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.

20130916-224108.jpg

20130916-224117.jpg

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.

Mango pudding – Chè xoài

20130430-144146.jpg

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.

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

IMG_5697

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.

Simple pickled vegetables – Dưa góp

Pickled vegetable tastes good only when it’s fresh and especially healthy for us if there is no alum (phèn chua) added. Actually, refined crystal of alum with a proper amount is okay with our health. However, the point comes from the customers, who usually require crunchy pickled veggie. That’s the reason why merchants use lots of alum, most of that alum used are not refined and thus, harmful to our health.

If you live in Vietnam, you can see that pickled vegetable is everywhere in every meal. Look at Nuoc cham (fish sauce) of Bun cha (Grilled meat dish in Hanoi) or of the most famous springroll, you easily find these pickled carrots and papaya. The sour and sweet flavor of pickled vegetables help the foodie balance the taste of the oily meat. IMG_5686

Ingredients

– 1 medium papaya

– 5 medium long carrots

–  1 bulf of garlic (you can decrease the garlic to 2 cloves, however the garlic would not so strong during the fermentation)

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/2 cup rice vinegar

– 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp fish sauce

– 2 tbsp salt

– Chili pepper (optional)

Method

– Use a mandoline, slice the papaya and carrots into thin slices. You can use a knife instead, but your knife has to be sharp.

– Sprinkle salt on the vegetables and sit them for 1 hour.

– After 1 hour, squeeze all the excess water from the vegetables. Put them in a clear bowl.

– Combine all the seasoning (with chopped pepper if you like) and pour the seasoning mixture in the vegetables. You finish your action here.

– Let the vegetables sit in room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. After 1 day, keep the pickled vegetables in the refrigerator. The pickled vegetables would be sour fast in a hot day.

– Papaya and carrots can retain their crispy for 10 days without using any alum.