Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Chinese Broccoli {Gai Lan} with Oyster Sauce

Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

We went CRAY.

Four days with the Fam Bam celebrating Tết, my adorable niece Kaelani’s first trip to Southern Cali, and our monthly Sunday Family Dinner.

Yup…it was crazy and also delicious.

But really, that’s how my family (both immediate and HUGE extended) have always celebrated with each other. Through the process of cooking, eating and sharing our specialty dishes – we reminisce on old memories, loved ones who are no longer with us and just laugh…A LOT.

And since I indulged a bit much during the festivities, it’s time to add a bit more greens and light proteins back into the daily regiment. Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce is a quick and satisfying way to get those dark greens in and can be done in just a few minutes. Gai Lan is also known as Chinese Broccoli and incidentally, is eaten during the Lunar New Year for luck.

And although it has nothing to do with gai lan, you better believe I had to include pics of our little Kaelani Simone. WE’RE SMITTEN!  ❤

Kaelani

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Chinese Broccoli {Gai Lan} with Oyster Sauce
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced ginger
1 pound Chinese broccoli, washed and trimmed
½ cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 15 seconds. Add in the broccoli and cook for 1 minute before pouring in the vegetable stock. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Transfer the broccoli to a plate.

In a small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of the liquids from the wok with the oyster sauce, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Drizzle the sauce over the broccoli and serve warm.

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Seafood

Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass

Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass

Does anyone else pretend like they’re on a cooking show when you’re in the kitchen?

You know, talk out loud as if you’re narrating your own show….

Or try to race against the clock to cook/bake something in 5 minutes….

Just me???

Oh…..ok.

Well, if you did ever time yourself, these Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass would be the perfect dish because they’re done in flash! You can easily be in and out of the kitchen in less than 15 minutes—even faster if you have your fishmonger clean your clams for you.

And for the record, I not only time myself when making this dish but also talk to my puggle as if she was the audience in my live cooking show. She thinks I’m hilarious.

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Clams with Ginger and Lemongrass
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, tender inner white bulbs only, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 Thai Bird chilies, sliced
½ cup dry white wine
½ tablespoon fish sauce
2 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces (more for garnish)
1½ pounds little-neck or Manila clams, scrubbed and cleaned
cilantro

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ginger, and chilies–stir-fry for 30 seconds. Carefully stir in the wine, fish sauce, and scallions.

Add in the clams, stir the contents, and cover with a lid. Allow the clams to cook for 4-5 minutes or until the shells have opened. Plate the clams and garnish with scallions and cilantro. .

 

Vegetables/Vegetarian · Vietnamese

Đậu Hũ Sốt Cà Chua (Vietnamese Style Tofu with Tomato Sauce)

Tofu with Tomato Sauce

What is your Comfort Food?

Mac ‘n Cheese? Chicken Noodle Soup? PB and J sammies?

No matter what it is—one thing holds true for everyone. Comfort Food does exactly what it’s named for….it brings us comfort—and perhaps transports us back to a time of happiness, safety and love.

And for me, that is what Vietnamese food is.

Tofu with Tomato Sauce

It’s about the “everyday” dishes my family would sit down to at dinner time. A plethora of dishes to be eaten with jasmine rice….fried fish, stuffed squid, various stir-fry veggies, soups, and stinky stuff that just tastes so damn good. And wouldn’t you know it? When I was young, I would complain all the time about it to Mom and say “cơm (rice) again?!” Because at that time, I wanted to eat what all my friends were eating…spaghetti, pizza, burgers, etc. But Mom would always say, “Just wait—one day, you’ll miss this”. And darnit! She was right! Moms…..how do they just know?!

This simple tofu dish is something we would eat quite often. It’s quick and tasty—balancing salty and sweet together. I cheat and buy already fried tofu squares at my local Asian markets which makes this dish SUPER quick and easy. But if you don’t have that available, cube up firm tofu and use paper towels to dry them off. Fry them in oil until golden brown and then throw them into the sauce. Easy Peasy!

So tell me, Friends….what’s your go-to Comfort Foods?

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Đậu Hũ Sốt Cà Chua (Vietnamese Style Tofu with Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients:

4 Cups Fried Tofu
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, minced
1/4 Cup Shallots, diced
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and roughly diced
1 Red Jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 Scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Black Pepper
Garnish with additional scallions and cilantro

In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium heat and cook garlic and shallots for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until softened. Stir in ketchup and fish sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Toss in fried tofu and coat evenly. Season with black pepper and garnish with additional scallions and fresh cilantro. Serve with steamed rice and Enjoy!

Beef · Vietnamese

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.