Friday, May 4, 2018

Vietnamese Chicken Curry (Ca Ri Ga)

Vietnamese Chicken Curry aka Ca Ri Ga is a dish that I loved to eat when I was still living with my parents. Once in a while, Chau and I will have a craving for curry and whip up a pot. If to you like curry like I do, stay tuned to see how I made this curry.

2 lbs chicken thighs (I used skinless, boneless), cut into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut (see pic) - I used 4 since we like potatoes
2 carrots, peeled and cut (see pic)
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks of lemongrass, smashed and cut (see pic)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
2 cans of chicken broth, 14 oz each
2 can of water, use chicken broth can
1 red chili pepper, sliced (omit if you do not like spicy)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 Tablespoon Madras curry powder, can add more to suit your taste (can be found at most Oriental food market in the spices aisle)
2 teaspoon sugar
1 can coconut milk or cream, we like to use coconut cream, the cans come in 14 or 17 oz, we like it coconutty so we use 17 oz.

Chicken marinade:
2 Tbsp Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fish sauce or 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder or black pepper


Step 1:
Cut your chicken thighs into 1-2 inch pieces. Marinate with fish sauce or salt, pepper, curry, onion and garlic powder. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Step 2:
In a pot, lightly oil and saute garlic, onion and lemongrass for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add bay leaves, chicken broth, water, fish sauce or salt, chicken bouillon powder, and 1 Tablespoon of curry powder. Mix well. Taste, you may add more curry powder to your taste. Be careful not to add too much. Turn heat on high.

Step 3:
In a large pan, lightly oil and sear your chicken then add to broth. In the same pan, lightly oil and saute carrots and potatoes. You want to lightly brown the carrots and potatoes on all sides before adding to the broth. This helps the carrots and potatoes stay intact after adding them to the broth.

Step 4:
Once the broth boils, turn down to medium low heat and simmer for additional 20 minutes. Add your coconut milk or cream. I prefer to use coconut cream instead of coconut milk. Stir gently to incorporate the coconut cream. Taste your broth, if you need more salt, add extra fish sauce or salt. Discard bay leaves and lemongrass before serving.

Traditionally, we eat Ca Ri Ga with french bread. Alternatively, you can serve with white rice or even vermicelli rice noddles. Good luck and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Crawfish Etouffee

Who loves crawfish... this girl! Every start of crawfish season, we boil up a big pot to satisfy our cravings. We had extra, so I peeled the crawfish tails, vacuum sealed those suckers and threw them in the freezer.

It just occurred to me the other day that I had these delectable crawfish tails in the freezer. So crawfish etouffee it is. If you are a crawfish lover like me, keep reading to see how I made this delicious dish. If you are not a crawfish fan, you can use shrimp instead.

1 lb of frozen crawfish tails (or fresh if you have access to it)
1 bell pepper, diced (I used half of a green and half of a red)
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of shrimp stock (all I had on hand was chicken broth and it worked perfectly)
1 cup of water (reserve to thin out if too thick)
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 sticks of butter
3 Tablespoons of flour
Old bay seasoning or any other Cajun seasoning (start with 1-2 teaspoons, add more to taste)
Black pepper
*Optional to add a kick: 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne and a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce (I used cayenne and Tabasco) 
*parsley for garnish
*you may want to prepare white rice in advance

Tip: I like to use a small container to collect all of my scraps and trash during prep. Just dump out the container afterwards and rinse. 

Step 1:
Add butter to pot and wait for it to melt. Then add flour. Using a whisk, blend the flour and butter (see picture below). You will need to whisk or stir the roux so it doesn't burn. I didn't spend too much time on my roux since this is not gumbo and you don't need it to be dark. About 7-8 minutes should be good. Mine was a little bit lighter than the color of peanut butter.

Step 2:
Add garlic, bell pepper, celery, onion and bay leaves to roux and sautee for another 7-8 minutes until tender. Add crawfish, stock/broth. Once you add the stock, it will thicken. If it is too thick for your liking, add water until the broth is to your liking. Bring to a boil.

Step 3:
Add old bay or cajun seasoning and pepper to taste . Remember to add as you go. You can always add more seasoning, but you can't take it away! Simmer uncovered on medium low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne pepper and Tabasco. Make any last minute seasoning adjustments as this is the final stretch. Discard bay leaves. You want a good flavor, but don't want to overpower it since the crawfish is the star of the dish. Plate up, garnish with parsley flakes and you're ready to devour. 

Good luck and enjoy!

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 put 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!