Friday, April 13, 2018

Artichoke Tea - Warmer Summer Days Are Approaching

Can I just say... I am so happy that we finally have a functional kitchen! To have a cooktop and kitchen sink again is such a relief.

Since the weather is getting warmer, one of the first things I made was artichoke tea. It's very cheap and simple to make. One gallon will probably cost you $2 or less. Please keep reading if you'd like to see how I make my artichoke tea.

1 medium-large artichoke
1 gallon of water (I use tap water)
Sugar to taste, optional (I use rock sugar)

1. Wash the artichoke and cut into small pieces (see pic). I like to use a spice bag so there's no straining later.

2. In a big pot, boil 1 gallon of water. When the water starts to boil, carefully put in your artichoke pouch.

3. Let it boil/steep for about 1 hour. After about 30 minutes, use a wooden spoon to gently mash the artichokes in the pouch. This is optional.

4. After 1 hour, turn off heat and let cool off a bit before taking the pouch out. When taking the pouch out, carefully squeeze out any tea you can.

5. While tea is still warm, add sugar to taste. If you don't want it sweet, you don't have to add any sugar.

6. Once tea has cooled down enough, pour it into a container to put in the fridge. I wash and reuse old Arizona tea gallon bottles or small juice bottles (see pic). You can out it in a pitcher or anything that you like.

This is optional, but you could also add basil seeds or chia seeds (see pic). Sometimes after refrigerating overnight, the artichoke tea will turn a radiant green color. Sometimes it will remain greenish brown. Either way, the artichoke tea is still delicious and very refreshing. A nice way to cool down on a hot summer day! I hope you get a chance to make this tea and see for yourself how refreshingly good it is. Enjoy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cha Gio (Vietnamese Eggrolls)

Mom's eggrolls have always been delicious and now she's teaching me how to make them! I figured why not share with you all! Please continue reading if you want to learn how to make awesome eggrolls :)

2 lb ground pork
2 cups taro, julienne or chopped
1 cup carrots, julienne
2 bunch vermicelli glass noodles/bean thread (see pic, pink package)
1/2 cup sliced black fungus (dried mushroom, see pic)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp fish sauce
1-2 tsp salt to your taste
2 packages frozen egg roll wrapper/sheets, thawed (you can find these at most oriental food markets)
1 egg (yolk and white separated)
1 tsp Knorr chicken broth mix powder (optional)

Yield: This recipe makes 45-50 eggrolls, you can cut the ingredients in half if you want to make less.

-Before we get rolling (pun intended ^.^), we have to soak the black fungus in water (15-20 minutes) to soften it. Rinse the black fungus several times to eliminate the smell. Dry the black fungus really well and chop the black fungus into smaller pieces (see pic).
-Next soak the vermicelli in water for (15-20 minutes) to soften and expand. Dry the vermicelli really well and cut into smaller pieces (same size as fungus).
-Peel carrot and taro and cut into small pieces (see pic).
-Remember to thaw the egg roll wrappers so they are pliable to work with.

In a large bowl, mix pork, onion, garlic and shallots together. Then continue to mix in black fungus, carrots, and taro. Lastly, mix in salt, pepper, sugar, fish sauce, egg yolk and chicken powder. Mix with hands (gloves recommended) to ensure the ingredients are well mixed. We also need to prepare a small bowl with egg white and a small pastry brush. Now we're ready to roll!

Please refer to pictures if needed.

Step 1
Place egg roll wrapper on a large plate and fold about one third way up.

Step 2
Place about one full Tbsp of eggroll meat onto the wrapper.

Step 3
Fold the outer sides in so that they almost touch the opposite side.

Step 4
Roll tightly up about halfway.

Step 5
Brush a little bit of egg white around the top of the wrapper.

Step 6
Then continue to tightly roll all the way up. Repeat until you run out of eggroll meat.
You can place the finished egg roll on a large plate and when you're all done you can fry them.

I suggest you deep fry your eggrolls (350 degrees) to get that awesome crispy shell, but if you don't have a deep fryer then you can just shallow fry the eggrolls, but remember the eggrolls must be completely submerged in the oil so make sure you put enough oil into the pan/pot. Keep the heat on high to heat the oil at first before you put the eggrolls in. You can check by using a wooden chopstick and putting it into the heated oil, if it starts to bubble then it's ready. When the oil is heated turn down to medium-high then place eggrolls seam down into the oil. You must turn the eggroll occasionally to ensure even browning. When the eggroll is a golden brown color then it's done. Place eggroll standing up in a tray or basket lined with paper towels to soak excess oil.

Tip: You can fry up all of the eggrolls at once and store the leftover eggrolls into zip lock bags and you can put these eggrolls in the freezer until ready to reheat and eat. Reheating is very simple. You can put them into a toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Baked Mussels - Japanese Style (Chem Chep Nuong)

I finally decided to make a video on how to make Baked Mussels. Every time my boyfriend and I would make this dish and bring it to parties, we'd get a lot of compliments and people asking how to make it. We came up with this dish after eating the baked mussels at a restaurant called Kirin. We liked them so much so we decided to recreate this dish at home. This dish is great as an appetizer if you want to bring them to parties or you can just gobble them up all by yourself! Video will be up soon :)

Update: Video will be delayed due to some video issues :/

  • 1 box of mussels with shell (approx. 1.5 lb. or 24 oz, 25 in the box)
  • 2 Tbsp Masago and some extra for top (red-orange fish eggs, you can get it at most Asian/Japanese supermarkets)
  • 5 Tbsp Mayonnaise and 2 Tbsp extra for the top
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (regular is fine if you don’t have brown)
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions/green onion for top (about 2-3 stalks)
  • (optional) A tiny pinch of salt (the masago and mayo are already salty) 

Step 1
Let mussels thaw out, if necessary, and remove from shell. To clean shells soak in water with salt. Rinse mussels and squeeze out some of the excess water.

Step 2
Chop/Dice 4 or 5 mussels at a time into small pieces (not too small though) and place in a large bowl. If you have a food processor you may dice/chop the mussels in that, but be careful not to over chop/dice them.
*(During this time pour out the salted water that the shells are in and let them dry out)
Then squeeze out more excess water if necessary. Mix in the sugar, then salt, then masago fish eggs, then 5 Tbsp of Mayo. To test the saltiness of the mussels you may put a little bit in the microwave to cook and taste it.

Step 3
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a baking tray lined with aluminum foil (easier clean up). Shells should be kind of dry before filling with the chopped mussels. When filling the shells make sure you don’t under or over stuff them. (See pic as reference). Put 2-3 Tbsp of Mayo in a squeeze bottle or a sandwich bag (corner snipped off) and squeeze the mayo on top in a line or squiggly line how ever you want it. Then sprinkle some masago fish eggs on top.

Step 4
Bake in oven at 375 degrees for about 13 minutes, then carefully take out the tray and sprinkle the chopped scallions on top of the mussels and continue baking for the 4-5 minutes. Be careful when doing the scallions… oven is very hot! After 5 minutes, turn off oven, take mussels out and let cool for a few minutes then you can plate them. Good luck and enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lau Thai (Thai Style Hot Pot)

Yesterday was my bf's dad's birthday. We thought it would be nice to cook for his parents, so we decided to make hot pot. It was a huge hit... everyone enjoyed our hot pot. We had a great time chatting while eating our hot pot. Preparations were minimal and clean up wasn't too hard. A perfect night and dinner for less than $40. This recipe makes enough for 6-8 people. Good luck!

  • 3 cans chicken broth, 14oz
  • 3 cans water, same can
  • 5-6 Tbsp Tom Yum Soup Paste (see pic)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Tamarind powder base (you can find this in the spice aisle of the Asian supermarket) *amount varies to your taste… use more if you prefer sour, use less if you prefer less sour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 small onion or ½ large onion, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • Sate/chili oil (optional)
  • 2-3 tsp Fish sauce (optional)
*depending on your taste, if you like your broth more salty you may want to add a bit of fish sauce

Other Ingredients:
  • Slices of meat (Eye round or rib eye)
  • 1 small Napa cabbage
  • 1 bunch Spinach
  • 2 pk Enoki Mushroom, they’re white, long, and thin
  • 1 pk Fried fish balls, cuttle fish balls, shrimp balls, use whatever you like
  • Quail eggs (1 can should be enough)
  • 1 pk Clams or mussels
  • ½ - 1 lb Shrimp
  • 2-3 filets of Fish, sliced (I use Swai, but you can omit fish if you don’t like fish)
  • Rice noodles (bun), but if you like egg noodles (mi) then use that
  • Electric hot pot or a pot and a portable gas range

Step 1 - Preparing the Broth
In a large pot bring your water and chicken broth to a slight boil, and then add Tom Yum paste, tamarind powder (if you cannot find this then you can just use limes), and sugar. Make sure you stir well to dissolve the seasonings. Taste and if you need more sour add a little more tamarind powder or lime. If the broth is not salty enough for you, then you may add a teaspoon or 2 of fish sauce. If you like your broth spicy, then add some sate/chili oil. Then add the sliced onions and tomatoes and turn heat to low. When you season your food, remember you can add more to it, but you can’t take away… so just add a little bit at a time until you like the taste.

Step 2 - Preparing the other Ingredients
While your broth is keeping warm, you should prepare the other ingredients. Wash your veggies and dry them. You do not have to cut the spinach, but you do have to cut the napa cabbage into 1 ½ to 2 inch slices. Take your meat out of the package and place on a different plate (don’t mix your meats and veggies). I used to use eye round (thit tai for pho), but now I use thin slices of rib eye. It’s sooo much better, trust me! Place clams and slices fish on the meat plate. Open the can of quail eggs and rinse them in water, dry them, and place in another plate. Wash and dry your shrimp, fish balls or cuttlefish balls and place them on the same plate as your quail eggs.
*If you are serving more than 4 people, I suggest splitting the meats and veggies into 2 plates, one for each side of the table, it’s more convenient.

Step 3 - Finishing up
Cook rice noodles/bun as per instructions on the bag. Prepare your plates on the table and split the rice noodles into 2 portions, one for each side of the table. Ladle your broth into the pot that you are using for the hot pot. If you do not have an electric hot pot, you can use a shallow pot and a portable gas range (see pic). Wait for the broth to slightly boil before adding your meats and veggies… and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Carne Asada Fries

Thanks to my friend Anh, I've been wanting to try carne asada fries. I decided to try and make carne asada fries for the family today, even though I've never had the carne asada fries that are so famous in Sand Diego. It's very similar to nachos topped with carne asada/fajita meat. The final verdict... the family liked the carne asada fries!

French Fries:
3 Potatoes for homemade baked french fries or store bought fries
3 - 4 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp Paprika
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ - ½ tsp Salt

You may make your own baked french fries or if you’re lazy you could just buy some from the store. If you choose to make baked fries then keep reading. I chose to do homemade baked fries because they’re a little bit healthier than frying.

Cut potatoes into strips for fries. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Put them in a strainer and then dry them off. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place dried fries into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, paprika, and garlic powder and mix well. Place fries on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the fries and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt (to your taste).

Carne Asada:
½ lb Skirt steak for Carne Asada or you could buy seasoned fajita meat
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp black pepper
½ - 1 tsp salt (season to your taste, less for less salty, more for more salty)

If you choose to marinate your own Carne Asada you need to marinate it with the above ingredients an hour or 2 in advance. You can also get the pre-marinated fajita meat from the Mexican market.

After 1-2 hours of marinating in fridge, take skirt steak out and you may either grill or cook on a grill pan. Let cool a little bit before slicing into small pieces (see pic).

Other ingredients:
Shredded cheese or nacho cheese sauce (I prefer nacho cheese sauce)
Pico de gallo
Sour cream
Scallions and/or cilantro
Guacamole (optional)

Place hot fries on an oven safe plate. Sprinkle shredded cheese or drizzle nacho cheese on top, then top with carne asada and pop back into your warm oven for a few minutes (I prefer nacho cheese sauce, but all I had on hand was shredded cheese). Carefully take out your plate and top with pico de gallo, sour cream and scallions/cilantro. Serve immediately. Eat it while it’s hot. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes w/ Cotton Shrimp)

Banh beo is another one of my favorite dishes growing up. Even now I still indulge myself in a full plate of banh beo at family parties (oink oink). This dish is not overly complicated to make, but it does take a lot of components. The good news is you can make the extra components ahead of time. I would say that this dish is time consuming, but it is sooo worth it! This recipe yields about 55-60 banh beo. Good luck and enjoy!

200 gram rice flour (bot gao loc)
20 gram tapioca starch (bot nang)
2 ½ cup water
Pinch of salt (or if you want to get technical, ¼ tsp)

Other ingredients/utensils:
Large steamer pot
10-20 small shallow/hollow plate (see pic)
Oil and brush
Chopped scallions (green onions)
“Cotton Shrimp” (see how to make at the end)
Prepared fish sauce (see recipe)
Pickled shredded carrots (optional)
Mung bean paste (optional/see pics)

Step 1 – Preparing the “batter”
Mix rice flour, tapioca starch, and water and leave in refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours (it’s best if you leave it overnight). After the allotted time, you will see that most of the water has separated to the top. You will need to pour the water into a liquid measuring cup and however much water you pour out (check the measuring cup) you will need to replace that much water. The reason we have to do this is to get rid of the powdery rice taste.

Step 2 – Making the banh beo
Prepare the steamer pot ¾ of the way full of water on high heat and bring to a boil. In the mean time, get your small hollow plates ready by brushing a little oil on each one (see pic). When your water has reached a boil, take your tongs and place the 10 oiled plates into the top part of the steamer and cover. Keep the empty plates in the steamer for 1 minute so the plates can get hot. The reason we do this is so we can get the sunken middle in the banh beo. After 1 minute has elapsed, using a ladle spoon the batter about ¾ way (see pic). Be careful as to not overfill the plates. Place cover on and steam for about 4 minutes… watch the clock or set a timer because you do not want to exceed 4-5 minutes because the banh beo will become flat and soggy. While you wait, oil the next batch of plates. When 4 minutes have elapsed, take the plates out using tongs (they’re hot!). Let the banh beo plates cool for a few minutes then using a plastic fork to remove the banh beo from the plate onto a big serving plate (see pic). While the first set of plates are cooling, place the second set of plates into the steamer for 1 minute and repeat the process until you have used all of the batter.

Step 3 – Plating and topping the banh beo
After you have finished cooking and plating all of the banh beo, all you have to do is place the toppings on top. First spread a little bit of mung bean paste (optional), then spread a little but of the oiled scallions, then lastly sprinkle some shredded shrimp on top. When serving pour a little bit of prepared fish sauce and pickled shredded carrots on top (optional).

Mung bean Paste (optional):
Take ¼ cup of mung bean and soak in ½ cup of water for about 2 hours to soften them. Then in a small pan bring the mung beans to a boil, then lower heat and cover for about 4-5 minutes until they’re soft. Remove from heat and pour out excess water that you used for cooking. Add about 2 Tbsp water and mix well then set aside.

Scallions in oil:
Cut 3 stalks of scallions/green onions, put in a microwave safe bowl and drench them in 1 Tbsp oil and microwave for 1 minute (easiest method).
Crushed/cotton shrimp:
There are 2 ways you can make the shrimp topping. One way is if you have medium-large dried shrimp (tom kho), you may put about 10-12 in a blender and “shred” them slightly. Put the shredded dried shrimp into a small pan and toss for about a minute. Then lower heat and add 1 drop red and 2 drops of yellow food coloring to make that beautiful orange red color. Another way to do cotton shrimp is by using fresh shrimp. Take 6 large shrimps clean, devein, and dry them. Pan toss the shrimp until cooked, and then pound them in a mortar or if you’re lazy blend them in a blender slightly. Then add 1 drop red and 2 drops yellow food coloring and mix well. (Note: We used dried shrimp/tom kho)

Prepared fish sauce:
8 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 heaping Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon/lime juice
chopped red chilies (optional)

Combine the ingredients and taste. If it is not to your taste, you may adjust the ingredients… if you want it sweeter, more sour etc. add the appropriate ingredients. Make sure you season it to your taste.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mi Hoanh Thanh (Wonton Noodle Soup)

One of my favorite noodle soups has to be Mi Hoanh Thanh (Wonton Noodle Soup). I tend to order it ever time I stop by Tan Tan. Since Tan Tan is so far from my house and it gets pretty costly to eat out a lot, I thought why not make it at home. Since my followers are mostly students, I thought why not simplify the process of making the broth. It's almost as delectable as broth made using pork bones. The following recipe yields 4 servings.

All of the following can be prepared in advance except the egg noodles (they have to be used right after you boil them). The broth can be made and frozen for later use. The wontons can be frozen and thawed out for later use. The Xa Xiu can be made and refrigerated up to one week.

Quick 'n' Easy Broth:
  • 3 cans chicken broth (14 oz.)
  • 3 cans water (same can)
  • 1 Tbsp pork flavored soup base (see pic)
  • 1 tsp sugar

Wonton Filling:
*This recipe for wontons makes extra for later use
  • 1 lb. shrimp cut into small pieces
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1-2 tsp salt (if you like your food less salty then only use 1)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 stalk green onion/scallions, finely minced
  • 2 shallots, finely minced

Other ingredients:
  • Xa xiu (BBQ pork)
  • Noh Char siu/xa xiu seasoning (see pic)
  • Egg noodles
  • Wonton wrapper
  • Cilantro
  • Green onion/scallions
  • Lettuce (green or red leaf works)
  • Chives
  • Bean Sprout (optional)

Step 1 – Preparing Xa Xiu/BBQ Pork
Cut your piece of pork into 1 inch by 2 in. strips (I used pork tenderloin). In a medium sized bowl, mix xa xiu seasoning with 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar. Place pork in the marinade and mix well, then cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate overnight or at least 3 hours. When ready to cook, line a baking tray with a sheet of foil to cover the entire surface (easier to clean later). Bake in oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes depending on your oven’s strength. When finished, let cool for 5 minutes then slice into thin slices (see pic).

Step 2 – Preparing Wonton
In a medium sized bowl, mix together ground pork, shrimp pieces, salt, sugar, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion, and shallots. Spoon 1 teaspoon wonton filling into wonton wrapper, then spread a little bit of water around the edges of the wonton wrapper and pinch together. After you’re done making the wonton, you may freeze the extras, but if you layer the wonton in more than 2 layers, you must separate each layer with a piece of plastic wrap. I give each bowl about 6-7 wontons, but it’s up to you how many you want to use.

Step 3 – Preparing the Broth
Pour 3 cans of chicken broth and 3 cans of water into a medium-large pot. Then add pork soup base and sugar. Taste the broth to see if it is to your liking. Keep on medium high heat until ready to serve.

Step 4 – Preparing Wontons and Egg Noodles
In a medium sized pot, fill up halfway with water and bring to a boil. Then with a big spoon carefully drop wontons in the boiling water. Leave them in the boiling water for about 5 minutes or until they start to float. Spoon them out with a slotted spoon or a small handheld strainer (like the one you would use for pho). If some water has evaporated, you might want to add a bit more in and bring back to a boil. Then spread apart one clump of egg noodle and swirl around the strainer in the boiling water for 1 minute. Place each portion of egg noodle in to each bowl.

Final step – Preparing Herbs and Your Bowl
Wash and dry your lettuce, bean sprout, and chives. Assemble them on a plate and set aside. Chop some cilantro and green onion. Place wonton, pork slices and herbs on top of the egg noodles in each bowl. Bring your broth to a boil and serve. Top your noodle soup with shreds of lettuce, chives and bean sprouts. Good luck and enjoy!