Monday, March 31, 2014

Banh xeo (Vietnamese savory crepes)





Hello Spring!!! What a gorgeous and lively season! I love it when everything rejuvenates after the long cold winter. My unattended little garden surprised me yesterday when I came out for the first time to clean up the backyard after several winter months. All my mints and herbs that I planted last year are now full of life and competing with each other to show their vibrant green leaves under the shining sun.  And that was how I came up with the idea to have this Vietnamese savory crapes for dinner tonight. 
Wait a minute, you may ask, how does that have anything to do with the mints and herbs? Well, if you look closely to my pictures you will see how they are related. Unlike the French crepes which usually served alone by itself, the Vietnamese crepes are usually accompanied by a lot of green vegetables such as lettuces, mustard greens, and a varieties of Vietnamese mints and herbs along side with the fish sauce dressing. It has been a long while since I last made this and I have certainly enjoyed it very much especially with my freshly grown green vegetables.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Crispy roasted pork belly (Heo quay) with vermicelli



It's Fat Tuesday, so why not getting fat together! And why not eating roasted pork belly before the Lent season starts. To me I can only afford to enjoy this dish a few times in a year unless I'm ready for a new larger pant size. That why whenever I prepare this dish, I always savor every single bite especially the most high prize part of the dish, the crunchy, crispy skin that tastes so divine. 
In my opinion, homemade roast pork is much more flavorful than the store bought one. Since the pork is prepared in a much smaller portion than the whole pig at the BBQ joint, you can easily control the marinade and able to let the meat mingle and absorb the flavorful marinade. The most important part to make this dish a success lies in the crispiness of the skin (of course without burning it). Once you can achieve this crucial step, you are more than half way being successful. To tell you the truth, if I could just eat all I want, I would definitely go for the skin. Tonight dinner, I serve it with mixed herb salad and vermicelli noodles, but you can also serve it with rice and it would make a wonderful entree.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Herb sea salt soft pretzels with Cheese sauce


This is my second time trying my luck with soft pretzels. I don't even want to be reminded of my first attempt at making homemade pretzels. If I could throw a rock to hurt somebody, those pretzels would do a very fine job. It has been years since I even thought about making pretzels again until recently when I saw a post on my Facebook page about homemade soft pretzels from a food blogger. The pretzel picture looked so delightful and enticing that I almost wanted to reach into the screen and grab that pretzel. So forget about my first painful experience with pretzels, I immediately looked up the recipe and made my plan for the second attempt without hesitation. 
I have to say, the result is beyond my expectation. The fresh hot, crusty-on-the-outside and soft-in-the-inside pretzels taste heavenly. Especially when it is accompanied with the creamy, savory cheese sauce, you can forget about the world around you. The recipe is such a breeze to make and with just a couple hours in the kitchen, you will be rewarded with some fantastic homemade good eat. These soft pretzels are best when they are fresh hot out of the oven, but I don't think you will have to worry about left-over, stale pretzels because there won't be any.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Crispy banana fritters (Chuoi chien)


Banana fritter or fried banana (Chuoi chien) has always been one of my many childhood favorite snacks. It reminds me of my childhood growing up in Vietnam where simple, inexpensive snacks like this tastes so divined. I remember these snacks`were sold ubiquitously everywhere, in the alley around the neighborhood, at an outdoor market or on the curbside in front of many schools. 
The steamy, hot fried banana fresh out of the oil quickly wrapped in banana leave was something that always put a big smile on my face. The crunchiness of the outside fritter complements perfectly the sweet and soft banana inside. Along with these banana fritters, sweet potato fritters were also popular among the kids. The same batter can also be used to make these sweet potato fritters, just substitute sweet potato yam for bananas. The secret to the long lasting crunchiness lies in the double deep frying method where the banana fritter is fried to merely brown, then dipped in the batter and re-fried again until golden brown or to the desired crunchiness. Try it and you won't be disappointed! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Shredded pork and pork skin (Bi)


First, I want to apologize for my long hiatus. I don't know if I should blame the craziness of the holiday seasons or the lack of diligence, but I know I have been seriously lagging and necglecting my blog for a long while. 
Well now I'm back and still alive, just in case you were wondering, I want to introduce to you all one important component of the scrumptious Bbq pork rice dish aka "Com bi cha thit nuong".  As you may remember, I have introduced to you how to make the Bbq grilled pork (thit nuong) and the steamed egg meatloaf (Cha) in previous posts. So now it's time to bring to light the last, but not least, portion of the combo: shredded pork skin or "Bi". 
This sidekick dish is actually my favorite out of the three. I just love its versatility. Beside serving along side with grilled pork and the steamed egg meatloaf on rice, it also can be rolled up in rice papers to make delicious spring rolls called "Bi cuon" or stuffed in the baguette to make a lovely lunch sandwich. I also love to serve this with cold vermicille noodle "bun", mixed green mint salad and dressed in fish sauce to make a nice lunch (or dinner) entree. You can't go wrong no matter which way you like to serve it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shrimp and Squid salad (Goi tom muc)


This shrimp and squid salad is such a refreshing dish that serves great as an appetizer at your weekday dinner and perfect at any weekend parties. The dish is super simple to prepare and super delicious for the taste buds. The secret to this tasty salad is in the dressing. Transforming the pungent fish sauce into a delicious dressing to bring out the freshness of the salad can be challenging if the ratios is off. The ratios that I'm mentioning here are between the fish sauce, the lime juice and the sugar. The simplest one to remember is 1:1:1, but for me I like a little more sweetness to the dressing so I tend to add a little more sugar into sauce. Adjust the ratios to however you like and get your beers ready for some tasty treat.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pain au lait (milk bread)



It has been a while now since I baked breads. I feel like I'm missing something in my life without baking. Yes, I do love baking, especially baking good breads for my boys. They both have been under the weather lately and not wanting to eat much. Any parents out there would know that getting your kids to eat while they are sick is a big challenge. I found this very promising soft bread recipe while browsing the web a couple nights ago and decided to give it a try. I'm glad that I did, my boys loved it and so did my husband. I'm so delighted to see the breads came out light and soft with the right amount of sweetness. My house was smelling amazing with the aroma of fresh breads. The boys love to have it with a dab of butter while my husband devoured it with my homemade strawberry jam.  I'm so glad that I have brought their appetites back!
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