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.
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 🙂
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.
We stopped by Ma’s house on the way home to discuss some details for the dam hoi and ended up staying for an impromptu cooking lesson and feast. Fortunately we arrived just as she was getting things going so I was able to watch over her shoulder and ask enough questions to sketch out the recipes and note her methods. A majority of which, of course, are all to taste. Three dishes were prepared start to finish in just over 30 minutes. Can’t beat that.
Canh Bi, Ga Xao Xa Ot, Ca Chim
I’ll test these out myself soon and finalize ingredient ratios. For those of you who are familiar with the flavors and ingredients, dive right in! Continue reading
I slipped into the comfort zone recently as, admittedly, I’ve been a bit overrun with twice weekly bootcamp and pool league on another night. Fortunately, I have only a couple of weeks left in the APA pool league, from which I plan to ‘retire’ after playoffs. As it happens, we’re currently in first place, meaning if we win the house we’ll continue on to Tri-Annuals or whatever tournament and I still have to be current. This is how they get me. Every time. Anyways, on to the food. Our dinner menu consisted of Canh Chua Ca (kahn chew-ah ka) Sour Fish Soup, and Ca Kho (ka k-oh) Caramel Fish.
Canh Chua Ca – Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup
Ca Kho – Caramel Catfish