Ever run into a cooking “snag” ? I just did the other day and my sister was my life-saver.
We always have a variety of vegetables in our every day meals, usually sautéed, blanched or roasted.
We seldom make any sauce for our vegetables, usually lightly seasoned with sea salt and olive oil. Perhaps in a huge part this is related to the types of cuisine we usually have at home, and also due to our continued efforts to restrict having “processed” foods (including prepared sauces) in our household.
The other day when we were trying to decide what to make for dinner; my sis started to tell me about this delicious Vietnamese dipping sauce which she had with steamed vegetables in Vietnam, she sent me a recipe by Ms. Vicky Phan as reference.
I was thinking dipping sauce for vegetables? Ah I get it, something similar toBagna Caudawhich I made a few months ago for our epic Italian dinner, except there’s no butter and anchovies, replaced with shallots and fish sauce.
It is very easy to make, takes less than 20 minutes including prep time. My recipe is a modified version of Ms. Vicky Phan’sSavory Vietnamese Vegetable Dipping sauce, check out her website for delightful Vietnamese recipes.
For my recipe I use more shallots than garlic, less fish sauce and substitute with hot water to make it slightly less salty, I have also added a little twist: grated lime zest, squeeze of lime juice plus a drizzle of the King Sauce (just the chili oil) from Betty King Sauce (Available online or through Instagram – check out this awesome King sauce)
Ingredients: 3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce (I used “Red Boat”, 3 Tablespoons raw cane sugar, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 large shallot (minced), 2 small cloves of garlic (minced), 2 Tablespoons of dried shrimp (rehydrated in warm water, pat dry and minced), grated zest of lime and squeeze of lime juice, hot water (a few Tablespoons). ***Vegetarians – Omit the dried shrimp and use more shallots/garlic, or add chopped lemongrass to create a fragrant sauce. For some heat, add chili (or chili oil).
In small bowl mix fish sauce, a Tablespoon of hot water and raw cane sugar well. Set aside
Using medium high heat, in a sauce pan, add olive oil (or vegetable oil of your choice).
Add garlic and shallot, lightly stir fried until fragrant. Be careful they burn very easily.
Turn heat to medium low, add dried shrimp, mix well with garlic and shallot, stir until fragrant.
Add fish sauce sugar mixture into the pot, stir gently and cook until sauce thickens. You can add hot water (by Tablespoons – optional) to adjust thickness and taste according to your liking.
Add chili oil (optional), lime zest and squeeze of lime juice
Keep watch closely and dont let the sauce burn – patience!
When sauce is cooking, steam the vegetables which should be ready in a few minutes. Serve hot.
For our meal we served the sauce with steamed Brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots, purple kale and brocolini. I lined the steamer with “cooking steam cloth” (available at Chinese cookery stores).
I used a really great steamer which I first saw on Youtube used by home cooks/bloggers; I searched for a long time and one fine day in December when I walked byOrling and Wu …..there it was…and I bought it home..
In the last July weekend, I spent the entire Saturday cooking with my friends Jo, Phung and Rita (thank you very much for hosting).
I always learn something new from this trio and under their “supervision”, moi the novice baker completed the measuring and most of the mixing/whisking tasks, we successfully made a really fabulous Japanese cheesecake, based on Ms. Namiko Chen’s recipe from Just One Cookbook.
One important note: you must prepare and weigh all the ingredients, have everything organized and follow each step carefully. I find the most difficult part is folding the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.
We actually skipped the glaze and the cake is still very tasty.
I posted the picture on Instagram and got a very nice reply from Ms. Nami. Thank you to my friends who supervised me through this process, and thank you Ms. Nami for sharing a wonderful recipe.
Try making it and you will love it !
For her recipe, please check Ms. Namiko Chen’s website:
Below you can see the fixings we prepared for our Vietnamese salad roll DIY dinner: fresh shiso, basil, mint and lettuce, rice noodle, dry rice paper, shredded chicken (from Costco to save time) and prawns, and Fried Egg, which is not seen commonly when you order the salad rolls in store. Our dear friend Phung made her own peanut dipping sauce (hoisin, peanut butter, water, vinegar); I haven’t had this much fun at a DIY dinner party for such a long time! My hubby came by afterwards and it was equally fun to watch him prepare his own salad rolls, I told him now we know we can purchase and use a salad roll wrapper tray (it is made of plastic, place rice paper on top), it makes it so much easier to prepare this at home! Another great tip from Phung: Dip the rice paper in hot water instead of cold to rehydrate the rice paper.
I found the rice roll wrapper tray at 88 Supermarket (in East Vancouver on Victoria Drive).
Here’s a snapshot of what I have been cooking the past two months..For updates follow me on Instagram (@mygoldenapron) and you will know first hand what I have been cooking and where I have been dining!
Roasting OKRA: I never thought of roasting okra until my dear sweet friend Jo showed me, sometimes we are just caught in our usual habits and don’t think about the most obvious options! Since then I have been adding okras to our salads or enjoyed with our cooked fish, like the kasu-shio marinated halibut in shiitake, edamame, daikon and mustard leaves dashi broth… As for garnish, I have prepared some roasted kale (in place of seaweed) and pancetta bits.
Remember sake kasu? It’s the remaining lees from sake making and they have been available for sale at Japanese grocery stores (Fujiya in Vancouver) or Artisan Sake (at Granville Island, this is the one I use all the time). For this dish, I added some salt and a little water to approximately 2 Tablespoons of kasu (water for slight thinning of mixture), pat dry (really dry) the halibut filets and submerge them in the marinade for at least a day. Before cooking, wipe the fish clean with paper towel to ensure there’s no kasu left (otherwise it will burn). I baked my fish at 400F and finished with broiling the final two minutes (the cooking time varies pending on thickness of fish fillet).
Dashi broth: prepared with bonito flakes and kelp as base (search my archives for recipe), I added the shiitake mushroom stems, a couple of celery leaves (I kept them frozen and add to broth/stock making), a spoonful of sake kasu and a small chunk of daikon and let it cook for half an hour. I strain the broth then add shiitake mushrooms, mustard green leaves, edamame beans (parboiled already) and season with sodium reduced soy, mirin and a little maple syrup (sugar for most of you), adjust accordingly to your taste and dietary needs always! I prepared the pancetta and kale bits while broth is cooking, okra also roasted before and add-on together with green onion as garnish. The cooked fish is lightly finished with fleur de sel.
The broth can be prepared ahead of time, when fish is about ready, reheat the broth and to serve, plate vegetables and fish in a regular or soup bowl, pour the broth, add the okra and green onions, kale and pancetta garnish last. Enjoy!
Sakuraya: Last month I mentioned there is a Japanese grocery located on East Broadway (close to Fraser), they carry the organic dried mustard leaves and daikon leaves from a small village in Japan. I re-hydrated the leaves and add to my dashi broth and they added so much flavor! It has some glucose so remember to adjust your seasoning.
Soy Dijon Mustard glaze chinook salmon with potato salad, green bean snow peas micro greens sea asparagus in ponzu vinaigrette:
Prepare glaze : sodium reduced soy sauce (2 Tablespoons), Dijon mustard (1 Tablespoon), olive oil (1-2 Tablespoons) and a little maple syrup. Clean and pat dry the salmon filet and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes. Remove the fish from marinade, scrape lightly so not much marinade will cling to the fillets (unless you like real browning action), and bake salmon in oven preheated in 350 F until desired doneness. When you see any white spot appearing on the seams of the salmon filet, that means it should be done and well on its way to being very cooked. While salmon is cooking, use a sauce pan and sautéed chopped shallots, add the marinade and cook until sauce boils and slightly thicken.
I used a store-bought ponzu and add good quality extra virgin olive oil, a little rice vinegar and ground pepper for the vinaigrette (2:1 ratio oil/soy, most vinaigrettes 3:1 ratio oil/acid, I prefer less oily).
As for the salad, basically anything goes! I added the most delicious microgreens (West End Blend from Grown here farms purchased at August Market on Main Street in Vancouver), sea asparagus (In season for a short time in Vancouver, soaked overnight to get rid of the salt then blanched and shocked in ice, green beans and snow peas (also blanched and shocked in ice) . I choose to use mostly organic products, use your imagination and add your favourite in season salad greens and vegetables to load more nutritious greens into your dish.
My potato salad is made of red potatoes, green onions, homemade relish mixed with half mayo (Lemon Ojai mayonnaise) and half greek yogurt, if you want to make it very Japanese, add kewpie mayonnaise.
Tomato and Egg Udon: simple eats and tomatoes are in season!
One of my favourite all time Chinese family dish is converted into a soup base for udon; apparently tomato and egg noodle soup is a very popular dish in parts of China. Taiwanese Chef James, well-known for his interpretation of Japanese cuisine, is now featured in cooking show filmed in China, I found on YouTube accidentally. I modified his recipe and method by changing a couple of ingredients: The ingredient are simple : heirloom tomatoes, shallots, grated ginger (lots), green onion, filtered water, white pepper and a little maple syrup (you can use sugar) I used Japanese udon, omit cornstarch and tomato paste (it was used for thickening, instead I let the soup cook down to thicken). The beaten egg is added in the end; if you have time, follow Chef James and make the eggs two ways. Usually the noodles are eaten as “late night snack”, I had it for dinner and I find it perfect as a summer light supper.
Tomato Miso Nduja Bolognese with Udon
Remember a few months ago I talked about Nduja, the Italian spreadable spicy sausage? I changed things up a little – I mixed a little nduja and red miso into my own pork/turkey Bolognese sauce and had it with udon, garnish with roasted kale (salted and crushed to mimic seaweed) and it was a winner at my recent dinner gathering with my cooking buddies Jo, Phung and Rita. The dish is a perfect marriage of Japanese and Italian ingredients; remember nduja and miso are both a little salty, you do not need to use much for seasoning. The miso makes the sauce very hearty and meaty; if you have a good tomato sauce base, you can add the miso and serve it as a vegetarian dish with grilled eggplant. The nduja sausage spread adds a little spiciness, it is completely optional. Experiment with your favourite meat sauce recipe and add these flavor profiles to your repertoire.
For both tomato udon dishes, the really thin udon noodles will not work as well. I found this perfectly wonderful hand-cut dry udon at our local Fujiya Japanese food store.
How’s your New Year so far? After “MIA” for almost two months I finally have time to catch up a little…I have been busy at work and spent most of January fighting the flu bug…and I have spent some wonderful time with my lovely sister…
Catch me on Wednesday February 22nd, 2017 1030 am sharp, Ms. Deborah Moore’s show on AM 1470 (OO)
A different kind of cooking: My new favorite stores on Main (Soap Dispensary and Welk’s)
My lovely sister is a beauty guru; she lives for beauty products and fittingly she’s in the business. During her recent visit while “snowed in” and confined to home, she decided to try something new and turned my kitchen into an experimental beauty lab. Our DIY’s are based on recipes my sister found online through many sources, we whipped up different batches of creams and balms, giving them away as precious Valentine’s gifts.
I find the process much simpler than soap making; as there are no chemicals involved, so it is much easier to handle. There are lots of videos available on-line you can use as reference; the best part is spending quality time with my sis…
My latest favorite shops on Main: the wonderful Soap Dispensary (soap refills, “low impact” living and fine products) and Welk’s (General store where we purchased the mason jars, they have almost everything at reasonable prices).
Simple lip balm recipe:Sterilized the little containers. Melt 100 g mixture of different oils (50 g coconut oil and 50 g sweet almond oil) and 18 g of bee wax in a double boiler or small glass bowl over a small pot of boiling water, keep stirring until melted. Add 1 to 2 spoonful of honey, stir and mix well. Remove pan from heat but keep mixture over the still hot water to keep mixture melted. Add your favorite essential oils: we used orange and frankincense). Pour into container and let it set.
(Frankincense (sap burnt in incense) is a common essential oil use in aromatherapy, can help to reduce stress, pain and inflammation, boost immunity etc).
Van Koji Foods, Benkei Ramen and Japanese Crepe Sasuke at Nikkei Center Flea Market:
Two years ago I’ve talked about using shio koji (see old short blog post), a natural seasoning made with salt, water and rice koji (typical mold -Asperiguillus Oryzae used for fermentation) and I’ve read about making this natural seasoning (from Just One Cookbook) at home.
Recently when I checked out the Book and Flea Market at the Nikkei Center, I made a wonderful discovery: meeting Ms. Tonami who makes and sell koji products from her company, Van Koji Foods. I have used the shoyu koji as a marinade for a mushroom rice dish and it has a very nice subtle flavor. I had a lovely chat with her and later signed up to attend the miso making class in early March.
I also had some delicious foods at the market: Japanese Crepe Sasuke (Richmond Market – currently no permanent physical location): nice thin crepe with strawberries and matcha ice-cream, check out their page on Facebook.
And a mini bowl of shio ramen from Benkei Ramen: remember Taka-san, Japanese sushi chef who teaches sushi making class at the Nikkei Center during the winter season? He is also the creator behind Benkei Ramen. I stopped by the stall to make the purchase and he remembered me! Taka-san, great seeing you! Check out his Facebook page (Taka’s Sushi Class) and look for updates for his classes.
Interesting Read: The Ultimate Grocery Storage Guide from food connections (Thanks to fellow Dinner Party YVR hobby chef Ms. Elaine Cheng for sharing on the homepage)
I will be on Ms. Deborah Moore’s radio show on AM1470 this morning 10:30am sharp! Really look forward to chat with her about food and anything else! Content is subject to change, depends on the flow of the program. Thank you very much for tuning in!
Cool down with “real food” – Hiyashi Chuka (Japanese Chinese Cold Noodle)
Here’s my version of the Dipping sauce: 200 ml dashi stock (or chicken stock), 120 ml organic soy sauce, 100 ml rice vinegar, 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, maple syrup (sugar is normally used, adjust to taste)
Heat dashi, soy sauce and maple syrup in saucepan, bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Add the rice vinegar while mixture is hot, then finish off with the tablespoon of sesame oil. Pour mixture into clean glass bottle, refrigerate after it cools down.
Pork Belly Garlic Scape wraps with “shogayaki” sauce: (full recipe coming soon); I served this with cauliflower “fried” rice and it was a delicious combination. Thank you PPQ for inspiring this dish!
Ginger apple sauce: mirin, soy sauce, grated onion, grated granny smith apple, grated ginger root (ratio 1-1-1-1-1) and sake or water (1), maple syrup (to sweeten, adjust accordingly)
Food Finds on East Hastings:
Mr. Red Cafe: Northern Vietnamese cuisine, friendly service, delightful dishes prepared with lots of care and love, great prices
address: 2234 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC.
Basho Cafe: Quaint and cozy Japanese cafe serving savory lunch sets and the cutest baked goods with In-house Coffee Master
I’ve cooked many different types of stews in the past and this is only the second time I’ve prepared the Vietnamese Tomato Beef Stew (Bo Kho), my nephew’s favourite and he has always enjoyed this dish at another of our local favourite eateries in Vancouver, Au Petit Cafe (at Main Street and E. 32nd Avenue). I am so happy that I actually prepared this dish for my family; a big thank you to nom nom paleo for her wonderful wonderful recipe, I’ve used it as a base, made some changes and incorporated my own cooking methods. Beef stews are always more flavourful when prepared ahead of time, it’s best to start the preparation two days ahead for this dish (OO).
2 1/2 pounds of boneless short rib (trimmed and chopped into 1 1/2 inch chunks, pasture fed beef if possible), 2 large lemongrass stalk (bruised and chopped into 1 to 1 1/2 inch length), 3 Tablespoons fish sauce, 1 1/2 Tablespoon Madras Curry powder, 1/2 Tablespoon Five Spice powder, 3 Tablespoons peeled and finely grated ginger, 4 Tablespoons applesauce, 1 bay leaf, 1 Tablespoon organic butter and 2 Tablespoon grape seed oil, 1 finely chopped yellow onion, 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded and crushed), 3 cups organic beef broth (or homemade pasture beef stock), 1 pound carrots (cut into one inch slices), kosher salt, cane sugar (finely grated), 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, store-bought French baguette
– Two days ahead: Toss boneless short rib chunk, lemongrass, fish sauce, curry powder, five spice powder, ginger, bay leaf and 2 Tablespoons of applesauce in mixing bowl, mix everything well, sealed and marinade overnight in refrigerator.
– One day ahead: Let marinade beef mixture cool to room temperature; in Large Dutch Oven heat grape seed oil, using medium high heat, seared the short rib chunks in batches until they are browned all over. Place the seared beef aside; Reserve the lemongrass stalk and bay leaf from marinade.
– In the same Dutch Oven, using medium low heat, add butter and saute the chopped onions until they soften; add the crushed tomatoes and kosher salt to taste, stirred to combine. Simmer the mixture (approximately 15 minutes) until a thickened paste is formed.
– Add short rib chunks, lemongrass stalk and bay leaf to “thickened” paste, stir and mix everything well.
– Add beef stock and remaining applesauce to Dutch oven and bring mixture to a boil; lower heat to medium low and let stew simmer for approximately two hours or until short rib is really tender.
– Remove from heat; transfer beef/lemon grass to another large bowl, then strain the sauce in order to remove all residue
– Quickly clean the Dutch oven, return all ingredients and sauce, and add the carrots; simmer in medium low heat for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until carrots are softened. Season with fish sauce and cane sugar to taste. If you think the sauce is a little thick, add more water to dilute the mixture and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce and grated cane sugar.
– When stew has cooled down, skim any visible oil and refrigerate overnight.
– Serving on the day: Skimmed all the fat (if any) and reheat the stew in low heat and bring it to a simmer.
e- To serve: Top the stew with freshly chopped cilantro and serve with oven toasted French baguette!