Vietspices Search

Loading...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Xôi Bắp (Sticky Rice with Corn and Mung Bean)

click the picture for better quality image

I brought home a banana plant from my local nursery last late summer. When the winter came around, it didn't look good, even after I placed it under a roof to try and protect it.  Eventually, it looked like there was no way to revive it.  When spring arrived, my mother-in-law dug a hole in our vegetable garden and put it down right next to the other lush broad leaves in our garden.  Amazingly, it's has been thriving beautifully.


Every time I look at our banana plant, I just want to cook some dishes and wrap it banana leaves. Last week, I made xôi bắp (sticky rice with corn and mung bean) to share with a few families at our Lifegroup meeting.

Xôi bắp is a popular main dish that originated in Northern Vietnam. It uses 2 main abundant ingredients of the surrounding region -sweet rice and dried corn. The lure of this dish, however comes from the aroma imparted from the fried shallots and the salted sweetness of roasted sesame and peanut that beckon our senses. If you like dried white corn cooked with sweet rice sprinkled in a spice mixture of salt, sugar, sesame, and peanut, then this dish has your name written all over it.

Xôi bắp is a great dish for breakfast, but you can indulge in it anytime. I love to eat xôi that is wrapped in fresh banana leaves; it brings out a unique scent and freshness that reminds me of the lush and raw beauty of Vietnam.

In this xôi bắp recipe, I used dried corn instead of white hominy which is a type of corn that has been soaked in lye and packed in a can. Hence, the freshness is lost, I think. If you can't find dried corn where you live, white hominy would work too. You can find the dried corn at most of the Asian supermarkets.
RECIPE: Xôi Bắp

*
Ingredients


4 cups sweet rice
2 bag (12 oz each) of dried white corn
or
4 cans (32 oz each) white hominy
salt
*
For Garnish
1 bag (1.5 cups) split and deshelled mung beans
10 large Shallots
*
Making Peanut Mixture
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/2 cup peanuts
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
Directions
*
Preparing Sweet Rice, Mung Beans, Dried Corn



Sweet Rice - rinse a few times, soak in water for an hour or overnight. Rinse and drain.


Dried White Corn -  rinse a few times, soak in water for an hour or overnight.
White Hominy -  if used, rinse and drain.


Mung Beans - rinse a few times, soak in water for an hour or overnight.  Rinse and drain.
*
Cooking Dried Corn 


In a pot, add a tablespoon of salt, dried corn and water above the dried corn. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for at least 30 minutes or until corn is soft. Stir occasionally.  Add more water if needed.  The cooking time depends on how long you have soaked the dried corn.  Rinse it with cold water and drain.

*
Steaming Mung Beans


Add mung bean in a steamer tray and steam it for about 10-15 minutes or until soft. Transfer to a bowl and smash it with a spoon. Set it aside.


Another way to cook mung beans is in a pot, add water about half an inch above the mung beans.  Bring to a boil.  Once it's boiling, pour some of the water out and leave just enough water at the same level of the mung beans.  Cover and simmer until cooked, stirring occasionally.


Once mung beans are cooked and cooled down, wrap rolls in plastic wrap. When serving sticky rice, slice mung bean into thin slices to add to the sticky rice as topping.


*
Cooking Corn with Sweet Rice 


Mix cooked corn, sweet rice and a teaspoon of salt well together. Add water (1/2 of the pot) into the bottom of the steamer pot. Place the top steamer tray on top of the bottom pot. Pour the rice into the steamer tray. Make a small well in the center to create convection currents to help hot steam circulate. Cover it and steam on gentle, steady boiling water for about 15-20 minutes until the sticky rice and corn are soft and clear. Occasionally, fluff it well with a pair of chopsticks so that all the rice cooked evenly.


Sometimes, I combine all three ingredients - raw mung beans, sweet rice, and cooked dried corn together, then steam it.  It's less time-consuming, and yet still tastes wonderfully.  
*
Frying Crispy Shallots


Slice shallots thinly.


Bring cooking oil to a medium heat. Once it's hot, add shallots and cook until shallots slightly turn brown


Turn off heat. Let shallots cook for a minute until shallot is golden brown. Don't wait for shallots to turn golden brown and turn off heat as the oil is still very hot and it will burn the shallots very quickly.  Set aside.

*
Making Peanut Mixture



Toast sesame seeds on a skillet over medium low heat until golden. Do the same with peanuts. When both sesame seeds and peanuts have cooled down completely, put them in a ziploc bag and slightly crush them to release the nutty flavors. In a bowl, combine sugar, salt, crushed roasted sesame seeds and peanuts. Mix well.

Presentation





Place sticky rice on a plate. Spread mung bean on top. Drizzle a generous amount of fried shallot and fried shallot oil. This oil from frying the shallot is full of flavor, so you don't want to toss it away. Then sprinkle a good amount of peanut mixture. Enjoy!

*
Eat well.  Stay healthy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Hến Xào Sả Ớt Nước Cốt Dừa (Clams in Spicy Lemongrass Coconut Sauce)

click the picture for better quality image

Since clams are one of my husband's favorite seafood and they're fast and easy to prepare, I cook clams quite often when we have guests. It's a simple dish, but leaves an impressive complex flavor on your palate. As my guests entered into the kitchen, they are welcomed by a rich, sweet, buttery, herbal, zesty,  but hardy aroma. The lemongrass, fresh chili pepper, and lemon zest gives this dish a kick that's both earthy and aromatic. The sauce itself is absolutely delicious, and it pairs delightfully with some toasted French bread or ciabatta bread.   

It's so convenient that our local Costco carries fresh clams in a bag of about 5 lbs. Last couple weeks, they had cockles instead. Clams, cockles, mussels, halibut are wonderful seafood combination for this dish if you prefer variety and complexity in flavors.
*
RECIPE: Clams in Spicy Lemongrass Coconut Sauce
*
*
Ingredients


5-6 lbs clams 
3 shallots
1 head of garlic
2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed
1-2 red chili peppers
2 cups coconut milk
zest of 1 lemon 
fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce 
cilantro
olive oil
*
DIRECTIONS
*
Preparing Clams


Rub and wash clams a few times to remove dirt. Discard any clams with broken shell, strong odors, or those that don't try to close when tapped. These are likely dead and are unfit to eat.  If shells are open, tap them, and if they respond by closing their shells, they are alive and good to cook. Leave clams clean in a sink full of water.
*
Preparing Ingredients


Shallots, garlic, lemongrass - finely mince
Lemon  - juice, make 1 tablespoon
Cilantro - chop, make about 1 cup
Lemon - zest
Red chili pepper - remove seeds and finely mince


*
Cooking Clams


In a large pot set over medium heat, add oil, shallots, garlic, and lemongrass.  Cook until soft and fragrance is released.


Add coconut milk, fish sauce and clams.  Mix well.  Cover and cook for about 8 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally, until the clams have opened.  Discard any clams that remain closed.  Turn off the heat.  Toss in lemon zest, lemon juice, chili pepper, and cilantro.  Mix well.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon juice or fish sauce if necessary.

*
Presentation


Serve with an extra squeeze of lime if desired. Use some toast to soak up all the delicious sauce. Enjoy!


Eat well.  Stay healthy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Rau Quả Nướng (Grilled Vegetable Salad)

click the picture for better image quality

It's mid August and my girls just started their fourth day of a new school year in sun dresses, and shorts as there are still sun rays to soak up. Fall hasn't crossed my mind until I noticed the daylight is getting shorter. To make matters worse, some stores are already displaying Halloween decor and winter clothes. In a few short weeks, summer will come to a screeching halt. 

So let us enjoy the fruits and fresh veggies of the season for as long as they last. Let's taste the sweet summertime in a salad bowl filled with grilled vegetables bursting with colors - the red and orange of sweet peppers, the green of asparagus, the yellow of corn, and earthy color of baby Bella mushrooms. These charred sweetness are then tossed with yuzu dressing, chili oil with crunchy garlic, squeezes of lemon, and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro for the perfect summer side dish. This flavorful grilled veggies are loaded with so much healthy summer favorites that you just can't resist.

Tailor the types of fresh vegetables to the bounty that's available around you. You can also substitute yuzu dressing for a homemade version of the dressing by whipping up with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, lemon or lime juice, or yuzu juice, and sugar.
*
RECIPE: Grilled Vegetable Salad
*
*
Ingredients


2 lbs bag asparagus, trimmed
1.5 lbs bag sweet mini peppers
24 oz pack baby bella mushrooms
3 sweet corn
olive oil
black pepper
a bundle of cilantro, chopped
1 lime or lemon, juiced
Yuzu sauce
1 full teaspoon chili oil with crunchy garlic
1 teaspoon Nanami Togarashi (assorted chili powder), optional
*
Directions
Preheat grill to medium.
*
Preparing Vegetables


Wash and trim off the bottom ends of the asparagus stalks. Find the area where the green color begins to fade. This is where the tough woody end begins and is where the stalk should be trimmed off and discarded.


In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with olive oil and black pepper. Set aside. 
*
Grilling Vegetables





Grill the vegetables on medium heat, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Cut mushroom into quarters.  Cut sweet peppers into half an inch pieces.  Cut the corn off the cob by holding the top of the corn cob firmly, and use the knife to slice from top to bottom, letting the blade run right along the cob.

*
Tossing the Vegetable Salad



In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables. Shake up the bottle of the yuzu dressing, then pour a good amount of it to a small bowl. Mix the chili oil with crunch garlic to the yuzu dressing.


Pour the dressing and lime juice over the vegetables, add the assorted chili pepper, if used, toss it well. Add a handful of chopped cilantro to enhance and add flavors and dimension to the salad. Toss it one more time.

*
Presentation


Let's dig in!  Serve this salad warm or cold. Enjoy!
*
Eat well. Stay healthy.