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Vietnamese

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Vietnamese-Braised Chicken

Vietnamese Braised Chicken

I’ve decided to break my pasta recipe streak and post a Vietnamese recipe instead. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything Vietnamese. After I made this for the first time and showed the process on my Instagram stories a couple days ago, I received a few requests for the recipe so here it is!

Braising is a common Vietnamese method for preparing meats, and it just means that the meat is seared or browned on dry high heat, and then slowly cooked in a liquid over lower heat. My mom made a version of this often when we were kids but she used chicken drumsticks. Normally Vietnamese-braised chicken is made with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks, but I don’t like chicken skin all that much so I decided to use chicken breasts instead. Using bone-in, skin-on chicken would give you more flavour and moist chicken, so feel free to use whatever you want.

The chicken doesn’t need to marinate for long – I had it sit in the fridge in the marinade for about 15-20 minutes while I cleaned the kitchen and made my lunch for the next day. You’ll be using that marinade as the liquid to braise the chicken in later so all that flavour will have plenty of time to soak in during the cooking process as well.

Viet braised chicken marinade

This recipe calls for Coco Rico which is a coconut soda that you can find at any Asian food store. I always have a few cans in my pantry as I also use it in my Braised Pork and Eggs recipe. If you don’t have Coco Rico on hand, you can use coconut water as a substitute.

Serve the chicken with some jasmine rice and a simple vegetable. I served mine with rice and sliced up some fresh cucumbers as my vegetable. I drizzled the glaze on the rice, cucumbers, and chicken, and the meal was a perfect combination of hot fluffy rice, cold crisp cucumbers, savoury chicken, and a slightly sweet glaze.

Give it a try and enjoy!

Vietnamese braised chicken

Vietnamese Braised Chicken

Print Recipe
Serves: 2-4 Cooking Time: 50

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp canola oil or olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon (like OXO)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 can of Coco Rico

Instructions

1

Combine all the ingredients except for the Coco Rico. Add the mixture to the chicken and let marinate for about 15-20 minutes.

2

Heat up the canola oil in a deep pan over high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserve the marinade, and sear the chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.

3

Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add the marinade and the Coco Rico. Let the chicken slowly cook in the sauce for about 30 minutes. The sauce will thicken up into a nice glaze.

4

Turn the chicken once or twice during the 30 minutes so that the sauce will evenly soak into the chicken.

5

Serve with rice and drizzle the delicious glaze onto the rice and chicken!

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

Vietnamese Banana Tapioca Dessert (Che Chuoi)

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 1 can (14 oz or 400 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder (I used vanilla powder)

Instructions

1

Soak the tapioca pearls in cold water for an hour.

2

Drain the tapioca pearls and place in a big saucepan with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes until the pearls are opaque. Drain and set aside.

3

In a large saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut milk, 1 cup water, vanilla and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

4

Add bananas to the mixture and cook for another 5 minutes.

5

Add the cooked tapioca pearls and stir together for another 2 minutes.

6

Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool and thicken. After it is cooled to room temperature, you can put it in the fridge to chill.

7

Spoon into individual bowls, garnish with strawberries, mangoes or another colourful fruit, and enjoy!

Featured/ Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: Quan Ngon

You guys, I didn’t think this Restaurant Review thing through. A couple weeks ago, I realized that I don’t have the heart to write bad reviews. I had written up this review on a restaurant that will remain unnamed, and technically, it was a well-written, witty review of a not so good restaurant, but I just didn’t feel right publishing it. Also, the Vietnamese community in Regina is pretty small, and although I’m not involved in the Vietnamese community at all, my parents are and I don’t want to create awkward encounters for them. So I’ve decided that I will only write about restaurants that I love, so that I don’t have to write bad reviews. So by simple powers of deduction, if you don’t see a Vietnamese restaurant reviewed here on my blog it’s either because: 1) I haven’t eaten there yet (not likely); or 2) it’s not that great (this one).

So let’s get started with a glowing review. Quan Ngon is a small Vietnamese restaurant located at 227 Victoria Ave here in Regina. My mom and my sister, the two biggest Vietnamese culinary snobs ever, have raved about this restaurant so I’ve been so anxious to try it out.

Unlike many other Vietnamese restaurants, Quan Ngon has a very small menu, but I’ve heard that every item on their menu is carefully prepared and quite tasty. It’s also the only Vietnamese restaurant that I know of in Regina that does the “add-on” concept. With an order of a main dish, you can “add on” a pop, a fresh roll or a spring roll for $1. It’s an interesting concept and makes for a very economical meal.

Quan Ngon’s main course menu

The restaurant itself is quite small, maybe a dozen tables or so. My mom has eaten there numerous times, and she said that the first few times she went when it first opened, there were only a couple tables of customers. When we were there a few days ago, there were 4-5 tables of customers, so I think the good word is spreading around! Also, the majority of the customers were Asian. That’s how you know a Vietnamese restaurant is good, by the way, when the customers themselves are Vietnamese (especially if they are older Vietnamese women or Vietnamese families).

My husband and I went with my parents, and we all ordered pho (beef noodle soup) with fresh roll add-ons. My husband and I both ordered Pho Tai Bo Vien, which is Pho with Sliced Rare Beef and Beef Balls. Quan Ngon doesn’t have any size options for pho and the portions were quite small, which is understandable considering the cheap price of $8.95. My husband and I were still somewhat hungry after our fresh rolls and pho, so next time I would add on a side of extra beef or extra beef balls for $3.95 to make it a more fulfilling meal.

Pho Tai Bo Vien (Pho with Sliced Beef and Beef Balls)

You guys, the pho was the best restaurant pho in Regina. The flavours were authentic, the broth was rich and aromatic, and the beef thinly sliced and fresh. I found my pho to be slightly salty, but my mom said it must be a one-off, because this is the first time where she’s found it to be too salty. Anyways, it was nothing that a squeeze of fresh lime didn’t remedy. The pho came with a plate of proper accompaniments, including crisp bean sprouts, sliced jalapeño, lime wedges, and Thai basil. Making pho properly requires a lot of time, effort, and lots of expensive ingredients (brisket, various cuts of beef, beef bones for the broth, etc) and my mom only makes it on special occasions. Quan Ngon’s pho is so good that it is now my go-to place for pho when I’m having a craving and my mom isn’t making pho anytime soon.

Pho Accompaniments

The pho was great, but I was blown away by the fresh rolls. My mom and sister had raved about the fresh rolls, but I was like, “Come on, fresh rolls are fresh rolls, how great can they be?” Man, was I ever surprised. This is the only restaurant in Regina that I know of that has cucumber and bean sprouts in their fresh rolls (in addition to the noodles, lettuce, shrimp and pork). The addition of the cucumber and bean sprouts added a fresh crunchy texture to the fresh rolls. I was definitely inspired and I might start adding cucumber and bean sprouts to my own fresh rolls now! Fresh rolls may seem simple to make, but it’s the quality of ingredients that really set fresh rolls apart. Quan Ngon used big black tiger shrimp, crisp bean sprouts, fresh cucumber, and even the romaine lettuce in the fresh rolls were nice and crisp. I can’t speak highly enough of them, my mouth is watering as I’m typing this.

The best fresh rolls ever!

I can’t wait to eat here again. I want to try some of the other items on their small menu. I saw that they have a salted fish fried rice, and I’m curious to see if it’s as good as the one that I’ve written about from Peking House.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not involved in the Vietnamese community at all, so I’m not writing this glowing review because I know the owners of this restaurant or anything like that. The owner greeted us when my husband and I arrived, and she didn’t even know I was Vietnamese until my parents arrived. And the owners likely won’t even know this review exists (unless one of you guys tell them about it!). This is a completely unbiased, uninfluenced review and you can trust me when I say that this is Regina’s hidden Vietnamese gem!

With their limited but focused menu, Quan Ngon is able to deliver well-prepared, well-executed, authentic  Vietnamese dishes at an excellent price point. If you haven’t already, give this restaurant a try!