Author: Writing With Chopsticks

Xa Xiu – BBQ Pork (Char Siu)

Xa Xiu – BBQ Pork (Char Siu)

In our Mom’s 52 series, we’ve shared a few recipes calling for Xa Xiu – BBQ Pork.  Otherwise known as Char Siu, Xa Xiu (“sa see-oo”) is the pink-hued pork found hanging in Vietnamese/Chinese meat markets, next to the roasted pig and roasted duck. Raising four […]

Xoi Man – Savory Sticky Rice w/ Pork & Chinese Sausage

Xoi Man – Savory Sticky Rice w/ Pork & Chinese Sausage

We missed a week in our Mom’s 52 series!  Apologies to our subscribers, but we experienced technical difficulties last week when installing upgrades, but rest assured, we are back up and running! Our previous Mom’s 52 recipe showed you how to make a very basic […]

Xoi Mau – Bright Vietnamese Sticky Rice

Xoi Mau – Bright Vietnamese Sticky Rice

Xoi recipe. Vietnamese sticky rice recipe. Xoi Mau recipe.

Do not adjust your screen – this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is intended to be this bright and orange!  Xoi Mau – Bright Vietnamese Sticky Rice is often the first type of xoi (sticky rice) a Vietnamese person ever tastes, likely in childhood.  Maybe that’s why this dish is colored so brightly – to appeal to children?  There’s no clear explanation as to why the traditional version is so brightly colored, but another good hypothesis is because Xoi Mau is often served at festive events, like birthdays or holidays.  There are other variations of Xoi Mau in bright purple or bright green, but those usually relate to their respective flavors of taro and pandan (Vietnamese vanilla).  If you have flavored extracts on hand, a few drops of those added to the rice before steaming could yield some fun variations of this recipe.

It’s time to bust out the food coloring to have a little fun making Xoi Mau!

Xoi Mau – Bright Vietnamese Sticky Rice

INGREDIENTS – makes 3 servings

  • 2 C. sweet rice, soaked overnight at least 12 hours, then drained
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 drops red food color
  • 7 drops yellow food color
  • 1.5 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. oil (olive or vegetable)

—-

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the soaked, drained sweet rice into a large bowl.  Add the salt and mix well.
  2. Combine the red and yellow food color in a large spoon to make orange food color.  Pour the orange food color onto the sweet rice.  Mix well to spread the food color all over the sweet rice evenly.
  3. Spread the orange sweet rice into a steamer basket, leaving a ring of holes around the rice to allow steam to rise from the water basket below.

    Xoi recipe. Vietnamese sticky rice recipe. Xoi Mau recipe.
    A stacked steamer is needed for this recipe, with a steamer basket stacked on top of a water pot. These are inexpensive at many Asian markets. The holes need to be small enough so the rice does not fall through.
  4. Cover the steamer basket, and place it on top of the water basket that’s been filled 1/3 of the way with hot water.  Use medium heat to steam the rice for 40 minutes.  Gently toss the rice twice during this time.
  5. After 40 minutes, sprinkle the sugar and oil onto the rice, and gently toss the rice to incorporate these ingredients.  Cover and steam an additional 20 minutes, which gets the rice to a perfectly sticky consistency.  That’s it!  Serve as an appetizer or as an easy breakfast.  Enjoy!

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Tom Cang Kho – Braised Prawns

Tom Cang Kho – Braised Prawns

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is a shrimp-lover’s dream.  It’s time to learn how to make mouthwatering Tom Cang Kho – Braised Prawns. Prawns are larger (and pricier) than standard shrimp.  They’re about 4-6 count, meaning 4-6 prawns weigh one pound.  If you can’t find fresh […]

Che Troi Nuoc – Mung Bean & Ginger Dessert

Che Troi Nuoc – Mung Bean & Ginger Dessert

Chewy, slightly sweet, and delicious.  Those are words that come to mind when thinking of this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe.  Che Troi Nuoc – Mung Bean & Ginger Dessert is a Vietnamese classic, so much so that this dish was a part of a cooking […]

Canh O Qua – Bitter Melon Soup

Canh O Qua – Bitter Melon Soup

Canh O Qua recipe.  Bitter melon recipe.  Bitter melon soup recipe.  Vietnamese recipe. Writing With Chopsticks.

Like quality dark chocolate or a chunk of strong cheese, this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe can be considered an acquired taste.  Canh O Qua – Bitter Melon Soup is a dish that little kids probably run from, but if you give it a try in adulthood, you could be pleasantly surprised at how much you like it.

The key to minimizing the bitter flavor of Canh O Qua is to scrape out as much of the fuzzy inner rind as possible.  Even if you can’t handle all of the bitter melon, the stuffing of Canh O Qua is so savory and delicious, it’s still worth trying this Vietnamese recipe.

Canh O Qua recipe.  Bitter melon recipe.  Bitter melon soup recipe.  Vietnamese recipe. Writing With Chopsticks.
O Qua, or bitter melon.
Canh O Qua recipe.  Bitter melon recipe.  Bitter melon soup recipe.  Vietnamese recipe. Writing With Chopsticks.
The inside of bitter melon can be bright white or bright pink.

Canh O Qua – Bitter Melon Soup

INGREDIENTS

For the Canh O Qua stuffing:

  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 10 medium shrimp, smashed (use the back end of a large knife)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 tsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C. chopped white onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C. dried black fungus/mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate, then drained & chopped
  • 6 small bitter melons, washed & halved (cut off the ends)

For the Canh O Qua broth:

  • 3 C. chicken broth
  • 3 C. water
  • 2.5 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • 3 tsp. sugar

—-

STEP 1:  STUFF THE BITTER MELON

  1. Combine all of the Canh O Qua stuffing ingredients, except the bitter melon.  Mix well.
  2. Using a sharp knife, remove the inners of the bitter melon.  Scrape out as much of the fuzzy white rind as possible because this is the source of the bitter flavor.

    Canh O Qua recipe.  Bitter melon recipe.  Bitter melon soup recipe.  Vietnamese recipe. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Use a small, sharp knife to remove the inners of the bitter melon.
  3. Stuff the bitter melon.  Try to get as much stuffing into the bitter melons as possible.  Stuff them right to the edge.

    Canh O Qua recipe.  Bitter melon recipe.  Bitter melon soup recipe.  Vietnamese recipe. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Stuffed bitter melon.

—-

STEP 2:  MAKE THE CANH O QUA BROTH

  1. Place the Canh O Qua broth ingredients into a large pot.  Heat the broth to boiling.
  2. Gently add the stuffed bitter melon to the boiling broth.  Adjust the heat to simmer Canh O Qua for 20-30 minutes, depending on how soft you like your bitter melon.  The bright color of the bitter melon will fade to an olive hue as it cooks.

    Canh O Qua recipe.  Bitter melon recipe.  Bitter melon soup recipe.  Vietnamese recipe. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Canh O Qua only takes 20-30 minutes to cook.

That’s it!  Serve over white rice and garnished with chopped green onions or cilantro.  Enjoy!

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Dau Hu Kho Thit – Braised Tofu & Pork

Dau Hu Kho Thit – Braised Tofu & Pork

  Tofu is a very popular protein in Asian cooking.  Those new to tofu can be easily intimidated by the different varieties found in supermarkets: firm, medium, soft…where do you start?  There’s also the stigma of tofu as a culinary choice made just for hippies […]

Che Bap – Corn & Sticky Rice Pudding

Che Bap – Corn & Sticky Rice Pudding

It’s summertime, which means you can find fresh, sweet corn for a great deal at the local market.  This week, there’s a local market selling eight ears of corn for only a dollar!  Buy a whole buck worth of corn, grill a few, and save […]

Xiu Mai – Vietnamese Meatballs

Xiu Mai – Vietnamese Meatballs

Xiu Mai recipe. Vietnamese Meatball recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Banh Mi recipe.

A popular Vietnamese dish is the Vietnamese sandwich, or Banh Mi.  Banh Mi is a French bread sandwich stuffed with fresh cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumbers, mayonnaise, jalapeno, a dash of pepper and soy sauce, and your choice of meat.  One of my favorite meat options for Banh Mi is Xiu Mai – Vietnamese Meatballs.

Xiu Mai has a much different flavor than Italian meatballs and are savory and moist, which makes it easy to mash up and stuff into Banh Mi.  Mom has created an easy way to make Xiu Mai, which you’ll appreciate when your family has a taste and starts regularly requesting this dish.

Xiu Mai – Vietnamese Meatballs

INGREDIENTS – makes 18 large meatballs (enough for 6-8 Banh Mi sandwiches)

For the Xiu Mai meatballs:

  • 1.5 lbs. ground pork
  • 6 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced into small pieces (1 C.)
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 C. unflavored bread crumbs
  • 3 tsp. soy sauce

For the Xiu Mai sauce:

  • 1 C. chicken broth
  • 1 C. water
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 roma tomato, diced into large pieces

—-

STEP 1:  FORM THE XIU MAI MEATBALLS

  1. Place the Xiu Mai meatball ingredients into a large bowl.  Mix well to combine.  (Use your hands!)

    Xiu Mai recipe. Vietnamese Meatball recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Banh Mi recipe.
    Marinated pork for Xiu Mai meatballs.
  2. Roll the marinated meat into large meatballs, using about 2 Tbsp. of meat per meatball.  Place the meatballs into a large, microwave-safe bowl wide enough so that no meatball sits on top of another.

    Xiu Mai recipe. Vietnamese Meatball recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Banh Mi recipe.
    Make sure the rolled meatballs are not sitting on top of each other.

—-

STEP 2:  COOK THE XIU MAI MEATBALLS

  1. Using the microwave (yes, the microwave!), cook the meatballs for 5 minutes.  This will set the shape of the meatballs.

    Xiu Mai recipe. Vietnamese Meatball recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Banh Mi recipe.
    Microwaving the Xiu Mai meatballs initially will cook the outside enough to maintain their fragile shape.
  2. Place the Xiu Mai sauce ingredients into a large, wide saucepan, and mix lightly to combine. Turn on high heat.
  3. Carefully spoon the Xiu Mai meatballs one-by-one into the saucepan.  Pour in any juices from the glass dish as well.

    Xiu Mai recipe. Vietnamese Meatball recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Banh Mi recipe.
    Simmer the Xiu Mai meatballs for 15 minutes to cook them through and yield a savory sauce perfect for dipping French bread.
  4. Adjust the heat as needed to simmer the Xiu Mai meatballs in the sauce for 15 minutes.  That’s it!  Serve with fresh French bread and sliced cucumbers, or make a Banh Mi sandwich with your Xiu Mai.  Enjoy!Xiu Mai recipe. Vietnamese Meatball recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Banh Mi recipe.

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Mi Xao Mem – Egg Noodle Stir Fry

Mi Xao Mem – Egg Noodle Stir Fry

It’s FIFA World Cup time, and this week’s Mom’s 52 dish is a Vietnamese recipe that is perfect for getting together with a big group:  Mi Xao Mem – Egg Noodle Stir Fry.  Prepare this easy dish for your next potluck, and free up your […]

Goi Ngo Sen – Lotus Root Salad

Goi Ngo Sen – Lotus Root Salad

The first day of summer arrives in a few days, so this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is a refreshing dish to help combat the hot days to come.  Goi Ngo Sen – Lotus Root Salad is technically considered an appetizer in Vietnamese cuisine, and if […]

Hu Tieu – Pork & Seafood Soup

Hu Tieu – Pork & Seafood Soup

Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is one of my favorite Vietnamese noodle soup dishes.  Hu Tieu – Pork & Seafood Soup is perhaps the little-known cousin of the more popular Pho noodle soup, but once you taste this flavorful dish, you’ll realize that this Hu Tieu recipe needs a spotlight of its own.

Hu Tieu (pronounced “who the-eww”) noodles generally come in two forms: an opaque white noodle, or dai translucent noodles.  I personally prefer the dai noodles, but both are tasty.  Mom has also experimented in her Hu Tieu recipe by using Korean purple noodles that are made out of sweet potatoes and more traditionally found in the Korean dish jap chae.  It’s fun to mix it up and find the noodles that your family likes best.

Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.
Hu Tieu dai noodles become translucent once cooked.

Hu Tieu recipe – Pork & Seafood Soup

INGREDIENTS – makes 8 servings

For the Hu Tieu recipe’s broth:

  • 2.5 lbs. pork soup bones
  • 1.5 lbs. pork shoulder
  • 23 C. water
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 C. dried squid
  • 1/3 C. dried shrimp
  • 1 small onion, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)

For the Hu Tieu recipe’s garnish:

  • 1 (12 oz.) pkg. Hu Tieu Dai noodles, cooked
  • 2 lbs. sliced xa xiu (Chinese bbq pork) – Mom’s recipe coming soon!
  • 2/3 lb. large shrimp, boiled & peeled
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. nuoc mam
  • 1/2 C. preserved cabbage/radish, washed & drained to remove excess salt
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2 C. chives, chopped into 2″ pieces
  • 4 C. Chinese greens, i.e. gai lan or yu choy, chopped into 2″ pieces
  • sliced limes, to taste

Optional:  Boiled squid rings (calamari) are another option to garnish your Hu Tieu, if desired.

—-

STEP 1:  START THE HU TIEU BROTH

  1. To start your Hu Tieu recipe, fill an extra large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, blanch the pork by adding the pork bones and pork shoulder to the boiling water, and pouring the pot contents out into a colander over the sink 30 seconds later.  Rinse the blanched bones and pork shoulder well.  Rinse the stockpot well.  Return the bones and pork shoulder to the stockpot.
  2. Add 23 C. of water to the stockpot and turn the heat up to high.  Add 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 C. dried squid, 1/3 C. dried shrimp, and one peeled & toasted small onion to start the Hu Tieu broth.  Adjust the heat to maintain only a slight simmer.  Note the time, and move on to Step 2.

    Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Dried squid and dried shrimp for your Hu Tieu recipe can be found at most Chinese and Vietnamese markets. These are key to the flavoring of your Hu Tieu.

—-

STEP 2:  PREPARE THE HU TIEU GARNISH

  1. In a medium skillet, heat 3 Tbsp. EVOO on medium heat.  Add to the skillet 4 sliced shallots, and stir to brown them.  Remove from heat.  Scoop 2/3 of the browned shallots into the Hu Tieu broth.  Keep the remaining 1/3 in the skillet.

    Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Browned shallots for Hu Tieu.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 lb. ground pork, 1/4 tsp. sugar, 1/8 tsp. pepper, 2 tsp. nuoc mam, and 1/2 C. rinsed & drained preserved cabbage/radish.  Mix well to combine.
    Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Preserved cabbage/radish can be found at most Chinese or Vietnamese markets. Rinse & drain well before using, to remove excess salt.

    Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Ground pork and radish mixture for Hu Tieu.
  3. Bring the browned shallots in the skillet back to the stovetop, and turn on medium heat once again.  Add to the skillet the ground pork mixture.  Stir to cook well.  Once fully cooked, pour the ground pork into a dish and set aside.

    Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Ground pork & radish, one of the many toppings for Hu Tieu.
  4. Create an assembly line of the following items:  cooked Hu Tieu noodles, cooked ground pork, boiled shrimp, sliced xa xiu (Chinese bbq), (optional) boiled squid rings, chives, Chinese greens, and limes.

—-

STEP 3:  FINALIZE HU TIEU & SERVE

  1. Once the Hu Tieu broth has been simmering for one hour, remove the pork shoulder and set aside to cool.  Add 2 Tbsp. nuoc mam to the Hu Tieu broth, and cook the broth an additional 10 minutes.  Once those 10 minutes have passed, turn off the heat.

    Hu Tieu recipe. Vietnamese recipes. Writing With Chopsticks.
    Hu Tieu broth is ready!
  2. Finely slice the pork shoulder, and add it to the assembly line from Step 2 above.
  3. To assemble Hu Tieu, place the noodles into a large soup bowl, topping it with your choice of meats and garnish.  Ladle a generous amount of Hu Tieu broth into the bowl, and serve garnished with a lime slice or two, to taste.  Enjoy!

Comments make me happy.  Please post your comments below!  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

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Xoi Me – Sticky Rice w/ Sesame Seeds

Xoi Me – Sticky Rice w/ Sesame Seeds

Xoi, pronounced soy, is a category of Vietnamese cuisine that, with its world of flavor combinations, could be the topic of an entire blog itself.  Like stir fry dishes, Xoi can work with any blend of main ingredients that sound good to you and, more […]

Canh Bau Recipe – Opo Squash Soup

Canh Bau Recipe – Opo Squash Soup

It’s the middle of the week, you’re short on time, but you don’t want to give in and order fast food for dinner.  What to do?  This healthy Canh Bau – Opo Squash Soup recipe is super easy, easy, easy.  Here, we take a popular […]

Bo Tai Chanh – Seared Beef Salad

Bo Tai Chanh – Seared Beef Salad

Bo Tai Chanh Recipe

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is a light dish that’s a bit of a cross between a beef carpaccio and a ceviche.  Bo Tai Chanh – Seared Beef Salad – is made from seared beef ribeye lightly tossed in a lime vinaigrette.  Bo Tai Chanh is often served as an appetizer in Vietnamese cuisine, although serving Bo Tai Chanh as a main dish is still a good idea in Mom’s book!

Bo Tai Chanh – Seared Beef Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/8 C. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 C. white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. + 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. + 1/3 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2/3 lb. quality beef ribeye, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1.5 C. (tightly packed) ngo om herb, chopped

    Ngo Om herb, for Bo Tai Chanh recipe and Canh Chua recipe
    Ngo Om herb, also known as Rice Paddy Herb, for Bo Tai Chanh.

—-

STEP 1:  MARINATE THE ONIONS IN THE VINAIGRETTE

  1. In a large measuring cup, combine 1/8 C. EVOO, 1/2 C. white vinegar, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Whisk to mix well, and add the sliced sweet onions to this vinaigrette.  Set aside to marinate the onions.

    Vinaigrette for Bo Tai Chanh recipe
    Marinate the onions in a vinaigrette for Bo Tai Chanh.

—-

STEP 2:  SEAR THE RIBEYE

  1. In a small skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil on low-medium heat.  This is not a typical high heat searing method, since the intention is not to fully cook the outside.
  2. Working with only 3 or 4 pieces at a time, sear the sliced ribeye, cooking each for only about 5 seconds on each side, yielding slices that are still pink.  Set the seared ribeye aside in a large mixing bowl.  Repeat to sear all the ribeye slices.
    Bo Tai Chanh Recipe
    Sear the ribeye for Bo Tai Chanh.

    Bo Tai Chanh Recipe
    After searing the ribeye for Bo Tai Chanh, the meat should still be pink.

—-

STEP 3:  ASSEMBLE THE BO TAI CHANH

  1. Add to the seared ribeye 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. sugar, and 1 Tbsp. lime juice.  Mix well to combine.  The lime juice will further “cook” the ribeye.
  2. Add the marinated onions, only half of the vinaigrette, and the coarsely chopped ngo om herbs.  Toss gently.
  3. Plate Bo Tai Chanh, and serve with Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce.  You can also serve Bo Tai Chanh with rice or with crispy banh trang (rice paper).  Enjoy!

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Bo La Lot – Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves

Bo La Lot – Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves

Happy Mother’s Day!  To celebrate Mom today, three generations of our family got together to make this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe, under the supervision and direction of Mom, of course.  The result?  One of our family’s favorite dishes made with betel leaves from Dad’s garden, […]

Goi Cuon – Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Goi Cuon – Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Want a simple and healthy lunch, or a simple and crowd-pleasing appetizer?  This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for the popular Goi Cuon – Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  You know Goi Cuon – they’re the delicious appetizer you’ll find in most neighborhood Vietnamese restaurants.  Although the […]

Ca Chien – Fried Fish

Ca Chien – Fried Fish

Ca Chien 6

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is a simple, minimal ingredient dish:  Ca Chien – Fried Fish.  First, find a good place to get fresh fish.  Do not be intimidated to order fresh fish at the counter, as opposed to pre-packaged fish.  This way, you can see the fish before it’s cleaned. Select fish that does not have a fishy smell, and whose eyes are clear.

Below, we have instructions for both whole fried fish and fish steaks for your Ca Chien.  Whole fish yields a nicer presentation, but steaks are easier to handle while cooking.  For whole fish, Mom likes the Golden Pompano, which is a scaleless fish that does not have many small bones, making it easier for your guests to eat.  Other good options for whole fried fish are bass or tilapia.  In my experience, whole tilapia has a bit too many small bones, so beware if serving children.  For steaks, the best option is catfish.  In addition to selecting catfish with clear eyes, the better catfish are those with a more narrow head.

An outdoor cooking surface is recommended, but Mom has cooked Ca Chien for years indoors too.  Just turn on that air vent!

Ca Chien – Fried Fish

INGREDIENTS – makes 2-3 servings

  • 1.5 lbs of fresh fish (whole, cleaned & gutted; or steaks)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 C. flour (for fish STEAKS only)
  • oil for frying, i.e. vegetable or canola (do not use olive oil)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled

—-

STEP 1:  PREPARE THE FISH

FISH STEAKS:  Dry the fish well.  Place the fish steaks into a large plastic bag and add 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 C. flour.  Close the bag, and shake well to coat the fish steaks.

WHOLE FISH:  Dry the fish well.  Cut 3 long slits into the side of the whole fish.  Sprinkle a total of 1 tsp. salt on both sides of the fish.

Cut slits into the whole fish, to increase the surface area and crispness of Ca Chien.  Pictured: Golden Pompano fish.
Cut slits into the whole fish, to increase the surface area and crispness of Ca Chien. Pictured: Golden Pompano fish.

—-

STEP 2: FRY THE FISH

  1. Pour enough frying oil into a large, wide skillet to rise about 1/2 an inch on the sides.  Turn the heat on to medium.
  2. After the oil has heated for 3-4 minutes, add the peeled garlic.

    Add garlic cloves for extra flavor for Ca Chien.
    Add garlic cloves for extra flavor for Ca Chien.
  3. Carefully add the whole fish/fish steaks.  The fish will immediately sizzle.  Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, watching closely to keep the fish from burning.
  4. Flip the fish after 5 minutes.  It should be golden brown on the cooked side.  Cook an additional 5 minutes to cook the other side, turning up the heat just slightly during the last minute to really crisp the fish.
    After flipping, the fish for Ca Chien will be a nice golden brown on the side you cooked first.
    After flipping, the fish for Ca Chien will be a nice golden brown on the side you cooked first.

    Be careful when flipping the fish for Ca Chien, especially the large, whole fish.
    Be careful when flipping the fish for Ca Chien, especially the large, whole fish.
  5. Remove the fish from the oil and drain on paper towels.  Serve with a side of Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce, a recipe that can also be found in our Mom’s 52 recipe series.  Enjoy!

    Finished Ca Chien made with fish steaks.  See main photo above for Ca Chien made with whole fish.
    Finished Ca Chien made with fish steaks. See main photo above for Ca Chien made with whole fish.

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Did you try this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

 

Ga Nuong – Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

Ga Nuong – Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

Spring is here!  It’s time to get outdoors, and outdoors + food = time to fire up the grill!  This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for Ga Nuong – Grilled Lemongrass Chicken.  This is best cooked on the grill, to get a nice char on […]

Thit Cha Bong – Shredded Chicken

Thit Cha Bong – Shredded Chicken

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe brings back memories of my childhood.  My mom would make a batch of Thit Cha Bong – Shredded Chicken and keep it saved in the refrigerator for quick and easy meals for us kids.  Even when other kids around us […]

Canh Bi Dao – Winter Melon Soup

Canh Bi Dao – Winter Melon Soup

Canh Bi 1

There have been some warmer days recently that are giving us a glimpse of the summer heat to come, but before the heat hits us, there are some cool weather vegetables that deserve our attention before they’re gone.  One interesting vegetable at the Chinese/Vietnamese market that you may be overlooking is the winter melon. You may see this vegetable in the market labeled as Don Qua, and it looks a lot like a large honeydew melon with a dusting of white powder on its green skin.  Due to its large size, the markets often cut this winter melon into more manageable chunks for purchase.  Winter melon is very mild in flavor and not at all bitter.  The next time you see winter melon at the market, pick some up for this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe, an easy dish called Canh Bi Dao – Winter Melon Soup.  Hurry, before they’re gone!

Winter melon for Canh Bi Dao can look daunting, but it's easy to peel and cut into chunks like you would a honeydew melon.
Winter melon for Canh Bi Dao can look daunting, but it’s easy to peel and cut into chunks like you would a honeydew melon.

Canh Bi Dao – Winter Melon Soup

INGREDIENTS – makes 4-5 servings

For the broth:

  • 1.5 lbs. pork soup bones
  • 1.5 quarts + 1 C. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • 3 lbs. winter melon, cut into small chunks  (Optional: Mom then cuts little slices into the chunks, like an E shape, creating fronds on each chunk.  This is purely for aesthetics, but that’s how Mom does it!  See the main image at the start of this post for an example.)

For the shrimp paste:

  • 1/3 lb. ground pork
  • 1/5 lb. shrimp, mashed
  • 1 tsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 green onion, chopped

____

STEP 1:  BLANCH THE PORK SOUP BONES

  1. Fill a large pot halfway with water.  Heat on high and bring to a boil.
  2. Once the water boils, add the pork soup bones and stir for 10 seconds.
  3. Pour the pot contents into a strainer over the sink.  Rinse the blanched bones well to wash off any scum.
  4. Clean the pot thoroughly for use in the next step.

____

STEP 2:  START THE CANH BI DAO BROTH

  1. Heat 1.5 quarts + 1 cup of water in the large pot on high heat.
  2. When the water boils, add the rinsed, blanched pork soup bones.  Turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Add to the pot 1/2 tsp. salt, 1.5 tsp. sugar, and 2 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce).  Stir gently. Meanwhile, move to the next step below.

____

STEP 3:  COOK THE SHRIMP PASTE & FINALIZE CANH BI DAO

  1. Combine the ingredients for the shrimp paste and mix well.

    Shrimp paste for Canh Bi Dao.
    Shrimp paste for Canh Bi Dao.
  2. Once the Canh Bi Dao broth has cooked for 45 minutes, drop the shrimp paste into the broth by rounded tablespoons, yielding little chunks of meat in the Canh Bi Dao.
  3. Add the cut winter melon to the broth and cook an additional 15 minutes.  When the winter melon is translucent, your Canh Bi Dao is ready.  Remove the pork soup bones and discard.

Serve Canh Bi Dao with a side of jasmine rice and topped with fresh cilantro and pepper.  Enjoy!

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Did you try this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Pate So (Pate Chaud) – Pork Puff Pastry

Pate So (Pate Chaud) – Pork Puff Pastry

Due to its rich (and often tumultuous) history, Vietnam has been influenced by other countries in its cuisine.  One of those other countries is France, and the French influence is evident in Vietnamese foods like the popular Banh Mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches made with French […]

Che Dau Trang – Sweet Rice & Bean Dessert

Che Dau Trang – Sweet Rice & Bean Dessert

Dessert!  This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for a Vietnamese dessert called Che Dau Trang – Sweet Rice & Bean Dessert.  Don’t run away at the sound of beans in a dessert; sweetened beans are common in Eastern Asian desserts, and believe me when I […]

Bo Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew

Bo Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew

Bo Kho 5

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for a dish that is versatile enough to serve over rice, noodles, or with a side of French bread for dipping.  It can also be eaten as is, without any accompaniment at all.  Bo Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew is a savory dish with a thinner sauce than American-style beef stew.  For the vegetables, choose any combination of root vegetables you prefer, such as carrots, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, or even more exotic varieties such as purple yams or taro root.

Bo Kho – Vietnamese Beef Stew

INGREDIENTS – for 8 servings

*Dad requests chewier chunks of meat in his Bo Kho, so Mom mixes together beef shank and beef flank for her recipe.  For YOUR own version of Bo Kho, cater the beef to your liking, using a total of about 4 lbs. of meat.

For the Bo Kho beef marinade:

  • 2.5 lbs. of beef chuck roast OR drop flank/flank steak, cut into 2″ chunks*
  • 1.5 lbs. of beef shank, cut into 2″ chunks*
  • 1.5 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 3.5 Tbsp. “Gia Vi Nau Bo Kho” spice packet (see photo below)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

For the Bo Kho stew:

  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 4″pieces (yields about 1 C.)
  • 6 C. hot water
  • 1 (12 oz.) can of Coco Rico coconut flavored soda
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • roughly 6 C. of your choice of root vegetables (i.e. carrots, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, etc.), cut into large 2″ chunks
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • cilantro, for garnish

___

STEP 1:  MARINATE THE BEEF FOR BO KHO

  1. In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and mix well.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
"Gia Vi Nau Bau Kho" literally means "spices to cook Bo Kho" and is a combination of paprika, anise, chili, onion, ginger, and cloves.
“Gia Vi Nau Bau Kho” literally means “spices to cook Bo Kho” and is a combination of paprika, anise, chili, onion, ginger, and cloves.
Marinate the beef for Bo Kho for at least 30 minutes for the best flavor.
Marinate the beef for Bo Kho for at least 30 minutes for the best flavor.

___

STEP 2:  START THE BO KHO STEW

  1. In a large pot, heat 2 Tbsp. EVOO on high heat.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic, 1 C. of lemongrass pieces, and the marinated beef.  Toss to brown the beef.
  3. Once the beef has browned, add to the pot 6 C. hot water, 1 can of Coco Rico coconut flavored soda, 1/2 Tbsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce), and 3 bay leaves.  Turn the heat down to maintain a simmer, and cover.  Cook for 2 hours.

    Cook the meat and spices for Bo Kho for 2 hours before adding your root vegetables.
    Cook the meat and spices for Bo Kho for 2 hours before adding your root vegetables.
  4. After 2 hours, reserve 1/2 C. of the Bo Kho sauce in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  5. Add to the pot your chopped root vegetables.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

    Root vegetables for Bo Kho can be of any variety you like.  Mix a few different types for a nice combination of color.
    Root vegetables for Bo Kho can be of any variety you like. Mix a few different types for a nice combination of color.
  6. Add 3 Tbsp. cornstarch to the reserved bowl of sauce from #4 above.  Mix well to combine, and add this cornstarch slurry to the Bo Kho.  Mix well to slightly thicken.
  7. Cook the Bo Kho for a final 10 minutes and remove from heat.  Serve Bo Kho ladled atop a bowl of rice or noodles, or with a side of French bread.  Garnish with cilantro for a fragrant finish.  Enjoy!

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Did you try this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Mi Xao Don – Crunchy Bird’s Nest w/ Beef Stir Fry

Mi Xao Don – Crunchy Bird’s Nest w/ Beef Stir Fry

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for a popular dish among kids and adults alike.  Mi Xao Don – Crunchy Bird’s Nest w/ Beef Stir Fry is a crowd-pleaser because of its fun crunch and savory topping.  This is a great dish to throw together […]

Ca Ri Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Curry

Ca Ri Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Curry

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for a dish that was served at almost every party my family attended when I was a kid.  A big pot of Ca Ri Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Curry, next to a platter of sliced French bread, is a […]

Xoi Lap Xuong – Sticky Rice w/ Chinese Sausage

Xoi Lap Xuong – Sticky Rice w/ Chinese Sausage

Xoi Lap Xuong 1

This week’s Mom’s 52 Recipe is for Xoi Lap Xuong – Sticky Rice w/ Chinese Sausage.  This is a savory dish that is a favorite among children, or a fast breakfast when reheated in the morning for on-the-go adults.

Xoi (pronounced “soy”), or Vietnamese sticky rice, can come in many forms.  This version is Xoi Lap Xuong, meaning it’s topped with Chinese sausage (lap xuong).  Chinese sausage is more popularly known as the sausage in fried rice.  Here, Mom also jazzes up her Xoi Lap Xuong by adding salty dried shrimp, as well as shredded dried chicken.  Yes…the combination of sausage, dried shrimp, dried chicken, and rice may sound a little strange, and maybe the photo above even looks a bit odd if you’re new to Vietnamese cuisine.  If you bring this dish up to a room of Vietnamese individuals, however, I’ll bet the majority of them will start reminiscing about great childhood memories of devouring Xoi Lap Xuong.

Xoi Lap Xuong – Sticky Rice w/ Chinese Sausage

INGREDIENTS – makes 2-3 servings:

  • 1.5 C. sweet rice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 C. lap xuong (Chinese sausage)
  • Optional:  1/3 C. dried shrimp and 1/2 C. thit cha bong, aka ruoc (Vietnamese dried, shredded chicken)

—–

STEP 1:  SOAK THE RICE (OVERNIGHT)

  1. Place the sweet rice into a large bowl and add enough water to rise 2″ above the rice.  Cover loosely with a towel.  Soak the sweet rice for at least 10 hours.

    Sweet rice, for Xoi Lap Xuong.
    Sweet rice, for Xoi Lap Xuong.

—–

STEP 2:  STEAM THE RICE

  1. Drain the soaked sweet rice.  Add 1/2 tsp salt to the rice and toss gently.
  2. Add the rice to the basket of a steamer, with holes small enough so the rice does not fall through.  Gently spread the rice but leave a ring of open holes around the rice to allow steam in.

    Leave a ring of open holes around the rice to allow more steam into the basket for Xoi Lap Xuong.
    Leave a ring of open holes around the rice to allow more steam into the basket for Xoi Lap Xuong.
  3. Steam the rice, covered, for 13 minutes on low-medium, tossing the rice occasionally.

    The rice for Xoi Lap Xuong will be fluffy and tender after steaming.
    The rice for Xoi Lap Xuong will be fluffy and tender after steaming.
  4. Once the first 15 minutes have passed, uncover and sprinkle the rice with 1/2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 Tbsp. EVOO.  Toss gently.  Cover again and steam on low heat for an additional 12 minutes.

—–

STEP 3:  PREPARE THE TOPPING FOR XOI

The topping for Xoi (sticky rice) can vary greatly, so feel free to adjust the following ingredients to your liking.  Green onions and scrambled eggs, or sesame seeds and rotisserie chicken are a couple of different savory suggestions.  In the future, we will post a recipe for another, er, more colorful version of Xoi, which is usually mixed with coconut to yield a sweeter Xoi.  Stay tuned!

  1. Slice a link of lap xuong (Chinese sausage) in half lengthwise to yield two long pieces.
  2. On low heat, cook the lap xuong in a small skillet for about 3 minutes, flipping once.
  3. Finely slice or julienne the cooked lap xuong.  Set aside.
  4. Using a mortar & pestle or a food processor, smash the dried shrimp.
  5. In the same skillet as above, heat 1 tsp. of EVOO on low heat.  Add the smashed shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, tossing constantly.
  6. To assemble Xoi Lap Xuong – Vietnamese Sticky Rice w/ Chinese Sausage, plate the Xoi from Step 2 above and top the Xoi with the sliced lap xuong and dried shrimp.  Optional, and pictured above: top also with thit cha bong/ruoc (dried, shredded chicken).

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Did you try this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

 

Bo Luc Lac – Vietnamese Shaken Beef

Bo Luc Lac – Vietnamese Shaken Beef

This week’s Mom’s 52 Vietnamese recipe is oh so delicious, my mouth is watering as I type this. A great cut of beef.  Fresh vegetables topped with a light vinaigrette.  A side of rice.  Lime juice for dipping.  Mmmmm.  It’s time to make a popular […]

Sup Mang Cua – Crab Meat & Asparagus Soup

Sup Mang Cua – Crab Meat & Asparagus Soup

We’re having a pretty cold winter this year, and when it’s cold outside, it’s great to warm up with different types of soup.   This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for the most traditional, no-carb (no noodles or rice) Vietnamese soup I can think of: […]

Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls

Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls

Cha Gio 1

Now that everyone’s had their fill of chips and dips and everything else we ate during the Superbowl, here’s a different appetizer to treat your taste buds.  This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for homemade Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls.  Touchdown!

Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls

INGREDIENTS – makes 20 Egg Rolls:

  • 1/2 C.  dried black fungus/mushrooms
  • 1/3 lb. shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 C. carrots, finely shredded (or finely chopped by a food processor)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers (aka pastry wrappers)
  • canola/vegetable oil, for frying
  • lettuce leaves, for garnish

___

STEP 1:  MAKE THE CHA GIO FILLING

  1. Soak the black fungus/mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes to rehydrate.  Drain.  Chop coarsely.
    "Dried Black Fungus" can be found in most Chinese/Vietnamese markets.  Find "shredded" versions (not pictured), if available.
    “Dried Black Fungus” can be found in most Chinese/Vietnamese markets. Find “shredded” versions (not pictured), if available.

    Soak "dried black fungus" in hot water to rehydrate.
    Soak “dried black fungus” in hot water to rehydrate.
  2. Using a food processor, turn the shrimp into a paste.  Place into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add to the mixing bowl the ground pork, carrots, green onions, rehydrated mushrooms, nuoc mam, pepper, sugar, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Mix well to combine.
  4. Add one whole egg to the mixture and mix again to complete the Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls filling.

    Filling for Cha Gio - Vietnamese Egg Rolls.
    Filling for Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls.

___

STEP 2:  ROLL THE CHA GIO

  1. Place one egg white into a small dish.
  2. Make sure the egg roll/pastry wrappers have defrosted.  Carefully peel away one wrapper and place on a plate.

    If you like the really chewy type of egg rolls, use rice paper instead of these egg roll/pastry wrappers.
    If you like the really chewy type of egg rolls, use rice paper instead of these egg roll/pastry wrappers.
  3. Roll 20 rolls, spooning approximately 2 Tbsp. of filling into each wrapper.

    Step 1:  Spoon 2 Tbsp. of filling onto a wrapper, placing it about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom.
    Step 1: Spoon 2 Tbsp. of filling onto a wrapper, placing it about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom.
Step 2:  Fold up from the bottom, covering the filling, and squeezing down gently to tap out any air.
Step 2: Fold up from the bottom, covering the filling, and squeezing down gently to tap out any air.
Step 3: Fold in the sides and gently crease, making sure to yield straight and parallel lines on the right and left.
Step 3: Fold in the sides and gently crease, making sure to yield straight and parallel lines on the right and left.
Step 4: Roll the egg roll, and brush the end with egg white to seal.
Step 4: Roll the egg roll, and brush the end with egg white to seal.

Cha Gio 3

___

STEP 3:  FRY THE CHA GIO

  1. Pour enough vegetable/canola oil into a large skillet to rise 1″.  Turn the heat on to high.
  2. Once heated, carefully place the Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls into the skillet.  The oil should gently bubble around each egg roll.  Turn the heat down to medium.

  3. Fry the egg rolls for 16-20 minutes each, flipping once, until they turn a light, golden brown.  Adjust heat, as needed, to maintain a small simmer around each roll.
  4. Remove cooked Cha Gio – Vietnamese Egg Rolls from the oil and place onto a dish lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.  Serve with fresh lettuce and Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce.

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Banh Mi Tom – Shrimp Toast

Banh Mi Tom – Shrimp Toast

Crunchy goodness!  That’s how to describe this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe.  Banh Mi Tom – Shrimp Toast is traditionally a side dish, often accompanying noodle dishes.  It also works great as an appetizer for parties.  Trust me when I say that you should make extra […]

Bun Rieu – Tomato Noodle Soup

Bun Rieu – Tomato Noodle Soup

This week’s Mom’s 52 dish is likely the simplest Vietnamese noodle soup to make.  If you’re craving a warm, noodle soup, but you’re short on time, Bun Rieu – Tomato Noodle Soup is the way to go.  This dish can be made in just about […]

Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong – Chicken Fried Rice

Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong – Chicken Fried Rice

Com Chien 7

We’re back!  Thanks for being patient while Mom was fighting a bug last week.  Unfortunately, she’s still not 100% better, and add the fact that I’m battling my own little bug, and it’s been a rough week!  We couldn’t let our Mom’s 52 readers down, though, so we did something that Mom has been doing for years for her friends:  Mom led me through the steps of this week’s Mom’s 52 recipe via telephone.  The result actually worked out great, but I have to credit it to the fact that we picked a very simple dish this week:  Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong – Chicken Fried Rice.

I’ll admit it.  Like many people, I had a somewhat general idea of how to make Com Chien (“fried rice”), but I really did not know how to perfect it.  I remember one of my birthday parties, many years ago when I was in high school, when Mom made us the most delicious batch of Com Chien I had ever tasted.  The goal here was to recreate that wonderful dish.  Goal reached!

Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong – Chicken Fried Rice w/ Chinese Sausage

INGREDIENTS – makes 4 servings:

  • 1 chicken breast, diced into small, 1/2″ cubes (yields 1.25 C.)
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • pepper, 3 dashes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 5 green onion stalks, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 C. of refrigerated, leftover, cooked white rice (use leftover rice so it’s a bit dried out)
  • 3 links of Lap Xuong – Chinese sausage, cut lengthwise, and then into 1/2″ pieces (yields 1 C.)
  • 1.5 C. frozen peas & carrots
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish

—–

Make sure your meat for Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong is diced into small pieces.  Left: Lap Xuong - Chinese sausage.  Right - chicken breast.
Make sure your meat for Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong is diced into small pieces. Left: Lap Xuong – Chinese sausage. Right – chicken breast.

STEP 1:  MARINATE THE CHICKEN

  1. Place the diced chicken breast into a medium bowl.  Add 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, a dash of pepper, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. sugar.  Mix well.

    Let chicken for Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong marinate while you move on to the next step.
    Let chicken for Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong marinate while you move on to the next step.

—–

STEP 2:  START THE RICE

  1. Mix the 3 beaten eggs with the chopped green onions, 2 dashes of pepper, and 1/8 tsp. salt.

    Egg batter, for Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong.
    Egg batter, for Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. EVOO in a large, non-stick skillet on high heat.
  3. Add to the skillet the beaten egg mixture.
  4. Stir quickly to finely scramble the eggs.  Break down any large clumps of eggs.
  5. Add 4 C. leftover white rice to the skillet.  Mix gently.  Cover the skillet, and turn the heat down to medium.  Cook the rice and egg mixture for 5 minutes, mixing occasionally.
  6. Uncover the skillet.  Add 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and 1/4 tsp. salt to the rice.  Mix well.  Cook the rice for an additional 5 minutes, mixing occasionally.  The rice should be a light, golden brown color.  Remove from heat.

    Rice and egg mixture, the start of Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong.
    Rice and egg mixture, the start of Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong.

—–

STEP 3:  FRY THE MEAT & VEGETABLES

  1. By now, the chicken has been marinating for at least 10 minutes.  In a separate skillet, add 1 Tbsp. EVOO and heat on high.
  2. Add the marinated chicken and stir fry until cooked, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add to the cooked chicken the chopped Lap Xuong – Chinese sausage.  Stir fry the meat together to cook the sausage, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add to the meat 1.5 C. frozen peas and carrots.  Mix and cook until the vegetables are heated through, about 2 minutes.

    Stir fried meat and vegetables, for Com Chien Lap Xuong.
    Stir fried meat and vegetables, for Com Chien Lap Xuong.

—–

STEP 3:  FINALIZE THE COM CHIEN GA LAP XUONG

  1. Bring the fried rice and egg mixture back to the stove and heat on medium.
  2. Add the stir fried meat and vegetable mixture to the fried rice and egg.  Mix gently and well.
  3. Remove from heat and serve garnished with chopped cilantro.  Yum!

    Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong.  Enjoy!
    Com Chien Ga Lap Xuong. Enjoy!

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This week, Mom caught a bug and is feeling under the weather, so we weren’t able to get together for a Mom’s 52 recipe.  (Sad face.)  We’ll make up for it as soon as Mom feels better, of course, but it got me thinking about turning […]

Bun Bo Xao Cha Gio – Vermicelli topped with Stir-Fried Beef & Eggrolls

Bun Bo Xao Cha Gio – Vermicelli topped with Stir-Fried Beef & Eggrolls

Vietnamese restaurants have become rather popular in recent years, and while the dishes served are often quite delicious, it’s interesting to go through a menu and realize that many of the offerings are not commonly served in Vietnamese homes, at least not on a regular […]

Pho Bo Recipe – Beef Noodle Soup

Pho Bo Recipe – Beef Noodle Soup

Pho Bo 13

Pho shizzle!  It’s time to try your hand at making the dish that Vietnamese cuisine is likely most often associated with – Pho Bo.  Pho, pronounced “fuh,” is the popular noodle soup dish popping up in Vietnamese restaurants everywhere.  Pho Bo is the beef version, flavored by slowly simmering beef bones in a fragrant blend of spices.  The actual process is surprisingly really easy – it just takes time.  I recommend making this dish on a Sunday, when you have a few hours to wait (and salivate) while the cinnamon, anise, ginger, and other spices marry together to fill your home with the savory flavors of Vietnam.  Mmmmmmm.   Click here to jump to recipe.

 

Although finding Pho restaurants is no difficult task these days, their Pho just never come close to this recipe I grew up on.  My mom makes a mean pot of Pho Bo, and I am so lucky that she let me observe and constantly interrupt her one day.  I was the pesky amateur, jotting down notes as I kept asking her how many teaspoons of this and how many cups of that she was throwing together to cook us this traditional meal that comes as second nature to her.  Since that day, I have made Pho Bo almost a dozen times, always on a Sunday, so we can enjoy it for dinner and then at least one weeknight thereafter.  A steaming hot bowl of Pho Bo is a wonderful way to warm up your loved ones in the winter, but don’t let the heat of summer deter you from enjoying this dish.  It’s just too tasty to save for a few cold months out of the year.

 

If you have easy access to an Asian market, look for this bag of Pho Spices in the spice aisle.  It’s called “Gia Vi Nau Pho Bac” and is a combination of anise seeds, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, clove seeds, and coriander seeds.  It’s not a spice packet with questionable ingredients or preservatives; it just contains most of the spices you need in one place, with the added convenience of a sachet to hold them in.  If you can’t find this spice packet, no worries – just buy the spices separately and grab a piece of cheesecloth and string to make a sachet to keep your spices together.

 

pho bo recipe
Click to Print Recipe
Pho Bo - Beef Noodle Soup
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hr 30 mins
Total Time
3 hr
 

Making this popular Vietnamese noodle soup is easier than you think.

Servings: 6
Author: www.writingwithchopsticks.com
INGREDIENTS
Pho Spices
  • 1 (4" piece) ginger, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 extra large shallots, peeled
  • 1 (1.5 oz.) packet "Gia Vi Nau Pho Bac" seasoning packet OR 1/4 C. TOTAL of anise seeds, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, clove seeds, coriander seeds, in even amounts
  • 1 additional cinnamon stick
  • 3 additional anise seeds
Additional Ingredients
  • 2.5 lbs. beef oxtails
  • 2.5 lbs. beef chuck soup bones, preferably with some meat pieces attached
  • 6 quarts water
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/4 C. rock sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. "bo vien" (Vietnamese meatballs)
  • 1/4 C. fish sauce
  • 2 (16 oz.) packages of "banh pho tuoi" (fresh pho noodles)
  • fresh bean sprouts, cilantro, green onion, basil, mint, white onions, jalapenos, limes, hoisin sauce, sriracha hot sauce, for garnish
  • 1 lb. beef ribeye or eye of round, thinly sliced
INSTRUCTIONS
TOAST THE SPICES TO BRING OUT THEIR FLAVOR
  1. Set a toaster or conventional oven to 300 degrees.  Place the ginger and shallots in the oven.  Pour the remaining Pho Spices onto a piece of foil, and crumple the foil around the spices to make a ball.  Place the foil ball into the oven.  Toast for approximately 15 minutes while you start the next step.

BLANCH THE OXTAILS & SOUP BONES
  1. Fill a large stockpot halfway with water. Bring to a boil.

  2. Add the beef oxtails and soup bones to the boiling water and stir for one minute.  Pour the stockpot contents into a colander over your sink to drain.  Rinse the drained meat well to wash off any scum.  Set aside.  Rinse the pot well to use for the broth.

PREPARE THE PHO BO BROTH
  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in the stockpot.  Add the blanched beef oxtails and soup bones to the boiling water.  Turn heat down to as low as possible.

  2. Remove the toasted Pho Spices from the oven.  Gently smash the ginger with the base of a frying pan.  Place the ginger, cinnamon sticks, and shallots directly into the stockpot.  Pour the small Pho Spices into the enclosed sachet or a cheesecloth, tie tightly, and add to the stockpot.

  3. Add 2 Tbsp. salt, 1/4 C. rock sugar, and 1 Tbsp. sugar to the broth.

  4. Cook broth for one hour at a very low heat level that maintains just below a simmer.  During this time, skim any scum that rises to the surface, to keep your broth clear.

  5. After the first hour of cooking time has passed, add 1 lb. of "bo vien" Vietnamese meatballs to the broth.  Remove these meatballs after 30 minutes, and set aside.

  6. After the meatballs have been removed, add to the broth 1/4 C. fish sauce. Cook the broth for another hour. (While waiting, cook your noodles and prepare your garnish.)

  7. After a total cooking time of 2.5 hours, the Pho Bo broth is ready.  Remove the tender soup bones from the broth and set aside to cool.  Any chunks of meat from those bones can be pulled off and used as "well done" meat for your Pho Bo.

  8. To assemble, place noodles in a bowl and top with choice of meats, chopped onions, green onions, and cilantro.  Make sure to bring the broth to a boil before ladling over the noodles & meat.  Top with hoisin sauce, sriracha, jalapenos, fresh lime juice, bean sprouts, and fresh mint.  Enjoy!

 

Do you have any questions or comments about this recipe?  Please post them below. Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others! 

Dua Cai – Pickled Mustard Greens

Dua Cai – Pickled Mustard Greens

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for a side dish that is the perfect accompaniment to last week’s Thit Kho Trung –  Braised Pork & Egg.  Dua Cai, or Pickled Mustard Greens, are crunchy, salty and downright delightful.  Mom often has Dua Cai on hand for a […]

Thit Kho Trung – Braised Pork & Egg

Thit Kho Trung – Braised Pork & Egg

Since originally posting this recipe last year, I’ve made this recipe TONS of times for family gatherings, girls’ night in, and even as a change up to the traditional casserole gift for a friend who just had a baby.  With all that practice, I’ve added to […]

Goi Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Goi Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Goi Ga 1

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is the second entry of a two part series, which began last week with Chao Ga – Chicken Congee.   In last week’s recipe, we cooked a whole chicken (or leg quarters) to create a fragrant chicken stock.  This week, that chicken is being used for a refreshing salad that is eaten with jasmine rice or your choice of toasted rice paper (Banh Trang).  If you didn’t make Chao Ga last week, you can substitute any other type of cooked chicken, as per the instructions below.

Goi Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Salad

INGREDIENTS – to serve 4-6:

  • 1/4 C. white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a head of green cabbage, finely shredded (or purchase a bag of already shredded angel hair cabbage at your grocery store, near the bagged salads)
  • 1/2 C. Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce, from our Mom’s 52 series, plus more for dipping
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch of rau ram herb, washed and coarsely chopped
  • Half of a roasting chicken OR 3 leg quarters OR 2 small chicken breasts, cooked and shredded.  (If you made Chao Ga from our previous Mom’s 52 post, use the leftover chicken from that recipe.)

—–

STEP 1:  MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the following ingredients until well blended:
    • 1/4 C. white vinegar
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  2. Add to the vinaigrette the finely sliced onion and gently toss to coat the onion pieces.  Let this sit for 10 minutes.

    Vinaigrette & onions, for Goi Ga.
    Vinaigrette & onions, for Goi Ga.

—–

STEP 2:  COMBINE TO FINALIZE GOI GA

  1. Place 1/2 a head of finely shredded green cabbage into a large bowl.  Pour the Goi Ga vinaigrette from Step 1, along with the onions, on top of the cabbage.  Pour 1/2 C. of Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce on top of the cabbage mixture as well.  Gently toss to coat.
  2. Add to the cabbage the shredded chicken, chopped cilantro, and chopped rau ram herbs, reserving a handful of cilantro and rau ram herbs for garnish when plating.  Toss.
  3. Serve Goi Ga on a slightly rimmed plate and top with fresh cilantro and rau ram herbs.  Use a small side of Nuoc Mam Cham as a dipping sauce, and enjoy this dish served with jasmine rice or toasted Banh Trang.  Optional:   Mom likes to chop up a chicken leg and serve it on top of Goi Ga, for a heartier presentation (see photo above).

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Chao Ga – Chicken Congee

Chao Ga – Chicken Congee

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is perfect for cold days.  It’s also a wonderful dish to make when a loved one is feeling under the weather.  When I was young, any time I had a cold or an upset stomach, Mom’s Chao Ga – Chicken Congee […]

Canh Ra Gim – Mixed Vegetable Soup w/ Pork

Canh Ra Gim – Mixed Vegetable Soup w/ Pork

We got a small taste of a cold front earlier this week, and it got me craving this week’s Mom’s 52 dish – Canh Ra Gim, or Mixed Vegetable Soup w/ Pork.  When it gets cold outside, this is an easy, hearty recipe to warm […]

Suon Rim Mang – Vietnamese Braised Spare Ribs

Suon Rim Mang – Vietnamese Braised Spare Ribs

Suon Rim Mang 1

Mmmmm.  Caramelized spare ribs.  That’s what you would hear if you could read my mind anytime I see this week’s Mom’s 52 dish, Suon Rim Mang – Vietnamese Braised Spare Ribs.  This traditional Vietnamese dish is full of flavors and a favorite among children and adults alike.  A balance of salty and just slightly sweet, this savory dish reminds almost any Vietnamese person of home.  Suon Rim Mang is finger lickin’ good.

For a faster weekday dinner, Mom recommends marinating the spare ribs and storing in the refrigerator the night before.

Most Vietnamese/Chinese markets will sell pork spare ribs in cross cut strips, which are easy to bring home and slice between each rib for individual pieces.  At the Vietnamese market, Mom says to look for “suon non.”

Suon Rim Mang –  Vietnamese Braised Spare Ribs

INGREDIENTS – to serve 4-5:

  • 4 lbs. of pork spare ribs, cross cut, then sliced between the ribs to yield individual pieces.
  • 1 tsp. pepper, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/2 C. of nuoc mam, aka fish sauce
  • 3.5 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. EVOO, aka extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 (12 oz.) can of Coco Rico coconut flavored soda
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • green onions & cilantro, chopped, for garnish

—–

STEP 1:  MARINATE THE PORK SPARE RIBS

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pork spare ribs, 1 tsp. pepper, 1/4 C. fish sauce, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 of the chopped shallots.  Mix well.
  2. Let the ribs sit in the marinade for at least 45 minutes, or overnight.

    Marinate the spare ribs the night before to cut down on cooking time for Suon Rim Mang.
    Marinate the spare ribs the night before to cut down on cooking time for Suon Rim Mang.

—–

STEP 2:  CARAMELIZE & BRAISE THE SPARE RIBS

  1. Heat 3 Tbsp. EVOO in a large saucepan, using high heat.
  2. After one minute, sprinkle 1.5 Tbsp. sugar onto the heating oil.

    Sugar sprinkled atop the heating oil.  Watch carefully, as the sugar will burn quickly to create the caramel color for Suon Rim Mang.
    Sugar sprinkled atop the heating oil.
    Watch carefully, as the sugar will burn quickly to create the caramel color for Suon Rim Mang.
  3. Watch the sugar carefully.  After approximately two minutes, it will start to brown and burn.  Once the sugar turns a medium brown color, immediately add the chopped garlic and remaining chopped shallots.  Stir.

    Chopped garlic & shallots added to caramelized sugar & oil, for Suon Rim Mang.
    Chopped garlic & shallots added to caramelized sugar & oil, for Suon Rim Mang.
  4. Carefully add the marinated pork spare ribs to the saucepan.  Toss to brown the meat.
  5. Once the ribs have browned, gently pour into the saucepan one 12 oz. can of Coco Rico coconut flavored soda.  (If you don’t have any Coco Rico on hand, try chicken broth as a substitute.)
    Coco Rico coconut flavored soda, found in most Asian or Latin supermarkets, for Suon Rim Mang.
    Coco Rico coconut flavored soda, found in most Asian or Latin supermarkets, for Suon Rim Mang.

    Coco Rico added to Suon Rim Mang will foam initially, but the foam will dissipate after a few minutes.
    Coco Rico added to Suon Rim Mang will foam initially, but the foam will dissipate after a few minutes.
  6. Also add to the saucepan 1/4 C. fish sauce, 1 Tbsp. honey, and 1 Tbsp. sugar.  Stir gently.  Cover the saucepan halfway to let some air out.  Turn the heat down to medium.
  7. Depending on the size of your spare ribs, it will take 40-50 minutes to cook and transform them into soft, tender spare ribs.  During this cooking time, check the heat to maintain a low boil, and toss the ribs periodically.  The sauce will thicken some when ready, and the ribs will be tender, not chewy.
  8. Once done, ladle onto a serving platter, garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions, and sprinkle with pepper.

Serve Suon Rim Mang with a side of jasmine rice and freshly cut cucumbers.

Before reheating refrigerated leftovers of Suon Rim Mang (assuming you have any leftovers!), discard the white fat that has congealed at the top.

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce

When I first started this website, one of the first requests I received was to post my recipe for Peanut Sauce as part of WWC’s Most Requested.  To those who so patiently waited for this recipe, here it finally is!  Keep those requests coming! Peanut […]

Rau Muong Xao Toi – Water Spinach Sauteed w/ Garlic

Rau Muong Xao Toi – Water Spinach Sauteed w/ Garlic

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for Rau Muong Xao Toi, a dish that was one of my favorites while growing up.  As a kid, I always loved the slightly salty crunch of the hollow water spinach stems.  If you have finicky little (or not […]

Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce

Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce

Nuoc Mam 3This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is Nuoc Mam Cham, or Dipping Fish Sauce, which is a Vietnamese cuisine must-have.  Although it’s a simple recipe to put together, Nuoc Mam Cham is very difficult to perfect without the correct balance of ingredients.  Mom makes this sauce regularly, but this was the first time she’s ever meticulously measured the ingredients.  It worked so well that Mom even asked for a copy of this recipe for her own future use!

Serve Nuoc Mam Cham as a dipping sauce for a multitude of appetizers, such as egg rolls or handmade spring rolls.  Nuoc Mam Cham can also be spooned atop entrees, such as Bun Bo Xao Cha Gio (rice noodles topped with beef and eggrolls).

Perhaps you’ve noticed a recent trend of prepared Nuoc Mam Cham being sold in bottles in Asian markets, near the soy sauce and cooking fish sauce.  I’ve never found those versions to taste anything like the one Mom makes, and when you see how easy it is to pull off this Mom’s 52 recipe, you’ll never buy a prepared bottle of Nuoc Mam Cham again.

Nuoc Mam Cham – Dipping Fish Sauce

INGREDIENTS – to make approximately 2.5 cups

—–

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. of nuoc mam (fish sauce) – Three Crabs brand, preferably
  • 1/8 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. + 2 tsp. of lime juice (14 tsp. total)
  • 3 tsp. red chili paste
  • 1 (12 oz.) can of Coco Rico coconut flavored soda
red chili paste, to add a slightly spicy kick to Nuoc Mam Cham
red chili paste, to add a slightly spicy kick to Nuoc Mam Cham
Coco Rico coconut flavored soda, found in most Asian or Latin supermarkets, for Nuoc Mam Cham
Coco Rico coconut flavored soda, found in most Asian or Latin supermarkets, for Nuoc Mam Cham

—–

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Stir gently to dissolve the sugar.  Add more red chili paste if you prefer extra spice, or use less if serving children or others who don’t like spicy flavors.

Store Nuoc Mam Cham in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to mom! 

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Che Thai Recipe – Tropical Fruits Dessert

Che Thai Recipe – Tropical Fruits Dessert

This Che Thai recipe is for quite possibly the most requested dessert I have ever made.  If you’re looking to impress anyone who loves tropical fruits, this is a surefire way to do it!  Che Thai is a mix of your favorite canned tropical fruits, combined with bright […]

Canh Chua Ca – Sweet & Sour Soup w/ Catfish

Canh Chua Ca – Sweet & Sour Soup w/ Catfish

Last week’s Mom’s 52 recipe was for Ca Kho, and that savory dish is traditionally served alongside this week’s sweet & sour dish – Canh Chua Ca. Traditionally, Canh Chua is made with ca (fish), hence, Canh Chua Ca.  This dish can alternatively be made with chicken (Canh […]

Fish Sauce 101

Fish Sauce 101

Warning:  Not all fish sauces are created equal.

If your kitchen cupboard contains nuoc mam (fish sauce) you’re probably ready to start cooking Vietnamese cuisine.  However, if you only have ONE type of nuoc mam in your kitchen cupboard, you may not be maximizing your Vietnamese cooking potential.

Nuoc mam is a very potently scented condiment used in many Vietnamese dishes.  It is the salt of Vietnamese cooking, lending the dishes a deep and savory flavor that plain salt just can’t accomplish.  My mom uses two different brands of nuoc mam, Three Crabs brand and Squid brand.

Two Different Brands of Nuoc Mam
Two Different Brands of Nuoc Mam

Upon closer examination of the bottoms of the jars in the photo above, you may be able to see that Squid brand is a bit lighter in color.  Three Crabs brand is thicker in consistency, and there is also a difference in the taste.  Three Crabs brand tastes a bit saltier and so should be used in smaller quantities.  In my experience, Squid brand seems more readily available, sometimes even appearing in mainstream American supermarkets in the Asian/ethnic food aisle.  

Throughout this website, you will see nuoc mam mentioned in many recipes. How do you know which nuoc mam to use?  Before you throw your chopsticks into the air, know that it’s as simple as this:  As a general rule, use Squid brand for most recipes during the cooking process.  For instance, in the Ca Kho recipe from our Mom’s 52 series, use the lighter and less salty Squid brand for the marinade.  Save Three Crabs brand for after cooking is done, i.e. for lightly dipping the fish from Canh Chua Ca, or for lightly dipping steamed okra for an easy side dish.  If you have a noodle soup dish, such as Pho or Bun Bo, and it tastes like it’s missing something, add a splash of Three Crabs brand at the dinner table to adjust the flavor.

Of course, it’s not the end of the world if you only have one type of nuoc mam on hand, but if you can only have one, and you want to make recipes that taste like mom intends, try to at least have Squid brand in your kitchen.  (It’s too bad they don’t pay me to say this stuff!)

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on nuoc mam vs. nuoc mam, we haven’t yet mentioned nuoc mam, the dipping sauce made from nuoc mam…say what?  Don’t worry.  That third type of nuoc mam will be covered in a full recipe in my Mom’s 52 blog.  Stay tuned!

Was this Kitchen Tip helpful?  Please post your comment below.

For email notifications about new posts like this one, please subscribe to Writing With Chopsticks by entering your email on the sidebar of this page.  Thanks for the compliment of sharing this post with others!

Ca Kho – Caramelized Catfish

Ca Kho – Caramelized Catfish

This week’s Mom’s 52 entry is Ca Kho, a Vietnamese staple.  Serve this dish with a side of jasmine rice drizzled with the sauce in this recipe, and you will have family members fighting over the leftovers like mine did after mom and I made this […]

Juicy Details

Juicy Details

Here’s a Kitchen Tip to help you get the most juice out of your limes: It seems simple enough, but a lot of people are not making the most out of their citrus. Whether for juicing, or as garnish for dishes such as Bun Bo, try […]

Bun Bo – Beef Lemongrass Noodle Soup

Bun Bo – Beef Lemongrass Noodle Soup

Bun Bo 1When I first approached my mom with the idea of writing a blog that focuses on 52 of her delicious recipes, I didn’t imagine she would start with such a (what I thought) daunting recipe. Well, I guess if you’re going to do something, do it big and start it with a bang!

This week’s recipe is Bun Bo.  Some people call it Bun Bo Hue, which just refers to a specific Vietnamese region where this dish is popular, near the city of Hue.

This is a perfect dish to warm up your family on a cold Sunday.  It’s the lesser known stepchild of more popular Pho, which is the noodle dish that many people think of when considering Vietnamese cuisine.  Bun Bo broth is darker and has a red hue.  Some recipes use annato seeds to get a deep red color, but nowadays, it’s possible to achieve a great flavor and color via simpler spice packets that are readily available in most Vietnamese or Chinese markets.  My mom’s recipe uses pork, in addition to beef, to build more complex flavors.

Note: This version, as with all of the recipes in the Mom’s 52 series, is exactly how my mom makes it. You may choose to alter it in your own way – for this recipe, some may choose to add the delicacy of congealed blood (huyet). The recipe below omits it.

Bun Bo (Bun Bo Hue) – Beef Lemongrass Noodle Soup

INGREDIENTS for a large pot that serves 10:

—–

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 Tbsp. of salt
  • 3 lbs of beef shank
  • 2 lbs of pork bones (xuong heo)
  • 2.5 lbs of pork calf (heo gio) or pig’s feet, cut into pieces about the size of your hand

—–

  • 7 small shallots
  • 3 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 10 stalks of lemongrass
  • 1 Tbsp. of shrimp sauce (mam ruot or mam tom)
  • 1 packet of bun bo hue spice (2 oz.)
  • 1.5 gallons of water
  • 7 Tbsp. of fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • 3 Tbsp. of salt
  • 1/4 C. of sugar
  • 1 small onion

—–

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2 lbs. of dry vermicelli noodles (bun giang tay or bun tuoi dac biet).  Mom’s preferred brand: Ong Gia Que Huong.  How much do you need?  Packages of noodles come in different sizes. A single serving will be about the width, length, and thickness of your hand.

—–

  • 1 package of bean sprouts, washed and dried
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • sliced jalapenos or thai chiles, to taste
  • variety of herbs, washed and dried.  Examples: mint, cilantro, or any other bunch of herbs from the Asian market produce section – go with the ones that smell the best to you!
  • 1 (additional) bunch of cilantro, washed and dried
  • 1 bunch of rau ram herb (optional)
  • 1 small onion (any color, though red is good for presentation)

—–

STEP 1:  BLANCH THE MEAT

Bun Bo 2

  1. Place 1 gallon of water into a very large stockpot.*  Add 1 Tbsp. of salt.  Bring the water to a boil via high heat.  (To speed up the process, cover the pot.)
  2. Meanwhile, rinse your meat, if you prefer.  (Mom does.)
  3. Once the pot of water comes to a boil, gently add to it all of your meat – the beef shank, pork bones, and pork calf or pigs’ feet.
  4. Remove the meat after one minute.  (If blanching your meat in a single batch, simply pour the pot contents into a large colander in the sink.)
  5. Rinse the blanched meat to remove the surface scum.
  6. Rinse your pot well and dry it.  You’ll need it for the next step.

*If you don’t have a large enough stockpot, you can do Step 1 in batches.

—–

STEP 2:  START THE BROTH

  1. Thinly slice 3 small shallots.
  2. Add 3 Tbsp. of EVOO to your large stockpot, and heat it using medium heat.
  3. Using a mallet or the underside of a small frying pan, pound the base of 5 lemongrass stalks atop your cutting board.  (Hold the lemongrass in one hand, the mallet in your other.) Give it a good 2 or 3 whacks, just to bring the flavor out.  Cut the lemongrass into sizes that will fit into your stockpot, i.e. 4″ pieces.

    Prepared lemongrass and sliced shallots.
    Prepared lemongrass and sliced shallots.
  4. By now, your EVOO should be well heated, so add the lemongrass and shallots and stir to saute them for a few seconds.
  5. Add 1 Tbsp. of shrimp sauce (mam ruot or mam tom).  Mom says this is a must have!

    Shrimp sauce - stinky but key!
    Shrimp sauce – stinky but key!
  6. Add the entire 2 oz. packet of bun bo hue spice.

    Bun Bo Hue spice packet - a mixture of chili, paprika, ginger, and onion.  Found in the spice aisle of most Vietnamese or Chinese markets.
    Bun Bo Hue spice packet – a mixture of chili, paprika, ginger, and onion. Found in the spice aisle of most Vietnamese or Chinese markets.
  7. To keep the mixture from burning, immediately add 1.5 gallons of water.  Turn the heat up to high.
  8. Add 7 Tbsp. of fish sauce, 3 Tbsp. of salt, and 1/4 C. sugar to the broth.

    Make sure the water doesn't reach the top, so you have room to add more ingredients in Step 5.
    Make sure the water doesn’t reach the top, so you have room to add the meat.
  9. Cover the pot, and bring the broth to a boil.
  10. Add the blanched meat to the boiling broth and let the broth rise to a gentle boil once again.
  11. Once the broth returns to a gentle boil, turn the heat down so that it maintains a simmer.
  12. Skim the scum.  It’s important to do this throughout the cooking process.  Failure to skim the scum regularly will yield a murky broth.  Be careful to not scoop the red oil with the scum. The red oil is necessary for the color of the dish.  Click here for Kitchen Tips on how to skim the scum.

    Skimming the scum.
    Skimming the scum.
  13. The meat will cook at different paces.  Remove the pork calf/pigs’ feet after about 45 minutes and set aside in a large bowl.  Remove the beef shank after about 2.5 hours.  (The test for doneness: pressing a chopstick into the meat to yield pressure like pushing your finger into your chin means it’s ready.  The feel of pressing into your forehead means it’s undercooked.  The feel of pressing into your soft cheek means it’s overcooked.)  The remaining meat in the broth will be the pork bones. While you are waiting for these cooking times, proceed to Steps 3 & 4 below.

—–

STEP 3:  PREPARE THE NOODLES

  1. Fill a second large pot with 1 gallon of water.  Turn the heat up to high and cover.  Remove any rope that may have been holding the dry vermicelli noodles together.

    Remove any rope that may be tied around the dry noodles.
    Remove any rope that may be tied around the dry noodles.
  2. Once the water comes to a boil, add the dry vermicelli noodles to the boiling water.  Use a chopstick or wooden spoon to gently stir the noodles for a few seconds so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. How long should you boil your noodles?  Mom cautions to be careful about the instructions on the package – they’re usually not correct!  Mom’s trick is to stir the noodles with a chopstick.  When you feel the noodles wrap around the chopsticks with less resistance, they’re done.  For this particular brand, mom turned the heat off after 3 minutes, covered the pot, and let the noodles sit in the hot water for an additional 5 minutes.  (If in doubt, just take out a piece and taste it to test the texture.  It should not be so hard as to have pieces stick in your back teeth, and it also should not be too soggy.)

    Testing to see if the noodles are ready - they easily wrap around the chopsticks.
    Testing to see if the noodles are ready – they easily wrap around the chopsticks.
  4. Pour the noodles into a colander in your sink.  Rinse the noodles under cold water, and stir them as you rinse.  This step removes excess starch to keep the noodles from sticking together once dry.

    Finished, rinsed noodles.
    Finished, rinsed noodles.
  5. Optional:  Mom then individually wraps the noodles into single serve portions.

    Mom's individually portioned noodles.  Makes for easy serving.
    Mom’s individually portioned noodles. Makes for easy serving later.

Don’t forgot to check the broth for more scum to skim.

Go back to check the doneness of your meat, from Step 2.

—–

STEP 4: PREPARE THE GARNISH

For garnish, clockwise from top left: 1) 'rau ram' herb, 2) onion, 3) cilantro, 4) limes, 5) thai chiles, 6) 'tia to' herb.
Some garnish options, clockwise from top left: 1) rau ram herb, 2) onion, 3) cilantro, 4) limes, 5) thai chiles, 6) tia to herb.
  1. Plate the bean sprouts, lime wedges, choice herbs, and sliced jalapenos/chiles.  This platter should be placed on the dinner table for garnish just before eating.
    Bean sprouts.
    Bean sprouts.

    Thai chiles and lime wedes.  Cut the limes off center to maximize juice when squeezing.
    Thai chiles and lime wedes. Cut the limes off center to maximize juice when squeezing.
  2. Coursely chop together the cilantro and rau ram.  Place these in a small bowl.
  3. Peel and thinly slice the onion.  Add it to the chopped cilantro & rau ram mixture.  Set bowl aside, to be used as garnish just prior to scooping the broth into the serving bowl.

    Onions, rau ram, and cilantro.
    Onions, rau ram, and cilantro.

Go back to check the doneness of your meat, from Step 2.

—–

STEP 5: FINISH THE BROTH

  1. Once the pork calf/pig’s feet and beef shank are cooked and removed from the broth, trim the edges off the remaining 4 shallots.  Peel the remaining onion.
  2. Toast the shallots and peeled onion in a toaster oven for 5 minutes.  Take care to not let them burn.
  3. Add the toasted shallots and onion to the broth.
  4. Pound the base of the remaining 5 stalks of lemongrass.  As above, cut the pounded lemongrass into 4″ slices.  Add the lemongrass to the broth.

STEP 6: FINISHING TOUCHES

  1. Thinly slice the beef shank and pork calf/pig’s feet.  Place them into bowls, for ease of serving.

    Slicing the beef shank.
    Slicing the beef shank.
  2. Remove the pork bones from the broth and discard.
  3. It’s time to assemble your hearty bowl of Bun Bo:
  • Make sure the broth is boiling.
  • Place a serving of cooked vermicelli in a large bowl.
  • Top the vermicelli with slices of beef shank and pork calf/pig’s feet.
  • Top the meat with a handful of the onion/cilantro/rau ram mixture.
  • Insert a large ladle into the pot of broth and go all the way to the bottom of the pot.  Slowly pull the ladle up to the surface and scoop the broth into your soup bowl.  Scooping this way minimizes the amount of fat ladled into your bowl.  Repeat until your bowl is almost full.  Don’t skimp on the broth!  For extra spicy heat, add extra red oil from the top of the broth.
  • Top the dish with the herb garnish, jalapenos/thai chiles, and lime juice to taste.  Enjoy!

    Before the broth is ladled into the bowl.
    Before the broth is ladled into the bowl.

—–

By the time mom and I finished documenting this recipe, our mouths were watering, and we almost forgot to take photos of the finishing product!  The main photo above was a quick snapshot before devouring our Bun Bo.

This may seem like a lot of work because of the number of steps involved, but with the steps broken down as above, it’s not too difficult to pull off.  It just takes a few hours of time, but the hearty meal is well worth it when you’re done.  Bun Bo leftovers are also a great hit!

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to mom!

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Skimming the Scum

Skimming the Scum

What is scum?  Scum is the foam that floats to the top of your pot and collects in an unappetizing brown mass.  Ignoring scum can be devastating when simmering meat to create a broth.  Failure to skim the scum will turn your broth into a […]