Vietnamese Roasted Chicken (Ga Ro Ti)

3 04 2011

Finally!  Another Vietnamese dish.  I’m slowly adding these to my recipe book, although I am still the most proud of my ability to make pho.  =)

I found this recipe (link here) while perusing some food blogs and of course, sent it off to my Mom for her to look at it.  She approved, recommending that I allow the minced garlic to sit in the marinade for at least half an hour so the flavor would be in the marinade even more, so I did that.

It was pretty simple – the hardest part, really, was deciding on what thighs to get at the grocery store!  I typically only buy chicken breasts so I had to decide between bone-in, boneless, skins, skinless, all this stuff I normally never worry about when buying chicken breasts.

After that it was all pretty easy – I just had to marinate the chicken overnight, and then the next day I cooked each side in the pan and then broiled it to finish cooking.  The flavor that was infused in the chicken was great and reminded me of my mom’s cooking.  I served it with white rice and broccoli, of course.

Here it is

Chicken thighs in the pan.

Happy eating!


Chicken teriyaki

22 02 2011

I found this recipe while perusing Simply Recipes, and I put it right into the ‘asian category’ of the recipes that I keep.  A lot of the asian recipes that I find call for fresh ginger, and since I only cook two-three entrees per week, it’s hard to buy enough ginger before it goes bad.  However, I had a few people over for dinner during one of the snow days, and decided to make it with ground ginger instead, which I had readily available in my pantry.

Prior to this recipe I’ve never poached chicken before, and once I read the recipe, I was unsure how it would turn out.  Would the chicken be cooked enough? Would it be okay to eat?  What would the sauce taste like?  So instead of putting the chicken into the pan as the whole chicken breast, I diced the chicken so it would cook quicker and so I didn’t have to take any chances.  (The site actually edited the recipe I used, now saying to cook the chicken over extremely low heat for twenty minutes or so, to make sure the chicken is cooked through.)

The first time around (when I cooked for a few people) I didn’t let the sauce thicken enough so it was more saucy than I would have liked.  I made the dish again about a week later and let the sauce cook longer and it made a great thick syrup.  While the chicken was poaching in the sauce, I cooked rice and steamed broccoli at the same time, and everything came together right in time.  It got great reviews and I can’t wait to make it again!

Happy eating!


Pate Chaud

4 01 2011

Paté chaud is a Vietnamese dish.  Vietnamese pastries very often have meat in them, so it’s like mixing your dessert with your other meals.  My mom has always made this dish, and it used to be my favorite thing to eat in the morning for breakfast .. she would have to take it away or I would eat the whole plate!  You can often find these pastries in Vietnamese delis.

The recipe is pretty simple – it’s ground pork, with some yellow onions, white pepper, pinch of salt, and pinch of sugar.  All placed inside a puff pastry and baked for about 15-20 minutes.  The pastries are brushed with some egg on top for that nice golden color.

My mom showed me how to make it over Thanksgiving break when I was home and then I went home and tried it myself and it turned out great!  My housemates tried it as well, and they were pleasantly surprised and actually liked it!  They’re always so willing to try my concoctions and crazy Vietnamese food that I’m trying out.

We used a frozen puff pastry because it’s the easiest to use.  For those interested in making this, I used one package of frozen puff pastry, thawed slightly, (but not completely so it’s easier to use manage), 1/2 lb of ground pork, half a medium yellow onion (finely chopped, slightly sauteed in 1 tbsp butter with a little white pepper), mixed with a little salt, sugar, and some more white pepper.  I cut the puff pastry into large squares, and put spoonfuls of the pork into the first layer of pastry and covered it with the second.  I used the back of a fork (dipped in some water to make sure it didn’t stick) and made sure all the sides of the pastries were sealed.  I brushed each pastry with a beaten egg.  Baked in the oven (350 degrees, maybe?) for about 15-20 minutes until they were golden around the edges.

And here they are!  Mine were pretty big, but I could make them smaller and bake them for less time if I wanted.

Cooling on the baking sheet:


The inside so you can see the pork.  Then my housemates devoured this one!

Happy eating!

Shrimp stir-fry

23 12 2010

I cooked this up as a quick lunch a while back for me and some of my housemates.  I tend to do these types of “clean out the refrigerator/pantry” dishes every once in a while, and this was definitely one of them.

I discovered a package of Kikkoman stir-fry seasoning mixture in my pantry, and had some frozen shrimp left over from a few other dishes.  I had plenty of broccoli in my freezer (it’s pretty much the only vegetable I can eat) and also had leftover mushrooms and onions.  Put those all in a wok and voila! Stir fry!

I served my stir-fry over rice, and despite the fact that the mix came from a package, it all worked really well.  Of course, I’d love to be able to make my own sauce one day .. but for now, this will have to do.

Happy eating!

Mongolian Beef

23 11 2010

One of my favorite blogs, Crepes of Wrath, had this recipe, and I just HAD to try it.  Mongolian beef is one of my favorite dishes at PF Chang’s and I wanted to see if I could accomplish that same great flavor by myself.  The ingredients weren’t hard to find and I figure that I should start stocking my pantry with enough Asian ingredients and flavorings to not have to worry about them every time I want to cook an asian meal.

I bought cube steak and sliced that thinly to cook.  I probably could have sliced it thinner, but I was cooking on a time schedule (I made these the same day that I made my brown sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, post coming soon!) and was trying to cook as fast as possible.  I served the beef and scallions over rice with some broccoli on the side.

The sauce was a little thinner than I would have liked, and the chef at my restaurant suggested I make sure the heat is high enough for the sauce to thicken up, and maybe even add more cornstarch if necessary.  I’ll certainly do that in the future.  All in all the dish was really flavorful and the sauce was really great.  Plus, I got to use my wok, which is always something that I look forward to.

Here it is!

Happy eating!

Food adventures: Fried Rice

6 08 2010

I don’t have pictures to share this time, unfortunately, because I spent so much time cooking that I completely forgot that I wanted to do this food blogging business.

Last night, with a few clarifying text instructions from my mom, I set out to make her fried rice. She always surprises me with this dish when I least expect it, and it’s so much better than fried rice you’ll find anywhere else.

I took a trip to the Hamilton Filam Food store (what Filam means is beyond me) and luckily, they had the Chinese sausage that I was looking for. I got a package bigger than I expected on buying, but it worked out since I burned the first batch of sausage.

Once I burned the first slices of sausage (four links went to waste, so sad), I cooked up another batch and was pleased with the result. I scrambled some eggs and microwaved the freezer ‘vegetable medley’ (peas, carrots, corn, green beans).

Then I got to use the enormous wok that my mother so generously gave to me – it’s big, heavy, and really hard for me to maneuver. I sauteed some chopped onions and ginger (I forgot the scallions, whoops), and then dumped in 3 cups of rice. The rest of the ingredients went in – the sausage, egg, and vegetables, plus some salt for flavor. Lots of stirring and attempting to move the wok around later, I had fried rice! It made about five servings, which I’m really pleased with – I shared some with a friend of mine and he loved it!

Even though I could probably eat fried rice all day long at PF Chang’s, it’s so much more satisfying knowing that I can make it myself, and that it’s not even that hard! Next time I’ll try a little harder to not let my ingredients get stuck to the bottom of the wok, not burn my sausage, put in even more eggs and onions, and not forget the scallions. I’ll be making this soon for sure, since it’s so easy!

Food Adventures: Pho

6 08 2010

So I recently moved into a house of my own (living with four other people) and will totally admit that I have been spoiled by campus life for the past four years. Cooking has never been my strong point, mainly because I’m picky, and because I’m so limited in what I can eat because of all my food allergies. When I did cook it was probably once every two weeks, because I got used to having mediocre food from dining halls for the convenience factor.

So this summer has been about getting a little creative about what I make for myself, figuring out what I can eat AND cook, and making every dollar stretch so I can eat healthy on a tight budget. Most recently, I made pho, a popular Vietnamese noodle dish. In Viet Nam, you can find pho sold on carts on the street (so I’m told), and in Vietnamese restaurants, my family and I judge their pho very seriously, because my mom makes the best pho in the world.

So with some help from my mom, she told me the recipe (I didn’t have time to watch her make anything, so I had to try and remember watching her years ago in the kitchen) and gave me some the harder-to-find ingredients (the asian spices) so that I wouldn’t have to search too hard. All I needed was a big pot and some beef and I would be all set. So here’s what came out of it:

First I had to boil the beef … for 3 hours. Mind you, this was early July and it was about 95 degrees in my kitchen (horrible ventilation) and I had to watch beef and skim the fat off for a painstakingly long time. However, this is the short version of the recipe – other recipes you’ll find call for 6-8 hours of cooking the meat, so I was happy this didn’t take as long as my mom normally does it.

Once the beef was done, it was nice and tender, and the broth was already ready flavorful. I sliced the beef to add back to the soup later.

Then came all the other stuff – star anise, ginger root, onion, black pepper, and cinnamon. Plus chicken stock too. I let that simmer for a while, and at the same time soaked my rice noodles (vermicelli) in cold water for an hour to get it ready for the soup. I added some fish sauce to taste, and voila.. four and half hours later .. PHO!

So I brought the broth back up to boiling, boiled some water in a separate pot and boiled bunches of the noodles for about 20-30 seconds each, enough to cook but not make them too slimy. The noodles went into the bowl, along with the beef, raw beef eye rounds, and onions. I ladled the broth over the noodles and meat, added some cilantro, green onions, and lime, and I had my bowl of pho!

All in all it was a great experience and I would totally do it all over again, with the exception of the horrible heat. Now that I have the recipe down I can play around a little more with the spices, meat, and overall flavor of the broth and how I can change it. I shared the soup with two of my friends, and they both seemed to like it. I even impressed myself! I didn’t think it would be so easy. My mom bought me pre-packaged spices for the next time I make soup which is a great help, since the Asian food store around my house is about 30 minutes out of the way and it’s hard to find time to get there.

I’ll continue to blog about my food adventures as much as I can – today I used the wok my mom gave me and her recipe to make homemade fried rice – with peas, carrots, egg, onion, garlic, and chinese sausage. It came out pretty good and I can’t wait to make it again – unfortunately I forgot to take pictures so I’ll just have to share those next time I make the dish.

For someone who doesn’t think they can really cook, this summer has really been about teaching myself how to do it all. Let’s hope I can keep it up once school starts!