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Archive | Sauces & Pickles

Pickled Jalapenos (Ot Ngam Giam)

Delicious and Easy-to-Make Pickled Jalapenos | recipe from runawayrice.comCrunchy, tart and slightly sweet, these Pickled Jalapenos are delicious condiments accompanying many Asian dishes. If you can’t seem to get enough of these tasty tidbits, it’s time to make some at home so there’s always plenty on-hand. This recipe is as easy as it gets with just a few ingredients. Use this versatile pickling solution to pickle any other foods you like. It’s a great way to preserve and enjoy those delicious summer vegetables a little bit longer.

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Store the jalapenos in the refrigerator until you’re ready to prepare them. This will keep them nice and crisp. Optionally, dunk the peppers in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes before slicing and pickling. This helps to give the pickles a nice crunch.

For more tart pickles, reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup or eliminate altogether. Optionally use a sugar substitute such as Stevia or Splenda.

Use food prep gloves when handling hot peppers and always be sure to wash your utensils well after preparing hot peppers.

To keep the pickles fresher longer, use a clean spoon when scooping out of the jar.  Avoid contaminating with dirty utensils.

Stored in the refrigerator, the Pickled Jalapenos are good for up to 3 months (maybe even longer).

Blanching vegetables before pickling is an optional process to halt the enzymes which cause vegetables to lose their flavor, color and texture.

Watch the video for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Pickled Bean Sprouts (Dua Gia), Carrot and Radish Pickles (Do Chua) or Pickled Mustard Greens (Dua Cai Chua).

Ingredients

1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt

Other Items
20 oz glass jar

Directions

Wash the jar with soap and hot water and then dry.

In a medium saucepan, add the water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Over Medium High heat, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Bring the solution to a gentle boil and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool until the liquid reaches room temperature. Optionally, chill in ice water for 5 minutes.

Wash the jalapenos with cold water. Cut the peppers into coins about 1/4-inch thick.

Place the pepper slices into a colander and gently toss to remove some of the seeds.

Layer the peppers into the jar leaving the loose seeds behind.

Pour in the pickling liquid filling up the jar but leaving about 1/2-inch room from the top. Use a spoon to dunk the peppers under the liquid.

Seal the jar and refrigerate. Allow to pickle in the refrigerator for 1 day before eating.

Yields: 2 cups

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

Easy Refrigerator Jalapenos Pickles | recipe from runawayrice.com

In addition to jalapenos, I pickled Thai chilies, garlic, sweet peppers, purple cabbage and rainbow carrots. Delish!

Pickle just about anything with this simple recipe! | recipe from runawayrice.com
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Fermented Chili Tofu (Chao)

Homemade means no unwanted additives or preservatives!

This Fermented Chili Tofu is a favorite with vegetarians but you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy it.  This deliciously briny and creamy tofu, which has been equated to a soft bleu cheese, is often served as a dip for fresh vegetables or simply a flavoring for rice in place of soy sauce or fish sauce.  Use it as a seasoning in soups, stir-fries or noodle dishes to add unique flavor to any meal.  This recipe is really simple and you’ll love the results–a healthy, homemade tofu condiment without any unwanted preservatives or additives.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Be sure to use extra firm or firm tofu.  Because tofu is soft to begin with and then is immersed in liquid, it breaks up very easily, so choose a firm tofu.  Also, be gentle when handling the tofu and once it’s in the jar, do not shake the contents.

There are no set rules for what size to cut the tofu.  I prefer smaller pieces because the brine permeates the tofu better.  As tofu blocks vary in size, I recommend cutting them so they are about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick.

I use vodka because it’s doesn’t have a strong flavor.   Feel free to use a white wine or liquor that you like.  Keep in mind that if your alcohol is sweet, you may want to add more salt to balance the flavor.  This condiment is suppose to be on the salty side.

If after fermenting for 24 hours you see black mold on the tofu, something has gone wrong and you need to discard the batch.  Chances are the tofu was contaminated during the preparation.

If making this during the winter, you may need to let the tofu ferment in the oven for 2 days.  Each day turn the oven light on for about 1 hour.  After the tofu is placed into jars, place them by a heating vent, next to stove or in the oven and again turn the oven light on for about 1 hour each day.

If you’re using a jar with a metal lid, wrap plastic wrap around the mouth of the jar before covering with the lid.  This prevents the metal from reacting with the brining liquid during the fermentation process.

As the tofu is preserved, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.  Make sure to seal it tightly when storing in the refrigerator.  Also be sure to use a clean utensil when spooning it out to avoid contamination from other foods.  This will help to prolong its life.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Pickled Mustard Greens (Dua Cai Chua)Dried Carrot and Radish Pickles (Dua Mon)and Pickled Jalapenos (Ot Ngam Giam).

Ingredients

14 oz extra-firm tofu
3/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vodka
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions

Remove the tofu from its packaging.  Gently rinse the tofu with cool water and then pat dry using paper towels.

Place the tofu into a colander lined with paper towels.  Cover with more paper towels.  Place a plate on top of the tofu and something heavy on the plate like a bag of sugar or a bowl.  Press the tofu for 2 hours.

Remove the paper towels and discard.  Cut the tofu into small pieces approximately 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch sections.

Place the tofu pieces into a baking pan lined with a paper towel.  Leave some room in between each piece.  Press another sheet of paper towel on top of the tofu.  Cover with foil and seal securely.  Place the pan into the oven and allow to rest for 24 hours.

To make the brine, combine the water with the salt and stir to dissolve.  Add the vodka and sesame oil and combine together.

Uncover the tofu and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  Carefully place the tofu pieces into a jar.  Pour in the brining liquid and then seal the jars securely.

Place the jars by a sunny window and allow to ferment for 3 days.  After 3 days, place the jars in a refrigerator and allow to ferment for another 10 days.

Enjoy!

Yields: 50 pieces, 14 oz

Serve this as a dip for fresh vegetables or a flavoring for rice.

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Chicken Stock (Nuoc Sup Ga, Nuoc Leo)

This simple and light broth makes the perfect base for soups and stews.Learning how to make a good soup stock is an essential skill every cook should know.  Yes, it’s super easy to just buy cans of stock or broth but nothing tastes better than a slowly-simmered stock made with the freshest ingredients.  With the colder months quickly approaching, having ready-made chicken stock is really convenient when you want to quickly prepare your favorite soups, stews and other hearty comfort foods.  So clear-out some room in the freezer and get ready to make a batch of this delicious chicken stock!

Check out these scrumptious soups which you can make using this chicken stock:

Spinach and Shrimp Balls Soup (Canh Rau Spinach voi Tom Vien)

Yampi Root/Yam Soup (Canh Khoai Mo)

Won Ton Noodle Soup (Mi Hoanh Thanh)

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Do’s for making a clear broth:

  1. Rinse the chicken bones.
  2. Skim the foam.
  3. Simmer instead of boil.
  4. Strain.

If you can buy just chicken breast bones, these make the clearest broth.  Depending on where you live, breast bones can be difficult to find.  Most stores sell chicken bones which is typically the chicken carcass.  The bones are often packaged with the neck, skin and fatty parts.  Discard these and don’t use them in making the chicken stock.  Neck bones cloud the stock and the fat and skin will make the stock really oily.

Rinsing the bones with hot water is key.  This process washes off any residual blood, bits of loose meat or whatever debris is clinging to the chicken.  Parboiling the chicken is a similar and effective technique but I find rinsing much easier as I don’t have to lift a heavy stockpot and pour out boiling water.

Skim, skim, skim and remove the foam or scum that floats to the top of the broth.  These are impurities which will cloud the stock.  Be diligent about skimming the stock and you’ll be rewarded with beautifully clear stock.

Strain the broth using a fine sieve.  If you don’t have a fine sieve, use a paper towel or coffee filter with your existing sieve.  Both do a great job with catching the impurities.

Stock too oily?  Refrigerate the stock overnight.  In the morning, use a spoon to scoop off the fat from the top and discard.  Instant calorie savings!

Don’t over-salt your stock.  You’ll most likely add more salt and other spices to it when using it to make other dishes.

The stock can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Save the stock for later use by pouring into it into smaller containers or re-sealable plastic bags and freezing.  (Make sure to leave some room for the stock to expand when frozen.)  The stock can be frozen for up to 1-year.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

5 lbs chicken bones
3 Tbsp salt
30 cups water
3 carrots
1/2 lb Daikon radish
1 sweet onion
1 Fuji apple
1 oz rock sugar
20 black peppercorns

Directions

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the carrots and radish.  Cut the carrots in half and the radish into thirds.  Remove the skin from the sweet onion and then quarter it.  Quarter the apple as well. (There’s no need to remove the skin or core.)

Trim off any remaining fat and skin from the chicken bones and discard.

Fill a large stockpot with hot water and add 1 Tbsp salt.  Add the chicken bones into the pot.  Swirl each of the chicken bones in the hot water for a few seconds.  Allow the bones to soak for 5 minutes.

Remove the bones and drain the dirty water. Rinse the stockpot.  Repeat the process of rinsing and then soaking the bones in the hot water one more time.  Remove the bones and drain the dirty water once again.

Place the bones back in the stockpot and transfer to the stove.  Add 30 cups of water or as much as the pot will hold leaving some room for the remaining ingredients.  Cover the stockpot and cook on High Heat for approximately 20 minutes.

After 20-25 minutes the stock should start to bubble.  Remove the lid and gently rotate the bones.  For the next 20 minutes, skim the foam off the top of the stock and discard. During this time, as soon as the broth starts to boil, reduce the heat to Low.  Do not allow the stock to boil rapidly.

Add the apples, carrots and radish along with the rock sugar, peppercorns and salt.  Cover the pot slightly and simmer for 1 hour.  Every 15 minutes, check to make sure the stock is not boiling and skim the foam from the top.

After 1 hour, turn-off the heat and let cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove the fruit, vegetables and chicken bones and discard.

Strain the broth using a fine sieve.

Yields: 28 cups

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Grilled Pork Sausage Fresh Spring Rolls (Nem Nuong Cuon)

These rice paper rolls made with grilled pork sausages and fresh greens make a wonderful appetizer!I admit it–I’ll eat anything rolled in rice paper.  My all-time favorite dish is Pork and Shrimp Fresh Spring Rolls (Goi Cuon) and on its heels is this dish.  I absolutely love all the different tastes and textures of these unique spring rolls: the flavorful and hearty grilled pork sausages, the refreshing lettuce and aromatic herbs, the crunchy cucumbers and the crispy egg roll wrapper is pure genius! Then there’s the slightly chewy and sticky texture of the rice paper encasing all of this goodness.  Add the dipping sauce and you have sensory overload in the most mouth-watering way.  Who doesn’t love this dish!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Feel free to adjust the sweetness of the dipping sauce to your taste.  If you prefer a sweeter sauce, use 1/2 cup honey instead of the recommended 1/3 cup.  If you’ve had this sauce in the restaurants, it’s definitely on the sweeter side.

These rolls are best when they are freshly made.  The rice paper doesn’t refrigerate or reheat very well.

If you’re making these ahead to serve later, cover the rolls with a damp paper towel to keep the rice paper moist.

Watch the video below for instructions

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: So Simple Spring Rolls (Goi Cuon) and Fresh Spring Rolls with Chinese Sausage (Bo Bia).

Ingredients

for the Dipping Sauce
4 garlic cloves
1 shallot
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb lean ground pork
1/3 cup black bean soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp sweet vinegar (also called sushi vinegar)
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup coconut soda
1 Tbsp roasted rice powder
2 tsp tapioca starch
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp crushed roasted peanuts

for the Spring Rolls
Grilled Pork Sausages
16 egg roll wrappers (Spring Home brand, TYJ Spring Roll Pastry)
1 egg
1 cup vegetable oil (for deep frying)
16 sheets rice paper (Flying Horse brand, size = 22 cm)
16 pieces green leaf lettuce, washed and trimmed
fresh herbs: mint, spicy mint, or cilantro, washed and trimmed
16 sprigs garlic chives, washed and trimmed
1 cucumber cut into 16 thin strips, approximately 5-inches long

Directions

Making the Dipping Sauce

Peel the garlic and shallots and chop.

Heat a saucepan over High heat and when hot add the vegetable oil.  Add the garlic and shallots and stir-fry for 15 seconds.

Reduce heat to Medium.  Add pork and cook for 6-7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

Add the black bean soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, sweet vinegar, peanut butter, coconut soda, roasted rice powder, tapioca starch and ground black pepper.  Stir together and combine well.  As soon as the sauce starts to bubble, turn off the heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes.

Pour sauce into a blender and process for 1 minute until smooth.

Serve the sauce warm topped with the crushed peanuts.

Yields: 3 cups


Making the Crunchy Egg Roll Wrappers

In a small bowl lightly beat the egg with a fork.

Separate the egg roll wrappers.  Take one of the wrappers and lightly brush it with the egg mixture.  Roll the egg roll wrapper up into a tight log.  Brush a bit more of the egg wash on the edges to seal.

Deep fry the egg roll wrappers in vegetable oil for 5 minutes until golden brown.  Place the rolls on a paper towel to soak up the oil and allow to cool.

Alternatively, place the egg roll wrappers on an oiled baking sheet.  Spray some vegetable oil on the rolls.  Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.  Rotate after 6 minutes so they brown evenly.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Yields:  16 rolls


Making the Fresh Spring Rolls

Cut each of the pork sausages in half and then cut in half lengthwise so there’s a total of 16 pieces.

Prepare a plate of fresh greens consisting of green leaf lettuce, fresh herbs, cucumber strips and garlic chives.

Fill a large bowl with warm water.

Dip a sheet of the rice paper in the water wetting it completely.  Shake off the excess water and place the rice paper on your work surface.  Wait for 10 seconds to allow it to soften.

Place a piece of green leaf lettuce on top of the rice paper.  Place a cucumber strip and an egg roll wrapper on top of the lettuce.  Wrap the lettuce around everything making a tight roll.  Wrap the rice paper around the lettuce log and roll about halfway.  Place a piece of the sausage next to the lettuce log.  Roll again covering the sausage with the rice paper.  Fold over each of the ends.  Place a sprig of chive on the rice paper and then finish rolling.  Continue until all rolls are made.

Serve the fresh rolls with the warm dipping sauce.  Enjoy!

Yields: 16 rolls

This unique dipping sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Check out the recipe and learn what makes it so tasty!

 

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

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Caramel Sauce (Nuoc Mau)

Caramel Sauce for Cooking--adds subtle flavor and color to braised dishes and more.  This ingredient is a pantry must-have!If you’re envisioning a sweet syrupy sauce to drizzle on top of ice cream and cakes, sorry friends, this is not that recipe.  This caramel sauce is made by cooking sugar to a dark molasses-like consistency that is slightly sweet and slightly bitter.  The sauce is then used to marinate meats or to add subtle flavor and color to dishes during cooking.  In Viet cooking, you see this sauce used most often in braised “kho” dishes as this gentle cooking technique is low and slow and allows the essence of the caramel sauce to permeate the food.

If you’ve followed my earlier posts, you may have noticed that I’ve shared several braised dishes traditionally requiring this caramel sauce.  I, however, have shared shortcuts and substitutes for the caramel sauce.  Why you ask?  Well, the reason is because this seemingly simple ingredient is quite tricky to make.  The sauce itself doesn’t take long to make but, the success of this recipe is all in the timing.  Cooking the sugar to achieve just the right color is tough especially if you’re not familiar with how quickly sugar burns once it reaches a certain stage.  Cook it for too long and the sauce is bitter and burnt tasting.  Undercook the sugar and the sauce is too light and isn’t balanced in flavor, more sweet than bitter.  I do want to say there is an element of personal preference with this recipe. Some people prefer a darker, more bitter than sweet sauce while others prefer more sweet and less bitter.  My recommendation is to practice and make a sauce that you like and then write down the time (to the seconds) and use that every time.  Enjoy!

A few notes on the recipe

A word of caution, cooking with sugar can be a dangerous thing.  Sugar is extremely hot when cooked to this stage so be really careful not to get any of the sauce on your skin.  Don’t touch the sauce with your fingers and be sure to use heat-proof utensils when stirring the sauce.  Also make sure to allow the sauce to cool adequately before transferring and storing.

Use a large saucepan to cook the sugar.  The sugar can boil quickly and overflow if you’re not watching closely.  If the sauce boils over, it’s one big mess to have to clean up.  So save yourself the hassle and use a generously sized pan.

Add hot water to the caramel sauce instead of cold water.  Depending on how hot the caramel sauce is, adding cold water could cause it to bubble vigorously and spill out of the pan.

Pour the sauce into a clean jar and then store in your pantry.  The sauce is good for up to a year.

Love braised dishes? Check out some of my other recipe posts:
Coca-Cola Braised Pork and Eggs (Thit Kho Trung) – In this recipe redo we substitute Coca-Cola for the caramel sauce.  If you’d like to use your homemade caramel sauce for this recipe, substitute the Coke with water and then add 2 tsp of caramel sauce.

Braised Fish in Clay Pot (Ca Kho To) – In this recipe shortcut , we make just enough caramel sauce for the recipe.  If you have the caramel sauce handy, just omit the sugar and add 1-2 tsp of caramel sauce.

Braised Seitan and Vegetables (Mi Can Kho Chay) – substitute 1 tsp of sugar with 1 tsp of caramel sauce for added flavor and color.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
1/4 cup hot water

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with  3 Tbsp of water.  Set the heat to Medium and start cooking the sugar.

After 3 minutes the sugar starts to melt and bubble.  Give it a stir and continue cooking.

After 4 minutes the sugars starts to turn a golden brown color.

After 6 minutes the sauce becomes a rich brown color.

After 7-8 minutes the sauce turns from a dark brown to a deep red color and the sugar starts to smoke.  Cook for another 30-45 seconds allowing the color to deepen further.  Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool on the stove for approximately 10 minutes.

If the sauce starts to bubble vigorously and the sugar smells like it’s burning, carefully immerse the bottom of the pan into a bowl of water to stop the sugar from cooking further.  Allow the pan to cool in the water for about 5 minutes and then return to the stove.

Add the hot water to the sauce and stir together over Medium heat.  When the sauce starts to boil again, turn off the heat and continue stirring for another minute.

Allow the sauce to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a clean jar.  The sauce will thicken up further as it cools.

Store in a cool dry place.

Yields:  3/4 cup
Check out the Caramel Sauce Color Slide and compare with your sauce.

A look at these samples of Caramel Sauce will let you know if you've cooked the Caramel Sauce properly.
#1 The sauce is a rich, dark amber color but the sauce is thin indicating too much water was added.

#2 The sauce is a dark reddish brown color.  It was cooked a tad too long.  The taste will be more bitter than sweet.

#3 This sauce is a beautiful dark amber and is the desired result.  Notice how thick the sauce is as well.

#4 This sauce is a honey color and is too light indicating it was not cooked enough.  It will be sweet like a traditional caramel sauce and will be missing the bittersweet taste.  (This sauce is better suited for flan.)

#5 This sauce is again nice and thick and a lovely dark amber color.  This is the how we want our caramel sauce to look.

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