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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.

Noodles with Shrimp, Pork and Chives Bánh Phở Xào Tôm Thịt Hẹ

16 Nov

I love Chinese Chives. They are crisp and garlicky without being overpowering. One of my favorite side dishes is a simple Chinese Chive Blossom stir fry. But I’m testing some new recipe inspirations as I realize my go to menu rotation is a little tired and, shockingly, doesn’t include any dry noodles.

Enter Bánh Phở Xào Tôm Thịt Hẹ, or Rice Noodles with Shrimp, Pork and Chives. This was so very simple and satisfying. Even Anh loved it at first bite. He remembers eating on a bed of steamed bean sprouts, but being pregnant, I have entirely eliminated the veggie from my plate.

We ate this alone, because life/work, and it was a bit light. Would recommend serving with a grilled meat or ga ro ti for a more hearty meal.

Bánh Phở Xào Tôm Thịt Hẹ Rice Noodles with Chinese Chives, Shrimp and Pork

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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.


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