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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.

Nuoc Mam Gung – The ultimate Vietnamese dipping sauce

8 Aug

My mother in law’s nuoc mam gung (ginger dipping sauce) is legendary. No one in the family makes it like her.

I have made several feeble attempts that mostly proved to be failures. Edible, but failures nonetheless. Rather than ask her to make the sauce for me every time I prepare Bun Mang Vit (Duck and bamboo noodle soup), vermicelli bowls, or any of the other dishes we enjoy with the sauce, it was time for me to learn.

Over and over she says “No measurements, just taste.”

OK, fine.

But I still need to see about how much of everything goes in to this magical concoction.

We called her up the other weekend and said we’d be over to make the sauce with strong warnings not to have it already made before we arrived. She didn’t make it, thankfully, but had the other ingredients ready and waiting.

And the results were glorious.

Mom and I holding the finished product of ginger dipping sauce. Continue reading

Bo Luc Lac Shaking Beef Recipe

15 Jul

I had a craving for the super simple yet flavor-packed Bo Luc Lac, or Shaking Beef. It’s also one of my favorite dishes to say. I know I’ve made it several times but apparently never blogged the recipe. My sister in law makes a really great version of this simple main dish adding mushroom sauce in addition to the typical oyster sauce. Traditionally, the seared beef cubes are served atop crisp, raw watercress and tomato slices. I had arugula and cherry tomatoes left over from and Independence Day fresh corn salad and decided to use those. The arugula has the same peppery bite as watercress, and it easier to eat!  I’ve seen many recipes call for tossing the greens in a vinaigrette, but I don’t think it’s necessary with the muoi tieu chanh (lime, salt, and pepper dipping sauce).

Ideally, you want to marinade the beef overnight to achieve maximum flavor, but 30-60 minutes will do in a pinch. You want tender beef – steer clear of the time saving beef cubes that are usually stew meat. You’ll tire of chewing before getting full.

Prepare in the order below and serve with rice and one or two other small dishes to round out the meal. Now if this isn’t a picture of summer, I don’t know what is!

Dinner table set with Shaking Beef, bowls of rice, and lime dipping sauce. Continue reading

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