Monthly Archives:

August 2016

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Lemongrass Pork Rice Plate

Lemongrass Pork Rice Plate

Vietnamese rice plates are hands-down my favourite dinner. They are filling, easy to make, and bursting with a variety of flavour – the warm rice, grilled protein, pickled carrots, fresh cucumbers, creamy egg yolk from the fried egg and tangy prepared fish sauce. This particular plate got two thumbs up from the husband, so it’s definitely a substantial enough meal for a growing man!

As I have mentioned before in previous posts, I prefer lean cuts of meat so I used a boneless pork rib roast for this plate. I think the piece I bought was about 2 lbs, costing just over $7, and I used half of it for our dinner for two. I froze the other half and will use it again to make the same plate again whenever I’m craving a hearty rice dish.

Most of the ingredients for this recipe should be pantry staples and/or easy to find, except for maybe the lemongrass. Lemongrass is a stalky plant with a lemon scent, commonly used in Asian cooking.  I always buy my lemongrass from Ngoy Hoa, the Asian grocery store in Regina. I have never found it at Sobeys or Co-op, but Superstore might have it.

Lemongrass

The fresh vegetables added to the rice plate make it a healthy, well-rounded meal. I prefer to keep it simple with just the pickled carrots that I make with my prepared fish sauce, and fresh cucumbers. However, feel free to add whatever vegetables you want. I’ve seen other Vietnamese rice plates built with tomatoes, shredded lettuce and fresh herbs as well.

The recipe below is for the preparation of the grilled pork. The pork is best prepared on a barbecue or a grill. We currently don’t have a barbecue right now as we are still building our backyard deck. I ended up grilling the pork in a cast iron pan, constantly flipping the meat on both sides to build a nice char, and it worked out fine.

Build your plate with the pork, hot jasmine rice, fresh vegetables, and a fried egg, and dress it with prepared fish sauce. This dish is best served with a cold, light beer (says the husband!).

Lemongrass Grilled Pork

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 Cooking Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of lean pork (I used a boneless pork rib roast), sliced
  • 1 tbsp of minced lemon grass (just the white portion, discard the tough leaves at the top)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp of pure fish sauce
  • 1 English cucumber, julienned
  • Fried eggs
  • jasmine rice
  • pickled carrots
  • prepared fish sauce

Instructions

1

Marinate the pork with the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, soy sauce, brown sugar, and fish sauce. The longer you can marinate it, the more flavourful the meat will be. I marinated mine for about 2 hours.

2

Prepare your rice.

3

Prepare the vegetables that you will be including in your plate.

4

Grill the pork slices on a grill or barbecue until nicely charred.

5

Fry up an egg or two.

6

Build a plate to your preference, dress it with your prepared fish sauce, and enjoy!

Vietnamese Recipes

Prepared Fish Sauce

Prepared Fish Sauce

Let me tell you how clueless I used to be about cooking. You know that little bowl of amber coloured liquid that you get at restaurants when you order vermicelli noodles bowls or rice plates? Well, Vietnamese people just call that “nuoc mam” or fish sauce. So naive, non-cooking me thought that I could just buy a bottle of fish sauce at the Asian grocery store and pour that over my noodles. BIG MISTAKE! Don’t ever do that. Although Vietnamese people just call that little bowl fish sauce, it is actually prepared fish sauce, sweetened and diluted, to make it palatable as a dressing on your noodle bowls and rice bowls.

One important lesson I’ve learned from my mom that when buying the pure fish sauce in a bottle, there is a notable difference between cheap fish sauce and premium fish sauce. I used to buy the bottle that was $3 and when I tried to make this prepared fish sauce, it was a murky brown colour, not the light amber colour that you see in restaurants or at my mom’s house. So I ‘splurged’ and bought the premium bottle for $7 at the Asian grocery store. Don’t buy the fish sauce found at Sobeys or Co-op – that’s just wrong. My mom highly recommends this brand:

Pure fish sauce

I also like my prepared fish sauce to contain some pickled carrots in it, but you can skip the carrots if you want.

When I called my mom up to ask for her recipe, she started rattling off the ingredients with no measurements. When I interrupted her and told her I needed to know the exact measurements, she provided them to me with this spoon as her basis of measurement:

Chinese Soup Spoon

(*sigh*) Needless to say, I have converted the measurements to tablespoons for you guys!

You can prepare this ahead of time and it will keep in the fridge for a week or so. Take a read of this recipe, and tomorrow on the blog, I will share an easy weekday rice plate recipe that calls for this prepared fish sauce!

Prepared Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 15 mins

Ingredients

  • PREPARED FISH SAUCE
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 4 tbsp pure fish sauce
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small lemon wedge
  • 1 red chili pepper, minced
  • PICKLED CARROTS
  • 3-4 carrots, shredded
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Instructions

1

PICKLED CARROTS

2

Combine the boiling water, salt, vinegar and sugar and stir well.

3

Allow to cool and then add the shredded carrots.

4

Store in the refrigerator until just before it is time to eat. Drain all the liquid from the carrots, give the carrots a squeeze with a paper towel to soak up any excess liquid, and add to the prepared fish sauce.

5

PREPARED FISH SAUCE

6

Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water. Stir well.

7

Add the fish sauce. Stir well.

8

Let cool in the refrigerator until it is time to eat.

9

When cool (or just before you eat), add the minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, the minced red chili pepper, and the shredded carrots.

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Baby Bok Choy Salad

Baby Bok Choy Salad

I love eating salads….but I hate making them at home. Whenever we go out, I will usually order a salad of some kind because I hate making my own salads. What do I hate about it? I hate washing all the produce. I hate having to prep multiple ingredients to make a colourful, flavourful salad. My thought process is: if I’m going to spend lots of time in the kitchen prepping food, I’d rather it be for a comforting, hearty, hot meal…not a salad.

However, I have been known to suck it up and make this baby bok choy salad from time to time.  Bok choy is a Chinese leafy cabbage that has been gaining more popularity in Western cuisine recently due to its high nutritional qualities. Bok choy is low in calories, and high in vitamins K, C, and A. Bok choy is more commonly known as “that vegetable in Chinese stirfrys”.

Baby Bok Choy

I received some beautiful baby bok choy in the organic bin that I got from Body Fuel Organics a couple weeks ago. Baby bok choy is just the less mature version of bok choy, and its taste is milder which makes it perfect for raw salads.

When prepping bok choy, make sure you wash them really well. Growing straight from the ground, there’s always a lot of dirt caught in the bottom of the crunchy stems. I like to cut the bottom couple inches off the bok choy and discard, then chop the remaining stems and leaves up into bite size pieces, then wash and drain the cut pieces really well. You can add whatever other vegetables you want to the salad but I like to stick to other vegetables commonly used in Asian cuisine, such as red peppers, shredded carrots and green onion.

Baby Bok Choy Salad

What makes this salad so delicious is the salad dressing. The salad dressing is light and bright, with Asian flavours that ties everything together. I usually just eyeball the salad dressing ingredients, so I’ve just estimated what the measurements are for this recipe. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your taste!

Baby Bok Choy Salad

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 15 prep time

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of baby bok choy
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
  • DRESSING
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 soy sauce
  • Drizzle of olive oil (less than 1/4 cup)

Instructions

1

Cut the bottom two inches or so off the bok choy and discard. Chop the remaining stems and leaves into bite size pieces, wash well and drain.

2

Prep the other vegetables and add to the bok choy.

3

For the dressing, whisk together the white vinegar, sugar and soy sauce.

4

Drizzle in the olive oil, while whisking, until combined into a smooth consistency. (I don't like much oil in my salad dressings, so I don't put much olive oil in mine).

5

Toss the salad with the dressing and enjoy this bright and crunchy salad!