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.