Monday, October 25, 2010

Banh Pate So (Pate Chaud)

Another one of my favorite food is Banh Pate So (Pate Chaud). This is something that my mom would often make to bring to family parties. No family get together would be complete without her Banh Pate So. It makes for a great appetizer. My brother even makes it to bring to his parties. This recipe is pretty simple... it's just one way to make them. If you would like to try it, keep reading! This recipe makes 18 Banh Pate So. If you need more, just double the recipe.


  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 1 package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (there’s 2 inside)
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped shallots (a big one should be fine)
  • ¼ tsp tapioca starch or corn starch
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper (or a pinch will do)
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp soy sauce

Step 1

If your pastry sheets are frozen you should let them thaw out about 20-30 minutes before you need to use them. Mix the pork, onion, shallots, sugar, salt, pepper, tapioca starch, and oyster sauce together.

Step 2

When your pastry sheets are thawed out enough to work with, cut them into 3 equal pieces. Then unfold and cut into another 3 equal pieces (see pic).

Step 3

Prepare a baking sheet or pan with non stick foil or you may lightly butter it. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Step 4

Take your square piece of pastry and scoop a teaspoonful of pork into it and fold into a triangle (see pic). Be sure not to overstuff your pastry because then very lightly pinch the sides together.

Step 5

Take the straight side opposite to your knife’s blade and press down. Then take a fork and press the sides (see pic). Place on baking sheet.

Step 6

When finished assembling pastry, bake on the middle rack on 375 degrees for the first 10 minutes. In the mean time, lightly whisk egg yolk and soy sauce together to make the egg wash. After the initial 10 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for another 15 minutes, then carefully pull out oven rack and apply egg wash to your pastry and continue baking for the remaining 5 minutes. Keep an eye on your pastry because oven temperature may vary.

Let them cool for about 5 minutes before plating or eating them. Enjoy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Muc Rang Muoi (Salt and Pepper Squid)

I finally made it to the Vietnamese market and bought ingredients to make Muc Rang Muoi. This dish is very simple to make and only requires 3-4 ingredients. This dish can be served with white rice or as an appetizer. Let's get started!

1 lb. squid
2-3 jalapenos
tempura mix (if you don't have tempura, then just use flour)
oil for frying
2 Tbsp olive oil
scallions (optional)
slices of onion (optional)

Step 1
Clean squid: Separate the tentacles and cut off the part with the eyes. Peel off the skin. Pull out the plastic like part (see pic). If you buy the ones that are already cleaned, you may skip the cleaning part.

Step 2
Cut the squid into 1/2 to 3/4 inch rings. Prepare a ziploc bag with an overflowing 1/2 cup of tempura mix. Slightly drain squid and toss in ziploc bag. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. In the mean time, slice your jalapenos, cut your scallions into 1 inch pieces, and set aside.

Step 3
After 30 minutes, heat a small pot with oil. Take squid out of freezer and when oil is hot start frying your squid until golden brown. Once you are done with frying, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a wok or large pan and add your jalapenos. Let cook on medium for a minute or two. Then add squid and sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper then toss for a minute. Add scallions and toss for another minute. Plate your squid and it's ready to be served. You may serve this dish with lime/lemon, pepper, and salt dip.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Recipes Coming Up Next Week

So this last week or so have been pretty busy, but after this weekend, things will have calmed down a bit. Just giving y'all a heads up on what's in store for the next couple of weeks.

In the next couple of weeks, I'll post the recipes for:
  • Banh Pate So (Pate Chaud)
  • Mi Hoanh Thanh (Wonton Noodle Soup)
  • Pho (Beef Noodle Soup) - if I ever get around to it ;)
  • Muc Rang Muoi (Salt and Pepper Squid)
This is just a tentative list, depending on what I'm craving or what's on sale, these recipes may change lol.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tom Rang Muoi (Salt and Pepper Shrimp)

I noticed that sometimes we cook what we crave, but we also tend to cook economically smart. I was grocery shopping today and saw that shrimp was on sale for $3.49 a pound. So guess what I made for dinner tonight ;) For under $5 you too can serve this yummy dish.

  • 1 lb shrimp head and shell on (medium to large in size, mine were medium)
  • ½ an onion sliced into strips
  • 2 stalks scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp sugar, ½ tsp pepper (mixed in small bowl)
  • 3-4 dried chilies or ½ tsp crushed red pepper (that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (or any that you have on hand)
  • Oil for frying
Step 1
Clean shrimp and let excess water dry off. This is optional, but I like to cut the sharp part of the tail off because some people like to eat the whole entire shrimp. I also use a toothpick to devein the shrimp (stick toothpick in the middle part of the shells and pull the veins out). Prepare ½ cup of corn starch in a large bowl. Coat shrimp with corn starch, shake off excess, and lay on a separate plate.
Step 2
Heat your oil in a pot. When oil is hot, fry your shrimp. Place fried shrimp on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Set aside, but remember to work quickly because we don’t want the shrimp to get soggy.
Step 3
In a wok or big pan heat 1 Tbsp oil and add minced garlic. Add onion and sauté for about 1 minute on medium heat. Then add the fried shrimp and sprinkle with salt, sugar and pepper mix and ½ tsp crushed red pepper. Flavor to your taste (I used about half of the seasoning mixture). Add more or less depending on how salty you would like your shrimp. Toss for about 30 seconds, then add scallions and toss for another 30 seconds.

Serve right away to avoid soggy shrimps. You may want to serve this with steamed white rice or it can be eaten a la carte, but I usually serve it with other entrees for our family dinner (see pic above). If you like squid, you may want to make Muc Rang Muoi (Salt and Pepper Squid). Good luck and enjoy!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sup Mang Cua (Crab and Asparagus Soup)

Sup Mang Cua is a soup that you probably see at a lot of Vietnamese gatherings. Most of the family parties that I have attended have served this type of soup. This is a light soup that enhances the flavor of crab meat blended with asparagus. This soup is a great appetizer, so try it out next time you have guests over... it's sure to be a hit :)

This recipe yields 4-5 servings (picture displays normal soup bowl)

  • 2 cans 14 oz chicken broth + 2 cans water
  • ½ lb fresh asparagus, cleaned and cut into about 1 inch or you can use canned asparagus OR 14 oz canned asparagus, white or green
  • 1 15 oz can quail egg
  • 1 cup crab meat
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp onion, diced very small
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 tsp fish sauce, 1 Tbsp for the crab meat and (optional) 1 for soup
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 tsp rice cooking wine (optional)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 full Tbsp potato starch (can sub tapioca starch, but my mom says potato starch is better)
  • ¾ cup water

Step 1
Pour chicken broth and water in a big pot. Bring to a boil. In the mean time, clean your asparagus by stripping off some of its scale/skin (see pic). Then cut into 1 inch pieces and wash. When your broth has come to a boil carefully add your asparagus into the soup and wait for it to boil again, then lower to medium heat for 15 minutes.
Step 2
Clean and dice onion finely. Drain quail egg from can and wash. Set both aside. Gently wash your crab meat in a metal strainer (you need to wash the crab meat because even though it comes prepackaged, it may be semi dirty). Let excess water drain out. Then in a small pan, melt butter, and then add onion and sauté for about 1 minute. Add crab meat, then fish sauce. Sauté the crab meat for 2-3 minutes then stir in cooking wine and cook for 1 minute.

Step 3
Add chicken bouillon powder to your soup and then add the crab meat to the pot. Bring to slight boil. In the mean time, mix ¾ cup water with 2 full Tbsp of potato starch very well so it is fully dissolved. This will thicken up your soup. Slowly pour the starch water into the soup while stirring constantly with chopsticks (or ladle). Make sure you stir constantly, otherwise you soup’s thickness won’t be even. *You may want to slowly add the starch water until it reaches your desired thickness… you don’t have to use all of the starch water*

Step 4
Add 2 tsp sugar and taste the soup. If it’s not as salty as you want it, you may want to add another tsp of fish sauce. This is the time to adjust the flavor in your soup. When you feel that the soup is to your taste, beat one egg and pour into a small strainer (see pic). You want to stir while your egg drips from your strainer to create those strands of egg. Then add your quail eggs and bring to a boil, and then you’re done. After you’ve turn off the stove, try not to stir the soup as much otherwise you’ll ruin the thickness.

Serve hot, sprinkled with some black pepper and this is optional, but I like to add some zing to my soup with hot chili oil (sate).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bread Pudding

I love love love dessert! One of my favorite desserts while working at Golden Island was bread pudding. During my lunch break I would relax and enjoy a good serving of bread pudding with some vanilla ice cream. I tried a slightly modified recipe today. Normally I would use milk, but today I used half and half instead. Making and eating this bread pudding reminds me of the good old days waitressing at Golden Island :) This dessert is very inexpensive and easy to make. Good luck and enjoy!


  • 8 slices day-old bread (I left my bread out on a plate to stale before work and used it at night)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). While your oven is preheating, break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan (I used a rectangular 8 by 11 in. pan, so I added a couple more slices of bread). If desired, sprinkle with raisins (which I did ^.^).

Step 2
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before going in the oven to ensure that all that liquid gets soaked up into your bread.

Step 3
Depending on the strength of your oven, bake (in preheated oven) for approximately 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired. This is optional, but you could also drizzle a little bit of chocolate sauce on top of the bread pudding and ice cream. And there you have it in 3 easy steps!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bo Luc Lac (Shaking Beef)

Today was one of the rare occasions that I got to teach mom how to cook something! *Gasp* right? Like I was saying a few days ago, Bo Luc Lac can be very expensive when you order it at restaurants. Why not cook this dish yourself and save a bunch of money? This dish cost me less than $10 to make and it makes 3-4 servings :)

  • 1 lb sirloin or rib eye cut into 1 in cubes (we used filet mignon b/c it is really tender, but it was the standard kind, not the really expensive kind)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • dash of black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp oil (I used olive oil)

*optional for presentation - 1 yellow onion (I used half and sliced it into strips as seen in my pic), 1 green and 1 red bell pepper cut into 1 in squares (you might want to stick to just 1 bell pepper, I only used half of each) and 4 whole cloves of garlic.

Step 1

Clean and dry your piece of meat. Cut beef into about 1 inch cubes and mix with fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and pepper. Cover with saran wrap and let it marinate in refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.

Step 2
In the mean time, you should cute your yellow onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper. The wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to cook.

Step 3
After beef is done marinating, in a wok or large pan on high heat, add 2 tbsp oil. Wait for it to get really hot (when you see steam coming from your wok you know it's ready) and add an even layer of beef and allow all sides to sear for about 2 minutes (you may want to split your beef into 2 sessions to ensure that it sears properly). I was feeling lazy so I dumped the whole thing in... do as I say, not as I do ;)

Step 4
Then add your whole garlic, bell pepper and onion pieces. You may want to toss/shake it up for it to evenly cook for another 3-4 minutes. (I noticed that with filet mingon, it is still very tender even if you fully cook it).

You may want to serve this dish in individual portions, as pictured, with either ketchup/tomato rice or white rice. You may also serve this as an entree in a family dinner. In that case you may want to line a dish with 2 pieces of romaine lettuce and carefully place your Bo Luc Lac on top.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thit Kho Tau (Braised Pork w/ Egg in Caramel Sauce)

During my childhood, my mom would cook a whole lot of Vietnamese food. One of my favorite dishes has always been Thit Kho. What's even better was that mom would cut the cubes of pork so there would still be fatty pieces with skin, but still have the leaner pieces for me ♥! When you eat Thit Kho with some good old white rice, it just feels like good home cooking. This one is for my homesick friend, Wally.

Thit Kho Tau


  • 1 lb. of pork w/ skin
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 medium sized shallot, sliced into thin rings (about 1 full Tbsp)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (about 1 full Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (can use vegetable or canola oil)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 can Coco Rico soda
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp of thick soy sauce (store bought)
    ^or if you don’t have any you can make it. Simmer sugar and a tiny bit of water to kind of make caramel sauce.

Step 1
Bring pot of water to a boil and add your eggs in. Cook about 6 minutes (you’ll know when they are ready when you can pick them up with chopsticks).

Step 2

While eggs are cooking, wash pork; scrape off any dirty particles or hair from skin. Cut into cubes about 1 inch or slightly bigger. My mom says buy the pork with skin on, but pick a piece that has the whitest skin.

Step 3
Turn heat down to low and take the eggs out of the boiling water. Add 1 Tbsp of vinegar and ½ tsp of salt into the water that you boiled the eggs in and carefully place your pork cubes into the hot water. In the mean time, place your eggs in a cold bowl of water and peel off the shells. Set aside. Then mince your garlic and slice your shallots. After 5 minutes or when water comes to a boil, turn heat off and drain pork cubes.

Step 4
Take that same pot you used to boil water and make sure it has dried off. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and sauté your shallots on medium heat (about 1 minute). Then add your pork cubes into the pot along with 1 tsp of salt and thick soy sauce. Then add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Step 5

Add 1 Tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tsp of sugar and mix it up. Then add the coco soda and ¼ cup of water into the pot. Then add your boiled eggs into the mix. Cover and bring to a boil. Then turn heat to low setting. Cover and simmer on low for about 2 hours to ensure your meat is tender. One sign that it's done is if the liquid has become slightly thicker and reduced to about 1/8 of the original amount.

Once done, you may store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Good luck and enjoy :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chicken Strips

So change of plans... I'll be making Bo Luc Lac later this week. Instead, I will be showing you how to make chicken strips. I served my chicken strips with fries (store bought) sprinkled with special seasoning. These chicken strips may be prepared ahead of time and kept in the freezer until ready to be fried.

1.5 lbs of chicken breast, cut into 1 in strips
Vegetable oil for frying

wet batter:
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (can substitute water)
  • 1 tsp Maggi or Knorr tomato chicken bullion powder, can substitute with all spice
  • 2 tsp papikra
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
dry batter:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • gallon sized ziploc bag

Step 1
Cut chicken breast into 1 inch strips and soak them in a bowl of salt water for 15 minutes.

In the mean time, mix egg, milk, tomato chicken powder, paprika, and garlic salt in a large bowl. Soak chicken in wet batter for 15 minutes.

Step 2
While the chicken is soaking, prepare your dry batter. Mix flour, pepper, garlic powder in ziploc bag. Set aside.

Step 3
Once chicken is done soaking, place strips one by one in ziploc bag and let dry batter cover strips. Once all strips are in the bag, shake it up a bit. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Step 4
Heat oil about 5 minutes before chicken is ready. Take chicken strips out of freezer after 30 minutes - 1 hour. When oil is hot, add 3-4 strips in at one time. Fry until chicken is browned on both sides, aprrox. 5-7 minutes depending on how hot your stove is.

Step 5
Remove strips from oil; drain on paper towel. This is optional, but you can sprinkle the seasoning over the strips. Serve with ketchup or any desired sauce. Makes about 4 servings. If you want to only make 2 servings, fry up about 6 strips and store the rest in the freezer up for up to a week.

Special Seasoning for fries:
  • 1 tsp Maggi or Knorr tomato chicken bullion powder, if you don't have this don't worry about it
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of McCormicks Season All
  • pinch of dried basil

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hurry up weekend!

This weekend I will try to post the recipe/pics to Bo Luc Lac (Shaking Beef). One of my favorite foods, but just so darn pricey at the Vietnamese restaurants... am I right? They charge an arm and a leg for a few pieces of meat plus rice. And sometimes it's not even the good meat! Also coming up is Thit Kho w/ Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork w/ Eggs in Caramel Sauce). My mom's Thit Kho is off the chain, so stay tuned for those 2 upcoming recipes!

Random rantings:
So I was subbing at my old high school today and only had 25 minutes for lunch. I decided to get a jalapeno burger... big mistake. The burger was dry and hard to chew. Adding ketchup, mayo, and mustard to it didn't really help much. The flavor was mediocre and the fries were really soggy. Soooo, unless I am starving and/or it was my last resort, I would buy another one :/

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm finally blogging xD (Plus Creme Brulee Recipe)

I decided to create this blog to share my passion for food with everyone. Since I've been posting my food pictures --- "adventures in the kitchen" --- on facebook many friends want me to share recipes and techniques with them. So I thought why not start yet another food blog ;) I know there are many other food blogs out there, and that there are many ways to cook a certain food, but here's my way of cooking... hope you all enjoy!

To start off, I'll show you guys how to make my favorite dessert... creme brulee! This dessert is perfect to top an elegant dinner or just to snack on. I love how the caramelized sugar crunches while the soft and creamy custard just melts in your mouth. If you have never tried creme brulee, you are missing out!

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 ramekins depending on the size (mine are 10 oz, bought a set of 4 from Ross for $3.99, but you can get four 6 oz ramekins from Bed Bath & Beyond for $7.99)
  • whisk or hand mixer
  • baking tray
  • boiling water
  • strainer
  • fruit to garnish(optional)

*This recipe yields 4-5 servings, but in my pictures you will notice that I doubled the recipe.

Step 1:
Warm the 2 cups of cream on medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. You just want the cream to be hot without bringing it to a boil. Also preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Step 2:
In a large bowl, whisk or use a hand mixer t o mix the 4 egg yolks with the 1/3 cup of sugar and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Make sure you mix it well.

Step 3:
When the cream develops a film, you know it's hot enough. Using a ladle, spoon the hot cream into the egg mixture slowly. You want to temper the egg yolk mixture, not cook it.

Step 4:
After 2-3 spoons, you can pour the rest of the cream into the egg yolk mixture and slowly mix together.

Step 5:
Using a metal strainer, pour the mixture into another bowl. You want to filter out the bits that didn't mix too well or eggs shells.

Step 6:
If there's a frothy foam layer, skim off the foam. If you don't skim it off, the top will not be smooth.

Step 7:

Place your ramekins in a baking tray. Fill your ramekins up to about 1 inch (see pic).

Step 8:

Fill the baking tray so that the water reaches up to about half of the ramekins. Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. The creme brulee is ready when you tap the ramekin and it jiggles, kind of like jello.

*You can also place the tray in the oven before filling the tray with the boiling water.

After you have taken the tray out of the oven, using oven mitts take ramekins out of the water bath. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Step 9:
Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. I left mine over night :)
After you have refrigerated the creme brulee, take them out and put about 1 tablespoon of sugar in each ramekin.

Step 10:

With a cooking torch or blow torch, burn the sugar so it caramelizes (see pic). You want to have a few burn spots. If you don't have a cooking torch, I suggest you get a torch.

Final step:
Garnish your creme brulee with fruits like strawberries, raspberries, kiwi... you name it :D

And ta da, you have your delicious creme brulee! ♥