Weekly Salad 15: Gỏi Bắp Cải Gà – Vietnamese Chicken & Cabbage Slaw

 

Viet Cabbage Slaw

 

I’ve slacked off a bit with posting my weekly salads. No need to be alarmed – I haven’t quite fallen off the wagon. (I did, however, eat 2 Coney hot dogs a day for three days straight, last week.) Those things are so awesome. Anyway, to balance my meat-on-a-bun binge, I’ve enjoyed this salad. It’s sort of an everyday salad because the ingredients are ones many of us usually have in stock. If you like coleslaw but want something healthier but still bright and flavorful, you could try this salad. Also, because there is no mayonnaise or cream in the dressing, it’s great for parties or picnics as there’s less of a spoilage issue.

I used Taiwanese Cabbage – which can be distinguished by its flatter shape. When cut in half, each side has an oblong shape. The leaf ribs of this cabbage are smaller and narrower than regular cabbage and it has a slightly milder (& sweeter?) taste. You can also use regular cabbage, as I often do. Red cabbage would also be nice, for both color and flavor.

 

GỞI BẮP CẢI GÀ – VIETNAMESE CHICKEN & CABBAGE SLAW

INGREDIENTS: (4-6 servings)

  • 1 head green [Taiwanese] cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 lb. (450 g) cooked [leftover] chicken meat (dark/white), hand shredded
  • 2 shallots, sliced into thin rings
  • large handful of fresh mint, leaves left whole or roughly-hand torn
  • large handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • large handful of freshly ground, toasted peanuts (optional)
  • approx. 4 Tbl. (60mL) of Spicy Sauce/Dressing (for this salad, replace 3 Tbl. (45mL) of white rice vinegar for the lime juice)

STEPS:

Combine all ingredients except for the peanuts and dressing. When ready to serve, thoroughly toss with the dressing and scatter the ground peanuts over the entire dish.

Bon appétit!

 

Nutella Bread Pudding

 

Nutella Bread Pudding

 

Bread pudding is one of those homey, comforting desserts I did not eat growing up. When I finally tried it, it was one of those Where Have I Been moments. It tasted so sublime; I still remember biting into warm, billowy and soft bread coated with custard that was just set and dotted with raisins. Brilliant! The idea of not wasting food by taking stale bread and turning it into something this good is hard for me to resist.

This recipe comes from Alice Medrich’s latest book, Pure Dessert. I’ve lost track of the number of recipes I want to try from this beautiful book – like flan with raw sugar sauce, bittersweet chocolate and citrus tart with jasmine cream, walnut sponge cake, etc., but since I had some leftover pain de mie, this seemed as good a time as any to make her Nutella Bread Pudding.

Bread. Chocolate. Custard.

That’s all I have to say.

NUTELLA BREAD PUDDING

 

Nutella + Custard

 

from Pure Dessert

INGREDIENTS:

  • Enough 1/4 inch (.6cm) –[I used 1/2 inch (1.5cm)] slices of home-style or bakery white bread or baguette, with or without the crusts, to cover the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) square (I used an 8-inch round) baking dish, not too tightly, with 2 layers of bread
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup (64g-75g) of Nutella – I actually used about 2/3 cup (150g) – life is short, ya know
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (112g) sugar
  • Scant 1/8 tsp. (1g) salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) heavy cream

STEPS:

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C). Put the bread in the bottom of the baking dish to make sure you have sliced enough to make two layers.

Remove the bread from the dish. If the bread is fresh, lay slices on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes on each side, or until very lightly toasted. Let the slices cool. Spread one side of each slice of bread with Nutella. Cut or break large whole slices (not baguette slices) into 4 pieces each. Arrange the bread, nutella side facing up, in the baking dish in one layer of overlapping pieces, with rounded crusts or trimmed angles showing attractively.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt together. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream. Pour the egg mixture through a strainer into the baking dish. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and press any floating bread pieces back into the egg mixture. Let stand for at least 15 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C). Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Uncover the pudding and place it in a baking pan large enough to hold it with a little space on all sides, and then into the oven. Pull the oven rack out and carefully pour enough boiling water into the large pan to come halfway u p the sides of the baking dish. Bake until a knife inserted into the pudding comes out free of custard (or with a little Nutella clinging to it), 50-55 minutes. Cool for at least 1 hour.

At serving time, I garnished each slice with thin strips of candied orange peel that I stole received from Warda 🙂 Merci bc!

 

nutella bread pudding with cafe creme

 

Bon appétit!

 

 

Jackfruit-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin – Thịt Heo Nhồi Mít

A few months ago, on my first trip to Viet Nam, I finally got to taste fresh jackfruit. Much like tasting real Brie de Meaux in France, this was a revelation. Unlike the syrupy and rubbery canned version I’d eaten before, fresh jackfruit was sweet without being cloying with a tender yet ever so slightly springy texture. In two weeks, I ate more than 5 kilos of this – and I’d do it again.

What I came to understand was that there are different types of jackfruit. The kind that is most common (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is very large fruit with firm, yellow flesh. We were treated to that as well as another, more expensive type called Mít Tố Nữ (Artocarpus integer) which was considerably smaller in size and had flesh that was more moist and soft than the common variety.

I remember my aunt squatting on the kitchen floor and carving into our Mít Tố Nữ as soon as she brought it home from the market. It’s perfume hit me with a deep, strong fragrance that was reminiscent of durian (sầu riêng) though not quite as pungeant. Below are photos by Pierre: a misty sunrise taken from my grandmother’s backyard, overlooking her coffee bean plants in Bảo Lộc, Lâm Ðồng; a jackfruit hanging behind her house and; my aunt, Mợ Thơm cutting our jackfruit – which, by the way, is a rather sticky, messy affair because of the natural latex that it exudes.

 

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I’ve been wanting to make this dish ever since I earmarked a recipe from Charlie Trotter’s book. In it, he calls for stuffing pork tenderloin with various dried fruits – cranberries, raisins, apricots and currants. I know I recently posted a recipe for pork tenderloin. You may think it’s the only thing I know how to prepare. Who knows, you might be right.

Actually, my aunt in Viet Nam sent me some delicious dried jackfruit (Mít Sấy) that I thought would be nice to use in Charlie Trotter’s recipe in place of all the other dried fruits. After softening the jackfruit with boiling water, the only other ingredient added was shallot. I think dried mangoes would also be tasty. Or prunes soaked in Armagnac. Wait, isn’t it persimmon season? Yes, persimmons would definitely be good.

 

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To balance the sweet stuffing, I sauteéd chinese mustard greens (Cải Cay), which have a slightly bitter, though delicious flavor. To add a Western touch, this dish was rounded out with pan-roasted, french fingerling potatoes.

I know a lot of folks like to hate on fusion cooking, so call this whatever you want. Here, the combination of sweet and bitter work well and the results really do make it worth the effort. Besides, when was the last time you tied meat into a nice bundle? Right.

 

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JACKFRUIT-STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN – THỊT HEO NHỒI MÍT

INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)

  • 1.5 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 1/3 cup of dried jackfruit
  • 1 med-large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound (approx. 4-5 cups) of Chinese mustard greens, thinly sliced
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes
  • S & P
  • fleur de sel
  • kitchen twine
  • 3 bay leaves
  • cooking oil

STEPS:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Place the dried jackfruit in a small bowl and pour about 1 cup of boiling water over the fruit. Let steep for about 15-20 minutes, then drain. [reserve the liquid for de-glazing the pan, if you like]
  • Once softened and drained, roughly chop the jackfruit and mix with the sliced shallots, sprinkle a pinch of salt into the mixture, set aside.
  • With a long, thin carving knife, make a slit all the way through the center of the tenderloin. Once the knife is completely inserted, gently “wiggle” it to make the slit larger so that you can stuff the tenderloin. You can then insert the long side of a wooden spoon through the slit to make a more uniform opening.
  • Stuff the tenderloin with the jackfruit/shallot mixture and using kitchen twine, tie the pork tenderloin. (I find this helps to cook the meat more evenly).
  • Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and top the pork with bay leaves.
  • Place the pork into a pan and roast for about 20-25 minutes. Pork tenderloin usually cooks very quickly and it’s easy to overcook – so be attentive.
  • While the pork is roasting, boil or steam the potatoes whole until a knife inserted can be removed with little resistance. They should be tender, but not falling apart.
  • Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and sauté until crispy and lightly browned. Remove from heat. While they are still hot, sprinkle with fleur de sel.
  • Sauté the mustard greens with the garlic and fish sauce in a pan on med-high heat until tender but with a little bite or crunch to them (approx. 2 minutes).
  • Once you remove the pork from the oven, allow it to rest at least 15 minutes before serving with the mustard greens and potatoes.

Bon appétit!

 

Su Su Xào – Chayote Stir-Fry

Trái Su Su (aka Chayote) is one of those vegetables that remind me what a small world this is. I grew up eating this and figured it was an Asian vegetable but later found that it is actually native to Latin America, where it is a predominant vegetable in many parts, particularly Mexico and Costa Rica. I remember my mom making this dish for the Latino men who worked for my Dad. They happily ate it and thought it was so curious that this little Asian lady knew how to cook their chayote.

Interestingly, it is called chou-chou on the French Island of Reúnion*, which makes me wonder if that has anything to do with why it’s called Su Su in Viet Nam, a former French colony. If you grow them, you know how adorable they look, like jade green pears that hang from a vine.

Su Su’s mild flavor makes it easy to combine with other savory ingredients like pork, chicken or shiitake mushrooms. In this stir-fry, its delicate and somewhat bland taste is a nice balance to the brininess of the dried shrimp. Once grated or cut, it’s incredibly quick to cook. I hope you enjoy it con mucho gusto.

Su Su Xào

susuxao.jpg

INGREDIENTS: (4-6 servings, as part of a meal)

  • 1/2 cup dried shrimp
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 medium-sized Su Su (approx. 3/4 lb), cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • oil

STEPS:

  • Reconstitute the dried shrimp by placing them in a small bowl and barely cover with water. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  • Cut the su su in half and discard the pit. Prepare using a knife or mandoline. (No need to peel).
  • Mince the garlic.
  • Drain the dried shrimp.
  • Add about 1 Tbl. of oil to a med-hot pan and toss in the garlic along with the shrimp. Cook for about 1 minute.
  • Add the su su and fish sauce. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring. The su su should be cooked but still have a little crunch to them.
  • Check seasoning and add more fish sauce if needed.

¡Buen Provecho!

*source

Les Petits Pois à la Versailles – Green Peas from Versailles

 

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For whatever reason, the French have a bad rap for being rude. Whenever someone asks me if this is true, I have to find it in me to not take them by the shoulders and remind them that there are rude people everywhere, not just in France. Some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met were French. With that said, I want to talk about our visit to Ligny-le-Chatel, a village in Burgundy where we stopped on the way to Auxerre, the town where Pierre’s family once lived.

The purpose of our visit was to meet some close friends of Pierre’s late grandparents. A quaint village with a population of just over 1200, it had an impressive church and a peaceful, somewhat rural setting.

We arrive at the country farmhouse of Françoise and Jean Dapremont. Françoise comes out to greet us and I immediately feel welcomed by her affable and cordial demeanor. She is probably in her mid-late 60’s and like women of her generation, her hair is perfectly coifed and her language is pleasant and polite. She introduces her husband Jean and their little grandson Roland, who is staying for the weekend.

Their home is full of the charm that only a country house can give. There are worn windows, rustic furnishings and a friendly cat or two(?). We sit down for aperitifs while we chat about our plans – which, at that time, included our pending nuptials 🙂

As we sip our brandy and chat, I can smell the aroma of roasting meat and yummy goodness wafting through the air. Always aware that I’m the only non-French in the group, I have to harness my American tendency to act like an over-eager child when something excites me. So, when Françoise announces that dinner is ready, I quietly remind myself not to jump out of my seat and run to the table.

At the table, we begin our meal with a smooth and luscious terrine of coquilles St. Jacques (scallops), dotted with carrots and red bell pepper. Our main dish is a plate of roasted local saucisses. They are accompanied by petit pois that she served in a beautiful casserole. Les petits pois à la Versailles, she says proudly, handing me the dish. She explains that she got the recipe from a friend who once tended the gardens at the castle of Versailles.

Well, this ought to be good, I thought. And it is. One bite reveals tender peas, savory bacon pieces, and of all things, sweet and slightly wilted lettuce; a simple yet brilliant dish that I’ve adapted and present to you here.

 

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Les Petits Pois à la Versailles

INGREDIENTS: (4 servings)

  • 1 lb. Pasta (shells, macaroni, penne, etc.)
  • 6-8 oz. bacon, cut into batons, or 1/4 inch slivers
  • 1 (16 oz) bag of frozen peas
  • 2 cups of romaine or iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyère or parmigiano reggiano
  • fresh mint

STEPS:

  • Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes) and drain in a colander.
  • Using the same pan, set the heat to medium and cook the bacon until the edges are slightly crispy.
  • Next, toss the frozen peas and lettuce in with the bacon until the peas are heated through and the lettuce is slightly wilted.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir to combine.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with freshly grated gruyère or parmigiano reggiano and mint.

Bon appétit!

Welcome to my new blog!

I’m so excited to finally have a blog. It seems everyone and their mama has one, so I’m happy to join in. Although my favorite cuisine is Vietnamese, I also have an undying love for all things French. I married a frenchman to boot!

Here, I’ll be posting all the yummy details of my journey on this delicious planet. So, sit back and be ready for some fun in the culinary sun!