Thursday, May 5, 2016


Phở Introduction

If you'd like to know how Phở was made. This video from Chef Luke Nguyen is best resembled. Notice how they char grill the ginger, shallot, and spices.  If you don't grill them, you can't get that Phở flavor.

Phở noodle is flat, soft, and  has a bit of chewiness. Before, people tried it with regular noodle, but it was not working out. I  personally like the narrower noodle since the fat one is softer to my liking.

Phở soup is made mainly from beef knuckle bone (Beef version). You can also use the tail bone and eat the meat afterward.

The basic ingredient to add flavor to Phở stock is: 
If you can grill these, it would be much better than pan-grill. Anyway, try to bring the fragrant out but don't burn the spices. You can burn the ginger, shallot, onion and scrape off the blackened part.
- Grill ginger
- Grill Shallot
- Grill Onion

Basic Spices:
- Star Anis (Đại Hồi)
- Cinnamon (Quế) (The American Cinnamon is very strong and surely have a different fragrent.)
- Fennel Seeds (Tiểu Hồi)
- Coriander Seeds (Hột Ngò)
- Clove (Đinh Hương)
- Black Cardamon (Thảo Quả)

For Spices, each person has a unique combination that they prefer. I like more Coriander and Star Anise, while other may choose to have less Coriander seeds. Which mean, you can play around with it. Make your own and test it time after time. It's all in your hands!!!

Shallot. Ginger. Onion. Star Anise. Black Cardamon. Cinnamon

This is the Cinnamon I prefer
Clove | Đinh Hương
Fennel Seeds | Tiểu Hồi
Coriander Seeds | Hột Ngò

Basic Ingredients:
- Beef Knuckle Bone or Ox Tail
- Rock Sugar (This type of sugar is enlightening the stock. We like to use this for noodle soup stock.)
- Good fish sauce (watch video below)

- Thinly sliced Onion, green onion, jalapeno (not traditional but beautifully cooperate)
- Sliced of Lime wedge
- Cilantro
- Culantro (Ngò Gai)

If chicken Phở is chosen, add some cilantro roots to the chicken stock and use free range chicken. 

I will talk about cheat cheat version next time. Now check out the video below just to learn more about Phở. I think it is very helpful.

Will be continue. . .

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tai Biến Mạch Máu Não - Stroke :: How to help ::

CANH CHUA - Vietnamese Sour Soup

Canh Chua - Vietnamese's Sour and spicy soup
*Straight translation for this soup is: Sour Soup. But, it has sour, sweet, and spicy flavor. Vietnamese food is all about balance, have you heard? Hehe (Skip to the ingredients if you don't want to learn basic).

Basic broth knowledge:

Broth base: Whole fish or fish head.
- Salmon head
- Catfish is yummy

Pineapple:  The sweeter the better the taste for the broth. Use this to enhance the sweet and sour taste. Very importance. It makes a different. People may use other sour vegetable, fruit, or tamarind.

 *Tamarind: dissolve the block of tamarind with warm water and then boil it to dissolve, strain it, and then use the juice for the broth. I think Pineapple give the broth a more pronounced taste, aka fresh and strong but still gentle like tamarind.

Chili pepper: You can not believe how much more chili can give. If you feel like missing something from the soup. It's probably Chili. The kind they call "Thai chili" fyi.

Fish Sause: Necessary to enhance the sour taste and balance the overall taste.

Sugar: If you taste the soup and it is a bit too sour for you. It's probably too strong for your taste? Try sugar. Sweetness will balance the sour taste.

Vegetable: are forgiving. Usually people use bean sprouts, elephant ear stem, tomatoes, lady finger, and of course pineapple.

The bla bla bla:
Favorite Fish: Salmon or Catfish (I love catfish more because it's sweeter and taste more earthy)

Now if you want the best part of the fish, you have to keep the head and the bone. All of those that people throw away from cutting out the fillet. But hey, I have been choked a few time in my childhood from learning how to properly use my tongue to pick out the bone from my mouth. Skillful eh? You can do it too. Haha just kidding. Just cook the soup with those parts but you don't have to eat it. Just don't tell me k! One more thing, you have to use the skin, just clean it properly.

We Vietnamese are skillful at cleaning the fish skin. Yes we are! (Just let me out of it).

Cleaning agent for fishyyyyy: Salt, vinegar, or flour, and of course WATER.

First: Touch your slimy fish, smirk, and thanks it for the dish. Yike! Now, sprinkle some water, then some salt and brush skin with your hand, back and forth and back. Use a knife, with about 30 degree angle, and scrape it down. Scrape away the slimy skin. Some fish will appear to be whiter. If you are not happy with the result, use a bit of water + vinegar and clean away. It will take off the smelly part.

For flour: dust flour on the skin for 15 minutes, then wash it off. Check if it's cleaned. I have not try this because salt do fine and I don't have to mess with flour.

Flavor with Garlic oil. Heat the oil and fry the garlic until lightly golden brown. (If I don't feel well, I wont put any oil in my soup. So do what you want. It does smell great with a bit of garlic oil drizzle on top.)
Herbs and some vegetable in the recipes. 
(top two images are the elephant ear stems)

Ingredients: (no measurement for you, trust your tongue)

Fish: cut into steak or fillet it if you preferred.
Fish Head: can be cut into smaller sizes.
Pineapple: diced thinly, marinade with 1 table tsp Salt and 3Tbls of sugar. Let sit for half an hours to get the juice out.
Tomatoes: cut into cube or fry with oil until it is mashed to give it the red pretty color. 
Bean sprouts: use plenty
Elephant ear stem: Use a knife, peal the skin and cut it thinly, diagonally. (see picture)
Lady finger: cut it diagonally, but thicker (dont' cook this too long) (see picture)
Herbs: rice paddy herb, sawtooth herb, Thai basil (not the Italian sweet basil kind) chopped into smaller chunk. (2 handful of herb). (see picture)
Thai red chili: dice diagonally (to taste)

Let's Go:

Bring water to boil. Blanch the already cut fish for 20 second. Rince.

In a pot, stir fry some tomatoes with garlic oil until it is mashed (if prefer). Add water, then put fish in and cook the fish until tender with gentle boiling. Take the fish out.

You can add the pineapple and its juice in the soup now or:  In a sauce pan, add pineapple slices, no oil needed.  Use slow heat stir and cook until when the juice come out and well marinaded in the salt and surgar. Then, transfer to the soup pot.

Boil the soup up. Add some fish sauce and sugar to taste. Add vegetable and let it boil again. add half the herb and cooked fish. Add the pepper and garlic oil on top. Give it a taste one last time and adjust the taste. It should be fresh sweet and sour taste, a hint of spice (to your taste) and smell amazing now.

Bring it off the stove, serve imediately in a bow, add some more fresh herb to garnish.

*Note: you can enhance the sour taste with some tamarind powder or lime juice. Use as much as vegetable as you like. 

Serve with rice and other savory dishes. Make fishsauce and slice pepper to serve on the side. It enhance the flavor. Fresh fishsauce is always good in its own way.

 We pour the soup to the rice and eat away. But you don't have to. hmm yum!

Happy eating!!!

Karen Icy

Thursday, February 2, 2012


*** There is no critical measurement for this simple cake. This recipe yields a soft cake, and I don’t think it should be any softer.
Tapioca Flour : 1 Cup
(Fine) Rice Flour : 1/3 Cup ( ½ Cup instead for firmer cake)
White sugar : 1/3 Cup
Banana (ripe) : 3 (regular size) (I prefer 2 ½ banana, so it has enough batter to hold itself together)
Coconut Milk : 1 Cup
Warm Water : ½ Cup
Pinch of salt
Vanilla extract or vanilla sugar (optional)

Combine Flour, sugar, salt, coconut milk, and water in a bowl. Whisk until smooth, add thinly slice bananas. Set a side for half an hour.
Prepare the steamer; bring the water to a boil.
Use any baking pan that allows the mixture to fill up about 1 ½ inch (don’t make it too thick). There is no need to oil the pan. Whisk the mixture again (to avoid the flour weight down at the bottom), then add the mixture into the pan. Add vanilla at this time.
After the steamer is boiling, put the baking pan into the steamer. Let it steam for about 15-20 minutes.
Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to check if it’s done. Poke it through, if it’s clear, it is done. Let it cool down completely before taking it out of the pan or cutting it. The cooler it is, the firmer it is, the better the cut. I’m saying it’s better let alone for 3 hours. Be patient. :) (but I can never be patient enough)

· Banana: Not too ripe because it will be too soft after cooking. We want it ripe enough that can still hold its shape and also allow us to enjoy its beautiful flavor.
· Liquid: Less coconut milk could be used in placed of water, or only coconut milk can be used instead of water.
· Water and Coconut Milk: More = cake is softer; Less = cake is denser.
· Besides vanilla, pandan flavor is also a great choice. But since the banana smells so good, this is optional.
· Banana: Tend to float on top. To fix this, I cook one layer for 4 minutes, then add another layer. Color can be added for fun during this process.