Appetizers/Small Plates · Seafood

Seafood with Chinese Chive Dumplings

April 2018 Fam Din
Remember these beauties?

They were one of the gajillion dumplings I had made for my Lucasaurus’ bday Fam Din.

It’s only fitting. He’s one of the generals in my Dumpling Army after all.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
Since the other dumplings were filled with either pork or chicken, it was a no-brainer that a seafood version had to join the party. I opted for a combo of shrimp and scallops but really, you can use anything you’d like.

And a perfect pairing to seafood are Chinese Chives — also known as Garlic Chives. Chinese Chives have a flavor that is a mix between scallions and onions –and they are HIGHLY aromatic.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
I use pre-packaged skins for these Seafood and Chinese Chives Dumplings and prefer the Shanghai style wrappers. I like their thinness and color once cooked.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings
I usually have a few packages tucked in my freezer for those times when I’m inspired to restock my dumplings stash.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings

Aren’t they adorable? Like little pouches?

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
Or like a roly poly?

Delicious — however you see them.

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
When it’s time to cook them, just line a steamer with either cabbage leaves….

Seafood & Chinese Chive Dumplings
…or sheets of parchment paper with holes cut into them. The holes allow the steam to vent through the levels and cook the dumplings through.

April 2018 Fam Din
After about 8 minutes – voila!

April 2018 Fam Din
Super juicy, plump and perfect when dunked in the soy-vinegar-chili-sesame sauce I’ve included below.

April 2018 Fam Din
Hope you like them! ❤

______________________________________________________________________________
Seafood with Chive Dumplings
Makes approximately 50-75 dumpings

Dumplings:
2 cups Chinese chives, roughly chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound scallops
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
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
50-75 Shanghai style dumpling skins
cabbage leaves for steaming (optional)
chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Dipping Sauce:
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinkiang Black Vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons homemade Sichuan Chili Oil (both the oil and flakes)

Place the chives, ginger, garlic and shallot 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 scallops. Pulse until the seafood is chopped but not so much that it turns into a paste – you still want some pieces for texture. Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar and peppers. Pulse just until the ingredients have combined. Note: You can also due this all by hand but I love the convenience of using a food processor.

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 assembly of the dumplings. Lay one dumpling skin on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the dumpling skin. Next, choose one of the four following easy methods to seal the dumplings:

  1. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent shape and seal the entire edge by pinching the seam together. These dumplings will lay flat like my Sui Gao. -OR-
  2. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent. Starting from the left side, pleat – fold – and press the edges together, ensuring that you seal the entire dumpling tightly. These dumplings will lay flat but pleated like my Gyoza. -OR-
  3. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent and pinch the center together. Starting from the center, make about 3-4 pleats on the right side of the dumpling. Repeat with the left side of the dumpling so that all the pleats point towards the center. This will create a flat bottom to allow the dumpling to sit upright and form a slight crescent shape like these Pan Fried Dumplings. -OR-
  4. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half into a crescent shape and seal the entire edge by pinching the seam together. Next, create pleats from the left side all the way to the right side—pinching well to hold. *This is how the dumplings in these photos were folded.

Whichever method you choose, place the filled dumpling on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/skins have been used. Arrange the dumplings in a steamer (lined with cabbage leaves or parchment paper) and steam for 8-10 minutes.

While the dumplings steam, whisk all of the ingredients together for the dipping sauce and set aside.

Once the dumplings are steamed, transfer to a platter and sprinkle the scallions and sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately with sauce. ENJOY!

*If you would like to freeze the dumplings, 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 froze, 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 steaming the dumplings.*

 

Advertisements
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.

Why?

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

Ingredients:

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.

Seafood

Decadently Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
I know, I know.

I already have a Shrimp Risotto recipe posted on the blog. And it’s wonderful, tried and true.

But y’all…it’s not THIS Shrimp Risotto.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
Because as much as the other one was delicious, I really kicked it up a few notches with this Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

Like most situations, I just can’t leave things be.

I’m constantly tweaking recipes. Sometimes out of necessity because I’m missing an ingredient or two and sometimes because I just want to change things up.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
So what did I do different?

A few things like use shallots and leeks. But the big game changer was the addition of peas and heavy cream.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
My usual risottos are rich and creamy just by nature of the slow cooking and constant stirring of the rice to release the starches. But this particular day, I wanted things extra decadent and added a few splashes of heavy cream at the end.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto
How did it turn out?

Freaking brilliantly.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

Velvety perfection.

And the peas added a nice punch of freshness and texture.

Shrimp & Peas Risotto

It makes me happy just looking at it.

But of course, I’m even happier inhaling it. ❤

___________________________________________________

Creamy Risotto with Pan Seared Garlic Shrimp and Peas
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic, divided
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
sea salt
black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup chopped shallots
1 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts
4-5 cups seafood stock
1 cup Aborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
additional fresh thyme to garnish

Combine the shrimp, 1 tablespoon garlic, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon thyme leaves. Season with salt, pepper and place in the refrigerator covered for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until opaque. Remove the shrimp from the skillet. Chop half of the shrimp into large chunks while leaving the other whole. Cover and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat remaining olive oil and butter of medium heat. Add the shallots, leeks and cook until tender and translucent.

While the aromatics cook, place the stock in saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Keep the stock simmering on the back of the stove.

Once the shallots and leeks have cooked for 5-6 minutes, add in the remaining garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme. Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the rice and stir until it is well-coated and opaque.  The rice may begin to slightly crackle as it lightly toasts. Pour in the wine and stir until it has nearly evaporated.

Ladle in about 1 cup of the heated stock. Cook and continue stirring the rice until it has nearly absorbed all the liquid. Add the remaining stock, about 1 cup at a time—stirring well in between each addition. Take care to allow the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding more. You may not need all 5 cups as the risotto should be slightly firm and creamy once done. This process takes approximately 25 minutes.

When the risotto is done, pull it off the heat and stir in the heavy cream, chopped shrimp, peas and Parmesan cheese until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper as needed. Plate each dish with a portion of the risotto topped with the remaining whole shrimp and additional thyme. Serve immediately.

Poultry · Seafood

Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
I must admit that I’ve been incredibly lazy in the kitchen these past few weeks. It’s been really warm and humid (for San Diego standards, that is) and the last thing I want to do is hang out over the hot stove for long periods of time.

And don’t even get me started about my utter disdain for dishes!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
So my “cooking” of late has really consisted of compiling ingredients (salads or sandwiches), charcuterie boards (AMEN!), or quick prep dishes such as stir-frys.

Because…you know…. EVERYTHING STIR-FRY and all.

Total shameless plug.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
But all self-promotion aside, stir-fry dishes are a total legit way to get something scrumptious in your belly with minimal cooking time. The majority of your efforts primarily go towards chopping the ingredients— easy peasy!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
This Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai is a slight variation of my Pork Larb Gai which is a Thai minced pork salad. For the protein I went with a surf and turf approach as I love the flavor combo. For the ground chicken, you can go with breast meat but I prefer the flavor of dark meat. And if you want a really light approach, sub the chicken with ground turkey breast.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Whichever protein you select, you’ll really love Larb Gai –-especially during the summer months. The dish is light yet fulfilling and is punched up with TONS of flavor from the fresh lime juice, bright herbs and savory sauce. I often have it over steamed rice but when I’m feeling extra lazy or when it’s warm out, I use it as filling for lettuce wraps. Either way, you’ll love it.

Enjoy!

________________________________________

Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 teaspoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced red onions or shallots
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground chicken
½ pound peeled shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon ground toasted rice powder*
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn

In a small bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced onions, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the ground chicken.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chicken around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes and then add the shrimp Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes until the shrimp becomes pink and opaque. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, sliced red onions, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, and lettuce. Serve immediately with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

Sunday Family Dinner

The Pacific Northwest and East Asia Blend at Family Dinner

April 2016 Fam Din
We’ve got two birthday boys in April — Lucas and Curtis! And as Family Dinner protocol dictates, when it’s your birthmonth, you call the theme for the menu.

Now with our Lucasaurus, he’s pretty laid back. If there’s something yummy and he gets ice cream at the end, well–he’s all set. So it was up to my BIL, Curtis, to give us some direction.

April 2016 Fam Din
Curtis
is all about seafood and generally loves Japanese cuisine. He mentioned that he wanted crab and the next thing I knew it, we were in crab boil planning mode. We’ve done crab Boils quite often. Remember this time? Or how about this time?

Can you blame us? Seafood boils are freaking D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!

But this time, since we wanted to use dungeness crab (they’re back in season–YAHOO!), we thought we’d take a different spin. We ditched our beloved spicy Cajun seasoning packets and headed for the Pacific Northwest for inspiration.

April 2016 Family Dinner
But first–one small order of business.

A few months ago, we decided that while we were prepping/cooking/enjoying Fam Din, everyone would stay off their cellphones or tablets and spend some QT with each other. Only exception? You could use it briefly to snap pics of food or family.

The girls even made a sign for our “docking” station that would rotate from house to house each month.

April 2016 Fam Din
So what did we do while off our phones?

We play tennis of of course! Well….Wii Sports but that’s nearly as good.

The pics below may not be as clear as I’d like but I love them. Look at their intense facial expressions.

GAME ON!

April 2016 Fam Din
Speaking of GAME ON–check out Lucasaurus. One moment he’s all “sweet face” and the next “100% slugger”.

He’s such a playah’ that he even squeezed in a fast T-Ball game with the homies before dinner was ready.

Stud.

April 2016 Fam Din
And what did my seestrahs and I do in between the cooking?

Drank some draannnnkkks of course!

Our cocktail of choice was a concoction that seester T had with her friends one night – Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew.

What does a “sparkling rice brew” taste like? Think of a less sweet, more carbonated wine cooler but a gazillion times better. The whole thing was floral, fruity, and went down dangerously smooth.

April 2016 Fam Din
At this point, you may be wondering how this cocktail fits the Pacific Northwest theme.

Well…..that’s where the East Asia meets the Pacific Northwest. At least, the first time for the night.

April 2016 Fam Din
Oh–and of course we took a minute or two to snap a few pics.

April 2016 Fam Din

CHEERS!

April 2016 Fam Din
Meanwhile, Lucas had come back from his game, showered and then decided to show his uncle some of his badass roundhouse kicks.

Did I mention our little man just passed his Tae Kwon Do black back examination?

Yeah…I keep him around as my personal security these days.

April 2016 Fam Din
Then at some point throughout the shenanigans, big sis whipped out some appetizers – Shrimp Crostinis!!

April 2016 Fam Din
And then we got down to some serious cooking.

How serious?

So serious we had to break out the step stools.

#ShortPeopleProblems

April 2016 Fam Din
And then the girls started getting all kinds of silly.

Not sure if they were getting hypoglycemic from all the waiting or if it’s just their true nature.

You’re right….. it’s the Aliens.

April 2016 Fam Din

Grab the bibs, refill the drinks, plunk yourselves down in a chair because it was finally DINNER TIME!!!

April 2016 Fam Din
Sweet dungeness crab, prawns, clams, corn, new potatoes and crusty bread. The “boil” was made from crab stock, lemons, garlic and an insane amount of fennel and coriander seeds. Very, very aromatic.

Oh–and tons, and I mean TONS of garlic butter to dip it all in.

LET’S GET SEAFOOD WASTED!!!!

April 2016 Fam Din
And you bet we sure as heck did! Totally natural–birthday celebrations and all.

Though no matter how full we are, there must be dessert! And with two birthday boys, we had to have TWO desserts. One made specifically for each of boys’ favorite flavors.

April 2016 Fam Din
With Curtis, we went for the East Asian flavors because the man loves him some green tea! And after all these years, it’s become quite the challenge to make him a different green tea dessert. We’ve done Matcha Green Tea Icebox Cheesecake, Green Tea Souffles, and Matcha Green Tea Layered Cake filled with Matcha Mousse and the list goes on and on.

Hey–at least he’s consistent.

April 2016 Fam Din
So after squeezing my brain to the core, I decided to make him a Green Tea Tiramisu–also known as a Matchamisu!

I used this recipe to make the fantastically easy and light dessert. I took packaged lady finger cookies and dipped them in a mixture of honey and a strongly brewed green tea. It was then layered with a fluffy filling of whipped mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, sugar, clouds of whipped cream and of course, matcha powder.

Oh! Did I mention that I threw in a few splashes of Grand Marnier? It is a type of tiramisu after all.

April 2016 Fam Din
It was a WINNER!

Not only was it crazy easy to pull together but it was so well flavored and light. Birthday boy gave me the stamp of approval! So much in fact, that I’m making a bunch of individual sized Matchamisus for his big birthday bash this weekend.

PHEW!

Better start thinking about his next year’s green tea dessert!

April 2016 Fam Din
As for Lucas’ dessert – my nephew being MY nephew, LOVES ice cream — mint chocolate chip ice cream. And like me, if it’s isn’t green mint chip then we want nothing to do with it.

So as a nod to the “Pacific Northwest”, I made our little guy a Baked Alaska — something I’ve never attempted before. And guess what? It was really easy too!

First off, I used store bought ice cream (I know, I know–but I was short on time!) and let it set out for about 30-45 minutes to soften. I lined a large metal bowl with plastic wrap (for easy removal) and packed the ice cream in it. Then, I pressed a layer of brownie on top to form the base.

Lukey doesn’t like cake—we’re all a work in progress.

April 2016 Fam Din
I covered the top with more plastic wrap and then let the whole thing freeze for several hours. When it was about time to serve, I took the bowl out of the freezer and set it on the counter while we got to making the meringue.

In a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, I whisked up 2 large egg whites, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-2 pinches cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and until stiff peaks formed.

We then inverted the bowl onto a plate, piped meringue rosettes all over and then brought out the torch.

April 2016 Fam Din
Most Baked Alaskas, well—are baked. But instead of placing the whole thing in a high heat oven, I opted to use a kitchen torch. I felt more comfortable with this method for a more even browning.

I think it all came out beautifully well. Fluffy-marshamllowly meringue, VERY green ice cream and a chocolately brownie base.

April 2016 Fam Din
It got a thumbs up from this adorable birthday boy….

And if you follow me on Instagram, then you would have saw a video of Lucas face planting into his dessert plate–on his own volition!!!

Silly boy.

April 2016 Fam Din
Another delish and FUN Family Dinner in the books!

Happy Birthmonth Curtis and Lucas!

_____________________________________________

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Pacific Northwest – East Asian

Cocktails: Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew
Appetizers: Shrimp Crostini
Entrees: Pacific Northwest Dungeness Crab Boil with Prawns, Clams, Sausage, Potatoes & Corn
Sides: Toasted Ciabatta and French Bread
Dessert: Matcha Tiramisu and Baked Alaska with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and Brownie Base

Seafood · Vietnamese

Bún Tôm Nướng Sả – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp over Vermicelli Noodles

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
If you follow me on Instagram then you’ve more than once (okaayyy….more like a thousand times!) heard me rant that basic, everyday Vietnamese dishes aren’t really difficult and are often times quick to cook — but it’s the “mise” that will get you.

We love our condiments and dipping sauces and every dish has its own specific ones to compliment them. Tons of different textures? A MUST! Garnishes? We’re OBSESSED! And I’m not referring to the last minute little sprig of parsley you throw on once you’re done plating. I’m talking about pickled veggies, crispy fried shallots, all kinds of fresh veggies, scallion and chili oils, roasted nuts, savory caramel sauces, and tons–and I mean TONS- of fresh herbs!

We take it to a whole new level!

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp

Which brings me back to my initial statement that the actual “cooking” part of the dish can be about 5 minutes whereas the prep and mise en place could add an additional hour!

Mixing sauces, chopping, mincing, dicing, MORE CHOPPING, roasting–and my least favorite as a kid, washing all the herbs. I know it sounds ridiculous but I really hated being on herb washing duty.

Maybe because we had so much of them all of the time?

Maybe because Mom wanted each leaf perfectly plucked from the stems?

Or maybe because I had to meticulously blot them each dry with a paper towel because wet herbs “watered” things down?

Had I even known that a salad spinner existed, I would have gladly used whatever little money I had at age 8 to buy one. It would have saved me from all the trauma—but I digress……

Vietnamese Mise en Place

I don’t mean to frighten Vietnamese cuisine novices from giving my peeps’ food a try—more of just a heads up. And once you start cooking Vietnamese more regularly, there are a few shortcuts such as:

  • Keep a large jar of basic Nước Chấm (dipping sauce) in your fridge. Just leave out the Sambal and doctor it up to best compliment that particular dish you’re fixing up – ie. fresh chilies instead of Sambal, fresh finely minced ginger, etc.
  • Đồ Chua are the pickled carrots and daikon you’ll find in tons of noodle dishes and bánh mì. My recipe below is a quick method using just carrots as I didn’t have any daikon on hand but if you make a large batch, jarred Đồ Chua can last in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.
  • Lots of Asian grocery stores these days carry sả bằm (finely minced lemongrass) in their freezer section–often in little plastic tubs or bags. This is perfect for those folks who don’t use lemongrass often or just don’t want to hassle with all the mincing—though a food processor can also address the latter issue.

And of course, if you’ve got some good knife skills, then you’ve just cut the challenge in half (yea, I went there). Since so much prep is about dicing, mincing and slicing—it’ll be a breeze for you.

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp

Bún Tôm Nướng Sả is a relatively low fuss dish I make quite often when I get a hankering for a big old bowl of Vietnamese goodness. I marinate a bunch of shrimp with lots of minced lemongrass (yup, I keep a tub in my freezer!), throw them on the grill (or grill pan or in this case, my cast iron skillet) and then nestle them on top of a mound of cool vermicelli noodles along with a hefty amount of veggies/herbs, Đồ Chua, Hành Mơ (scallion oil) and crunchy peanuts.

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
The whole thing then gets doused with a generous amount of nước chấm and fresh chilies for an added kicked. The bowl is filled with tons of different textures and crunch, light yet savory with a tremendous amount of freshness from the veggies/herbs and acidity from the nước chấm. If I had some leftover homemade egg rolls in the freezer, I would fry them up and add them to the bowl too! NGUYEN-ing!!!!!

Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking of it.

And you betcha’ those are my Yoda lightsabre chopsticks below. Because when it comes to mise, Master Yoda would say “Patience you must have my young padawan!”

Yup…anyway to infuse some Jedi lessons…..

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
This would be just as tasty if you used thinly sliced chicken instead of the shrimp–or a combo of both! It’s your world, get a little crazy!

As for the prep time these days, I kind of like doing it now. Maybe it’s nostalgic, maybe 30+ years later I’ve become a little more patient….. But oddly enough, i find it rather relaxing—especially with some good music in the background and a glass of vino within arms reach. Because yes, vino should always be involved.

Ăn Ngon!

_________________________________________________

Bún Tôm Nướng Sả – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass
Shrimp over Vermicelli Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimped, peeled and deveined
quality Vietnamese fish sauce, divided
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pinches black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaping tablespoon finely minced lemongrass
1 cup rice wine vinegar
sugar, divided
1 cup shredded carrots
¼ cup of canola oil
½ cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Sambal chili paste, more or less to taste
cooking spray
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 package vermicelli noodles, prepared according to package directions
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ roughly chopped roasted peanuts
fresh chilies

In a large bowl, mix the shrimp, 2-3 dashes fish sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder and lemongrass. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl or shallow plate, whisk the rice wine vinegar and 2-3 pinches sugar together. Add the carrots and allow to “quick pickle” in the fridge.

Prepare the hành mơ (scallion oil). In a 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.

Prepare the nước chấm (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 and Sambal chili paste. Set aside.

Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator 5 minutes before cooking to take the chill off. Heat your grill pan/cast iron to medium-high and lightly cover with cooking spray (or prepare outdoor grill). Grill the shrimp for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side until it’s opaque and turns pink. Remove to a large plate.

Divide the lettuce and noodles between four bowls. Add the pickled carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, and cilantro. Top the bowls with the grilled shrimp and generously brush them with the hành mơ. Sprinkle the bowls with the crushed peanuts and serve with nước chấm and fresh chilies.

Appetizers/Small Plates · Seafood · Vietnamese

Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Dear Mother Nature,

You know that I adore Spring and Summer. In fact, I’m a Sun Baby through and through.

It may be a result of those early years where I froze in the Minnesota snow and now I’m at my best when I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face and can wear my flipflops 365.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

But with that said, I think you’re playing a cruel practical joke on me this late in the game.

90+ degree weather EVERY day this week?!?!

And that’s with mi casa sitting on the coast. Where or WHERE did you send my beloved Pacific Ocean breeze?

My poor puggle and I are melting.

Melting….

And it’s already September.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls.

Lately, all I want are Spring Rolls and popsicles….and slurpees.

Gỏi Cuốn, as you know, are Vietnamese spring rolls….sometimes noted as “summer rolls”.

They’re light, filled with veggies and low maintenance.

Thankfully, because I can barely muster enough energy to boil water to cook the vermicelli noodles and poach the shrimp. And lucky for both of us, I don’t like poached pork belly which is commonly used in Vietnamese spring rolls. It gives me one less thing to worry about.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Now, if my face wasn’t melting off my head (is that T.M.I.?), I’d marinate the shrimp in a little garlic, fish sauce and then grill them. It really does add that extra oompf of flavor but trust me, poaching them are just as delish.

Oh–and Mother Nature, if you’re fixing up some spring rolls, feel free to add in other herbs and veggies you may have on hand….bell peppers, bean sprouts, Thai basil….

And thin slices of poached pork belly if it tickles your fancy.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring RollsAnd once you’re done making your rolls, could you find it in your heart to send back our “normal” weather?

We would love you even more….like, times infinity.

xoxo ❤ ,

N

_________________________________

Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup boiling water
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned daikon radish
8 sheets round bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets)
lettuce leaves
2 cups cooked vermicelli noodles
1 small Persian cucumber, sliced thinly lengthwise
fresh mint leaves
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh Thai basil, optional
fresh Vietnamese coriander, optional
1 dozen poached shrimp, sliced in half lengthwise
8 thin scallions or Chinese chives

Prepare the đồ chua (pickled vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the carrots and daikon and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. *This can keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and are a must in Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì).

Dip one rice paper sheet in warm water and place on a flat surface. The rice paper will slowly become pliable. Lay one piece of lettuce in the middle of the rice sheet and top with vermicelli noodles, cucumber slices, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and some of the refrigerated đồ chua. Lay 3-4 shrimp slices, cut side up, in one line above the layer of vegetables.

Tightly roll the bottom of the rice paper over the mound. Fold the right side of the roll in and lay one scallion/chive above the roll. Fold the left side in and continue rolling the rice paper up until you’ve created a secured roll. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve at room temperature with hoisin peanut sauce or other dipping sauce of your choice.