Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Stuffed Eggplant with Chicken

We all know that the eggplant is a fruit, and vegetables are good for people who have high blood pressure and cholesterol . Eggplant, if known how to prepare, gives not only a healthy food to our body, but when combined with pork or chicken would be a fantastic meal too. I use with most of my eggplant recipes the large Italian or Western eggplants. The long Japanese or Chinese eggplants are used for the Asian recipes. However, the benefits for consuming eggplants of either kind are the same.

1 large eggplant
200 gr ground chicken
2 pieces dry fungus, soaked and chopped
1/4 cup Oil to pan-fry
Marinade ingredients: 
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallots, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
Tomato sauce ingredients:
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbs chili flakes or cayenne
Salt,  sugar, and fish sauce to taste 
Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro
Serve with rice

Slice eggplant about 2 inches diameter. Slit the eggplant to create the pocket. Soak in  salted water for 30 minutes then drain.

In a bowl, combine the marinade and add chicken and fungus. Mix well.

Stuff the meat into the eggplant.

Heat oil on a nonstick pan. Add stuffed-eggplant and brown well. Remove.


In the same pan, add white onion and garlic. Stir to cook for 3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and ketchup. Cook until the tomatos are softened.

Return the fried eggplants to the pan.

 Adjust the seasoning with salt, fish sauce, and sugar. If too dry, add some water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with onions and cilantro.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mackerel Stew with Lemongrass, Garlic, and Coconut

In the Vietnamese cuisine, the mackerel in particular or other fishes are very popular dishes in the meal of Vietnamese families. Typically, a savory dish such as this one is served with cooked rice and a shared mostly among poor families due to the fact that the fish might not be enough for large families with many children as was my family. While living in the US, I realize that the braised fish is no longer an economic dish as in Vietnam. For that, I will modify the way to prepare this dish from the traditional way to a way for my foreign friends so that they can enjoy a savory dish without feeling that too much salt needs to be added. I hope with this way of cooking this recipe gradually becomes accepted into a Westerner’s community. Mackerel has natural sweetness, and the fresh coconut water in the stew sauce makes a nice blend with other spices thus creating a unique dinner choice possibility for all families.

2 lbs. mackerel
5 garlic cloves minced
2 tbs minced lemongrass
2 shallots, minced
2 fresh hot chili, chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
Stew sauce ingredients:
11.5 oz. coconut water
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs honey
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp salt
Other ingredients:
Black pepper
Green onions, chopped
1 lemongrass cut into 3 inches pieces
Oil to pan-fry

Gut the insides of the mackerel. Wash and soak the mackerel in water mixed with vinegar and salt for an hour. Drain and pat dry.

Mix all the spices in a bowl. Put half of the spice mixture inside and outside of the fish with some salt. Marinate fish for a few hours or overnight. 

Combine the stew sauce. Mix well and adjust the seasoning to your liking and set aside. 
Heat about 1/4 cup of peanut oil in a sauté pan.

 Add fish and brown the fish on both sides (this step will help to reduce a distinct smell from the mackerel). 


Stir in the other half of the spices. Stir and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Pour in stew sauce. Bring to boil. Add lemongrass stalk.

 Turn the heat down and simmer 40 minutes to 1 hour could be longer in a low temperature (ca kho is always tastier when it cooks over low heat and for longer time).

 Partly cover the pan. Adjust the seasoning to your liking with more sugar, fish sauce, or soy sauce. Add green onion at the end of cooking or when the sauce has been absorbed. Serve fish with rice.


Easy Peanuts & Sweet Rice

The peanuts with sweet rice dish is a popular breakfast in Vietnam. The peanuts with sweet rice dish does not just taste good but the peanuts are one of the oil seeds known as a healthy nut to humans. I grew up loving this dish. The crunchy, delicious peanuts with sweet rice dish with coconut topping is a fantastic way to start a day. Just a handful of peanuts per day will provide enough of the recommended amount of phenolic antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein. I am introducing an easy way to make peanuts with sweet rice using the crockpot to cook the peanuts, and the rice cooker to finish the job. Your loved one will forever love you when the first thing seen in the morning is the peanuts with sweet rice dish.

1 cup raw peanut
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
Sweet rice ingredients:
1 cup sweet rice long or short
1 cup coconut milk*
1/2 tsp salt
Coconut shredded
Roasted sweet- salty sesame seeds*

Wash and drain the peanuts. Add water and salt into the crockpot. Cover and turn to low for overnight cooking. Drain the peanuts in the morning.

In the morning, Wash and drain the sweet rice in a colander. Mix rice well with the cooked peanuts. Place in the rice cooker. Add coconut milk and salt. Close the lid and turn to cook.

When the peanuts with sweet rice is done, it is time to serve.

Divide the sweet rice dish among your family. Top with shredded coconut and sprinkle with sweet-salty sesame seeds.



To make sweet-salty roasted sesame seeds:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Dry pan- roast the sesame seeds (be careful not to burn the seeds). It takes about 10 minutes on low heat.
Place the roasted sesame seeds in the mini processor and blend (just enough to break the seeds but not to turn the seeds into paste). The amount of salt and sugar added are your taste.
Mix with sugar and salt. Roasted sesame seeds can be placed in a glass jar with lid and stay fresh for weeks.
*Water can be used for the recipe. I like to add coconut milk because it is healthy, and I do not have fresh shredded coconut for the topping.

Easy Healthy Butternut Squash & Shrimp Soup

I like all kinds of choices in the squash family, such as pumpkin, Japanese squash, butternut squash etc.. Butternut squash is one of the varieties of winter squash. Each of the squash has a lot of vitamin A and potassium and fiber. The Vietnamese cuisine has many recipes for squash from sweet to savory. I am happy to see that Costco is now selling the frozen butternut squash. It makes cooking much easier. Today, I will introduce a Vietnamese squash soup that my mom prepared for us children many moons ago. I use her recipe and changes to the butternut squash because it is available to me. This soup is fantastic to eat by itself or served with rice for a whole family like many Vietnamese moms do.

1 bag of frozen butternut squash
4 oz. frozen shrimp, shell removed
1/2 white onion, cut into thick slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup kelp stock (optional)
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs oil
Chopped green onion and cilantro
Black pepper

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan. Cook onions and garlic for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to boil. Add butternut squash. , Bring back to boil. Season the soup with salt, sugar and fish sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the butternut squash is soft and tender. Serve as a family style, such as ladle the soup in a big tureen or individual bowls and sprinkle with green onions, cilantro and black pepper.
Tips: there is no need to thaw either the shrimp or butternut squash, which makes this soup is easy to prepare .

*Use 4” x 4” kelp. Soak in 4 cups water for 30 minutes. Slowly bring to boil and turn the heat off. Remove kelp. Drain the kelp stock and refrigerate.

Black Beans and Corn Salsa

Beans and corn are a large part of the Mexican cuisine. Salsa is a part of the Mexican meal either as a side dish or an appetizer. There are varieties of Mexican salsa. Today, I will introduce an easy black beans corn salsa. During the summer, fresh corn is the best choice. However, the organic frozen corn which sells at Costco is very good . I like to cook my beans. I use a pressure cooker, and it takes just 10 minutes. Use black beans in a can, if there is no time for fresh beans.

1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 tbs chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeno, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbs olive oil or avocado oil
2 tbs Italian dressing

Bring a small pot of water to boil and blanch the frozen corn for a minute. Drain well.
In a mixing bowl, combine corn and the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours.
Serve by itself or with some corn chips.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Asian Coleslaw

The benefit of eating cabbage often was popularized as expected my learning over many years. Cabbage is a good source of vitamins C, B1, B5, B6 and K (these are vitamins that help slow down Alzheimer's disease of the elderly). Also, cabbage is a vegetable with very good and antioxidents and one of the vegetables that are grown widely around the world but especially in Southeast Asia. Asians use cabbage in their diets as a tool to prolong youth and is a vegetable that has very few calories but provide the body a fighter against breast and colon cancers very effectively. Apart from sauerkraut, cabbage is also can be prepared in so many healthy dishes. Today, I will share a very simple cabbage dish called coleslaw, but not like the kind of coleslaw the Westerners consume in the fast food takeout restaurants or the usual side dish in the restaurants.  Asian coleslaw is very rich in nutrients and low in calories. It is also one of the secrets used by Asians to avoid the disease of obesity that has happened in Western society.

2 equal cups of shredded red and white cabbage*
1/2 carrot julienned (optional)
1/4 cup Jicama, julienned (optional)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Cilantro, chopped
Japanese dressing ingredients:
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp peanut oil or olive oil
2 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
Chinese dressing ingredients:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 knob of fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tsp)
Thai dressing ingredients:
Equal 1/4 cups of oil, vinegar, and peanut butter
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs honey

Combine each of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well. These are a few Asian dressings that I use for making coleslaw, and there are many more of them. Add spices such as Cayenne, jalapeno, or hot chili for your taste. Also, adjust the seasoning with more or less sugar (replace the soy sauce with salt or fish sauce etc...)
I always shred the cabbage and then wash and drain well. It will last a week or so in the refrigerator.

To make coleslaw:
Place the cabbage in a mixing bowl. With this amount, I use about 2 to 3 tbs of the dressing above. You can adjust the amount of dressing for your taste.

The topping for Asian coleslaw are crusted roasted peanuts or roasted sesame seeds.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

Here is another recipe using coconut milk. Sometimes, it is hard to know about cooking methods, but this recipe is easy to follow with simple ingredients. Even though someone never before, this dish still can be pulled off. The meal is very tasty and healthy.

2 chicken thighs, washed and cut up
Marinade ingredients:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mushroom seasoning
Other ingredients:
5 dried shitake mushrooms
3 button mushrooms
1 cup butternut squash
1/2 red onion, cut thick sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbs oil
Garnish with green onions and cilantro

Place chicken pieces in a bowl and combine with the marinade ingredients. Mix well. Marinate for 1 hour.

Soak shitake mushroom in water for a few hours. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Cut into pieces.
I use the frozen butternut squash sold Costco. It is already cut into cubes. There is no need to thaw.
Cut button mushrooms in quarters.
Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add chicken and brown the chicken.

 Stir in red onion and garlic.

Cook for 3 minutes and add dried mushrooms. Pour the coconut milk in and cook for 10 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms and squash.

 Add stock and bring to boil. Simmer until the chicken cooks through, and the squash is tender (about 30 minutes). Adjust the seasoning with more salt and some sugar. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.

This meal can be served with rice, bread, or by itself.