Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tuna Fillets with Dill Sauce

Weekends at my house are always relaxing days just before a whole new week. This recipe speaks for itself with just a few ingredients and most of them are already in most kitchen pantries. I have grown a few pots of herbs on my kitchen window sill, and it is time to use them for cooking.

Two 6 oz tuna fillets
pinch of salt and pepper
Sauce ingredients:
1 tbs mayonnaise
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt
2 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill

Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper and set aside.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
In a nonstick sauté pan heat over high heat with 1 tsp of olive oil, place tuna and grill fish for 3 or 4  minutes on one side(depending on the thickness of the tuna). Use a spatula to turn fish over to cook the other side. Cook fish for 2 minutes and then top with dill sauce. Continue to cook fish for 1 minute or until fish can flake easily with a fork. Remove and serve with white rice and steamed vegetables on the side.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Miso Glazed Salmon

After a conversation with my friend yesterday about one dish that she ordered at a Cheese Cake Factory restaurant, I created this recipe for her. She loves its grilled salmon fillet served on a bed of white rice and steamed vegetables. However, she did not know that it packs a whopping 1600 calories in just one dish. I know that all the butter in the sauce will make most anything taste good.. I always like to go through the recipes that are served in all the famous restaurants to create my own versions for a healthy eating habit. With the help of the internet, there is no secret about how to make a home-cooked meal like in takeout or even 5 stars restaurants. Of course, each cook has his or her own taste buds to make their recipes the way they want it to be. This recipe is similar to the one that is served at the Cheese Cake Factory but without the butter sauce. For the Asian taste, my version of this glazed miso is more like Asian food with fewer calories. This recipe is for my friend, Thu Huong, and I hope she will enjoy the meal as much as the one in the Cheese Cake Factory

Two 6 oz salmon fillets
1/4 tsp salt and black pepper
Glaze ingredients:
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs miso paste (fermented soy bean paste)
2 tbs hot water
1 tsp honey
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup sake
1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tbs coconut oil

1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
Fresh chives, chopped
Steamed vegetables (your choice – pea pods, broccoli, napa cabbage)
White rice

Using a paper towel, pat salmon surface dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place both of them in the baking dish. 

In a bowl, mix miso, water, soy sauce, honey, sugar and chili flakes. Whisk well and set aside.

In a sauté pan, add oil and heat until hot. Stir in shallot, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant (be careful not let them burn).

Add sake and cook for 1 minute or until reduced in half.

Add the miso sauce, stir, and bring to boil.

 Cook until thickened a little, and this sauce is ready.

Pour sauce over salmon and bake at 400° in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, Sprinkle with chives and roasted sesame seeds.
Serve with steamed vegetables and rice.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Glutinous Rice with Peanuts (Xôi Đậu Phộng)

Xôi Đậu Phộng or any kind of sweet rice is a big part of the Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnamese people eat this rice for breakfast or anytime of the day. When I was young and lived on a farm with my mother, Xôi Đậu Phộng was special for us. It tastes wonderful. The simple reason was that we grew our own peanuts. Even though my mom very much wanted to sell all the fresh peanuts, she rewarded us after a long hard working season by making Xôi Đậu Phộng. It was made with fresh peanuts pulled out from the ground. We just removed the peanut shells and ate them. The sweet and milky juice from the peanuts was priceless. Every time I visit my family in California, my sister, Kim, buy some fresh peanuts at the local farmers market, but they are never of the same taste that I remember. Xôi Đậu Phộng was also my late father’s favorite meal for breakfast. I think the reason for his attraction to it is that he was originally from North Vietnam and Xôi Đậu Phộng is from the northern part of Vietnam. I haven't made this dish for a long time because I cannot get fresh peanuts where I live. The dried peanuts take quite a long time to cook. However, my father passed away a few years ago, and for me to remember him is to make this sticky rice dish – the way he enjoyed a bowl of simple rice for breakfast. Because Xôi Đậu Phộng has so much protein, packed with energy, and is very filling, why not make a good habit of eating this energy breakfast? With the busy lives that we all have, I want to share an easy way to make this sticky rice using a rice cooker. The dried peanuts also can be cooked in a crockpot overnight. The short grain sticky rice is perfect to cook in a rice cooker. Reduce the quantity of water, if using another kind of rice. This method of cooking breakfast is ready in flash!!

The equipment is a rice cooker, of course!!

2 cups short grain glutinous rice
1 cup dried peanuts (will yield about 3 cups after cooking)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water or coconut milk*
Topping: roasted sesame seeds

Bring a pot of 6 cups of water to boil and add the dry peanuts and one teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook on high heat for at least two hours. However, this could be done in a crockpot overnight or this step can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until needed with larger quantities of peanuts.
In a rice cooker, add rice and ½ tsp. of salt with two cups of water or coconut milk. Close the lid and turn the cooker on.

When the rice is cooked the first time, wait for 10 minutes and add the cooked peanut into the rice. Mix well. Close the lid and turn the rice cooker on one more time. When the rice cooker is done cooking the second time, wait for 15 minutes and then serve.

*The southern part of Vietnam cooks this rice with coconut milk.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vietnamese Sweet Rice & Corn in Crockpot (Xôi Bắp Nhảo)

Xôi Bắp Nhảo is another Vietnamese popular snack food. This food is served on a "bowl" made from a banana leaf and with a small part of a coconut branch for the spoon. It is cute to eat this way and a practical choice for container instead of using plastic kinds. I posted this recipe a long time ago using the recipe from a blogger names Opera. Recently, I watched this new recipe on YouTube demonstrated by a chef named Xuân Hồng. Her recipe is a lot closer to the taste that I remember from my younger years. I did not live close to a Vietnamese town now; therefore, I cannot get a banana leaf to make a bowl nor like Xuân Hồng who uses some of the palm tree plants in her garden to create a serving spoon.
I still use the technique that I learned before from the Opera blogger that makes this meal in a Crockpot. However, I changed a few things in the recipe to create my own for a healthier choice and for my taste. Xuân Hồng is very detailed in her demonstration. Go to to get her original version of this recipe.

1 bag of Bắp Chà hay bắp dã  (12 oz)
One can of Coco Rico
2 cups coconut milk (from Costco)
4 cups water
1 tbs salt
1 tbs chia seeds

Topping ingredients:
Roasted peanuts
Roosted sesame seeds
Shredded coconut flakes

Wash Bắp Chà hay bắp dã and drain well. In the crockpot, combine washed Bắp Chà hay bắp dã with the rest of the ingredients, except the topping. Cover the crockpot.

 Cover with lid and let it slow cook overnight. It will be ready in the morning to enjoy as down breakfast.

Add two tbs sugar and one tsp salt for every 1/2 cup of crushed peanuts and add 1 tbs crushed sesame seeds. Mix well. This is the topping for this recipe but also can be used for most of the sweet rice dishes in Vietnam.

Mexican Grilled Tuna with Fresh Herbs

During summer, my herbs garden produces a large volume of fresh herbs. I like to make a sauce for grilling fish or meat . This sauce is easy for people who grow fresh herbs, but not so convenient for some people who have to buy all the different kind of herbs. I served my brother-in-law and his girlfriend with this meal. They both loved this recipe, so I will share it now.

Two 6 oz tuna fillets
Sauce ingredients:
1/2 cup of fresh herbs: cilantro, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley and sage
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Garnish with orange and lemon wedges
Steamed vegetables

Put all the sauce ingredients into blender and pulse a few times.
Place tuna in a container with lid. Pour  this sauce on both sides of fish (this recipe can be used for 4 tuna). Cover and refrigerate for at least  2 hours or overnight.
Remove from the marinade and reserve the marinade
In a nonstick pan, add about 1 tbs of olive oil. Grill fish on each side for 5 minutes. About 1 minute before tuna is done' pour the marinade and cook for 1 minutes.Remove from pan and serve.
This recipe’s ingredients can be wrapped in parchment paper or in a banana leaf to steam or to bake.

Daikon or Turnip Rice Cake

This Chinese rice cake is served at the Dim Sum hour in Chinese restaurants. There are many recipes that have been used to make this cake. Some include chasiu (Chinese BBQ pork) to add more flavor to the cake.
Here is an easy recipe to make this cake. It tastes wonderful.

3 cups rice flour
2 cups  water
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dried shrimp, soaked in water, drained, and finely chopped
1 small daikon (about 3 cups after shredding)

1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 Chinese sausage, finely chopped
Salt, white pepper, and sugar

Line two 8” x 5” loaf pans with sheet plastic wrap with some wrap hanging over the sides.

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the shredded daikon for 5 minutes. Drain the cooked daikon. Let it cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour with water and chicken broth. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar. Mix well.

In a large sauté pan, add 1 tsp oil. Add shallot and garlic and cook for a few minutes.

 Add shrimp and Chinese sausage. Season with salt and pepper or some soy sauce.

 Add flour and cooked daikon. Stir constantly until partly cooked (when your hand feels heavy while stirring, the batter is at the correct consistency).

Pour the batter onto the prepared cake pan and steam in a steamer for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. This cake can be cut into portions and freezes well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Salmon Baked with Roasted Tomato & Garlic

Throughout my blog, I emphasize healthy cooking. I also like to prepare simple meals with the advantages of fresh herbs. With those ideas in mind, we all have to feed our families with good food and enjoy as much time together as we can with a limitation of available time in our fast-paced society. Always spend time eating together and maintain a healthy balanced diet with limited fat. Nothing should be more appetizing after a tough day at work than supper with people whom we love!!

Two 6 oz salmon fillets
Salt and black pepper
1 large tomato or two plum tomatoes, cut in to wedges
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped olives
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth

Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the tomato wedges, onions, and garlic. Drizzle with olive, salt, and pepper. Bake in preheated oven set to 350° for 15 minutes.

Mix chicken broth with Dijon mustard and herbs.
After 15 minutes, move the tomato wedges and onions on the side of the baking pan and place salmon on the pan.

 Top with chopped olives and pour the broth with herbs on top.

Return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the fish are opaque. Serve with steamed asparagus and cooked brown rice.