Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Vietnamese Barbecued Pork

The barbecue normally means the preparation of meat outdoors as the main food for the celebration of events like the 4th of July. The Vietnamese have a barbecued meat recipe for grilling on a stovetop or baking in an oven. Pork and beef are two kinds of meat used for this recipe. This meal can be served with rice noodles, rice, and sandwiches. If travelers visit Vietnam, barbecue sandwiches are a snack street food and are very famous. Today, I will share this recipe with reduced size portions, so anyone can prepare and enjoy this dish.

1 lb. pork butt, sliced against the grain but not too thin
Marinade ingredients:
2 shallots,
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs minced lemongrass
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp honey
2 tbs fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning
1/4 cup oil

Combine the shallots, garlic, and lemongrass into a mini food processor and blend into paste. Remove and place into a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix well.
Marinate meat in the shallots-garlic-lemongrass mixture for at least an hour or overnight.

For baking:
Preheat oven to 350°.
Line a baking pan with foil. Arrange the pork on the foil in overlapping slices.

Bake for 20 minutes on one side and then turn over to bake the other side for another 15 minutes.

For grilling:
Heat a cast-iron pan or a nonstick pan with very little oil. Place pork slices on the pan and grill each side for 5 minutes.

Serve with sweet Vietnamese dipping sauce using the following ingredients:
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs coconut water or water
2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 red hot chili slice

Mix all together (adjust for your taste with more or less sugar, lemon juice, and chili).



Friday, October 14, 2016

Asian Style Braised Lamb

Braising is one of my favorite methods of cooking. I think it is hearty and healthy because the meat for braising has gelatinous characteristics for this method. The meat can be beef, veal, or pork. I use lamb shoulder, but lamb shank is a much better choice for this braising method. Root vegetables can also be used. I like daikon and carrot because daikon, when added to the braising stew, will bring out the sweet taste as do the carrots and turnips. Serving this dish with wild or brown rice will make this dish a complete healthy choice for dinner.

1 lb. lamb shoulder, cut into 4 big chunks
2 tbs flour
2 tbs oil
Braising liquid ingredients:
1 inch knob ginger, smashed
1 tsp five spice
2 pieces of dried tangerine, peeled
1 tbs mushroom sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 carrot, cut into chunks
One 4 in. piece daikon, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 turnips peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, mined
1/2 cup dry sherry or white wine
Other ingredients:
2 green onions cut into strips (about 2 inch lengths)
Brown or black rice

To prepare the vegetables, peel and cut into equal size pieces, so they will cook evenly.
Dredge lamb pieces in flour until well coated. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet and brown the lamb on all sides.

Combine the braising liquid and add to the pan . Bring to boil . Simmer for 30 minutes .

Heat 1 tbs oil in a nonstick skillet and add shallot and garlic. Stir and cook until fragrant. Add the rest of the vegetables and white wine. Cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the vegetables into the lamb and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the lamb and vegetables are tender when tested with a fork.

Add green onions and serve with black rice.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Easy Healthy Salmon Belly Braised with Coconut Water

I have a friend who frequently goes fishing, and he often gives me whole salmon or salmon bellies. The salmon belly is the part that has most of the fat. Most Asian grocery stores carry salmon belly. I know this for the fact that when the fish monger fillets the salmon, this part is sold for less. Economically, this part of salmon is very healthy and inexpensive. The best way to use this part of the salmon is to braise it with coconut water; the Vietnamese call this "ca kho". However, there are so many recipes for fish stew. Today, I will share one of the easiest recipes for braising the salmon belly and getting the best of its taste and health benefits. Serve with rice like all Asian families do or by itself.

2 lbs. salmon bellies washed and cleaned
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
Bunch of scallions cut into 2 inch lengths
Fresh hot chili slices
1 tbs peanut oil
Braising sauce ingredients:
12 oz. coconut water
1 tbs blackstrap Molasses
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp cayenne powder

In sauté pan or cast-iron pot, add oil and fry the shallots and garlic until fragrant.

 Add salmon and fry for a few minutes. I do not use a lot of oil because the fat from the salmon belly will be enough.

 Combine the braising sauce ingredients. Mix well and pour onto the salmon. Bring to boil.

 Turn the heat down and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.

 Remove the lid and let the sauce reduce to less than half. Adjust the seasoning at this point with fish sauce. Add the green onions and fresh hot chili.

Make a quick stir, and it is ready to enjoy!!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a large part of Vietnamese cooking. It is included in many Vietnamese recipes from a marinade to dipping sauce. Real fish sauce is made from fresh anchovies and salt, layered in huge wooden barrels for a few months. I am not here to share the recipe for making real fish sauce. I will leave that to the professionals and manufacturers with all the right equipment. They are normally located near by the coastline of Vietnam. However, for the vegetarian mock fish sauce which is very important for many recipes, I have many recipes that use this mock fish sauce. This is one of my favorites, and it is tasty and easy to prepare.  Here it is.

One 64 oz. apple juice
2 oz. rock sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 tbs mushroom seasoning
1 tbs dark soy sauce for dark amber color


Combine apple juice, rock sugar, salt, and the mushroom seasoning in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Pour into a glass jar with lid, which can be refrigerated for months. This "fish sauce" is used for so many dipping sauces or salad recipes.

Quick Masa Sweet Corn Bread

I think corn bread is the easiest quick bread that I like to make for breakfast. The cornbread is packed with so much flavor and can be a cross between sweet or savory bread, depending on each cook. With so little work, this bread can be served in the center of the table. For this recipe, each cook can make some changes to personalize it.  The cornbread can be made in a cast-iron or regular baking pan and into little muffins. This recipe is for basic cornbread, and I use Masa corn tortilla ready-made flour, some yellow cornmeal, and all-purpose flour. Maybe, the next time I will try omit the flour to make this recipe completely gluten-free.

Dry ingredients:
1 cup masa flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
2 tbs softened butter

Grease a cast-iron pan with butter. Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk well.

Combine the wet ingredients in a medium cup. Use a handheld mixer to beat the wet ingredients well.

Pour the beaten wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat to combine.

Pour the batter into the cast-iron pan. Bake in the preheated oven to for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Halibut Fillets Baked in Parchment Paper

The special technique for this cooking is known in French as en papillote, which means wrapping the fish fillet and the sauce in parchment or foil and baking until done. I love to prepare this recipe using this technique due to the fact that it is easy to clean the baking dish afterwards, and the fish is moist. This dish can be served either in its baking dish by cutting out an opening on the top of the parchment paper or by transferring the food onto some fancy, decorated plate. I posted a few recipes using this technique before. Today, I will present this recipe with an Asian flair with very few ingredients for the busy cook. This recipe serves two.

Two 6 oz. Halibut fillets
1/2 cup cored and seeded orange bell pepper, cut into strips
2 pieces Napa cabbage, cut into sections
1/2 cup sliced red onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
Sauce ingredients:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs red vinegar or rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut four pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil (about 12 inch lengths).

Combine the sauce ingredients and mix well.
Place the parchment paper on a flat surface.
Place the Napa cabbage, the fish, and the rest of the vegetables top of the parchment paper.

Dividing the sauce equally, pour sauce over the fish.

Place the second piece of parchment paper to cover the fish and fold and seal all edges securely.

Arrange the packages on one or two baking sheets.

 Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Serve with rice.


Batter-Fried Tofu with Tomato Sauce

The best tasty way to enjoy tofu is to batter it first and then fry.  It has a few more calories but, for tofu, it is the best way to enjoy the taste. The base of batter very much depends upon each cook and taste. Some cook with beer, club soda, egg yolks or whites, while some others cook with all-purpose flour or cornstarch.  However, for my taste, the simplest way to prepare the batter is to use flour or Korean ready mix, water, and egg yolk. This recipe can be served with the soy dipping sauce, but today I will use an easy healthy tomato sauce recipe* using some fresh produce from my garden. I hope this recipe will be present at your family’s meal once a week for a meatless day.

One 14 oz. medium firm tofu

Batter ingredients:
1 cup Korean batter mix**
1 egg yolk
1 cup water
1 tbs peanut oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Tomato sauce ingredients:
2 tbs oil
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 tbs coconut vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tbs tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped red or white onion
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp horseradish mustard

Drain and cut tofu into 12 chunks. You also can cut into cubes or however you like.

Combine the batter ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.

Heat the oil for deep frying. Dip each tofu chunk or cube into the batter. One at the time, drop them in the hot oil. Cook as many tofu chunks or cubes that can fit comfortably in the hot oil without crowding.

Cook about 3 to 5 minutes or until the pieces are golden brown. Transfer them onto paper towels to drain the excess oil.

The Vietnamese family usually serves this dish with soy sauce or fish sauce over rice or on a plate of salad.


*Tomato sauce directions:
Heat oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until wilted and add the vinegar and bay leaf.  Cook for 1 minute or until the vinegar is reduced by half.

Add tomato paste. Stir and cook for a few seconds. Add tomato. Season with salt, sugar, and black pepper to taste.

 Cook and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir in mustard. This sauce is ready.
Pour this sauce over the fried tofu or on the side.

**If Korean mix is not available, use one cup of all-purpose flour with 1 tsp baking powder.