Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rice Rolls (fawm kauv)

These are one of my favorite appetizers. Actually, I just eat them as a meal since eating a couple of them really fills me up. I'm not sure where these originated from. I know Vietnamese make these too. I'll just give credit back to the Chinese since they invented everything ;). I love eating these, but I hate making these. It sure takes a long time and by the time I'm done making them, there's only a few left because there's usually other people (or myself) eating these as I make these. It takes a lot of practice to perfect the wrapper. I've been making these for years, and they still don't come out consistently perfect each time. I always have a few that don't turn out. The first and last ones are usually the worst ones, which ends up being tossed. However, ever since I found this brand of flour, my wrapper has been turning out pretty good each time. I hope they don't discontinue or change anything about this flour because it's the best flour I have used so far. The instructions to mix is even right on since I've always used more water than what the instructions on the bag says. Excuse the poor picture quality. I made these at dinner time and I don't know why I didn't use my flash. Taking good pictures and cooking at the same time is more difficult than I thought.

Pretty simple ingredients...I like to use Jimmy Dean sausage; it gives a lot of flavor. I usually just use the Regular kind, but I had the Hot kind in my freezer.

This is the brand of rice flour I use. It's the best one I have used. NOT ALL BRANDS OF FLOUR ARE CREATED EQUAL.

Put sausage and ground pork in pan at high heat.

Cook meat until cooked through, stirring constantly until meat is no longer in large clumps.

Drain the meat once cooked to rid the juices and grease.

Put drained meat back into pan and add 2 tbsp of hoisin sauce and 1 tbsp of oyster sauce. Stir until mixed well with meat.

Add 2/3 cup of chopped cilantro and 2/3 cup of sliced green onions.

Cook until cilantro and onions are tender, less than a minute.

In a large bowl, mix the flour according to package instructions. Scoop up a full laddle of the flour mixture and put it into a non-stick pan that's been heated on medium heat.

Using the pan, stir the flour mixture until it forms a good circle around the pan. It is important to use a good non-stick pan (very few or no scratches!).

Cover the pan for about 1-2 minutes. Wrapper will be ready when it is somewhat bubbly and you can see it lifting off the pan. (Sorry, I forgot to take a pic of this). As you can see, I had two pans helps make these things faster. Once it is ready, transfer it immediately to a flat surface such as a plate or you can use foil. If it does not come off of pan easily, it's probably not ready yet and try putting it back on the stove (covered) for a few seconds.

Wrapping is pretty easy. Just spread enough meat around the wrapper and roll away. I like to use a lot of meat in mine because I like it that way!

Serve with a side of sauce of your choice. I just buy the ready-made sweet chili sauce and add some chopped peanuts, more Thai chilis, and some fish sauce to it since I like it a little more spicy.

Makes about 40 rolls (or 20 per package)


1 lb of ground pork
1 package of Jimmy Dean Regular sausage (1 lb)
2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
2/3 cup of chopped cilantro
2/3 cup of chopped green onions

2 packages of steamed rice flour
9 cups of water
2 tbsp of vegetable oil

sweet chili sauce
chopped peanuts
Thai chilis to taste
fish sauce to taste

1. Cook sausage meat and ground pork in pan on high heat until cooked through.
2. Drain the meat so juices and oil run off. Once drained, put meat back into pan. Add hoisin and oyster sauces. Stir to mix well with meat.
3. Add cilantro and green onions to the pan and cook until both are tender, less than a minute.
4. Mix the flour mixture according to package instructions (4 1/2 cups of water and 1 tbsp of oil per package) in a large bowl. Stir until the flour is completely dissolved. It's important to keep stirring the mixture each time you pour a new laddle into the pan so that the flour keeps dissolving (it tends to form back).
5. Set a good non-stick pan on medium-low heat. Once the pan is warm, pour a laddle of the flour mixture into the pan. Using the pan handle, stir mixture until it forms a circle in pan. Cover immediately. Cover for about 1-2 minutes or until wrapper turns somewhat bubbly. Wrapper will be ready when you can see it lifting off the pan.
6. Once wrapper is ready, immediately transfer it onto a flat surface such as a sheet of foil or a flat pan. If wrapper does not come off of pan easily, put pan back on stove and cover for a few more seconds.
7. Spread a spoonful of meat over the wrapper until evenly distributed around wrapper. Start wrapping by folding in the left and right sides of the wrapper, then fold in the top over to form a roll.

To make sauce:
Mix ready made sweet chili sauce with small amount of chopped peanuts, fish sauce to taste and 1-2 chili peppers according to taste.

Serve sauce with rice rolls.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak with Homemade Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Chicken (or country) fried steak is one of my favorite comfort foods. It's what I usually order when I go to a Perkins or Denny's. I have made CFS before from a different recipe and that was good, but I like this recipe better. The breading turned out better and the seasonings were perfect. The only thing is that my steak turned out really hard and the breading fell off at the end of cooking. I have used cubed steak from the grocery stores before and that seemed to work fine, so next time I'll just do that again. Also, I would skip the bacon. It was just another step. My gravy didn't turn out white like they had in the video, but it was still good. I decided to make some mashed potatoes with this too. That turned out good as well. Even though everything was good despite the toughness in the steak, I probably won't make this again. It was too much work and grease for something that looks to be so simple. I did take step by step photos, but too lazy to post them now.

Asian Grilled Salmon

I made this for dinner the other night. I was actually too full and didn't eat this right away. Instead I had it for lunch the next day. It was still good. My husband did eat it right away and he enjoyed it. I used a grill pan to "grill" this indoors and it still turned out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler

I made this on Sunday. It's good, but it was very mushy or soggy. I used blueberries instead of blackberries, so maybe that's why. Next time I would only use one cup of blueberries. I especially loved the sugar on top when it was cooked. The crust was crunchy and sweet. Tasted great with a glass of orange juice.

Yummy Lasagna

I love The Pioneer Woman's blog. I have tried three of her recipes so far and they have been really good. Here is the lasagna I made from her recipe and I must say it was really good! The only thing I would do a little different next time is add less meat. It was a little too meaty for me and not enough tomatoes. Otherwise, this is the best lasagna I've ever made even though this is probably just the 2nd or 3rd time I've made lasagna. ;D I didn't take a good picture of this because it's winter in MN now and it gets dark after 4. I made this for dinner last night and didn't take a good picture, but take my word for it, it's good! It tastes just as good as a leftover too.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sichuan Chicken

I originally made this back in the summer of '09 and took these pictures back then as well. I made this dish twice. Here is my old entry dated 09/07/09:

I made this recipe a few weeks ago, but couldn't find the Sichuan peppercorns, so I made it without it. I have to say, I like this recipe so much better w/o the peppercorns! I should've known better because I'm not even a big fan of regular black peppercorns. I thought adding the peppercorns here overpowered everything and made the dish almost bitter. Also, the first time I made this dish I actually deep fried the chicken in peanut oil and used chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. I typically don't like to use chicken thighs in my stir frys, but thought I'd give it a try. I still didn't like it, but it is much more juicier. This time I cooked the chicken by pan frying instead of deep frying since it was so oily last time. I am disappointed in the peppercorns. Did not like it at all. Anyway, here is the original recipe I found here.

1 lb skinless chicken breast/legs/thighs cut into 1 inch cubes.
1/2 cup dried chillies - washed and cut into 1 - 2 inches, drain dry
2 tbsp ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cooking wine
1 tbsp chopped ginger
4 cloves of garlic -- sliced
4 stalks spring onions -- cut into 2 inch lengths
1/2 tsp sugar

Vegetable oil for deep-frying and stir-frying

Marinade :
2 tsp shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1 tsp ground sichuan peppercorns
1 t cornstarch
2 tbsp beaten egg white

Marinate cubed chicken with the marinade for at least 1/2 hour.

Heat 2 cups oil; when oil is hot, add the chicken cubes and deep-fry until crisping round the edges. Remove the chicken and leave aside.

Tip out the bulk of the oil, leaving about 2 tbsp. behind

Pan-fried chicken:

Add the garlic, ginger and spring onion -- stir and then add the red chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Fry for about 20 seconds, taking care not to burn the chilies.

Put the chicken back in the wok, splash on the cooking wine to the sides of hot wok and season with soy sauce, salt and sugar. Stir well to combine.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spicy Pan-Fried Tilapia

I actually made this dish by accident. I was trying to make fish by cooking it in the oven, but it didn't turn out like I wanted it to. Instead of wasting the fish, I ended up frying the fish and it turned out pretty good. I've been making my fish this way ever since. By covering the fish in foil and then cooking it in the oven helped the fish soak up all flavors from the marinade. Pan frying it gave it that nice, crispy and fatty taste that I like in fried fish.

Serves 4


2/3 cup of cilantro, chopped
2/3 cup of green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp of chopped Thai chili peppers
Juice from 1 large lime, about 1/4 cup
1/3 cup of fish sauce

4 tilapia filets
Oil for frying
Optional: Panko bread crumbs

Chili peppers chopped:

1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees.
2. Combine all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
3. Line a cookie sheet with enough foil to cover 4 fish filets. Place filets on foil and pour marinade over fish. Be sure to turn fish over so both sides are covered with marinade. Cover fish with foil into a pouch.

4. Bake fish in oven at 365 for about 25 minutes.
5. After fish is cooked in oven, remove fish from foil and place on wire rack so juices run off. [Note: If you would like this fish to be even more crispy, skip step #5 and simply dip the filets in Panko bread crumbs and then pan fry them. I just avoided this step to avoid extra calories ;) ]

6. Prepare a plate with paper towels to use when fish is done frying.
7. Heat about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in frying pan on medium-high heat. When pan is hot, place two filets in the pan and fry each side for about 2-3 mins or until browned. When fish is browned on both sides, transfer the fish to the plate of paper towels and finish cooking the rest of the filets. Add a little more oil if needed. The fish should not be too oily. The marinade mix that is fried with the fish should be crispy.

My favorite part about this fish is actually what's left on the pan! :P

I served this dish with a side of garlic and ginger baby bok choy. Here is the recipe for that:

1 1/2 pounds very baby (dwarf) bok choy, each one halved lengthwise

Flavoring sauce:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
11/2 teaspoons canola oil or sesame oil
2 teaspoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
11/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the bok choy. When the water returns to a boil, let the vegetables cook for another minute, until just tender. Drain, flush with cold water and set aside.

2. Combine the flavoring sauce ingredients. Taste and make any adjustments needed. You want a savory-briny-sweet taste. Set aside.

3. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, ginger and garlic. Cook for about 30 to 45 seconds until aromatic. Add the bok choy, give things a stir and cook for about 2 minutes, until heated through. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the flavoring sauce and keep cooking for another minute or so, stirring, to coat the vegetables well. The bok choy will weep a bit of water.

4. Give the cornstarch a stir before adding it to the vegetables. Cook for another 30 seconds, or until thickened, and glossy. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sweet Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

I love to eat meat with bones and baby back ribs are no exception. Unlike spareribs, they don't require a long time to cook because they are already tender. I thought I would try this recipe I got from Andrea Nguyen. So far, I tried three of her recipes and simply love them. These ribs turned out pretty good even though I usually just like my ribs plain with salt and pepper. It's winter here in MN, so I can't grill outside just yet. I broiled these in the oven at 475 degrees until each side was slightly burned. I'm not sure why this recipe is called Thai barbecued ribs since they tasted more like Vietnamese or even Korean BBQ to me. Maybe I just haven't eaten enough Thai...?

I know I need to work on my plating. The other night, I made some avocado salsa for some steak fajitas and just added it to the plate to make it look pretty. The steak I made turned out really good considering I was only using top sirloin meat. I would post that recipe here too, but didn't take any pictures because it was too dark at night. Anyway, here's the recipe for the ribs. I did use brown sugar instead of regular sugar.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Papaya Salad

Papaya salad is definitely one of my favorite foods, it's at least on my top five list. I have to eat papaya salad at least every month. If it wasn't for the high salt content, this dish would be very healthy and I would eat it every week. I have never tasted consistent papaya salad, even from the best papaya salad maker. It always tastes different no matter how many times I have made it or when someone else makes it. I think it's because when this dish is made, the ingredients are just added as needed and rarely measured, so it's always different. A small amount of one ingredient will change this dish drastically. This is the first time I measured it and it turned out pretty good. I like to make my papaya salad "Thai" style with just a few extras. It is much more simple and does not involve a lot of the other ingredients.

Just use a teeny bit of shrimp paste as you see here. Too much will make the salad bitter:

Serves 1

1/2 clove of garlic
1-2 Thai chili peppers, depending on taste
1 tbsp of roasted peanuts
1 tsp tamarind
1 tsp palm sugar
shrimp paste (see picture)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 cup of shredded green papaya
4 cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Put garlic and Thai chili peppers to mortar. With pestle, smash the ingredients together until nicely blended so flavors mix.
2. Add the tamarind, palm sugar and shrimp paste. Pound with pestle until well blended with the other ingredients. Note: I shredded the palm sugar pictured above with a shredder to yield 1 tsp. I like to use the tamarind pictured above because it has a fresher taste than the already made tamarind mix that you find in the Asian stores.
3. Add the roasted peanuts, pound until well grounded.
4. Add the fish sauce and lime juice. Mix well with a spoon with the other ingredients.
5. Add the papaya and cherry tomatoes to the mix. With one hand holding a spoon and the other with the pestle, toss and pound all the ingredients together until well mixed and tomatoes are smashed. You do not want to pound the papaya too much as you want the papaya to have some crisp, but you do want it a little smashed so that the papaya will absorb the juices from all the other ingredients.

(Click on image for larger view.)

I ate mine with leftover salmon and rice I made last night. Papaya salad is usually served with cabbage. You would take a piece of cabbage leaf and use it as a spoon to scoop up some papaya salad into it and enjoy. The cabbage gives a nice crunch to the salad.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bibimbap and Bulgogi

Origally posted 06/21/09 from my other blog:

So last week I found a good recipe for bulgogi and bibimbap, both are Korean dishes. We had the opportunity to try Korean food a couple of years ago when this small restaurant called Korean House was still open in the Cedar/Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis. It since closed down and I haven't been able to find another Korean restaurant that made the two dishes good. I tried this recipe last week and I must say it turned out really good! I was so impressed and happy that I decided to take pictures of it this time. Last week I made the bulgogi with sirloin steak instead and this week I tried it with rib-eye meat. I couldn't really taste the difference. Maybe the rib-eye is just slightly more tender because it's fattier, but since rib- eye is more expensive I think I will just go with sirloin again next time. Also last time I went by what the recipe said. It said to add ground red pepper and the Sprite or 7-up. Last time the red pepper made the dish too hot and all the bulgogi I've tried was not hot, more sweet, so this time I omitted the red pepper completely and it tasted more authentic to me. This time I forgot to add the Sprite or 7-up and I thought that would ruin the taste, but it didn't. It tasted just fine. Actually, I think the Sprite diluted the marinade a little bit. I also used light soy sauce instead both times, so I'm not even going to try the regular soy sauce since it might make it too salty. I also bought a store version of the bulgogi sauce. I did marinade some meat in it, but haven't bothered cooking it to see how it tasted like. When I opened the bottle, it just stank and didn't come close to the home made version. Also, I tried making some short grain rice to make this more authentic and it did not turn out lol. Too wet and sticky. That was my first attempt so I'll need to do a little more research and experiment.

For the veggies in the bibimbap dish, I chose carrots, daikon, spinach, zucchini and bean sprouts.

Here's a picture of all the stuff I made, including the bulgogi meat and the gochujang sauce. I need coordinated plates lol. Oh, and the table in the background I've had for over 10 years now since college. :D

Ok, here's the recipe from Food Network.

Steamed white rice
Bulgogi, recipe follows
1 carrot, julienned
Cooked bean sprouts, sauteed in a little sesame oil or peanut oil and seasoned with salt
Cooked spinach, sauteed in a little sesame or peanut oil and seasoned with salt
4 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced and sauteed in peanut oil and seasoned with salt
1 egg, cooked over easy
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Soy sauce, to taste
Gochuchang Paste, recipe follows


*Cook's Note: This can be done in a regular bowl or a hot stone bowl. If it's in a hot stone bowl, the rice becomes crunchy because it's still cooking.

Put cooked rice in large slightly shallow bowl. Place bulgogi (with juices from cooked meat) and veggies on top of rice but place separately so you can see each ingredient beautifully placed on rice. Put egg on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce.

When ready to eat, mix all ingredients together with some gochuchang paste, to taste. The bibimpap should be moist and not dry. Add more sesame oil and gochuchang paste, to taste.


1 pound rib-eye


1/2 cup soy sauce

1 Korean pear or Asian pear, grated with juices

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1/2 small white onion, grated or sliced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon ground red pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 (20-ounce) bottle lemon-lime soda, optional (recommended: Sprite or 7-Up)

Place rib-eye in freezer for about 30 minutes so that it is easier to thinly slice. When partially frozen, remove from freezer and thinly slice. Set aside.

Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a large baking dish. Add the thinly sliced beef and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight; it is best if marinated overnight.

Heat grill to high. Remove beef from marinade and grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to compile Bibimbap

Gochuchang Paste (seasoned red pepper paste):

4 tablespoons gochuchang (available at Korean grocers)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lazy Bun Bo Hue

I tried this at a Vietnamese restaurant a couple of weeks ago and liked it. It's similar to pho, but the noodles are different and the broth is much spicier and hotter. My favorite type of foods are Thai, Vietnamese and Italian so you will see a lot of those kinds of variety here. I make semi-homemade pho similar to this. I just buy the ready-made broth, make or prep my own meat and noodles and top it with my favorite herbs, veggies and sauces.
Since I do not have a large family and it's always been me or me and my husband, this is how I make certain foods. Making everything from scratch would take too long, too many ingredients and make too much leftover food for just the two of us. Someday I will try to attempt to make home made pho and bun bo hue broth if I can just find a really good recipe. They cost too much to make for trial and error, especially for just two people.

Serves 2

1 can of Soup Bun Bo Hue broth
thick rice vermicilli noodles
cooked beef
green onions
Thai basil leaves
mint leaves
bean sprouts
ground chili garlic oil

1. Cook vermicilli noodles according to package or until noodles are soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. The ones pictured were the only ones I had in my pantry, so I decided to use these. The ones I had at the restaurants are thicker.

2. You can use leftover meat for this, but since I didn't have any, I just bought a a piece of inexpensive beef from the store and slow cooked it for an hour to make it more consistent to what I had at the restaurant. The meat I chose had fat and tendon on it and went well with the soup.

3. Pour can of soup broth into saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to low.

4. Assemble noodles and meat into bowl. Pour broth and top with herbs, bean sprouts, optional lime and ground chili garlic oil. You shouldn't need to add any other sauce to this soup, but I added the garlic oil to make it even more spicy.

Vietnamese-Style Tri-Color Dessert (Nab Vam)

I'm not sure what they call this dessert in Vietnamese (update: It's called Che Ba Mau). Whenever I go to the Vietnamese restaurants, I always ask for "tri-color" and they know what I mean. I always wondered how the restaurants manage to make the sugar syrup so sweet and creamy without that burned sugar taste that I usually taste with the sugar and water mix I make at home. I read somewhere on a forum to boil condensed milk and coconut milk. I tried that earlier this week and it worked the very first time that I tried it. Too bad I didn't measure it the first time because I had to measure it a couple of times to get the right consistency again. The ingredients in this dessert can vary from person to person depending on what you like. The key ingredient is the sugar syrup. If you get that right, then you can mix and add anything you like. I usually just make mine with the agar agar jello and tapioca balls. Sometimes I like to add the other store bought items such as jackfruit and coconut gel. This time I decided to add sweetened beans to make it more similar to the Vietnamese dessert.

Serves 4

1 can 14 fl oz coconut milk, 3/4 can of sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 tbsp of agar agar powder, 2 cups of water, green food coloring
1/2 cup of tapioca pearls
Fruit Mix (beans, coconut gel, jackfruit)

1. Boil about two cups of water into small pot. Add agar agar powder to boiling water and stir to mix well. Add food coloring at this time if you would like. I like to make mine green. Once mixed well (about 2 minutes), pour into a deep container and keep cool in fridge until the mixture turns into a firm, jello-like consistency. Keep in mind, however, that this will be firmer than the jello that you're used to seeing. I didn't really time this, but after 2 hours in the fridge (when I did check) the agar agar was nicely firm. It may take a shorter time than this.

2. Bring a pot of water to boil on high heat, then add the tapioca pearls. Reduce heat to medium and boil for about 15-20 minutes. The pearls are ready once they turn transparent. You can also sample a few to see if they are ready. Make sure you take a small spoonful and pour it into cold water before tasting. The pearls are ready when they are soft. Once ready, drain the pearls and pour immediately into a container of cold water. Cover the container and store in fridge until ready to serve. Note: The tapioca pearls will absorb a lof of the water and will become larger. You may want to add more water just so the pearls do not stick together, but it is not a huge problem if they do stick as you will be adding the sugar syrup to the dessert.

3. To make the sugar syrup, mix the coconut milk and condensed milk into saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until mixture is smooth and mixed well. Pour into a container and cool in fridge until ready to serve. Note: The first time I tried this, I tried with Eagle Brand regular condensed milk (not the non-fat one as pictured) and that one seems to be sweeter. I also tried the Longevity brand from the Asian stores and that one I do not recommend as it had a funny taste to it. If this syrup is to thick or sweet for you, you can dilute it with a little water. I already get that from the ice, but it's up to you.

4. Once the agar agar is firm and ready, it's time to slice them into pieces.

5. Assemble fruit mix (drained), jackfruit (sliced and drained), agar agar, and the tapioca pearls (drained) into a dessert cup. Pour sugar syrup on top of the mixture and top with ice to make this a cold dessert.