June 26, 2008

Braised Pork Shank + Pork Belly in Coconut Juice and Eggs

This is one of the classic dish of Vietnam. It is called Thịt Heo Kho Tàu. Because the shank is a tough cut of meat, it was braised for a while and this will bring all the flavor together. This is also a dish you'd serve during the Vietnamese New Year.

Pork was marinated with five spice powder, garlic, salt+sugar, pepper, dark soy sauce and fish sauce. After marinating, it was cooked in half coconut juice and half water, with a tiny bit of star anise. And of course you gotta throw in some chilies too! When reheating again the next day, it is still as good, if not better from the extra marination. It is a very hearty dish.

Cook the meats slowly until almost tender and add in boiled eggs. The sauce will flavor the eggs too, and give it a nice caramel color.

Remember to spoon some of that sauce over your bowl of rice, and enjoy! Eat with refreshing slices of cucumbers, mints, lettuce too.

This is a high in cholesterol dish from the pork fat, but screw it. This is not something you'd have every day. Or you can do what I did when I was younger, just eat the meat part and leave the fat for someone else. ^-^ The sauce is good enough!

June 24, 2008

Seaweed Soups

There are many health benefits to seaweed soup. It is very popular among East Asians, especially for pregnant women and students. Dried seaweeds contain Magnesium, Vitamin 1 and Iron which are essential for preventing diabetes and heart attacks. They also have Riboflavin and Niacin which promote fast tissue repair.

Seaweed is also an excellent blood cleanser and is believed to support optimal brain function, which would help students with important exams. It is also amazingly effective at stimulating healthy milk production in nursing moms.

(Above) Seaweed soup with pork (ribs) and bean thread noodles. The meats were cooked until very tender and almost falling off the bone.

(Left) Vegetarian seaweed soup with other veggies and bean curd sticks and bean thread noodles. Sipping soups always make me feel warm and content.

I think I've developed the habit of throwing in broccoli anywhere and everywhere I can. Just weird, but I like it. Adding in bits of ginger to the soup made it extra tasty and warm.

June 23, 2008

Oyster Mushroom Soup

With chives, tofu, carrots, and fresh bean sprouts added in.

This soup makes a really good broth for vegetarian pho.

June 22, 2008

Vietnamese sweet soups- for dessert!

Vietnamese sweet soup (chè)

There are many kinds of chè. This one is chè đậu xanh- meaning a mung bean sweet soup. Usually, you can just cook mung beans until very soft, add palm sugar, milk and that's it. Or, you can add other goodies to the sweet soup, like sweet potato, lotus seeds, lychees or logans, seaweed, jackfruit, jujube and using coconut milk instead of milk/cream.

First one on the left is a mung bean sweet soup with purple potato (cubes), pearl barley, and jujube.

This one I made is simply sweet potato, mung bean, jujube, whole pearl barley and soymilk. The best part is the mung bean sweet soup can be eaten warm, chilled, or room temperature.

Black bean sweet soup with jujube and soymilk. I really love to add soymilk to sweet soup to make it creamy, yet still light and healthy. Serve chilled on a hot summer day, it is a perfect and refreshing snack.

June 20, 2008

Tofu and Penne

Fusion: Fried tofu with penne pasta and Vietnamese herbs.

Okay, so it's not 'fusion'. I ran out of rice noodles, and penne was all I have.

(Too lazy to cut up tofu!) I tore it up after, with the herbs too.

A light lemony-spicy sauce went along with it. Everything tastes better with a little spice.

MMmmm Eggs...

This is not cooking-
But I LOVE a good soft boiled egg and I LOVE having a runny yolk.

Eat it simply with salt and pepper, or enjoy with some wilted spinach.

Sadly, 2 eggs per week is the limit, right? That's the recommended intake?

June 19, 2008

Sauteed Chicken and Watercress

Sauteed Chicken with Watercress

1. Blanch watercress in boiling water and drain them.

2. Over medium heat in a pan, fry some garlic, shallots, and ginger. Don't let garlic burn!

3. Add chicken pieces (I used chicken thighs). Mix it around a bit. Add seasonings- salt, sugar, pepper, fish sauce or soy sauce, and poultry seasoning if you like. Adjust to taste. Cook until they brown up.

4. Add in watercress and stir to incorporate chicken flavor. Add more fish sauce if needed. Serve with rice.

*Note: I like to blanch the watercress first because it wouldn't get as tough if you're to let it wilt down with the chicken in the pan. Thinly sliced beef with watercress is also good, just be careful to cook the beef quickly and not let it get tough.

June 18, 2008

Bitter Melon with Dried Shrimp Soup

Dried shrimps are basically shrimps that have been sun dried and shrunk down to a tiny size.

They are used extensively in East and South East Asia for flavoring soups, braised dishes, and making sauces (i.e. Cantonese XO sauces.)

In Vietnamese, these dried shrimps are called tôm khô. When cooked, these shrimps would give off a sweet flavor, which would balance the out the flavor of the bitter melon. Enjoy with rice.

June 16, 2008

Stir-Fried Vermicelli

'Bun Xao Chay'

Vegetarian stir fried rice noodle (vermicelli) with tofu, split green beans, carrots, and fried bean curd sheets.

Chocolate Cake!

Lesson learned: not to explore career as a CAKE DECORATOR.

I don't have any decorating tools, so I used the back of a knife to spread on the butter cream and wax paper to make a cone to pipe the chocolate bead border.

The Smarties candy on the cake- 2 on the top line, 4 on the bottom line = 24 yrs old!
It is a two-layer chocolate cake, made of semi sweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and tiny bits of chopped milk chocolate mixed in.

The chocolate frosting is also of semi-sweet chocolate, preferably a good one like Callebaut. Adding about a tablespoon of instant coffee powder really adds depth to the frosting and contrasts with the chocolatey cake.

June 13, 2008


I have no idea what kind of fish these are. Forgot the name...

They're seasoned with curry and tumeric powder, seasonings, and fish sauce.

Dusted with some flour to keep them from breaking apart when cooking, and also to have a nice crust.

Let's have Veggie Soup!

Some veggies! Some veggies, some random random veggies!

Carrots! --In the pot!

Broccoli! --In the pot!

Yellow squash! --In da pot!

Chives! --Join in too!

Tofu! --Heck, why not?!

June 10, 2008

Sesame Seed Bread

Made with a sourdough starter, and toasty sesame seeds on top.

For some reason, using sourdough yeast starter always gives me a crackly crust. When using commercial yeast, this doesn't happen. Hmm...

This will be for breakfast tomorrow, as it's too late to eat now. I just baked it 1 hr ago!

Whenever you bake bread, you really need to wait at least 1 hr before cutting into it or else you'll have a gummy crumb structure. The waiting time is REALLY hard for me! :)

June 7, 2008

Saturday Morning Noodles

What to eat on a Saturday morning??

Today, it is noodles!

When I was younger, my mum would make noodles for me on the weekends. Every kind of noodle she made is so good and I have very fond memories of them. Now that I am grown up, and she getting older, I am making it for her.

It would be easier to make some eggs for me and some stir fries for her. But, it is just so much more comforting to sip some good broth and eat some noodles. It didn't took me any longer to cook this that it would be for me to make the other dishes for me and her.

What I have on hand is whole wheat angel hair, and that's what I went with. Although you can certainly pair it with any rice, egg, or pasta noodles. Yes, I did stick a bunch of watercress on the side there. Makes the noodles better with its spiciness, and you got some greens too!

Finish it off with some whole peppercorns or Sriracha, and a drizzle of sesame oil, then dig in! (^_^*)

My Potato-Tofu-Carrot-Peas-Mismatched-Curry!

In the old days...

I'd loved to eat curry with a loaf of french bread/baguette (especially the brittle Vietnamese kind). But now, knowing more and being healthy, I enjoy curry with a few slices of whole wheat toast. Not the same, but it's still good.

One of the most popular Vietnamese curry is a beef brisket curry. It is usually eaten with French bread for dipping, or with rice. If you go to Xinh Xinh or other Vietnamese place, you'll see a dish like Banh Mi Cari Ga, which means Curry Chicken with French bread to dip.

June 6, 2008

I don't eat meat...

... but I can make roast chicken!

This was one of the dishes I made for Vietnamese New Year '08. Seems like a long time now.

If you're wondering, it did taste good! (Or my whole family was either nice to me, or very very hungry and ate it all up.)

June 5, 2008

Some Very Gooey Fudgy Brownies

With orange zest, walnuts, and chocolate chips running throughout these fudge bars, they are so delicious with a glass of (soy)milk.

I especially love that this is a one-bowl recipe. Easy clean up!

Fudgy Brownie Bars:

8 Tbs butter, melted
1 egg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of all-purpose (unbleached) flour
pinch of salt
zest of 1 orange
1 cup chopped chocolate- (can be combination of dark+milk, or just semi-sweet)

Dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate goes really well with orange zest.

1. Preheat oven 350°F. Butter a 8x8 pan.
2. In a large bowl, melt the butter in a microwave (or pan if you like).
3. Mix in brown sugar and salt until smooth, and then egg, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
4. Add in flour, stir, then mix in chopped chocolate (the mixture was still warm for me so the chocolate melted.)

Fun part: Mix in anything you like! Add some toasted nuts, more semi-sweet chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips if you like. If you don't like orange zest, then mix in 1/2-3/4 cup dried cherries.

5. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I took it out at 22 minutes, so that it'll still be a gooey cookie. Let cool before cutting. Refrigerate and it will harden up (if you want to cut easily.)

Recipe adapted from here. But I failed and these turned into fudgy brownie bars. (^o^)

June 4, 2008

Wilted Arugula on Margherita Pizza

Sorry!! I couldn't resist and took a bite first! ^_^ Yum!

I think the best part about making homemade pizza is it is so easy and cheap to do. It is a NO-Knead dough! I just measure the basic ingredients and mix them together. Put it in a bowl, coat with some oil, and put on a plastic wrap. Make the dough the day before and stick it in the fridge!

The long proof time in the fridge gives the dough extra flavor. Then you just add any ingredients and spices you like on it. But keep it simple. I am trying not to be heavy handed, but it is hard! :D

If you don't have the time to make the sauce, you can buy a jar of it. No problemo! My preference is the Muir Glen Organic tomato sauce.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup with broccoli and cauliflower. MMmmm Healthy and good!

Or... Lentils + butternut squash + potatoes + tofu soup

I do like lentils (red) with butternut squash. Nutty..!

June 2, 2008


Wiki: Taiyaki

For these taiyakis, I made them with adzuki bean and mochi filling.

Blueberries are also great, or my niece's favorite on anything- NUTELLA!

The nutella just oozes out when you bite into the cake.
Taiyaki batter:

- 1 1/2 cups water (or milk)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 egg
- 6 oz, or about 1 cup adzuki bean filling
- spray oil to coat pan

1. Prepare adzuki bean filling, or buy from the store. Soak beans overnight, and cook it the next day with enough liquid that the beans will cook until very soft. Drain out excess liquid, if necessary. Then stir in some sugar (to taste) into the beans and mash them. You can do this 1 or 2 days before.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda+baking powder and salt together. Mix well.

3. In another bowl, beat up an egg with sugar, then add in water/milk.

4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined and still clumpy. Don't over-mix.

5. Spray taiyaki pan with oil, heat it on both sides.

6. Pour some batter into the mold, add some adzuki bean filling, and then pour some more batter on top to cover it. Close the pan and flip it over. Cook until golden brown. Repeat making the fishies!

[Steps 2-4, you can substitute with buying pre-mixed pancake batter. Just add eggs and milk according to instructions.]

Afternoon Tea in Bed

The best afternoon tea of all... ^_^ Hehe

My Overflowing Cheesey Margherita Pizza

I do like my cheese golden brown vs. being all plain white.

You can't see it, but underneath all the cheese and tomatoes are lots of basils. I like to hide them, so that they don't burn. But not adding them at the end, because I don't like eating raw basils.

Just my issues, they're complicated... (o_O)

I know you're supposed to use toppings SPARINGLY, but I can't helped it! And the cheese would've gone bad if I didn't use it soon!

June 1, 2008

My 'Healthy' Veggie Pizza

I like my veggies swimmin' in ~cheese~!

I like my cheese golden and bubbly!

I like it crispy and hot, and somewhat healthy!

So, can I have some more, please please please? ^_^
One of my fave pizzas to make- yellow squash, zucchini, and broccoli. I seasoned and sauteed the veggies for a bit to cook them before putting on pizza.