Simple Vietnamese Pork Meatball Soup

8 Aug

This recipe was borne of an, unfortunately, not uncommon occurrence of getting to my produce a little too late. I was shocked when the farmers market had bitter melon and I intended to make canh kho qua (pork stuffed bitter melon soup). But having a newborn and toddler tends to wreak havoc on rigid meal plans. That night I made only the filling and formed meatballs to cook in a simple broth, and Anh loved it.

Tonight I made it intentionally with a more mild vegetable that my 3 year old likes (depending on the day, of course). Still a hit!

Pork Meatball Soup

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup woodear mushrooms (rehydrated and chopped)
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 fuzzy melon, cut in 1/2″ quarter slices
  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbs+ fish sauce
  • 1 tbs+ mushroom seasoning
  • 1 tbs+ sugar

In a stock pot get your chicken broth hot. I use powdered chicken bullion powder (Lee Kum Kee brand like this), but any variation will do.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the meatballs ingredients (but take care not to over mix): pork, mushrooms, shallot, cilantro, sugar, white pepper and fish sauce. Using a spoon make into meatballs and add to broth once boiling.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer meatballs for 10 minutes, skimming the broth as gunk rises to the top.

Add the fuzzy melon and cook for only 5 minutes or so. You don’t want to overdo it and turn the vegetables into mush. If you can’t find fuzzy melon, any other green veg would work. Yu choy or baby mustard greens would be great, as would bitter melon of course. Likewise, these would be just as good with ground chicken instead of pork.

Season the broth with additional fish sauce, mushroom seasoning and/or sugar to taste.

Serve with one or two smaller dishes for s perfect meal. Tonight I made braised caramel salmon and sauteed some chive pockets from the freezer section.

Thai Basil Eggplant recipe

5 Aug

If you were to name this dish for the ingredients, it might as well be ASEAN Eggplant. We have riffed off many recipes and restaurants to find our favorite flavor profile. I love how this variation isn’t as sweet as is usually served in Thai restaurants. If you want it even less sweet, use a couple of teaspoons sugar instead of a full tablespoon. Slide the ingredients any direction for the variation you prefer!

Chinese broccoli, scallions, Chinese eggplant, and Thai basil

Fresh ingredients for Chinese eggplant with Thai Basil (plus Chinese broccoli for a different dish)

Chinese Eggplant with Thai Basil

  • 2 Chinese eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch thick diagonal pieces
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 scallions, chop white parts and slice green tops in 1 inch pieces (separated)
  • 1 bunch Thai Basil (approx 1 cup packed leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry Sherry)
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Mix the pepper, sugar, fish and soy sauces, and sesame oil and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix chicken broth (if using Knox chicken bullion or similar) and set aside for the last step.

Now cut the eggplant, scallions, and wash and dry basil.

In a wok or large saute pan, heat a couple tablespoons of neutral cooking oil and add the eggplant. Turn a couple times, adding more oil if the pan dries, cooking for approximately 5 minutes.

Make a well and add the garlic and chopped scallion whites, cooking 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Next add the wine or Sherry, mixing well until absorbed/evaporated, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. Toss in the basil and scallion greens until well combined.

Next comes the soy and fish sauce mixture. Stir continuously for a couple of minutes as the juices are sucked into the eggplant and sauce begins to reduce.

Chicken broth comes in last, mix well and cover to cook for a couple of minutes until fully absorbed.

Serve alongside any protein, or mix beef or chicken directly into the dish. If you go that route, marinate chicken in a tablespoon of soy and few dashes of fish sauce and coat with cornstarch. Cook the protein first and set aside, combining with the eggplant before adding the sauce.

Fast or Slow Thịt Kho Trứng – Braised Pork with Eggs

19 Mar

Whether or not you’ve succumbed to an Instant Pot, this braised dish is totally within your reach. Slow cooker, stove top or Instant Pot all yield great results and work with the same recipe. Any doesn’t like slow cookers as it imparts some sort of flavor that I, in my Wonder Bread American upbringing can’t detect. Now that I know our ingredient ratios, I’m not afraid to toss everything in the IP and let it rock without needing to adjust the taste. Not to worry if you do go IP – you can still adjust the flavors after the pressure cooking is done – just do it on the saute setting. Despite Amazon Prime day laying it on thick, I still have not succumbed to the InstantPot.

This Thịt Kho Trứng is full of short cuts, if you choose them, but delivers all the flavor.

Bowls of Thit Kho Trung Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs, Dua Cai Chua pickled mustard greens, and rice

Thit Kho Trung Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs, Dua Cai Chua pickled mustard greens, and the ever-present play-food courtesy of our 2 year old chef.

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Instant Pot Bò Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew

1 Jan

It didn’t take long to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon. The allure of faster meals with our favorite flavors was too much to resist. Not to mention that every other post in a Vietnamese cooking group featured dishes using the appliance. Thankfully Santa brought me an 8 quart Instant Pot (IP) for Christmas.

With temperatures not even hitting 30F this week,  Kho is just what the doctor ordered. There’s a popular recipe floating around a Vietnamese cooking Facebook group using  Kho seasoning mix and soup base with directions for using the IP, so I figured I’d use that as my guide for this method, but made it my own. I’m not going to lie, these seasoning mixes are way easier than my from-scratch  Kho recipe. If you don’t have a good international market nearby, I found the ones I used on Amazon (Prime, even) and linked in the recipe list.

Bo Kho Vietnamese Beef Stew seasoning mixes

I haven’t fully figured out optimal IP timing – so feel free to adjust if you’re a well-seasoned IP-er – but the soup was damn good.

French bread, bowl of Vietnamese beef stew Bo Kho with plate of limes and cilantro

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