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Vietnamese Fried Rice

6 May

Unfortunately my little has been home sick all week. She hasn’t been eating much, and I haven’t felt like cooking much. The weather was horrible today, on top of her continued fever, so I went out to make Cháo Ga, Vietnamese rice porridge with chicken. She got down half a bowl, which is more than she’s been able to stomach all week. I was optimistic that she would scarf down a bowl of fried rice for dinner and made every effort to sneak in as many vegetables as possible. It was a good news / bad news situation.

Anh went back for seconds even *after* I disclosed the cauliflower rice. Our little didn’t even take a bite. When she does, I know she’ll love it.

Bowl of Vietnamese fried rice

Vietnamese Fried Rice with vegetables and Chinese sausage

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Sunday Meal Prep: Tips and New Recipes

26 Mar

With a hectic work schedule and delightfully sassy 20 month old, meal prep is the name of the home-cooked-meal, (mostly) healthy-eating game. It’s tough to plan meals for the week, let alone prepare them in advance and actually eat (and enjoy) what awaits in the fridge after a long commute home.

Did you know that Americans waste nearly 40% of food? I’m sensitive to not adding to this statistic, which has such a significant impact on our environment. Not to mention wasted resources (water, time, money). Anywho, this isn’t one of *those* posts. All of this to say that I’m getting better at Sunday afternoon food prep for the week and wanted to share some tips that have worked well with our little family.  Continue reading

Vietnamese Greens and Shrimp Soup – Canh cải ngọt nấu tôm

26 Mar

I don’t often travel, but February and March brought me on the road and away from my people for nearly two weeks! Anh is completely self sufficient, but the mom-guilt set in hard for the second trip and I spent the day before heading to SXSW in the kitchen preparing easy meals.

Our new go-to canh (soup) is one of Anh’s favorites from his mom. I can’t always find the right greens, but yu choy (similar to Chinese broccoli) is almost always available. Here’s the foundational recipe.

Vietnamese Greens and Shrimp Soup

Canh cải ngọt nấu tôm

  • 12 oz chicken broth (or equivalent water + chicken bouillon)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely minced
  • 1 bunch Yu Choy, chopped in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbs dried shrimps, soaked in hot water for at least 15 minutes (reserve water)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 lb shrimp
  • 3 green onions, white bottoms and green tops sliced and separated
  • 3 tbs Fish Sauce (to start, the rest to taste)
  • 4 tbs Sugar (to start, the rest to taste)
  • 2 tbs Mushroom Seasoning (to start, the rest to taste)
  • 1 tbs neutral oil

In a stock pot, heat the oil on medium high and add the sliced shallot and minced ginger until fragrant (approx 30 – 60 seconds). Pour in the chicken broth, rehydrated shrimp, fish sauce, sugar and mushroom seasoning.

Bring to a simmer and add shrimp — reducing heat to medium low — and cook until they begin to turn opaque. This time I used the last of a bag of langostino tails, which are delicious, meaty bites. You also could skip the shrimp and opt for firm tofu cubes.

Add in the Yu Choy and taste broth, adjusting seasoning to taste. Go slow and allow the flavors to develop and incorporate before adding more. Simmer for five-ish minutes until the greens are cooked but stems still have a bite.

Serve with a bowl of rice and protein. Grilled pork chops or caramelized ginger chicken are excellent companions for this daily soup.

 

Thôi Nôi – Vietnamese 1st Birthday Traditions

9 Jun

Twelve months is upon us and we’re already in full party-planning swing. What they say is true, time really does pass in the blink of an eye. Our little lady has been pure joy and adventure from day one, and we’re so excited for every new milestone and experience.

Father holding infant daughter blowing out birthday cake

Celebrating her Ba’s birthday

We did her one-month name day ceremony, and will be placing out objects for her to select her future profession at the one year birthday bash. For those who haven’t been to an Asian one-year birthday party, essentially you place objects in front of the tot and whatever little Johnny or Jane picks is her future profession. I’ve been to Vietnamese and Korean versions of this and they, essentially, are the same. Of course there is some bias to the parents in what objects are offered.

The Vietnamese tradition is called Thôi Nôi (or, leaving cradle – excuse me while I grab the tissues).

In doing some reading, there are several accounts I have found for the Vietnamese tradition.

  1. Place several objects on the ground in front of them and whatever they grab is it!
  2. Place 12 objects in a tray and allow the tot to explore them. Whatever they end up with (for the most amount of time, I guess), is their future.

Twelve is an auspicious number for this ceremony, as I read, which also is a nice parallel to the number of months they have been on earth (my own interpretation).  The ceremonial altar table is similar to that from the one-month ceremony, but with twelve offerings (preferred) for some items. From one account:

We often pray to “God-mothers” – called “Bà Mụ” – who support the baby during his childhood. In our belief, there are 12 God-mothers and that’s why we have 12 pieces for each ceremonial offerings.

Plans are still coming together, but I’m most excited to see what our little gem selects for her future!

What objects did you place before your child?

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