Friday, 30 May 2008

Canh cai soong and canh trung ca chua (Vietnamese watercress soup and Tomato and Eggdrop soup)

Canh cai soong (watercress soup with shitake mushroom and chopped bacon)

Canh trung ca chua (tomato and eggdrop soup)

I am not a big fan of canh (Vietnamese soup). I normally find it too watery to be poured over steamed rice. The hubby finds it too bland in general so I rarely make it. Admittedly though, when I'm too tired to cook I tend to crave for a bowl of steaming hot canh. Served on its own, it is a wonderfully light snack and a kind of pick-me-up that I need now and then.
To make a decent bowl of canh you need decent broth and decent broth, in my opinion, definitely needs some proper pork bones in it (Wandering Chopsticks has a good post on how to make broth for canh)
If you are lazy (like me), a simple broth can be made by frying some ginger and then adding ready made chicken/vegetable stock.

Below are the most basic canh you can conjure up in a matter of minutes.

Canh Cai Soong (Watercress Soup - my version)
My adopted granddad Muoi (my grandma's 10th brother) loved this soup when he was alive. He was a bachelor all his life so he spent quite a few years living with my family. He doted on me when I was little and obviously he was like a granddad to me. He's gone for quite a few years now but I still miss him dearly every time I make this soup.
Ingredients:(serves 1)
Watercress (100g)
Bacon (1 slice - cut into thin strips)
1 cup of chicken stock
3 chopped shiitake mushrooms

Fry bacon in a bit of oil until the meat has changed colour.
Pour hot stock and shiitake mushrooms in the pot
Let it boil for 5 minutes, taste and adjust if necessary.
Quickly blanch watercress in the boiling broth, turn the heat off

Canh trung ca chua (Tomato and eggdrop soup)
I make this soup fairly often as a student (since it costs next to nothing to make). It's guaranteed to be fool-proof :)

Ingredients (serves 1)
3 tomatoes, chopped into 8 chunks each
1 egg
chopped spring onion to garnish
chicken stock (1 and a half cup)

Fry tomatoes in a bit of oil (5 mins would do)
Pour hot stock into the pan and wait until it starts boiling
Turn the heat down 1 notch and crack the egg into the pan, stir it around, make sure you pierce the yolk as well because you don't want to end up eating a boiled egg yolk in your canh.
Garnish with a bit of spring onions and serve (take care when eating the tomatoes since they stay hot for quite a long time - FYI I burnt my tongue last time trying to eat it too fast D'oh)


Roasted Trout with Spring Onion Oil

Another wonderful recipe from Wandering Chopsticks
I would prefer to use catfish but unfortunately where I live one can only find catfish in China Town. So I substituted catfish with trout and it turned out just fine.
I didn't change anything else from W.C's recipe and it can be found here
The mo hanh (spring onion oil) makes this dish so worth-while. It feels sooo bad to see the chopped spring onions swimming in what seems like a sea of oil (I use nut oil) but boy, it tastes sooooo good.
I think I must have left the fish in the oven for a wee bit too long so I didn't have as much 'gravy' as W.C. It is still gorgeous though. I served it with some chilli sauce, sliced cucumber and rice.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

"Basic Vietnamese Marinade for Chicken or Pork"

Inspired by Wandering Chopsticks' own recipe

My ingredients: (pretty much the same except for ginger and five spice)

Fish sauce

Soy sauce

White wine vinegar


Salt and pepper

five spice

chopped ginger (about 1-2tsp)

My method:

Unlike W.C, I didn’t really wash the chicken pieces. Instead I rinsed them quickly with a bit of cooking wine before cooking.

I initially dumped into the pot 1tbsp fish sauce, 1tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tsp sugar, 1tsp chilli power, a pinch of salt and pepper, ½ inch chopped ginger and 1tsp five-spice powder.

Then I stirred all the ingredients together with the chicken and put the lid on for 10mins.

I also added 1tbsp of water to make it easier to stir. Then I put the lid back for another 10mins.

When the liquid started thickening, I test-tasted it and added another tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tsp of sugar (I like the sweet taste), ½ tbsp of soy sauce and around ¼ cup of water, mixed it all together and take the lid off.

Then I turned the heat down 1 notch and just wait until the meat is cooked and the sauce’s consistency is that of thick gravy.

I wasn’t so sure at first if the ginger would be too overpowering for this dish but it seemed to blend it splendidly with the rest of the ingredients.

The thick and well-flavoured sauce is indeed lovely to be spooned onto steamed rice. I particularly like this dish because it is so tasty and more importantly, so straight forward it is almost definitely fool-proof (which is ideal for the novice cook).

As you can see mine doesn't look as glossy as W.C's (see below) but it still tastes pretty good.

So there you go. Once again my thank-you goes to Wandering Chopsticks .

Enjoy :D

Wednesday, 7 May 2008 last

For the last year or so I have been desperately searching for a fool-proof kimchi making recipe. The first recipe I tried was from the first link that came up on Google search. There was no mention of the use of gochujang and also, it asked for kimchi sauce, which I honestly didn't really trust. Anyway, I tried and the result was horrendous, so bad that I nearly put the hubby off kimchi for life. He was so put off by my home-made kimchi that he has been buying kimchi for me from my favourite Korean store in town (the one that Park Ji Sung frequently visits :).
To cut the story short, last week I decided to try Wandering chopsticks' napa kimchi. I halved most of the ingredients since I was worried that it was going to be chucked away if it turns out to be another rotten batch (W.C it was my skills that I doubted, not your recipe). I did everything as instructed in the recipe and I swore to myself that I will give up making kimchi if it didn't work.
God must have felt sorry for the novice cook this time. The kimchi turns out to be more than beautiful. The juice is so yummy I can drink it straight. It is so nice that I have even managed to turn the hubby into a kimchi junkie (yipee).
Since I didn't change anything in the recipe, people who are interested can visit the link directly.
Special thanks to W.C :D