Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Vietnamese Chicken with Garlic, Lime and Pepper

Again, another post!  This one surprised me a lot. The flavors were so yummy and made the house smell amazing. I need to stop showing you how easy these are, or else we might make our local restaurantes go out of business! (never!)

So, I was in search of something easy, with chicken and peanuts. I found a recipe that uses beef, but I am not the biggest fan of beef so I made this my own and added chopped Chinese long beans.

1 1/2 lb thinly sliced chicken
1 medium onion, chopped into quarters
3 tbsp toasted chopped peanuts

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar (I used turbinado)
1 tbsp fish sauce

5 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp oil (I mixed coconut and peanut)

1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic with half the oil and a tsp of black pepper. Set aside
2. In another small bowl combine the soy sauce, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. Make sure the sugar is dissolved.
3. The other half of the oil should be mixed with another tsp black pepper.

You now have 3 small bowls.

In a large skillet, heat half of the leftover oil
over medium high. Place half the chicken in the pan and brown. Turn over and brown the other side. Once cooked, remove to a plate and set aside. Do the same with the other half of the chicken.

Next, if you are using a vegetable, add it now and saute for a couple minutes. You might need to add a little water to help steam cook. Next, add the chicken and the garlic and oil and saute for a couple of minutes, just until the garlic is slightly cooked.

Pour the mixed sauces and sugar over the chicken and vegetables until thickened. Once thickened and cooked, add the peanuts and serve.


Vietnamese Chicken Salad

I told you I've been on a Vietnamese kick this summer! It's the fresh taste that Vietnamese brings to us by using herbs like mint and cilantro. Here is a super easy salad to make which most restaurants sell for about $8-10. There is no need to spend that much on one portion and you will see why!

If you are interested in cooking Asian food there a few ingredients that you will have to spring for, and by spring I mean pay $3 or less. Here they are: Fish Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Low Sodium Soy Sauce, Chili Garlic Paste and just a small jar of minced garlic and one jar of ginger. All of these last forever in the fridge so even if you don't use them often that is ok.

Off to the Asian market and here is what I picked up for the salad.

1 Head Napa Cabbage, shredded
Bean Sprouts
Shredded Carrots (2-3)
One Red Bell Pepper, sliced
Chicken breast

Handful of mint and cilantro, chopped

2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Make sure the sugar is dissolved. Yes, the onion is included!

In a larger bowl, mix the salad ingredients. You can really put what you like in here, but I like this mix, although, in my pic I forgot the red bell pepper. Mix all of the ingredients including most of the mint and cilantro. Dress the salad by pouring the dressing over, including the onions. Top of the salad with the rest of the mint and cilantro and voila!

Super easy Vietnamese Salad!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Vietnamese Made Easy - Summer Roll!

We all love summer rolls, even if we don't love Vietnamese food. But, what isn't there to love about it? A few months ago I tried Vietnamese with a neighbor for the first time. I became addicted. I just had a summer roll and a banh mi sandwich, both were amazing. The flavors of Vietnamese are quite different than other Asian cuisines. I noticed how fresh and cooling the food was. The use of fresh mint surprised me, but in a good way. You know how we call pork "the other white meat?" Well I'd like to call Vietnamese food "the lighter and fresher other Asian cuisine." 
So, after I tried and became addicted to the banh mi, I went back and tried a noodle dish which consisted of vermicelli noodles, grilled chicken, a small egg roll, and a bean sprout and carrot "salad" oh and a light orange toned sauce which is quite delicious. For $8 you can't beat it, plus you know what you are eating is healthier than American-Chinese food.
This past weekend I decided to do it! I was at my local Asian market and picked up the summer roll wrappers. There were so many sizes and a couple of brands to choose from. I picked a size that I thought would work well. 
First step: Arrange your area with the ingredients for your summer rolls. This will make rolling them speedy and  easy. Place a wet paper towel near to the wrappers and water.

Step 2: Have a small skillet of water on low, lightly simmer, but not boil. Try to have your filling station as close to the water as possible. You'll need to transfer your rice paper to a wet paper towel in seconds.

Step 3: Begin!  Dip a rice paper into the water, swish around with your fingers, maybe about 20 seconds. You will start to see it change consistency quickly. Take it out before it is too soft or jello-y. If you leave it in too long, it will rip easily. These are delicate, but not too difficult to handle. If you leave them in the water for just the right amount of time, its almost as if they are slightly al dente, then move them to the wet paper towel so they don't stick or dry out.

Step 4: Move fairly quickly, the rice paper is still absorbing water at this point, so throw in your beautiful ingredients. For your first couple, don't worry about the way it looks just yet. Try to get the feel for this. I usually place the fillings closer to my body, then fold them over, tuck under tightly and fold in the sides as you would with an egg roll. The hardest part will be trying to find where to separate the wrapper from the paper towel, but with practice, its easy!

Filling the wrappers
 Rolling the rolls
 And here are the final products! Since you will be making more than one, and when you see how addictive easy it is, you will want to make many for leftovers. But, its not easy to keep them as they stick to almost everything. If making these for a party, you might want to have a damp paper towel at the base of your serving dish, and then use romaine leaves to secure each roll. Using the leaf like this will be sure to protect it from touching the others and creates an edible vessel to serve with!
Of course you will need to make plenty of Vietnamese Peanut Dipping Sauce to go with these!

Summer Rolls Ingrediets:
Rice paper 
hot water

shrimp or boiled chicken
fresh basil leaves
fresh mint leaves
rice or tofu noodles
Shredded carrot
thinly sliced cucumber
Shredded lettuce
thinly sliced green onion