Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hold the Key of Joy

Someone who knows the key to his joy does not wait for others to make himself happy but also has the ability to bring joy to others. In each person's heart there is "the key of joy," but we do not know how to hold and give that key to others to manage.

A woman often complains: "I live a very sad life because my husband is often away!” She brought her key of joy to her husband.
Another mother said, "My son does not listen to me, which makes me angry often!" She handed her keys to her son.
A middle-aged company employee sighed and said, "The company does not promote me, it's my morale!" He brings the joy of his life to the boss.
Another person lamented, “My daughter-in-law is not filial, my life is so miserable!"
A young man from the bookstore shouted, "That boss's service attitude is hateful."

These people all have made the same decision; that is, let others control their spirit. When we allow others to control our spirit, we feel like we are the victims; in the present situation there is no other way to blame and become angry, and, it is our only option.
We start to blame others and at the same time we convey a demand that "I am suffering so that you / your ... and brother / sister ... are responsible for the my suffering"! We then take great responsibility to entrust those around us and ask them to make us happy. We seem to admit that we are not capable of self-control, but only by allowing someone to position and govern us. Such people want to approach others but look at the fear.
But, a person who knows the key to his joy does not wait for others to make himself happy but he also has the ability to bring joy to others. The spirit of that person is stable, knows to be responsible for himself, and not to fail for others. Knowing to master emotions and create and keep the joy of yourself in your daily life, you will be leisurely free from pressure from others.

Where is your key of joy?  Is your key of joy in someone else's hands? Hurry up and get it back!

Translated from an Internet site.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stir-fried Shrimp and Salmon with Vegetables

There are many easy and practical ways to prepare homestyle, stir-fried dishes. I went out with my friend yesterday, and we ordered stir-fried shrimp with vegetables.  It gave me an idea to copy cat that recipe for my family meal that evening. The stir-fried sauce does not have to be Chinese, but any kind of ready-made sauce on the market will work with this recipe. I like to make my own stir-fried sauce at home because it is easy and a healthier choice with no MSG or other chemicals to preserve the sauce that I do not know about. The only main ingredient used to create the stir-fried sauce at home is a good broth. It does not matter if it is a vegetable, kelp, or chicken broth as long as it is tasty, and this dish will be done. The frequent visitors to my blog will realize that I follow my principal of easy and healthy cooking.  I believe life is too short for humans to make it more complicated. Let us enjoy a healthy and happy life with a simple meal.

One 6 oz. salmon fillet, cubed
12 shrimp, shell removed
1 tsp each of wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch
Stir-fried sauce ingredients:
1/2 cup kelp broth
1 tsp salt
1 tbs soy sauce or fish sauce
1 tsp honey or sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tbs cornstarch
4 cups total combination of cabbage, carrots, broccoli, Napa cabbage,
2 mushrooms, quartered, and a handful of bean sprouts
2 tbs peanut oil or coconut oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup white onions
2 green onions, sliced
Serve with hot cooked rice

In a bowl, add shrimp and fish. Add the wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Mix well and marinate shrimp and fish for 1 hour.

Combine the stir-fried sauce ingredients and mix well (adjust the seasoning to your liking with more or less sugar or soy sauce).
Vegetables used are up to each cook and which are available.

Bring a small pot of water to boil and blanch the cabbage, broccoli, and carrots for 1 minute and drain.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok until smoking. Add fish and shrimp in one layer.  Let cook without disturbing for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. 

 Remove and place in a bowl.
Add the other tablespoon of oil into the same wok. Add the white onions, garlic, and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add mushrooms if using. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

 Add blanched vegetables and Napa cabbage, if using (because this vegetables cook very quickly) and mix well. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes.

Add sauce and bring to boil. Return the cooked shrimp and fish. Make a quick stir to combine.

 Add bean sprouts and green onions, and stir to combine with the rest of the ingredients now in the wok. Adjust the seasoning again at this time.

It is now ready to serve.

Vietnamese Roasted Chicken

I believe good food and good cooking is the key to a hold family together in the Vietnamese culture. Many recipes for snack foods or fancy dinners use the roasted whole chicken. I like the marinade for this dish and prepare it often with an easier method as does the recipe today.  Instead of using the whole chicken, I use chicken legs and thighs. With a small family size, this recipe works perfectly. Most of the ingredients for this recipe are familiar in Thai, Indian, or Chinese cooking, so anyone can claim title to this recipe. Rice is central to the Vietnamese people, but bread or rice noodles are good with this dish.  I call it Vietnamese roasted chicken because I am Vietnamese, and I am the one who posted this recipe today.

4 chicken legs, with thighs
Marinade ingredients:
2 shallots, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped, about 3 tbs
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs honey
1 tsp black pepper
Juice of one lemon
1 tbs sweet chilli sauce

Wash the chicken and use the knife to slit the chicken a few times.

Combine the marinade ingredients and rub the marinade all over the chicken.

Cover and leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Line a baking dish with foil for easy cleaning.

Place chicken on the baking dish and baked in a preheated oven set to 425° for 30 minutes and then turn the chicken over and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Enjoy!!

* Use this marinade to marinate for boneless, skinless, chicken breast 


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Stir-fried Corn with Shrimp and Scallions

Most tourists who have come to Vietnam agree that the stir-fried corn with scallions dish that is sold on almost any street in Vietnam is a must-try dish, and, for me, this is one of my favorite snacks too. The recipe is very easy with only a few ingredients, which are fresh corn, dried shrimp (optional), scallions, and some oil to stir-fry.  Fresh corn makes a huge difference in taste. Whenever available especially from a local farmer’s market during late summer or early fall, I like to use fresh corn for this dish.  Also, butter is better to use to add more flavor to this dish, but in Vietnam, a street vendor only uses oil for economical reasons. Each cook may decide to use butter instead of oil because of their diet.  I always make this dish for my breakfast because it is fast and provides enough fiber and protein for the day.

2 cups frozen corn (I use the Costco brand)
1/3 cup tiny dried shrimp
1 garlic clove, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tbs coconut oil or butter

Let frozen corn reach the room temperature.
Rinse tiny shrimp and set aside.
Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat until oil is hot.

Add corn and shrimp.  Turn the heat down to low medium heat.

Brown the corn for 4 minutes. Add minced garlic at this point, if using.

Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
Add scallions and cook for 1 more minute.

Serve. Enjoy!!

*Tip for using fresh corn:

Remove husk and separate the corn kernels from the cob. Bring a pot of water to boiling with some salt to flavor the corn.  Cook the corn for a few minutes and then drain.  Finish the recipe by following the directions listed above.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Catfish Baked with Herbs and Garlic Sauce

Every day, I try to create a new easy recipe for people who are too busy to cook a healthy meal. The worry is over for those people because the recipe here today will achieve that task.  Using a fish fillet, such as tilapia, catfish, or bream is perfect because frozen fish fillets can adequately serve one, two, or three recipes, if needed.

1 catfish fillet (6 oz.)
Sauce ingredients:
1 tbs coconut oil or avocado oil
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced (1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp honey

Place a thawed catfish on a baking dish.
Combine the sauce ingredients and mix well (adjust the seasoning to your liking).

Pour sauce over fish and bake in a preheated oven set to 350° for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle about 1 tbs chopped cilantro on top before serving.

Vietnamese Vermicelli Chicken Soup (Miến Gà)

There are many versions of this Vietnamese chicken soup delicacy.  The easiest way to prepare this soup is to have chicken broth already prepared.  Most Vietnamese people like to make this soup using a free range chicken. However, for me, I do not live close to an Asian market, so I use any chicken that is available to me.  The vegetables that are suitable for this soup are bamboo shoots, dried shitake mushrooms, and dried wood ears.  I like to top this soup with crispy shallots (this option will make this soup more flavorful to serve). Another vegetable to serve on the side is bean sprouts. For easy and healthy soup, this is just one of many versions of Asian chicken soup.

5 cups chicken broth
1 large chicken leg
5 oz. dried Vermicelli
2 tbs fish sauce
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 small knob of ginger, sliced
1 dried wood ear soaked in water, shredded
2 dried shitake mushrooms soaked in water, julienned
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, julienned

Garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions
Piece of lime and fresh hot chili

In a medium pot, add chicken broth. Add chicken and sliced ginger for 15 to 20 minutes (a white onion, a piece of celery, and a carrot can be added while cooking the chicken). Skim any foam that rises to the surface during cooking.  Remove chicken and drain the stock. Wait for chicken to cool off. Then shred the meat and set aside.

Soak the vermicelli in warm water for 20 minutes, or, if using a different kind of vermicelli, then follow the instructions on the package to prepare the noodles.

Put the drained stock back into the pot. Add the rest of the vegetables and bring to simmer. 

Simmer for 15 minutes and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce, salt, and black pepper to your liking.
To serve:
Place noodles in a serving bowl, and top with chicken, cilantro, and green onions. Ladle the hot broth on top and divide equally the mushrooms and bamboo shoots.  Sprinkle crispy fried shallots on top.

*To make crispy fried shallots:
Slice 3 shallots (about 3/4 to 1 cup), thinly place shallots in a saucepan with 1/2 cup
peanut oil.  Fry them over low-medium heat until brown and crispy.

 Use A slotted spoon to remove shallots from the oil and let them cool off.  The oil can be used later to add flavor to other dishes. The crispy shallots can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for months.

Chicken Legs Cooked with Tomatoes and Navy Beans

Traditionally, Asian meals are served in four different courses: soups, stir-fried, stews, and with rice. The recipe below with some modifications will satisfy Asian people with their traditional habits, especially because we are living in a fast moving society.

2 lbs. chicken legs and thighs (with bones in)
1 large white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, puréed
2 carrots, cut in pieces
One 15.5 oz. can navy beans or white beans*
Sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbs honey
1/4 tsp black pepper
Thickening ingredients:
2 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs water

Remove skin from the chicken (optional) and cut into large pieces.

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Drain the white beans and set aside.
Heat 2 tbs oil in large pan with lid.  Sauté the white onion until fragrant.  Brown the chicken on all sides and add garlic.

Add tomato purée and carrots.  Bring to boil and add the sauce.

Cover and cook for 40 minutes.  Add the beans in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Combine the thickening ingredients.
Uncover. Adjust the seasoning, and add the combined thickening ingredients.
Cook for 5 more minutes.
This dish is suitable to serve with bread, white rice, or noodles.

For my taste, I add fresh chili peppers and sprinkle with chopped cilantro when serving.  Mushrooms and potatoes can added to this dish.  Adjust the cooking time for potatoes, if using.

*If you want to cook your own beans, it requires about 2 cups of cooked beans.