Pork · Vietnamese

Thịt Xá Xíu {Char Siu – Chinese Barbecue Pork}

Thịt Xá Xíu {Chinese Char Siu - BBQ Pork}
Stroll down the streets of most Chinatowns and I am rather certain that hanging alongside the lacquered Roast Ducks in shop windows, you’ll also find the ubiquitous Char Siu – or Chinese style barbecue pork.

You can’t really miss it from its bright reddish-pink hue, coupled with its deeply savory, spiced and somehow sweet mouthwatering scents.

In Vietnamese, we call it Thịt Xá Xíu and you can find it pretty much served with everything due to its versatility.  We love it with our noodles, whether it be , bún or hủ tiếu. It’s a very common protein in our beloved bánh (sandwiches) and can be found in bánh bao –steamed buns. Heck, it’s great just over steamed rice!

Thịt Xá Xíu {Chinese Char Siu - BBQ Pork}

Since I’ve been on a real kick lately of restocking my freezer, I thought it was high time to add a few stashes of Xá Xíu to the mix.

I’m a BIG fan of keeping a well stocked freezer. Not only for those days that you just feel too BLEH to cook but also for those times you’re hankering some comfort food but don’t have the time to commit hours in the kitchen to make anything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given myself a little pat on the back when I was quickly able to throw a bowl of Bún Chả Giò (Cold Vermicelli Noodles with crispy Vietnamese Imperial Rolls) together or heat up some Pan Fried Dumplings because I stockpile the freezer.

Seriously, it’s a lifesaver.

Thịt Xá Xíu {Chinese Char Siu - BBQ Pork}

Enough on that…let’s get back to the Xá Xíu…..

Right off the bat, I’ve got to tell you that I happily turn to a Char Sui seasoning packet to start the marinade. I’ve got absolutely no guilt about this and totally feel justified because this is how Mom used to do it.

Can’t argue with that, right?

Thịt Xá Xíu {Chinese Char Siu - BBQ Pork}
I do doctor it up with few things like Shaoxing wine, garlic, pepper and a bit of five spice powder before rubbing the pork shoulder with the mixture. It then marinates in the fridge overnight so that all that goodness seeps in.

Two quick things before we move on.

1) If you use a seasoning packet, the powder (and eventually the marinade) will be pink. Super pink. It can vary on brand but it’s mostly due to some curing salt (think corned beef) and well, food color. If that freaks you out, nix the premixed seasoning and make your own.

2) I like using pork shoulder instead of something too lean. The Xá Xíu should have a bit of fat on it and pork loin, particularly tenderloin, doesn’t it cut it for me.

Thịt Xá Xíu {Chinese Char Siu - BBQ Pork}

Once the pork is done marinading, I bake it in a hot oven for 20ish minutes on a wire rack that sits on a rimmed baking sheet. This not only helps with even cooking but it lifts the pork up from any excess liquids that may render out.

Pro Tip? Add a bit of water to the baking sheet while the pork cooks. The water helps keep the moisture in the oven (and thus in the pork) as well as helps reduce the amount of smoke that may occur from any fat drippings that will accumulate on the sheet.

While the pork roasts, take the marinade and whisk some hoisin sauce into it. You’ll then use this to glaze the pork to help add a bit more flavor as well as get that sheen. Don’t worry that the marinade had raw pork sitting in it because after you brush it over the Xá Xíu, you’ll then broil it for a few minutes on extremely high heat.

Thịt Xá Xíu {Chinese Char Siu - BBQ Pork}
And that’s it!

Easy-peasy, right!? Maybe one of these days I’ll attempt to make it without a premixed seasoning packet but gosh….it’s just so darn convenient and tasty.


Ăn Ngon!

Thịt Xá Xíu {Char Siu – Chinese BBQ Pork}



1 packet Xá Xíu/Char Siu seasoning
½ teaspoon five spice power
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into long pieces about 2-3 inches wide
cooking spray
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

In a bowl, whisk together the Xá Xíu/Char Siu seasoning, five spice powder, pepper, garlic, Shaoxing wine and oil. Rub the marinade all over the pork and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil. Lightly cover the wire rack with cooking spray. Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towel. Place the pork on top of the rack and place in the preheated oven. Pour about ¼ cup of water into the baking sheet. The water helps keep the moisture in the oven (and in the pork) as well as helps reduce the amount of smoke that may occur from any fat drippings that will accumulate on the sheet. Roast the pork for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until its internal temperature reaches about 145 degrees F.

While the pork roasts, pour the marinade from the pork with any liquids that may emerged into a small bowl with the Hoisin sauce. Whisk together to create a glaze. Set aside.

Once the pork has cooked through, remove the tray from the oven. Brush the glaze over the pork and place it back in the oven, directly under the broiler. Broil the pork, rotating every 45 seconds or so to create a nice char. Be careful to keep a close eye on the pork at this point since it can burn quickly. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for several minutes before slicing.



Pork · Seafood

Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil Sauce – Happy Lunar New Year!!!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Friends, today is the beginning of Tết – the Vietnamese Lunar New Year!

As with every new year, I’ve done all the rituals like scrubbed down the house, prepared an altar of traditional Tết goodies and went to the bank to get crisp “new money” to stuff all the bags of lì xì for the munchkins.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce

Man…I miss the good ol’ days when I was the one collecting stacks of lì xì. Now, Cô Nam just doles out the red envelopes.

Being a grown up is seriously overrated. But at least there’s still all the good food!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Every year I look forward to eating copious amounts of fried Bánh Tét with Dưa Món. Bánh Tét are steamed sticky rice cakes and are cylindrical in shape. Bánh Chưng are essentially the same but are shaped as squares.

The savory ones are filled with pork belly and mung beans. Although they can be eaten just as is, I prefer it fried so the crust is nice and crispy but the interior is still soft. SOOOOO good! And of course, it’s best eaten with a side of Dưa Món – pickled veggies.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
Bánh Tét/Bánh Chưng are not something my family make—well, at least not since I’ve been alive!

It’s REALLY a time consuming process and it’s one of those things that if you’re going to go through the efforts to make a few, you might as well make 100. But that would take you foh-evah!

So like most Vietnamese folks nowadays, we buy ours. But we still like to cook other traditional Tết dishes.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to include some dishes in my yearly rituals that we didn’t grow up eating for Tết. And dumplings definitely top that list!

Sure, our Chinese kin definitely prepare and eat a variety of dumplings as a part of their Lunar New Year traditions. They’re eaten for luck because they symbolize wealth and richness as their shape resembles Chinese gold ingots.

But hey–if it can bring luck and taste delicious, why not adopt the practice, right?

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
I’ve shared a few of my favorite dumpling versions with you before like:

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
But for this year’s Tết, I thought I would share with you my Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce.

They. Are. So. Dang. Tasty.

But what’s the difference between a dumpling and a wonton?

Honestly I’ve found that the answer changes depending on the person you’ve asked. But generally folks tell me that dumplings are often quite plump and are steamed or pan-fried. Wontons are most often boiled and served in soups or a broth. The wrappers (or skins) are also supposed to be really thin and since they aren’t filled as much as the former, it allows the soup/broth/sauce to stick to the excess dough. That way, you can just slurp them up!

Oh…and some say that wontons only use square wrappers and dumplings use a round shape. But really… you can call them whatever you want —because I’ll take ANY version of them.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
These Sichuan Wontons are filled with a 1:1 ratio of pork to shrimp. And unlike my other dumplings, I don’t add much filler other than aromatics. No cabbage, no mushrooms—just protein and few other things.


Because the co-star of this dish truly is the Chili Oil Sauce that it’s pretty much bathed in. The sauce starts off with my homemade Sichuan Chili Oil. Does it have to be homemade? Well…technically no. But it makes SUCH a difference. And not only is my recipe super easy but it lasts a long time in your fridge!

The chili oil is then combined with soy, Chinese black vinegar (there’s really no substitute for it), sugar and a couple of other items. Simple right? That’s because the homemade oil is so aromatic that it needs very little else!

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
And if you’re REALLY fiery, after you’ve sauced the wontons, you can add a few extra dollops of the Sichuan Chili Oil everything. You can sure bet that I do—but perhaps dial it down a bit if you’re serving little ones.

There are also several different ways to fold wontons as I’ve shown above but I generally just go for the standard “ingot” fold as I’ve described in the recipe.

Sichuan Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce
And with that dear friends, let Bella and I wish you all Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!! May the Year of the Dog be filled with happiness, good health, prosperity and endless Foodventures!

ps. Bella believes EVERY year is the Year of the Dog.


Sichuan Wontons in Chili Oil Sauce
Makes approximately 80 wontons


For the wontons:
4 scallions
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 pound shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or other preferred rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
2 tablespoons fish sauce, more to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
80-100 square wonton wrappers

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinkiang Black Vinegar
½ tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons homemade Sichuan Chili Oil (both the oil and flakes)
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced scallions

For garnish:
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped scallions
toasted sesame seeds

Place the scallions, ginger, cloves, shallot and cilantro in a food processor. Pulse several times until all of the ingredients have broken down and become roughly the same minced texture. Add the shrimp and pulse until everything has combined and the shrimp has turned into somewhat of a paste. Add the pork, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Pulse just until the ingredients have fully combined.

Test the filling for seasoning by taking a small spoonful of the mixture and pan fry in a nonstick skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side. Taste and if needed, add more soy sauce or fish sauce to the uncooked filling.

Begin assembling the wontons. Place one wonton wrapper down on a flat surface so that it points towards you. Dip the tip of your finger into water and moisten the top two edges of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Fold the bottom corner (the one nearest you) over the filling so that it meets the top point and forms a triangle. Press down to seal the edges of the triangle while pressing out any air that may have been trapped inside. Add a dab of water to the two outer corners of the triangle and fold in so that they meet. Press corners together to firmly seal. Place the wonton on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/wrappers have been used.

Prepare the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the wontons to the pot (no more than a dozen or so at a time) and lower the heat so that it’s at a steady but not rapid boil. Constantly stir so that they do not stick together. Allow the wontons to cook for about 3 minutes or until the wrappers become translucent and the filling has cooked through. Use a large slotted spoon or kitchen spider to remove and drain the wontons. Transfer to a serving dish and spoon the sauce over the wontons. Garnish with scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Pork · Vietnamese

Cơm Sườn Nướng {Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops with Rice}

Cơm Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops
I’ve been craving a lot of Vietnamese foods lately. It’s comforting, nostalgic and just damn tasty.

I’ve said it many times before but I didn’t realize how good we had it growing up with all of that deliciousness around us all of the time. I definitely took it for granted.

And now when I want good quality Vietnamese food, I have to make the haul up to Orange County where I beg my family to feed me or resort to swinging by one of the gazillion Việt spots in Little Saigon.

Cơm Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops

But then there are times where I’m home in San Diego and have to fend for myself.

Don’t get me wrong–I do like cooking Vietnamese foods, I’m just not the best at it. For sure, Mom reigned supreme and the aunties too. And nowadays, I’d say big seester N and our cousies A and T are right up there. That alone makes the idea of ever moving back to OC palatable because they’ve got skills!

There are a few Việt dishes I’m happy to make and feel pretty good about.

Cơm Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops
Seestrah T posted a pic the other week of her grilling up some Vietnamese style pork chops which made me think of two things. First — hey! She never makes that for me! And second –sheesh, now I’m really hankering for some pork chops!

It was time to take matters into my own hands and luckily, I had all the ingredients already! My version of the marinade has staples like fish sauce, soy, sugar, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and chilies. Our cousin T that lives in Đà Nẵng makes the most EPIC sườn nướng (grilled pork chops). Years ago she told us what she marinated them with but I think the woman is holding out on us because mine never taste the same! And maybe it has to do with the fact that she grills them over this teeny-tiny charcoal grill on her patio floor and perhaps that’s where the essence of Việt Nam somehow creeps in and flavors it.

Who knows….

Cơm Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops
For these chops, I generally prefer to use a thinner cut—about 3/4 inch thickness. They remind me more of how we have them in Việt Nam or at the restaurants here. But if you prefer a thicker cut, go for it! Just be sure to marinate them overnight or at least for 6-8 hours.

Next, I throw them on a screaming hot grill and they cook up for 1-2 minutes on each side. Easy peasy! Keep in mind that the grilling time will increase if you choose thicker cuts.

Once finished, you’ll get all of these lovely charred bits from the sugar in the marinade. It’s at that point that you’ll want to quickly brush them with hành mơ — scallion oil.

Cơm Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops
I serve these pork chops pretty traditionally with a heaping scoop of steamed rice, sliced cucumbers & tomatoes, lots of spicy nước chấm (dipping sauce) and of course – a sunny side up fried egg with crispy edges. Now I know these days, some frown upon crispy edges on eggs. Quite frankly, I don’t know when that became out of fashion—but dang it! It’s darn tasty that way and adds texture.

If you order this dish out, you may also find that instead of a fried egg it will be served with Chả Trứng which is like a steamed egg meatloaf. It may sound strange to you but trust me, it’s awesome. Honestly, I was too lazy to make it (though it’s not difficult) but I promise I will someday soon and will share it with y’all.

Cơm Sườn Nướng - Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops

On this particular day, I plated them with a few Chả Giò . It’s not something I always do but seeing how I had a stash in my freezer, it seemed like the proper occasion to bust them out.

And with that dear peeps, Ăn Ngon!

Cơm Sườn Nướng {Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops with Rice}
Serves 4


Sườn Nướng – Grilled Pork Chops:
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh lemongrass
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
½ tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
2 Thai chili peppers, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 bone-in pork chops

Nước Chấm –Spicy Dipping Sauce:
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 Thai chili peppers, minced
½ tablespoon Sambal chili paste, more or less to taste

Hành Mơ – Scallion Oil:
½ cup light olive oil
1 cup chopped scallions

Serve With:
steamed rice
4 crispy fried eggs
sliced cucumber
sliced tomatoes
lettuce or mixed greens

In a bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, oil, soy sauce and sugar together until the latter has dissolved. Stir in the shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, chili peppers and black pepper. Place the pork chops in a shallow dish or large resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the pork, ensuring that the meat is well coated. Cover the dish (or seal the bag) and allow the pork to marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. (If using thick chops, marinade overnight.)

Prepare the nước chấm (spicy dipping sauce). In a small bowl or jar, mix ¼ cup sugar with the hot water until the sugar starts to dissolve. Stir in ¼ cup fish sauce, lime juice, chili peppers and Sambal chili paste. Set aside.

Prepare the hành mơ (scallion oil). In a small sauté pan, slowly heat the canola oil. Add the 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.

Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to take the chill off. Bring your grill to medium-high heat and lightly grease the grates with oil or cooking spray. Grill the pork chops for 1-2 minutes on each side until browned and slightly charred. If using thick chops, add an additional 2-3 minutes per side—depending on thickness. Remove the pork chops from the grill and generously brush them with the hành mơ. Cover and set aside while 4 plates are prepared.

On each plate, place a generous mound of rice and brush it with the hành mơ. Place one fried egg over the rice and add a few slices of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce/greens on the plate. Add one pork chop along with a small bowl of nước chấm.

Serve immediately.



Pan Seared Pork Chops with Tomatoes & White Wine-Garlic Sauce

Pan Seared Pork Chops in White Wine-Garlic Sauce
I’m not sure if I’ve told you but I have had a crazy bout of insomnia….of some serious epic proportions. And before you ask — YES, I’ve tried everything. (But THANK YOU!)

And my poor co-workers and loved ones have been subjected to my deliriousness. Trust me, I’ve been the hottest mess in all of the land. It’s not pretty.

In conversations I vacillate between speed talking (think of Six from Blossom), slow-motion speech and then just blank stares when I forget my train of thought mid-sentence.

I repeat, it’s not pretty. Ugh.

Pan Seared Pork Chops in White Wine-Garlic Sauce

How have I been filling my time?

Through a questionable amount of binge watching shows (how have I never watched Into the Badlands before?!?!), Podcasts (I’m crushin’ on Pod Save America) and reading everything I can get my hands on (any recommendations?).

There’s also been a good amount of QT in the kitchen. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I’m obsessed with using my Anova Precision Cooker. Yup, I pretty much want to sous vide everything I can get my hands on.

But I still love my quick meals….ones like this little number.

Pan Seared Pork Chops in White Wine-Garlic Sauce
One of my go-to proteins for weeknights are pork chops–particularly these really thin cuts sometimes sold as “breakfast pork chops”. They generally are about ½ – ¾ inch thick and are bone-in. Not only do they have great flavor but they’re super quick to cook up in a skillet.

These Pan Seared Pork Chops with Tomatoes & White Wine-Garlic Sauce can be whipped up in under 20 minutes. After a light seasoning, they’re browned up in a skillet before white wine and stock are added to deglaze the pan. Finally, lots of garlic, herbs, tomatoes and butter join the party to make a light sauce that the chops are simmered in for an additional few minutes. The chops are wonderfully savory and there’s great acidity from the wine and tomatoes along with brightness from the fresh herbs.

Total winner.

And I’m not just saying that because I’m half asleep as I type this. 😴

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Tomatoes & White Wine-Garlic Sauce
Serves 4


4 thin bone-in pork chops, ½ – ¾ inch thick
black pepper
kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, more for garnish

Make 4-5 notches around the edges of each chop with a sharp pairing knife about ⅓ inch deep. This will help prevent the edges of the pork chops from curling up. Season each side of the chops with pepper, salt, garlic powder and onion powder.

Bring a large, heavy bottom skillet up to medium-high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter into the olive oil and swirl it around the skillet. Sear the chops for about 2 minutes on each side and remove them from the skillet—this can be done in batches if they do not fit all it once in the skillet.

Lower the heat to medium and add the minced garlic to the skillet. Stir around for 45 seconds to a minute –be careful not to burn the garlic or let it get too dark. Pour in the white wine, chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape off the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Once the liquids come to a boil, add the red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, tomatoes and allow the liquids to reduce by about a third. Stir in and melt the remaining butter and add all the pork chops back into the skillet. Allow the pork to cook in the sauce for an additional 3-5 minutes, spooning the sauce over the chops every so often so that they are well coated.

Fold in the chopped parsley. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Plate the pork chops and spoon the sauce with tomatoes generously over each serving. Garnish with additional parsley and serve with your choice of salad, roasted veggies, rice, potatoes, etc.


Bacon Risotto

Bacon Risotto

I was out walking Bella the other day when I found myself thinking about Bacon.

Yup– Bacon.

A totally reasonable thing to think about while walking your pup.

If you’re bacon-crazed…..

And I am.

Bacon Risotto
And then my mind quickly wandered to other things like….

How many episodes are left in Downton Abbey?

When will Jack Johnson be on tour again?

Did I turn off the bathroom light before I left home?

I’m craving risotto….

And boom. My head snapped up and the most brilliant thought of all time (well, at least for that day) came to me.


Bacon Risotto
It was less of a thought and more of a compulsion. So I ran back to my place with my puggle in tow and jumped into the kitchen. After rendering down the bacon, I used the residual bacon grease to coat and saute the onions and Arborio rice. Heck, why not kick in as much bacon flavor as possible?

After that, it was pretty straight forward. Slowly stir in chicken stock until the rice breaks down into a rich, creamy sight. Add in a bunch of freshly grated Parmesan and then top with the crispy bacon and some parsley. I’d like to say that the parsley was to add a bit of freshness (and it did) –but really, I threw it in for color.

Then— I DUG IN!

Bacon Risotto
And man, OH man! It was awesome! Cheesy, rich deliciousness with bits of crispy, salty bacon. Why the heck have I not made this before????? But I promise you this–it won’t be the last time! And maybe I’ll throw in some peas next time as well.

Because YOLO.

Happy Monday!!!

Bacon Risotto
Serves 4


4 cups chicken stock
4 slices bacon, diced
1 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to garnish
kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley


Heat the chicken stock in a medium sized saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

In a heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat, slowly sauté the bacon until it becomes crispy and the fat has rendered down—about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the bacon bits to a plate covered with paper towels. Reserve two tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Sauté the onions over medium heat in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the chicken broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total.

Stir in Parmesan until the cheese has melted. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper as needed. Spoon the risotto into dishes and top each with the crispy bacon. Grate additional Parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle parsley over each dish. Serve immediately.

Pastas/Noodles · Pork · Seafood

Sui Gao Noodle Soup – Happy Birthday Dad!

Dad's Birthday

Our family is filled with lots of May babies—-Mom, cousie, sis-in-law, yours truly….and today is DAD’S BIRTHDAY!!!

Dad's Birthday

Dad’s family is originally from the Đà Nẵng and Huế area of Việt Nam—which in my opinion, has DEE BEST food in the country!

The son of a mason, Dad entered the Vietnamese navy and became quite the head honcho. And after our family came to the states, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota (GO GOPHERS!) and became an engineer.

Dad's Birthday

Anyone know what a layout engineer oversees?

Yeah… neither do I. 🙂 I’ve asked Dad to explain it to me a billion of times over the years but my non-science, non-mathematical mind can’t process stuff like that.

But he was awesome at it—and did I mention that he draws the best cartoons/pictures for his grand kids?

Dad's Birthday

There were definitely a lot of perks being the youngest of five kids–particularly since by the time I started junior high, my seester closest in age to me was already in college. Yes, Dad and Mom were still strict with my upbringing but quite honestly, by the time they got to me, they definitely loosened the reigns. Not to mention all of the extra treats I got since the older kids were, well…. older. 🙂

Weekend breakfasts at McDonald’s (to this day, one of my favorite guilty pleasures), excursions for sweet potato-shrimp fritters in Little Saigon……

Dad's Birthday

And one of my childhood favorites–excursions to Sam Woo Restaurant (三和), which now is a popular, thriving restaurant chain.

Sui Gao

Sam Woo is known for their Hong Kong and Cantonese style cuisine. But despite their endless menus (both from their Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant and Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant), I’ve always gravitated towards their roasted suckling pig and dumpling noodle bowls.

Sui Gao

The luscious roasted pork is lightly seasoned with five spice and topped with it’s beautifully crisped pork skin. Seester calls it “meat candy” and I’m 100% on board with that.

Sui Gao

As for their noodle bowls, I mostly see folks ordering their standard wonton noodle soup or duck noodle soups. Both are very good, but really….it’s all about their Sui Gao Noodle Soup. Often also seen as “shui kao”, “sui gow”, “sui kow” or “sui gaw”.

Sui Gao

So what’s the difference between “wontons” and  “sui gao”?

There are a ton of different explanations to this but when I asked one of the times I was at Sam Woo, they told me that sui gao, or water dumplings” should be much larger in size than standard wontons.

Sui Gao

Second, I was told that along with minced shrimp, there must be “fat” included in the filling. After a little more digging, I realized that he meant lard or chopped pork fat—both can be found in the butcher section of almost any Asian grocery store.

As for me, I opt to skip on the lard and use a fattier ground pork. I find that it still provides just enough moisture and flavor as the lard.

Sui Gao

Lastly, they told me that sui gao should have minced water chestnuts for crunch and mushrooms for richer flavor.

Are these the only differences? Well, based on my Sam Woo intel, those are the major differences. But whatever it is…they are freaking delicious.

Sui Gao

So to celebrate Dad’s Birthday, I wanted to share with you all my version of Sui Gao Noodle Soup. It’s hearty yet somehow light at the same time…and really, at the end of the day, it’s like having a comforting hug in a bowl.

Sure, it does take a few steps to make but you can definitely make large batches of the sui gao and freeze them for a rainy day. But best of all, while I was folding the dumplings, I couldn’t help but reminisce on all of the wonderful times Dad would take Mom and I for a large bowl of sui gao with roasted pork on the side.

Dad's Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!!  Heo Yeahhh! ❤

Sui Gao Noodle Soup
Makes 6 bowls with additional dumplings


Sui Gow Dumplings (makes approximately 40-45 dumplings):
½ pound shrimp, shelled and devined
½ pound ground pork
½ heaping cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
4-5 water chestnuts, rinsed and minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1½ tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
1 teaspoon rice flour or cornstarch
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ tablespoon sesame oil
1 package sui gao dumpling wrappers (round dumpling wrappers)

2 quarts shrimp stock
1 quart chicken stock
2 inch knob fresh ginger
½ small white onion
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
1 small bunch bok chok, trimmed and washed
4 ounces beech mushrooms or oyster mushrooms
chili oil
sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped

Prepare the sui gao. On a cutting board, chop and mince the shrimp until it becomes a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining items (except the wrappers and cornstarch) for the sui gao filling. Mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Prepare the broth. In a large stock pot, add the shrimp and chicken stock. Add in the ginger, onion, peppercorns, soy sauce and fish sauce. Bring the liquids to a boil and lower to a simmer. Allow the broth to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and add more soy sauce as needed. Keep warm.

While the broth simmers, prepare the sui gao. Lay one sui gao wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center. Pick up the sui gao and fold it in half. Firmly seal the edges by pinching and pressing the edges together—try and remove as much excess air as possible. Place the filled sui gao on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch or lined with parchment paper to avoid them sticking to the pan. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Boil the egg noodles according to the package until al dente. Remove the noodles from the pot (saving the boiling water) and drain in a colander. Divide the noodles amongst six bowls.

Using the same pot of boiling water, add 7-8 sui gao dumplings. Once the water comes back to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Boil the sui gao for about 7-8 minutes until they float on the surface of the water, stirring every minute or so. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm. Repeat until all the sui gao have been cooked.

To serve, bring the broth to a rolling boil. Drop in the bok choy and mushrooms into the stock. Allow the vegetables to cook for 45-60 seconds and then divide them amongst the six bowls. Top each bowl with 3-4 sui gao dumplings and ladle the hot broth into each of the bowls. Top each bowl with a drizzle of chili oil, sesame oil and scallions. Serve immediately.

*If you would like to freeze the sui gao, place the baking sheet directly into freezer for 4-5 hours after you have assembled them. Be sure that the dumplings are in a single layer and are not touching each other. Once the dumplings have frozen, you may transfer them to a sealed container. They can be kept in the freezer for a few months and should be cooked frozen. Add 1-2 additional minutes to the cooking time when boiling the frozen dumplings.*

Breakfast/Brunch · Pizzas · Pork · Sponsored

Potato-Egg-Prosciutto Pizza

Potato-Egg-Prosciutto Pizza

The thing is, I rarely ever have any true vested interest with the Super Bowl. Because although my beloved Vikings may be full of heart, we don’t seem to be able to get our act together to make a showing in the big game.

Well, not since the 70’s at least. Ughh…..

Potato-Egg-Prosciutto Pizza

But that’s not to say that I don’t love to partake in all the Super Bowl festivities.

And by festivities, I mean gluttonous food and adult beverages. Hey, it would be un-American not too!

My loved ones and I typically like to get our Super Bowl parties started early so we can have a full day of indulgence. To kick-off the AM shenanigans, I wanted to come up with something that married the spirit of brunch and football. And what does that better than gorgeous eggs and pizza?!

Potato-Egg-Prosciutto Pizza

Which is fantastic because I’ve been tapped this year to be one of the twelve ambassadors for Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen and thought it was the perfect time to whip up a few recipes featuring their delicious and all natural pasteurized eggs.

I’ve sung their praises before but you can rest easy when using their eggs since their pasteurization process eliminates salmonella. Check out more healthful info about their eggs here.

Potato-Egg-Prosciutto Pizza

In my opinion, this pizza really does have all the necessary components for a savory brunch.

Cheese? CHECK!

Potatoes? CHECK!

Runny eggs? CHECK!

Pork? CHECK!

It even has some greens to make us feel a little better.

A Win-NGUYEN for sure….even if my Vikings don’t. Bleh….


Potato-Egg-Prosciutto Pizza
Serves 2


1 whole garlic head
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced new potatoes
½ tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
6 ounces fresh pizza dough, rested and at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon corn meal
2 large Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 thin slices prosciutto, torn into small pieces
2 ounces goat cheese
1 cup fresh arugula leaves

Prepare the garlic paste by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and discard the outer skin from the garlic head. Cut off the very top part of the garlic head so that the cloves are just barely exposed. Place the garlic head on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over it. Bunch the foil together to cover the garlic and roast for about 30 minutes until the cloves are golden brown. Once cooled, squeeze the cloves out of their skins into a small bowl. Using a fork, mash up the garlic so that it becomes a paste. Set aside.

While the garlic roasts, mix the potato slices, rosemary, pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Once the garlic has roasted and has been removed from the oven, turn up the oven heat to 500 degrees F. Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven while it preheats.

Take the pizza dough and flatten it with your hands on a floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the crust about 1/8 of an inch. Transfer the rolled out dough to a pizza paddle or lightly floured cutting board. Spread a thin layer of the roasted garlic over the entire pizza dough. Place the potato slices, slightly overlapped, over the top of the pizza. You’ll want to leave two small spaces uncovered where the eggs will rest.

Carefully remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle it with the cornmeal. Slide the pizza onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Take the pizza from oven and crack 1 egg into each of the predetermined spots. Place the pizza back into the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until the eggs have set and the crust has become golden brown.

Slide the pizza onto a large cutting board and season with the remaining kosher salt and black pepper. Top with the prosciutto pieces, goat cheese and arugula. Serve immediately.



*DISCLOSURE: As a brand ambassador for the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I was compensated for the creation of this recipe and post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.*