Tag Archives: Soup

Let There Be Pho

16 Mar

The weatherman said today was supposed to be cold and rainy with chance of sleet. Tell me why this afternoon we ended up tilling and weeding what will be our flowerbed out front without jackets. I guess I should know better by now when we have had several epic weatherman failures already this year. #Snowquester, anyone? The one good thing to come of my faith in weather forecasting was another attempt at homemade Pho.

As an aside, Pho is pronounced as if you’re asking a question. Get that inflection going. This guy wrote an entire post about it.

After my first epic fail attempt at pho, I now know what bones to buy. The first time all Super H had available were knuckles. We ended up with oily water and a last minute phone call to our neighborhood Chinese carry-out.

So this morning I was determined to get my sliced beef leg bones on my morning grocery store run.

Me: [holding up package of nondescript beef bones] Excuse me, are these beef bones?

Meat guy: Um, you want beef bones?

Me: Yes, I want beef leg bones. Are these leg bones?

Meat guy: Yeah….?

Me: Perfect, this is exactly what I want.

Meat guy: [head cocked] Really? Are you sure?

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SXSW Meat/Taco Detox: Day One

14 Mar

After five days of egg and chorizo or brisket breakfast tacos, miscellaneous BBQ and a steady supply of cocktails, it is so very good to get back to fresher, lighter food. And vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables. And so goes the annual SXSW detox. Fortunately for me, the fiance is trying out a new diet of eating healthier in general, including mainly plant-based and whole foods. Don’t get me wrong, I seriously doubt my resolve in avoiding juicy steaks from time to time, and fish has to stay. However, I do think that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is always wise.

Walking into FreshWorld was a breath of vibrant, healthy, fresh air. We picked up assorted fruits and herbs to get us through the rest of the week. Here they are, washed in diluted vinegar water and hanging out to dry.

Fresh cilantro, basil and green onions go with everything. Nectarines, clementines, kiwi, pears and pomolo's not pictured for sweet snacks.

Fresh cilantro, basil and green onions go with everything. Nectarines, clementines, kiwi, pears and pomolo’s (not pictured) for sweeter snacks.

I’ve been eager to try new recipes from Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchenand settled on Canh cải cá rô (Gingery Mustard Greens and Tilapia Soup) to go with Sweet Chili Lime Tofu and Rice. The peppery bite of fresh Mustard Greens balanced with ginger and fish sauce sounded perfect for a light yet filling meal.

Gingery Mustard Greens and Fish Soup and Tofu

Canh cải cá rô and Sweet Chili Lime Tofu

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Down With the Sickness

26 Jan

I may finally succumb to the sickness, but not without a fight. Chao Ga (Rice Porridge with Chicken) is like the Chicken Noodle Soup of Vietnamese home cooking and is easier to take down when you need to eat but don’t much feel like it. Fortunately, Chao is made from staple ingredients that I had on hand and only takes an hour to cook.

Chao Ga (Rice Porridge with Chicken)

1 quart chicken broth (low sodium if you’ve got it, otherwise reduce other salty ingredients)

2 quarts water

1 or 2 chicken breasts (bone in dark meat is better, but didn’t have any on hand)

1 cup Jasmine rice

1 tbs minced ginger

1 shallot, minced

1 – 3 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs mushroom seasoning (or less salt if you don’t have the seasoning)

Chao Ga ingredients

Chao Ga ingredients – household items that are more than likely in your cupboard.

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Quick Weeknight Dinner

9 Jan

You just got home from work, it’s dark and cold and think: the Jetsons “food-a-rac-a-cycle” or Rosey the Robot would be really amazing. But unfortunately this is not my reality. Fortunately I did have healthy green veggies and leftovers on hand for a quick meal.

From chop to chow, these two dishes took just over 30 minutes.

Canh Bau Tom (Squash Soup with Shrimp)

1/2 – 1 lb Shrimp – peeled and deveined (get shrimp with the head on and keep the fat after you pull them off to mix with meat – adds more flavor)

1 Opo Squash (AKA Bottle Gourd)

1 shallot quartered and sliced

1 tbs EVOO

2 – 4 tbs Sugar (vary depending on preference for sweetness)

1 tbs Fish Sauce

2 – 3 tbs Vegetable/Mushroom seasoning

1 tsp Ground White Pepper

6 – 8 cups water

Half a bunch of cilantro and 1 green onion (sliced)

Chop shrimp to small pieces and toss with fish sauce and pepper. Cut squash as half circles, matchsticks, etc. The thinner you slice them, the mushier they are likely to become after cooking.

Add the EVOO to soup pot and saute the sliced shallot until fragrant – about 30 seconds. Add the chopped shrimp and stir until they become pink and opaque. Quickly pour in the water and bring back to a boil. Add Sugar and Vegetable Seasoning and allow the flavors to develop. Vegetable Seasoning are these whitish pellets that are like fake MSG. It’s salty and adds richness to the broth, but isn’t just like salt. Make sense? No. I know. Mẹ gave me a package when I started experimenting with Vietnamese cooking.

Unfortunately I’ve yet to find or talk to anyone with an explicitly written recipe that turns out how we like it. So there is a lot of tasting. Start small and add more sugar or seasoning or fish sauce until you figure out your ratios. We like a lot of dishes like soups and stews with a little more sugar than other blogs use, so I know to cut down on the salt and up the sugar a bit. Just don’t do what we did in our first attempt of making Chao Ga (chicken rice porridge) adding – all at the same time – big tablespoons of sugar and salt and fish sauce without letting the flavors blend. Give it some time.

Anyways. Once you’ve found the balance, the squash may already be overcooked but who cares. Easier digestion, no? In all this took 30 minutes max.

Add green onion and cilantro just before serving and enjoy!

Canh Bau Tom – I added Chili Powder after seeing a blog add to the dish but didn’t like it. Will leave this out next time.

The other dish for our quick meal is a variation of Rau Muong Xao Toi Chao (Water Spinach with Garlic and Fermented Bean Curd), which is straight forward,but I found Wandering Chopsticks recipe to verify. I say variation because I’ve yet to find water spinach in any of the international markets nearby. So I grabbed a bag of normal spinach. Was ok…but may substitute Watercress next time if it still proves elusive. This is one of those dishes that you will either love or hate (much like Canh Kho Qua – Bitter Melon Soup). We order this at Mark’s Duck House with our noodle soup. Recipe after the jump! Continue reading

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