Bubble tea with coffee jelly and tapioca pearl – Trà sữa chân châu và thạch cà phê

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I was once a big fan of bubble tea when I was in my home country. However, I heard that the instant tea powder for making that magical tea is not safe for our health. Thus, craving for bubble tea makes me decided to challenge myself. I tried many ways, with many taste, and the conclusion I’ve got is that bubble tea is not hard to make. You can try any taste, as long as you like it, and you can even put into your bubble tea any types of sweet and chewy. Inspiration does not matter only in science or art, doesn’t it ?
My version is simple and easy to give a try for a starter. I made jelly coffee myself, only tapioca pearl I bought from an Asian grocery. Of course, tapioca pearl is not difficult to make if you are diligent after eating dinner. In fact, tapioca pearls are a mix of tapioca starch and cocoa powder. That’s easy, right ?
The tea mixture is just a combination of milk and tea. You can choose any flavored tea, such as Lipton, jasmine, matcha ( green tea)…

Ingredients ( for 6 servings)
– 1/2 package of tapioca pearl, boiled and drained
– 3/4 cup hot strong espresso
– 3/4 cup cold water
– 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
– 2 packages of gelatin powder
– 4 – 6 lipton tea bags
– 2 cups water
– 1 cup sugar
– milk

Method

– sprinkle gelatin powder into 3/4 cup cold water. Let it sit for 10 minutes to absorb water then add hot coffee and brown sugar in. Stir well and pour into a mold, or any bowl that you have. Refrigerate the jelly for 2-4 hours until the jelly is set. Use a knife to cut jelly into pieces
– bring to a boil 2 cups of water then add in tea bas. Let the tea sit for 30 minutes then squeeze all the water from the tea bags.
– add in sugar and stir tea well. Let it be refrigerated until cold

Assemble
– combine milk and tea by the ratio 1:1. Add in coffee jelly and tapioca pearls. Serve cold

Chicken stew with herbs – Gà tần thuốc bắc

It has been such a long time since I last met you. I am bringing to you a very special Vietnamese chicken stew. This stew is really healthy and as old people in my country said, chicken stew with herbs balances your energy.
Why is this stew special ? Because the chicken is cooked with a variety of herbs. You surely know about Vietnamese beef noodle soup, which the soup base is so decent that makes this soup unforgettable and distinguishable.
You may need only chicken wings and drumsticks because these parts of chicken are really delicious for making a stew. The fat from the chicken wings combining with the lean from drumsticks help us balance the bitterness from the herbs’ flavors. You might don’t like this soup first, but I bet you’ll wanna try it again. Mugwort is very bitter for someone who first tries this herb, even I hated this plant when I was a little child. So, you can use just a little bit of mugwort but never give up on this plant, otherwise, you won’t have the original of this chicken stew.

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Ingredients

– 3 pounds chicken wings and drumsticks
– 75 g longan ( long nhãn )
– 25 g rhizoma discoreae ( hoài sơn )
– 25 g coix lachryma-jobi ( ý dĩ )
– 50 g chinese date ( táo tàu đen )
– 25 g tankwe gin ( đương quy )
– 100 to 200 g mugwort (I used dried mugwort but the fresh one is the best )
– 3 cubes of chicken bouillon
– 1 litre water
– salt to your taste

Method

– marinate chicken wings and drumsticks with chicken bouillon for at least 1 hour before cooking
– saute chicken without oil for 5 – 10 minutes
– add water with herbs except mugwort
– bring to a boil and then simmer chicken for 1 hour then add mugwort
– simmer another 30 minutes and it’s ready for serving.

Egg beer – Kem trứng đánh bia

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If you are 18 enough and not driving a car, you can read this post of mine.

Beaten egg has lots of its application in alternative serving ways. You can not expect any drink that can be better than egg beer. The sweetness from sugar, the fatty from beaten egg yolk and the “sexy” from beer make the drink so perfect.

This recipe is so easy to make that it’s gonna take you less than 1 minute to make all the process. No harassment recipe always brings the best flavor to your taste.

Ingredients

– 3 egg yolks

– 1 can of cold beer ( 240 ml)

– 1/4 cup sugar, or less than 1/4 cup to your taste

Method

– Beat the yolks with sugar until well beaten and fluffy. There should be no sugar remaining in the beaten yolks

– Add cold beer and serve immediately.

Mango pudding – Chè xoài

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Fruit pudding is intricately delicious that I do not resist each time I finish my dinner. In Vietnam, the mango pudding has some derivatives in that they add a little of heavy cream on top so that each bite of this dessert has a fatter feeling than the original recipe. Depend on which type of mangoes you choose, you should adjust the amount of sugar added to the pudding. For me sugar added does not necessarily make the pudding so sweet because the fruit itself has its natural sugar.

This fruit pudding is easy to make and easy to eat. There is only one tip you should care here is that the chosen mangoes for the pudding. Mango should be ripe enough to have the best taste.

Ingredients (for 4 ramekins) 

– 3 ripe mangoes,

– 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

– 1/2 cup milk

– 1/2 cup heavy cream

– 1 3/4 tsp gelatin powder

– Extra heavy cream for serving

Method

– Peel mangoes and cut only the fresh flesh of them

– In a clean blender, puree the mangoes until smooth

– Sprinkle gelatin powder to the milk and cream. Let gelatin powder sit for 10 minutes. Note that gelatin powder has to be sprinkled onto the cold liquid. 

– Combine sugar, mango puree and gelatin mixture to a pan.

– Bring the mixture to a boil then remove the pan from the heat.

– Divide the mango mixture into ramekins or any kind of cups you like

– Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to let mango pudding set.

– Serve cold with heavy cream on top.

Baguette ( Banh mi ) – Bánh mì bột chua

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Tell me that I’m not the only one who likes freshly baked bread and don’t tell me that I’m the only amateur bread baker. Everyone can make bread himself, given he has a perfect recipe. I tried making bread a couple of years ago and had no success. I’m wondering why my bread is crunchy only when it’s out from the oven. To be honest with you, I don’t like the guidance of bread baking books in that they rarely tell you how to adapt the water to your bread flour. It’s really worth learning how much water is needed because water can make your bread go to your dinner table or is directly thrown into trash.

I’ve figured out that the age of flour decides how much water that flour needs. Thus, the experience here is that you shouldn’t follow the recipe exactly. Just remember that add around 3/4 water to the flour if you don’t know your bread flour is as old as the recipe’s flour, then adjust the remaining water slowly  to the dough just until your dough is roughly incorporated but does not stick to the bowl. The required quality of the bread is that the bread has to be crunchy on the outside but fluffy like pillow on the inside.

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Ingredients (for 3 baguettes)

Starter

– 1 cup bread flour

– 1/2 cup warm water

– 1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Sprinkle yeast in the water and let the yeast sits for 5 minutes. Then add in the flour and mix until you have a sticky dough. Cover and let the starter sit at room temperature for 10 hours. The maximum time for this process is 12 hours. After 12 hours, your yeast needs to be fed so that you have to work with the starter.

Baguette

– All the starter

– 3 1/2 cup bread flour or unbleached all purpose flour can substitute

– 2 tsp active dry yeast

– 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 cups water, depending on the flour or the temperature

– 1.5 tsp salt

– 1 tbsp oil

– 1/2 tsp sugar

Method

– Mix sugar with 1 1/8 cups water and yeast. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until you see the bubbles on the surface of water.

– Mix all the yeast mixture, starter, salt and bread flour in a bowl (you can safe time by using a stand mixer). Using a fork, stir well until flour absorbs all the liquid ingredients.

– Knead by hand (or stand mixer) until a non-sticky dough is formed. During the kneading time, you can add more water slowly, 1 tbsp a time, to make sure the dough is not dry but no sticky to the bowl.

– Add the oil to a clean bowl and keep the dough cover for the fermenting process.

Fermentation

– Let the dough sit for 3 hours first, then deflate the dough, turn it over and let it sit for 2 hours.

– Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Fold and roll each dough into a log that fits your baking pan.

– Let the dough sit for another 1 hour or until your dough is double in size.

Baking

– Preheat the oven to 500 F for 15 – 30 minutes or until the oven reaches 500 F

– Slash the puffed baguette with a very sharp knife. This technique can help the bread evaporate the steam from the inside, thus stimulating the puffing process in the high hot oven.

– Spray water onto the surface of the breads. Bake at 10 – 15 minutes until the breads are golden.

You Tiao (Chinese – Vietnamese Crullers or deep fried crispy bread) – Quẩy chiên giòn

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Don’t tell me I’m the only one who loves crullers. These little longish, brittle like crunchy and hollowed things can be the final pieces needed to make your savory noodle or porridge a hundred percent perfect.

The story of fried crullers originates from China, when a devil couple made a bundle of evil actions to the Cantonese people. As a result, people caught and fried them in a giant hot oil wok. That’s why you see two parallel strips adjacent to each other in one cruller. It’s scary to hear this story, but the reason why ancient people ate crullers is so lovely. They ate crullers to reminisce of the evil things that their ancestors had in the past, thus avoiding to do brutal actions in practice.

I tried many cruller recipes but in the end of each time, I failed. My crullers are not hollowed inside no matter how I tried to adjust the heat. You know that it’s so annoying for me if I can’t dip a crunchy cruller into my Pho (Vietnamese Beef noodle) . I should be terse here or it’s gonna be a page of describing how perfect Pho combines with crullers. The problem in making crullers is that you have to know well about your ammonia – an old leaven in baking. Ammonia is very easy to evaporate, even though you try to tight it up in an air-tight container. Thus, don’t be greedy when you buy ammonia. A 1 or 2 oz ammonia container is enough for several months without harming the quality of ammonia.

I also figure out that do let the cruller dough rise for 12 hours instead of only 4 – 5 hours as some online recipes suggest. As long as the fermenting process is under 19 hours, your dough is still okie dokie. I almost forgot to tell you that you should be careful when open the cap of ammonia container. The smell of it would be compared to that of a baby’s diaper after she drinks a big bottle of milk.

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Ingredients  (yield around 10 – 14 crullers)

– 300 g bread flour

– 200 g water

– 1/2 tsp ammonia

– 1/2 tsp alum

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp salt

– Vegetable oil

Special equipment:  A wok or a deep pan. Crullers will need a lot of oil to be puffed.

Method

– Stir water with ammonia, alum, baking powder and salt to dissolve.

– Add in the flour and use a fork to stir until the flour is roughly incorporated.

– Knead the dough for 5 minutes until you see a roughly smooth face of the dough.

– Slightly oil the dough and cover the dough with a plastic film.

– Keep the dough in a clean place and forget it for 12 hours.

Frying

– Add too much oil into a wok (it’s best) or a deep pan at medium heat. The cooking oil will need 10 – 15 minutes to reach the right temperature for frying.

– Roll the dough into a thin rectangular. Cut the rectangle into two smaller rectangles lengthwise. Then cut it into 3/4 inch strips crosswise.

– Atop one strip onto a strip. Use a skewer or a chopstick, dip it into the water and press the dough to make sure two strips are stick to each other.

– Gently pull the strips to elongate them to 20 cm in length ( just eyeball it) and throw it into the oil.

– Turn the crullers frequently to make them puffed totally. Fry the crullers until they’re golden brown.

Serve : you can dip the crullers in any noodle, especially Pho. Or you can even cut it to your porridge. Or you can enjoy themselves.

Braised Carp and Pork belly with Galangal sauce – Cá chép kho riềng

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I know Tet holiday in Vietnam (Lunar New Year for several Asian countries) has ended today. But it’s not late to introduce this traditional Vietnamese braised fish coz it’s a good serve for any dinner, or any lunch, or any brunch, or …even breakfast. Braised fish is very simple, except you have to give the fish a long time to be fully cooked. Do not use deep sea fish coz it would loose its smell if braised. Fish which resides in sweet water like river works best for braise.

Any fish dish requires you to remove the seafood’s odor, no matter what the fish is so pricey that the customers sometimes even don’t wanna loose the fresh smell of the fish. Well, don’t ever think that sushi is just fresh nice cuts of fishes. Sushi makers have to use their secret method to cut off the odor of that chosen fish sushi, ironically, the chefs never share their mystery. I use dried galangal and green tea to get rid of all the smell of the fish.

Fish braised with some fatty is a good choice. The fish itself has high protein so that it would be dry when braised. Believe me, the skin on the pork belly would be soft and tangy after the cooking time. And believe me again, you would like to eat the pork belly even more than the braised fish.IMG_5700

Ingredients

Seasoning mix

– 1 pound dried galangal (riềng khô)

– 1 tsp turmeric powder (bột nghệ)

– 4 tsp salt

– 2 tbsp dark soy sauce

– 1/4 cup light soy sauce

– 2 tsp whole black peppercorns

– 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

– 2 tbsp green tea powder

– 2 tbsp sugar

Fish and meat

– 1  8 pound carp ( about 3.5 kg)

– 4 pounds pork belly

Method

– Marinade fish and pork belly with the seasoning mix, except the galangal, green tea powder and sugar, for at least 2 hours. Note: use sugar when the cooking is finally done, otherwise sugar makes the meat tough during the cooking process.

– Place the dried galangal onto the bottom of a large stock pot. If you have a clay pot, it works best but if you don’t, use any stainless steel stock pot that can fit both the fish and pork belly. Arrange the carp with the pork belly somehow that all the fish and meat are in one layer.

– Pour in enough water that the carp and meat all are submerged. Add green tea powder.

– Bring the fish mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low-medium heat so as to the heat just keep the water boil all the cooking time.

– Cook for 2 hours or until you skew the pork belly easily. That is done for the braising process.

– Cool the fish completely in order not to break the fish when you take it out.

– Serve: Use a big flat spoon to take out the fish, pork belly and enough sauce as you like. Microwave 1 minute covered for warming the fish and meat and serve with cooked rice.

Note: The braised fish can be refrigerated for 1 month without losing its flavor. Just reheat each time you crave for the braised fish.