Browsing Category

Vietnamese Recipes

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Vietnamese Banana Tapioca Dessert (“Che Chuoi”)

You know you’re an adult when you find yourself belonging in a dinner club with other couple friends, am I right? My husband and I are part of a dinner club with four other couples and we take turns every month hosting a dinner party. The hosting couple provides all the food and drink pairings and hosts the dinner at their house. So far, we’ve had a Mardi Gras themed event and a spring-themed event. It was my turn to host this past weekend, and obviously, my theme was Vietnamese. The other couples actually volun-told me what my theme was, I didn’t really have a choice in the matter!

In planning the menu, it was a no brainer what the appetizer and main courses were going to be. Appetizers were fresh rolls and the main course was a build-your-own vermicelli bowl, with spring rolls, vermicelli noodles, fish sauce, and various veggies and accompaniments. However, I had a tough time coming up with a dessert, mainly because I have never ever made a Vietnamese dessert before. My mom very rarely makes them, so I don’t really have a favourite Vietnamese dessert. After much research and consultation with my mom, I decided to make a Vietnamese banana coconut tapioca dessert (“che chuoi”). Vietnamese cuisine have desserts called “che” that are best described as a pudding. Some of these desserts have fruit in them, some have beans (like black beans), some are served cold, some are served hot, most of tapioca in them, and they come in varying textures (some are thicker and some are quite liquid-y like a soup). This banana dessert was easy to make and it’s dairy-free, which was the deciding factor for me. This dessert can be served hot or chilled, but I prefer it chilled.

I decided to do a wine pairing with my dinner, because I love introducing friends to wines and Vietnamese food. For the fresh rolls, I paired it with the Melipal Malbec Rose (Argentina). This rose wine is crisp, light and not too sweet, and it pairs well with the pork and shrimp in the fresh rolls. For the spring rolls and vermicelli bowls, I paired it with the Stark Raving Red wine (USA). This red wine blend is smooth, slightly sweet, and doesn’t clash with the fish sauce or overpower the spring rolls. And finally, for the banana tapioca dessert, I paired it with the Dr. Loosen Riesling (Germany). I bought two bottles of each and they were completely finished off by the women! The men could care less about wine pairings and drank various beers with their food (not that we were complaining, more wine for the wives!).

You know the dinner party was so much fun because I forgot to take lots of pictures for the blog! (Blogger fail!).  I completely forgot to take pictures of the fresh rolls, and only took a few of the spring rolls, vermicelli bowls and the banana tapioca pudding. Sorry guys! Enjoy the few pictures and the banana tapioca dessert recipe below.

Vietnamese dinner wine pairings

Vietnamese dinner wine pairings

 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

5 dozen spring rolls for the party

 

Spring Roll Vermicelli Bowl

Build your own spring roll vermicelli bowl!

 

Spring Roll Vermicelli Bowl with Stark Raving Red wine

Spring Roll Vermicelli Bowl with Stark Raving Red wine

 

Vietnamese Banana Coconut Tapioca Dessert

 

Vietnamese Banana Coconut Tapioca Dessert

Vietnamese Banana Coconut Tapioca Dessert

Beer and Wine Pairings/ Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Soy Sauce Chicken

Sometimes whole chickens are on sale and I buy a couple and they sit in the freezer because I don’t know what to do with them. I read all these blogs that say that buying and preparing a whole chicken is very economical and frugal, but I think I’m doing it wrong. I feel like I have all these wasted bits and parts when I prepare a whole chicken. Maybe I’m just not that good at carving it and getting the most meat out of it. I also never do anything with the carcass, even though I know I should be using it to make homemade chicken broth. That will be my next culinary milestone – making my own broths. I’ll have to ask my mom how she makes her broths. She makes the best broths, super clear and very aromatic. I’ll keep you guys posted.

Anyway, so I had this whole chicken sitting in my freezer and I wanted to do something with it already to free up some freezer space. I was just going to make a basic roasted chicken, seasoned with lemon and rosemary, but then my sister shared a picture of a soy sauce chicken that she had made.

My sister’s soy sauce chicken

It looked so good, so I thought I’d give it a try. Now this recipe calls for a lot more effort than I usually put into a normal family dinner, so I wouldn’t make it on a regular basis. However, it would be a pretty impressive chicken to make for dinner parties!

There are a few key points to note about the ingredients. First of all, there are some pretty Asian ingredients in this recipe, so your best bet is to hit up your local Asian grocery store. (Ngoy Hoa, if you’re from Regina). Spend the money on these ingredients now because I guarantee you’ll be using them again if you continue to follow me on this blog. The Asian ingredients are star anise (a star shaped southeast Asian spice). Remember? We used it in the Vietnamese beef stew recipe.  The recipe also calls for light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. If you go to a Canadian grocery store, you’re not going to find different types of soy sauce (actually, Superstore might have light and dark soy sauces). Using the two different kinds of soy sauces will add depth of flavour to this chicken. The abundance of soy sauce in this recipe makes the chicken super salty. So for the chicken broth that is required, make sure you use no-salt or low-salt chicken broth. Otherwise, it will be way too salty.  Lastly, you’ll need some Chinese cooking wine. You can also find this at your local Asian food store.

Also, the green onion oil may seem like an optional addition but it is NOT optional. It is essential to the dish so don’t skip this step!

The layers of flavour in this dish is unreal. The salty, silky chicken, the pungent green onion oil, the steaming hot rice – it is so filling and comforting. The strong flavours of this dish would be best paired with a lighter red wine like a Zinfandel. However, I didn’t have any Zinfandel on hand but I had a bottle of Menage a Trois, which is a Zinfandel/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It was an amazing pairing! This wine would also pair well with other strongly flavoured Asian meats like Chinese barbecue pork.

Soy Sauce Chicken

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 1.5-2 hours

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CHICKEN:
  • 1 small whole chicken, about 2-3 lbs
  • 2 stalks of green onion, diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup no-salt or low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • FOR THE GREEN ONION OIL
  • 2 cups finely diced green onions
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black better
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Instructions

1

MARINATING CHICKEN:

2

In a pot over medium heat, combine the green onions, ginger, star anise, both soy sauces, chicken stock, chinese cooking wine, brown sugar, oyster sauce, paprika and black pepper.

3

Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place the pot over ice to cool the sauce down to room temperature. Don't skip this step. If you pour hot sauce over raw chicken, you're going to end up cooking the chicken in random places and the uneven heat can cause the temperature of the chicken to rise to unsafe levels conducive to salmonella.

4

Place the chicken and the cooled soy sauce mixture into a large Ziplock freezer bag and coat the chicken all over with the sauce. Transfer to the fridge to marinate overnight.

5

PREPARING GREEN ONION OIL:

6

Place diced green onions, grated ginger, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

7

Heat canola oil in a pot over high heat until it starts to smoke slightly.

8

Pour the oil over the green onion mixture. It will sizzle and smoke so make sure your exhaust fan or air exchange is on!

9

Stir the mixture and then set aside and let it rest for 2 hours before using (I usually make this right before I put the chicken in the oven).

10

TO COOK THE CHICKEN:

11

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

12

Choose a pot that will fit the chicken neatly without too much extra space. I used my Le Creuset French Oven that I got for Christmas and it was the perfect size!

13

Remove the chicken from the Ziplock bag and then pour the marinade into the pot.

14

Bring the marinade to a simmer over medium heat, then place the chicken into the pot.

15

Turn the chicken a few times to coat it with the sauce, then put the pot into the oven uncovered.

16

Every 15 minutes or so, turn the chicken and baste it with the sauce evenly over every surface. (I did a poor job of this the first time I made it, so if you look at my chicken compared to my sister's in the pictures above, mine isn't as evenly darkened as hers).

17

The chicken should be perfectly done after 60-75 minutes.

18

Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest while you prepare the sauce.

19

Strain the sauce from the pot into a small sauce pan. Add 2 tbsp of no-salt chicken stock (or water) to thin out the saltiness. Whisk and keep it warm over low heat.

20

To serve, carve the chicken into small pieces and place over jasmine rice. Drizzle some of the sauce over the chicken and rice, and add a spoonful of the green onion oil.

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Mongolian Beef

Once in awhile I get a craving for “Westernized” Chinese food. You know what I mean? Like sweet and sour pork, ginger beef, chicken lettuce wraps, stuff that you would find on the menu at P.F. Chang’s. Speaking of P.F. Chang’s, what is all the hype about? I hear people rave about this place all the time, so my husband and I went there for dinner when we were in Vegas last summer. I do not see what the big deal is – the food was very generic and Westernized Chinese food (seriously, I can guarantee you that chicken lettuce wraps are not enjoyed in traditional Asian households anywhere!). If you want an elevated Asian food experience in Vegas, check out Tao in the Venetian or Koi in Planet Hollywood. Those are my two must-go Asian food places while in Vegas.

Anyways, I digress. As much as I rag on “non-authentic” Asian food, I do sometimes crave the strong comforting flavours that they provide. Like this Mongolian beef dish. It’s not Vietnamese, it’s not really authentic Chinese cuisine, and one could only guess that it’s not really Mongolian either, despite its name. Yet it has the familiar  and typical Asian flavourings of brown sugar, soy sauce, green onions and ginger that make it so comforting.

For the beef, I used a couple of top sirloin grilling steaks but you can probably use any cut of beef. Thinly slicing the beef against the grain, tossing it with cornstarch and doing a quick sear will make any cut of beef super tender.

The best part of this dish is that it takes minutes to make. There is no pre-marinading or extensive prep involved. If you have all the ingredients at hand, it takes 15 minutes to prepare!

Serve the beef over some hot jasmine rice for a filling and comforting meal! You can see in my pictures that I had paired it with a Riesling but I wasn’t too impressed with the pairing. I think Mongolian beef is one of those basic meals that is best paired with a cold light beer!

Mongolian Beef

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • FOR THE BEEF:
  • 2 top sirloin grilling steaks (or any cut of beef), very thinly sliced against the grain
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 thai red chili pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
  • 5 green onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions

1

Toss the sliced beef in a large bowl with cornstarch and set aside.

2

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk together. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low while you prepare the beef.

3

Heat canola oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the thai red chili pepper and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the ginger begins to brown, about 2 minutes.

4

Add the garlic and sliced beef to the skillet, spreading the slices of beef in an even layer across the skillet. Sear the beef well, about 1 minute per side.

5

Pour the sauce from the saucepan into the skillet with the beef. Mix well so that the sauce coats all the beef. Let simmer for one minute.

6

Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle the green onions on top

7

Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy!