Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Recipe - Pho

This recipe is from vietworldkitchen.com, a wonderful resource for all things Vietnamese.

Beef noodle soup (pho bo)
Makes 8 satisfying (American-sized) bowls

For the broth:

2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total)
4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces)
5-6 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
5 star anise (40 star points total)
6 whole cloves
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 pound piece of beef chuck, rump, brisket or cross rib roast, cut into 2-by-4-inch pieces (weight after trimming)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar

For the bowls:

1 1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh pho noodles ("rice sticks'' or Thai chantaboon)
1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water
3 or 4 scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (ngo)
Ground black pepper

Optional garnishes arranged on a plate and placed at the table:
Sprigs of spearmint (hung lui) and Asian/Thai basil (hung que)Leaves of thorny cilantro (ngo gai)Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)Red hot chiles (such as Thai bird or dragon), thinly slicedLime wedges

Prepare the broth:

Char onion and ginger. Use an open flame on grill or gas stove. Place onions and ginger on cooking grate and let skin burn. (If using stove, turn on exhaust fan and open a window.) After about 15 minutes, they will soften and become sweetly fragrant. Use tongs to occasionally rotate them and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin. You do not have to blacken entire surface, just enough to slightly cook onion and ginger.
Let cool. Under warm water, remove charred onion skin; trim and discard blackened parts of root or stem ends. If ginger skin is puckered and blistered, smash ginger with flat side of knife to loosen flesh from skin. Otherwise, use sharp paring knife to remove skin, running ginger under warm water to wash off blackened bits. Set aside.
Parboil bones. Place bones in stockpot (minimum 12-quart capacity) and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to boil. Boil vigorously 2 to 3 minutes to allow impurities to be released. Dump bones and water into sink and rinse bones with warm water. Quickly scrub stockpot to remove any residue. Return bones to pot.
Simmer broth. Add 6 quarts water to pot, bring to boil over high heat, then lower flame to gently simmer. Use ladle to skim any scum that rises to surface. Add remaining broth ingredients and cook 1 1/2 hours. Boneless meat should be slightly chewy but not tough. When it is cooked to your liking, remove it and place in bowl of cold water for 10 minutes; this prevents the meat from drying up and turning dark as it cools. Drain the meat; cool, then refrigerate. Allow broth to continue cooking; in total, the broth should simmer 3 hours.
Strain broth through fine strainer. If desired, remove any bits of gelatinous tendon from bones to add to your pho bowl. Store tendon with cooked beef. Discard solids.
Use ladle to skim as much fat from top of broth as you like. (Cool it and refrigerate it overnight to make this task easier; reheat befofe continuing.) Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and yellow rock sugar. The broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. (If you've gone too far, add water to dilute.) Makes about 4 quarts.

Assemble bowls:

The key is to be organized and have everything ready to go. Thinly slice cooked meat. For best results, make sure it's cold.
Heat broth and ready noodles. To ensure good timing, reheat broth over medium flame as you're assembling bowls. If you're using dried noodles, cover with hot tap water and soak 15-20 minutes, until softened and opaque white. Drain in colander. For fresh rice noodles, just untangle and briefly rinse in a colander with cold water.
Blanch noodles. Fill 3- or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. For each bowl, use long-handle strainer to blanch a portion of noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water, letting water drain back into saucepan. Empty noodles into bowls. Noodles should occupy 1/4 to 1/3 of bowl; the latter is for noodle lovers, while the former is for those who prize broth.If desired, after blanching noodles, blanch bean sprouts for 30 seconds in same saucepan. They should slightly wilt but retain some crunch. Drain and add to the garnish plate.

Add other ingredients. Place slices of cooked meat, raw meat and tendon (if using) atop noodles. (If your cooked meat is not at room temperature, blanch slices for few seconds in hot water from above.) Garnish with onion, scallion and chopped cilantro. Finish with black pepper.
Ladle in broth and serve. Bring broth to rolling boil. Check seasoning. Ladle broth into each bowl, distributing hot liquid evenly so as to cook raw beef and warm other ingredients. Serve with garnish plate.

Fabulous Foods – Pho

Pho (as defined by Urban Dictionary) Vietnamese rice noodle, usually eaten with Sriricha hot sause and Hoisin sauce. The broth is usually homemade, by boiling chicken stock in water. The meat which can be found in pho can be virtually anything: pork, beef, tripe, chicken, barbeque... When served with beef, the beef is usually left raw, for the broth will cook it while in the bowl. At restaurants, it is only served in three sizes: Small = Large Medium = Supersize Large = Bathtub

Long story short, best damn food ever. If you ever try to eat a bowl of pho, try not to burn yourself, and eat it fast.

I can’t disagree with the definition. It is a steaming bowl of goodness that is beyond compare. The first time I went for pho I was extremely skeptical. How could something be so good? Everyone I spoke to gave it rave reviews, it appealed to just about everybody. But it really is that good. It is like a hug in a bowl and there is nothing more reassuring of its goodness than those little gobs of fat that float just below the surface. It is the best soup that I have ever had, and I would travel to Vietnam just for it.

Recipe – Kimchee/ Kimchi

This was on lovethatkimchi.com and I highly recommend checking it out for all things Korean.

Kimchee/ Kimchi

1 long white Napa (Chinese) cabbage, about 1 lb 3 oz
1 cup coarse or pickling salt 5 cups (1 liter) water
1 small long white radish, about 5 oz (160 g), cut in 1 1/2 in (4-cm) julienne strips
4-5 scallion (spring onion), cut in 1 1/2 in (4-cm) julienne strips
1 small leek, white part only, cut in 1 1/2 in (4-cm) julienne strips
2 teaspoons very finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 1/2 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large bowl to hold cabbage while soaking in water

Remove root end of cabbage without separating the leaves. Put all the salt in a large bowl and add 4 cups (1 liter) water. Stir to dissolve all the salt in bowl and water. Fit the cabbage into bowl adding water if necessary so it is covered. Place several heavy plates as weights on top of the cabbage and let sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours. Drain the cabbage and rinse under running water, and squeeze dry.

In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients and mix well. Slightly separate the cabbage leaves and pack them well with the radish mixture. Pack well into glass jar and press firmly to remove air bubbles. Cover jar tightly. If you decide to cut the cabbage into bite sized pieces before adding chili paste that is fine. You can also cut the cabbage into bite sized pieces before soaking in brine water as well. It is just a matter of personal taste.

Once thoroughly mixed, fill the jars with the Kimchi and seal with lids. Allow the jar to sit in a dark room temperature area for 2-3 days. Following this early fermentation process place jar in the refrigerator and return to the fridge after each serving.
Important: Never use a reactive metal container to store kimchi; use porcelain or stainless steel. Plastic will be permanently stained by chili. Store kimchi in a cool, dark place - a fridge is best.

Fabulous Foods – Kimchi/Kimchee

Kimchi, also spelled gimchi or kimchee, (as defined on wikipedia) is a traditional Korean fermented dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings, most commonly referring to the spicy baechu variety. Kimchi is the most common Korean banchan, or side dish, eaten with rice along with other banchan dishes. Kimchi is also a common ingredient and combined with other ingredients to make dishes such as kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) and kimchi fried rice.

It is a fiery dish that acts as the ultimate pickle. I love going out for Korean food just for the Kimchi. I can eat it by the bowlfuls. No trip to Korean BBQ is compete with out a big bowl of kimchi to eat along side the perfectly seasoned meats and fish.

If you ever get a chance to try it, I recommend that you do. You won’t be disappointed.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Recipe - Thai Basil Fried Rice

Thai Basil Fried Rice


2 cups - Cold, cooked rice
1-2 tbsp - Garlic (minced)
1-3 tsp - Fresh red chilies (finely chopped)
3/4 cup – Chopped red, green, and yellow peppers
2 tbsp – Chopped onion
2 tbsp - Light soy sauce
1/2 tsp - black pepper
50 gm - Chopped chicken or pork or beef or shrimp
2 tbsp - Peanut oil
1 handful - Thai basil leaves
(Feel free to add more veggies or different combinations of meats and veggies to this dish. It's very flexible.)


Heat a wok till the surface is almost smoking. Then add the oil and spread it around till it coats the surface evenly.
Temporarily move the wok off the heat and the add the garlic and chillies, then stir for about 10 seconds.
Then add the peppers, onion, and shrimp or meat.
Move the wok back to the high heat, add two pinches each of salt and pepper and toss around for another 30 seconds.
Add the rice to the pan, crumbling any big pieces to ensure they're all separate.
Toss the rice and the veggies well and keep stirring for another minute or two so that the rice grains are properly coated with the oil.
Then add the light soy sauce.
Stir the mixture around again for another minute. Then add the basil leaves into the rice.
Stir the rice and basil mixture in the wok for another minute, then take it off the heat and serve.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kiddie Recipes

My niece is 6, and she likes to help me out in the kitchen. But I am constantly freaking out because she is getting too close to the hot oven, or the knives or something. So I found these recipes where she gets to be in charge of all the ‘cooking’.

Graham sandwiches.

Spread half a graham cracker with low-fat cream cheese; top with a little raspberry fruit puree (or whatever fruit puree you like) and the other cracker half. Yummy!

Creepy-crawley crackers.

Spread peanut butter between two round whole-wheat crackers, add pretzel sticks for legs and raisins for eyes, and you've got one fun, spidery snack.

Breakfast Recipe - Breakfast tacos.

Breakfast tacos.
I love to make these on Saturdays right before we head out the door. They really easy to make and very versatile. You could throw in just about anything that you like and they taste great. I like to scramble the eggs with the salsa, it makes it taste extra delish!

Scrambled eggs
Whole wheat tortillas
Low fat shredded cheese
Sour cream

Scramble eggs to your liking.
Spoon scrambled eggs into warm whole-wheat tortillas, top with shredded low-fat cheese, a dollop of low-fat yogurt or sour cream, and salsa.

Breakfast Recipe - Oatmeal cookie pancakes.

Oatmeal cookie pancakes.

Kids love these and they are fairly easy to make. I cheat and use the just add water pancake batter, but you can make the pancake batter from scratch if you want.

Pancake batter
Oats, raisins, chopped walnuts
Brown sugar

To regular pancake batter, add oats, raisins, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar.
Pour into fun shapes like snowmen, Mickey Mouse, or turtles and serve warm with syrup.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Smells yummy *drool*

Someone ordered in lunch, smells like French fries, and it smells delicious! I wasn’t very hungry before, but now I am starving and I don’t think that my salad is going to cut it. So as I sit here quietly salivating at the good stuff this chickie is eating at her desk, I got to thinking about smelly stuff that you shouldn’t be eating at your desk. Don’t get me wrong I have no issues with people eating as they work (heck I do it all the time) I do have issues with certain foods though.

Onion buns – these harmless little buns carry a big smell, especially when you warm them up. These should be enjoyed outside of your cubicle, and maybe outdoors.

Boiled eggs – In any form these are stinky. Please don’t subject me to the smell, I am not saying that they shouldn’t be enjoyed, just please enjoy them in wide open spaces.

Steamed or boiled Broccoli - These bad boys are super healthy, and doctors recommend that you eat broccoli quite frequently. But please do so near an open window.

Fish – another good for you food. Most fish is full of omega 3’s & 6’s, heck it even makes your hair shiny, but it should be eaten on the patio.

As you can see it’s a relatively short list. So bon appetite folks, I am off to lunch!

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