamese meals were for us and were referred to as “ăn cơm” or “to eat rice”.

Of course there were dishes that my siblings and I all dreaded…..Canh mướp đắng (Bittermelon Soup) being one of them. But then there were some that were general favorites……Mực nhồi (Stuffed squid), Tôm lăn bột (Battered fried shrimp), and of course Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes). In fact, the latter was my personal favorite.

What I loved most about this dish was the “gravy” that it produced…..which is ironic because it’s the gravy-like sauces of many Chinese dishes that turn me off from that cuisine! But somehow, this beef gravy was liquid gold as a kid and when you mixed it up with your rice–delish! In fact, I would always request that my mom make sure that the dish had lots of “gravy”.

The key to making a killer Thịt Bò Xào is a high quality beef—ribeye or filet mignon was my mom’s personal choice. Since the meat needs to be cut so thin and cooked quickly at high heat, other cuts aren’t as successful. It may seem a tad pricey for a beef stir fry but when you take into account how many people this dish will feed, it’s well worth the extra few dollars. And when you bite into the meat, you’ll be pretty darn happy with the tenderness of it. As for the added bit of cornstarch and butter at the end (optional), it will assist in making the coveted gravy.

And when that gravy is soaked up into the potatoes—SOOO GOOD! It won’t be long before Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây is your favorite dish when you “ăn cơm”.

Tip: My local Vietnamese grocery store sells ribeye packages that are already thinly sliced. But if your store doesn’t or you can’t convince your butcher to slice it for you, pop your beef into the freezer for a few minutes before you start slicing it. Slightly chilled meat is a lot easier to make thin slices out of—just be sure to use a super sharp knife.

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Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)
Serves approximately 6-8

Ingredients:

1 Pound Thinly Sliced Ribeye Beef
1 Small Yellow Onion, quartered
1 Large Tomato, sliced into wedges
1½ Cups Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1½  Teaspoons Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, plus additional to fry potatoes
2-3 Tablespoons Maggi or Soy Sauce
Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, optional

In a bowl, mix together beef, garlic, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and set aside.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot until it reaches 375 degrees. Carefully add a handful of the potatoes into the pot stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown–about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven while frying remaining batches.  *If you prefer to bake your potatoes, toss the potatoes strips in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until both have softened but not browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Push the items to the side of your wok (or remove to a plate if your wok is not large enough) and add the beef. Quickly stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes or until lightly brown—this should not take a long time since the beef is so thin.  Stir in the onion/tomato/mushroom mixture and combine well. Add the butter (optional) and remove from heat. Stir in Maggi  (to taste) and additional cracked black pepper.

To serve, place potatoes in a layer on a plate. Pour beef stir fry over the top and garnish with additional cilantro.

Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab with Garlic Noodles


Roasted Garlic Crab with Garlic Noodles

Well over 15 years ago when I was still living in LA, my family and I took a trip to San Francisco to visit my sister. Somehow or another we ended up at Thanh Long to try their infamous Roasted Garlic Crab…..and that was it for me. I was in “garlicky-finger licking-good” love.

I am fully aware that I’m not the only one. With throngs of followers, Thanh Long and their other Crustacean locations have been wooing people for over 3 decades with their roasted garlic crab, prawns, garlic noodles and even their shaking beef. Top that off with the knowledge of their “secret kitchen” (an enclosed area within the main kitchen that is off limits to all employees except An Family members) and who can resist?

But here’s the thing. A dinner for two will easily set you back 100 bucks–and that’s playing it minimal. And with the tough economy and this gal’s expensive food habits, I had to take matters into my own hands. Yes….I’m talking about a Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab knock-off was in order…..fully equipped with Garlic Noodles. The method below is an adaptation of how my family prepares Cua Rang Me (Crab with Tamarind Sauce). However, with that particular preparation, I like to take the tamales from the crab and incorporate it into the sauce. So good.

Sure, I am well aware that I may be totally off base with this Garlic Crab –probably missing several key ingredients from the original. But since the chances of me getting into the An Family Secret Kitchen are slim to none—this will have to do. And “do”, it sure did! Utterly garlicky, buttery, decadent and fairly easy too. And at a fraction of the cost (dinner for two was way under $20), our bellies were completely happy with moola still left in our pockets.

And that dear friends, is a “Nguyen-Win Situation“.

ENJOY!

Garlic Noodles

Ok–you caught me. I also made GINORMOUS Roasted Garlic Prawns, too.

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Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab with Garlic Noodles

Ingredients:

Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab (Serves 2)
¼ Cup Fresh Garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Tablespoon Cracked Black Pepper
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Fresh Dungeness Crab, about 2-3 pounds
Lemon Wedges and Chopped Scallions, optional

Garlic Noodles (Serves 6)
1 Pound Chow Mein Noodles*
2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1-2 Tablespoons Maggi Seasoning*
½ Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Crab: Carefully clean the live Dungeness Crab. Drop into a large pot of salted boiling water. Par cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the pot and let cool. Once the crab has cooled enough to handle, remove the top shell and quarter the body. Using a kitchen mallet, crack the legs and claws but do not remove the meat.

In a dutch oven, heat up the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has almost melted, add the garlic and shallots. Lightly sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, chili flakes, fish sauce, and black pepper and cook for an additional minutes. Add the crab to the pot and stir well so that the crab is fully covered with the mixture. Cook on medium heat for an additional 2 minutes. Shake the pot to even the crab into one layer and place in the oven on 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until crab is completely cooked. Be careful not to overcook or the crab meat will be very dry. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle scallions on top of the crab.

Noodles: Cook the noodles according to the direction on the package. Drain the noodles, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy water. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic but not browned, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and Maggi. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly toss the noodles into the mixture. Add the cheese and toss the noodles ensuring that it is thoroughly covered. You may add a tablespoon of the pasta water as needed to loosen the pasta.

The noodles can be boiled before preparing the crab. However, I highly suggest waiting until the crab is roasting in the oven before staring the final steps of the garlic noodles.

Serve both the Garlic Noodles and Crab warm with lemon wedges.

*This recipe has been edited since its initial post. I now use chow mein noodles but in a pinch, you could substitute with spaghetti or linguine noodles.

**You will find that I use a lot of Maggi Seasoning in my recipes. Growing up, my family used it in lieu of traditional Soy Sauce. In fact, we grew up calling Maggi “Xì dầu” (soy sauce), although it technically is not and has a unique flavor of its own. If you don’t have Maggi on hand–run out and buy some! :) But in the mean time, you can substitute with a light soy sauce–though I must reiterate that the flavor will not be the same.