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Stir Fried Curry Chicken - Ga Xao Cari

It's been a while, hope no one noticed. I've been busy with a project and it finally wrapped up yesterday. This is what I made today, it was delicious so I hope you enjoy it. Best to eat with white rice. 

Stir Fried Curry Chicken

Ingredients:
2 lbs of white meat chicken, cut into small bite size pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 clove of garlic, minced
black pepper (to taste)
fresh chili peppers, minced (to taste)
wok

Instructions:

1. In bowl, put chicken, oyster sauce, soy sauce, curry powder, sugar, garlic together and mix in. Cover for 30 mins to marinate.
2. Put wok on stove, turn on high heat, put in canola oil... wait 2 mins or until oil becomes hot, put in sliced onions
3. When onions turns clear, put in marinated chicken and stir gently until chicken turns brown and cooked.
4. Turn off heat, put in black pepper and chili peppers to garnish and serve. 

Vietnamese Crepes - Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo one of my favorite dishes. The aromas from the cooking alone can entice anyone within walking distance. You can tailor it according to everyone's taste and make as many combinations of the ingredients as you wish. If your friends like salmon, you can add salmon. During squid fishing season around here, we eat Banh Xeo with squid. If you don't like bean sprouts, add mung bean, or "xu xu" squash, or nothing at all and just keep it simple. Below you will find a basic recipe of how I usually make Banh Xeo, but please, whatever you like.... you should put in there, and if you don't like something, take it out. 
Notes all over: I am more of an eyeball cook, so my measurements might be a little off with this one....but not by much.... It should be fine in the taste department. This recipe is good for around 4-6 people. You shouldn't cook Banh Xeo for more than 4-6  people anyways because it takes a loooooong time to cook all of those crepes up. I usually cook for 4 people or less, more than that and my Mom or my best friend has to help on another stove. Prepping will take a lot of time, cooking itself will not but it's hot hot hot in the kitchen so be prepared. Oh yeah, clean up will be a lot of work, too. :) But it's really really worth it!

Ingredients:

1 bag of Banh Xeo Mix from Asian grocery stores
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
pinch of black ground pepper
1 can of coconut milk (400ml)
5 cups of water
1 cup of canola oil
1 bunch of green onions (chopped)
1 large onion (sliced thinly)
bean sprouts (washed)
1 lb of lean pork meat (sliced thinly)
1 lb fresh shimp (deveined and halved)
1 bunch of green leaf lettuce (washed and dried)
1 bunch of fresh green mints (washed and dried)
1 bunch of fresh Thai basil (washed and dried)
1 bunch of fresh purple mints or tia to (washed and dried)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro (washed and dried)
Nuoc Mam Cham (see recipe from my previous postings)
A big wok and lid
A big spatula
2 small pots
1 laddle
A few tablespoons

Instructions:

1. Arrange the lettuce and fresh herbs (mints, basil, cilantro) in plates and put on serving table along with the Nuoc Mam Cham.
    The rest of the below ingredients should be put on the countertop in small bowls with close proximity to the stove top :
    Canola oil (with tablespoon in the bowl)
    Thinly sliced onions
    Bean sprouts

2. Use a small pot put on high heat, pour 1 table spoon of canola oil in there. Wait until oil heats up, put in a few strands of the thinly sliced onions. Once onions turn brown, put in thinly sliced pork and halved shimp in with a pinch of salt and pinch of black pepper. Stir gently until cooked (once pork and shimp both turned pink and changed color). Turn off heat, put aside on countertop next to the above ingredients with a tablespoon.

3. Use the other small pot and put in the Banh Xeo mix, egg, 1/8 tsp of salt, and chopped green onions in. Stir until all ingredients are blended well together with no clumps. The mixture would have a consistency that you will see when you pour with the laddle but not too thick. Set aside on the countertop right next to the stovetop.

4. Turn on the stove to high heat, put on wok and pour 1 table spoon of oil using circular motion when you pour. Pick up the wok to turn so that the oil can reach as many spots as possible on the wok. Put in some slivers of onions and a tablespoon of shimp/pork. Stir gently with spatular for a minute. 

5. Pour 1 laddle of Banh Xeo mixture in circular motion into the wok. Turn wok so that the mixture covers as much of the work as possible. Put in a handful of bean sprouts and cover the wok lid. Turn heat down to medium. Wait 2 minutes. 

6. Open wok lid, add a few drops of canola oil to the rim of the wok. Wait another 2-3 minutes or until banh xeo mixture turn crispy and golden brown. Fold the Banh Xeo in half (like you would with crepes or omelets).... Put onto a plate and serve. 

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you have made all the Banh Xeo you need to serve. (a good ball park is 2 per person)

How to eat Banh Xeo (if you haven't eaten it already, you're definitely missing good stuff!):

Pour some Nuoc Mam Cham into small bowl
Take a lettucce leaf, put in some Banh Xeo, some mints, some basils, some cilantro and wrap into a small roll.
Dip into Nuoc Mam Cham.
Enjoy!


OK, Now I'm hungry!

Fried Fish - Ca Chien

I just went to the fish market on Sunday and got two bone-in steaks of big-eye fish. The most simple and tastiest recipe I knew right then is fried fish. You can make this meal in less than 30 mins. You can make fried fish from any type of fish, I prefer fresh fish and the bones have to definitely be in, anything filet are not meant to be fried.... the meat would not be as tasty. So below is my recipe for fried fish, enjoy! Use the fish sauce recipe I posted earlier for dipping sauce.

Fried Fish - Ca Chien

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs of Fresh fish, preferably bone-in.
One big Onion, sliced thinly.
1 cup of canola oil (or corn oil or vegetable... no Olive! )
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar

Instructions:

Put oil in a big enough pan (or wok) and put on high heat. 
Wash fish with salt and pat dry with towel. Make sure it's dry!
Once oil is boiling, put in sliced onions. Stir gently until onions turn golden brown. Turn heat to low.
Take onions out and lay on a wide plate, take a pinch of salt and pinch of sugar and coat the onions with it. This will make it into caramelized crispy onions. Put aside. 
Turn heat up to medium, put in fish to fry, one piece at a time. Fry for about 5-7 minutes or until bottom side turn crispy golden brown, use spatula to flip other side and repeat frying for additional 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: if you bought more fish, make sure you use more oil and don't put too much fish in the pan at once to fry..... Leave room to turn.. if the pan doesn't fit all the fish, just fry some at a time.

Once fish is done both sides crispy golden brown, turn off heat, take fish out and put on a plate. Garnish with crispy onions. Eat with fish sauce and your favorite veggie dish. 

Yum yum!

Bitter Squash Soup - Canh Kho Qua

Kho Qua, a type of bitter squash, is a very popular squash in South Viet Nam. Though bitter, many Vietnamese loves the sweetness and the distinct flavor it brings to the dinner table. Besides tasting good, Vietnamese also believes eating kho qua can bring health benefits for your liver, lungs, and digestive system. There are many recipes for kho qua, unfortunately, the only one I know how to make well is soup. Enjoy!

Canh Kho Qua

Ingredients:

2 big or 4 small bitter squash
1/2 lb of ground pork (or ground chicken)
1 large egg or 2 small eggs
4 cups of chicken both (or stock made from home)
4 cups of water
Nam Meo (dried black wood ear mushrooms found in Asian grocergy stores)
Bun Tau (dried clear vermicelli)
3 cloves of green onions (diced)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Fish sauce

Instructions:

Soak mushrooms in warm water, once it expands and open up, chop into small pieces.
Soak clear vermichelli in water, once it expands, chop into small pieces.
Cut off ends of bitter squash to throw away.  Cut the rest into 2-3 inch pieces, scoup out the middle and throw away, save only the skin. 
In bowl, mix ground meat with eggs, mushroom, clear vermicelli, salt, black pepper, and 2/3 portion of green onions.
Stuff meat mixture into squash pieces, make sure you're not overstuffing. If there are meat left over, make into round meatballs.
Heat water and chicken broth in a pot to boiling on high heat.
Put in stuffed squash pieces and meatballs from above. Reduce heat to medium once water starts to boil again. 
Continue to cook for around 15 mins. In the meantime, take a laddle to scoup out the scum (the brown bubble stuffs gathered on top of the pot) to throw away. 
Once bitter squash begins to turn color (to a mossy green or yellowish green), soup is almost finished. 
Put in fish sauce to taste, turn off heat, put in the rest of the green onions to garnish.

Enjoy!

Fish Sauce - Nuoc Mam

There is a Vietnamese saying that said: "Khong an mam, khong phai la nguoi Viet Nam." It basically means "Not eating fish sauce (or paste), is not Vietnamese." "Nuoc Mam", or fish sauce, is the most basic ingredient in every Vietnamese home.  Vietnamese foods is developed into distintive flavors from the North, South, and Middle of Vietnam. However, nuoc mam, with its pungent smell, tangy, salty flavor is used widely in almost every Vietnamese dish, no matter what region. Not only is nuoc mam used to enhance flavors when cooking soups, meat, vegetable dishes, etc...by itself it is a good product to use as a sauce, or to make into a sauce with other ingredients. You could eat almost anything with some type of nuoc mam as a dip. Think of Vietnamese springrolls (bi cuon), egg rolls(cha gio), salads (goi), flat noodles (banh cuon), vermicelli (bun) even fruit (green mangoes) and you think of nuoc mam. In fact, my mother, the ever so wise lady, insisted that without a good fish sauce, these dishes would not have the right flavor they truly deserve. With that said, below you will find a basic fish sauce recipe I usually use to eat with bun, goi cuon, banh cuon, etc..... Though the ingredients are the same in many cases, you must adjust the amount of ingredients like water, sugar, and fish sauce based on the type of food you're eating .... For example, don't put a lot of water in if you're using it for goi (salad).. ..and if you can't eat hot foods, don't put in 10 fresh Thai chili peppers. :) 

Nuoc Mam Cham 


Ingredients:
4 Table spoons of fish sauce 
2 1/2 Table spoons of sugar
1 cup of warm water
1 fresh lime to juice
3 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
3 fresh Thai chili red peppers (finely minced)

Instructions:

Put Fish sauce, sugar, and water into medium bowl, stir gently until all sugar dissolved.
Squeeze lime juice into sauce
Put in  minced garlic and chili peppers on top