Tag Archives: Canh Kho Qua

Canh Kho Qua vi Cha Ca – Bittermelon Soup and Fish Cakes

20 May

I’ve been craving this for a while and forgot I had a container of fish cake paste in the freezer. Hold it right there. Don’t judge. This stuff is amazing. Try it just once and you’ll get it. It smells of fishy goodness (yes, that’s a thing), and it fries up quick to make the perfect accompaniment to the Canh Kho Qua pork stuffed bittermelon soup.

Fried fish cakes with pork stuffed bittermelon soup and rice

Serve with a bowl of rice on the side and you’re good to go!

So without the noise of planning a housewarming party, here’s the recipe for normal meals, after the jump.

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Leftovers For Days

21 Feb

After the Housewarming, there were surprisingly very few leftovers thanks to doggy bags sent home with the fam. We did, however, have a dozen or so uncooked stuffed bitter melon and a container of the Thit Kho (braised pork with eggs). Perfect for dinners and lunches over the next few days. Also they give me a chance to show you what they look like since I was remiss in taking photos the day of.

I’ve now learned that it’s better to remove soups from the stove, or enterprising old ladies may fire up the burners to heat their individual bowl. And leave it on for the rest of the day. I probably turned off the burner under boiling pots of soup three or four times throughout the day. Unfortunately this meant the Thit Kho, in particular, was overcooked and the meat not as tender. See how dark the meat is? Should be that way. Still pretty tasty, though. There are those spring rolls, too. Crisped up (mostly) in a 230 degree oven for 10 minutes or so.

Thit Kho and Egg Rolls for lunch.

Thit Kho and Egg Rolls for lunch.

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Successful Housewarming

18 Feb

It took a full day of recovery to even contemplate using my brain, but I’m there. The housewarming was a success. We were afraid we prepared and purchased too much food, but we had just enough – with the exception of the monster egg rolls Thuan ordered from Eden. Still, our guests were happy to take home plates for other family members or lunch the next day which, always helps with the leftover overflow.

It was interesting to see who liked them and who didn’t – they were more like Chinese egg rolls with the filling and were huge. Like double the circumference and longer. Quite an endeavor to finish. They egg rolls were getting soggy by the time the party got going, so we set the oven to 170 and let them crisp up in the oven while guests arrived.

Anyhow, I was negligent in getting photos of all the food while playing hostess, and my father who is usually a professional paparazzi followed our explicit instructions and simply enjoyed the party (it was difficult for him, no doubt, but he didn’t lift a finger and enjoyed himself).

Canh Kho Qua (Pork Stuffed Bitter melon Soup)

Pronounced like “Kahn Who Wah” (Marines can say it – think Oorah, but without the R).

Remember I made the filling the day before, so the morning of the party all I had to do was blanch, slice and stuff the bitter melon.

For 2 lbs of ground pork mixture, I filled 10 bitter melon. When I make this for the two of us, two bitter melons and about 1/2 pound of pork will do.

Blanch the bitter melon for a few seconds in boiling water – the flesh will turn a vibrant spring green – and remove to ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cool enough to handle, slice the bitter melon in 1 – 1.5″ sections. The inside is pithy with larger seeds that must first be removed. Take a small spoon and pierce the edges where the pith meets outer green flesh all the day around. It is easier if you do this on both sides and then take your thumbs and push through to pop it out. (I’ll take photos next time – I was juggling a few kids and running behind schedule, so no time for photos).

Then, get to stuffing. Take a spoonfull of the meat mixture and fill the center, pressing on both sides to make sure it’s firmly packed. If you don’t have enough stuffing, it will probably fall out while cooking.  If you have any leftover meat, make meatballs to toss in the broth.

Stuffed Bitter Melon ready to cook

Stuffed Bitter Melon ready to cook

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Epic Housewarming Prep

16 Feb

Two months after moving in to our first home together – almost to the day – we’re having our families over for a day of food, drink and most likely cards. T0morrow will be mostly his family, but it’s the first time my brother and two best friends will meet any of his family and also the first time my parents meet his aunts, uncles and cousins. Our “small” family housewarming will be around 40 adults and kids. My first rational thought might be: shoot me now. But no. I have a few dishes that I know how to make (am I jinxing myself? perhaps I should knock on all the wood), and Thuan is going to pick up several trays of food from Eden Center to fill in the gaps.

I’m making Thit Kho (Braised Pork Belly and Eggs), Canh Kho Qua (Pork Stuffed Bittermelon Soup), Mac and Cheese with spinach and sundried tomatoes (his request, actually, and something the American folk will be happy to eat). We bought beef short ribs for Korean BBQ and chicken wings both for the grill.

Last night after trekking to Costco and FreshWorld, I started boiling the first dozen eggs for Thit Kho and planned on doing a few other things. But then Thuan went to the sink and it broke. This is what happens when you buy a home. Shit breaks and you don’t have facilities or property management at your beck and call. I have my future husband. After squirting myself with the hose several times (I’m a little slow on the uptake at times), we decided to call it a night and get the faucet fixed today because how hard can it be?

Broken faucet. Brilliant!

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