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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

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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.

 

Viet Stir Fried Green Beans

19 May

This blog should be renamed – Stopping and Starting Vietnamese. But I have a really, really good excuse for the hiatus. You know, that darling little baby I told you about last summer.

Now that Little is eating more food, and loving everything we put in front of her, I’m getting back in to cooking. Usual modifications for our flavor preferences are upstaged by modifications for less sodium / sugar / spice. Not always easy with Vietnamese cuisine.

Not that we have to worry about flavors – the girl was squawking for more mouthfuls after her first slurp of bun mam, a fermented fish noodle soup that even took me several encounters to love. She hesitated a bit with stir fried bittermelon, but if that isn’t an acquired taste, I don’t know what is.

My frequent routine is to head to market Saturday or Sunday morning, and prepare protein or the most complicated dishes Sunday evening. If I cook ahead or at least marinate and have on hand the right proteins, all I need to do is prepare a quick fresh veggie and it seems like I was chained to the stove all day rather than in the office.

Lately these green beens have been a bright spot with our ca kho (caramelized fish) or ga kho gung (caramelized ginger chicken).

Vietnamese Stir Fried Green Beans

Serves 2 as a single side, 4 with multiple dishes

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, cleaned and ends trimmed
  • 5 green onions, using only 2 white bottoms
  • 2 tbs neutral oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 tbs fish sauce (or more, to taste)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper (or more, to taste)

Clean and trim the ends of your green beans. Roughly chop green parts of all onions, using only 2 of the white bottoms. If you want super onion-y dish, go ahead and use them all. If not, use in soup or kho caramel dish.

Heat oil in sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add green beans and white onion pieces, stirring to coat in oil and garlic. Add fish sauce, sugar and light soy, mixing well so sugar dissolves with the vegetables. Stir frequently and cook for a few minutes.

Add green onion pieces and black pepper, cook for another minute or two. Remove and serve hot!

Beans will still be crunchy. If you want them softer, you could add some water and cover to steam-cook before adding green onions and pepper at the end.

We usually make a more Chinese-style green bean dish with oyster sauce, but after the first serving, Anh is won over. We’ll be making these from now on.

Enjoy!

Tofu Mustard Green Soup – Canh Cai Dau Hu

29 Oct

When we came home with our little one, we were so blessed to have both families nearby to prepare food for us so we could focus on settling in as a family and not worry about nutritious food. My sister in law made a soup I had never tried before to go along with the dry lemongrass pork ribs that Anh loves. Way easier than I thought, Canh Cai Dau Hu – Tofu, Mustard Greens and Pork soup – has quickly become a staple. It cooks up fast and will fill you up even if you don’t have time to prepare a protein. In other words, most days that involve back-to-back nursing sessions, botched naps and blowouts 🙂

Bowl of tofu, mustard greens and ground pork soup.

Simple and straightforward soup

Canh Cai Dau Hu

Serves 4 with two other dishes, or 2 with plenty of leftovers!

  • 1 bunch baby mustard greens, rough chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/2 lb ground pork (you can also use chicken)
  • 1 package soft tofu, cut in cubes
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 4 inch knob ginger, minced and divided
  • 6 cups water
  • 3-4 tbl Fish Sauce
  • 2-4 tbl Sugar
  • 1-2 tbl Mushroom seasoning
  • 1 tbl neutral oil

Heat oil in a 5 court pot and cook shallot until fragrant. Add 1/3 of the minced ginger, 1 tbl fish sauce and ground pork and mix well until cooked through.

Add water, 2 tbl sugar,1 tbl  mushroom seasoning and 1tbl fish sauce and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Skim any gunk that rises to the top for a clearer broth. Then you may add the rest of the ginger and cubed tofu. Simmer another 5 minutes and taste, adjusting as needed.

Gently stir in the mustard greens and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Make any final flavor adjustments and top with black pepper.

Serve with rice on the side or in the same bowl.

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