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Ginger Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam Gung)

Ginger Fish Sauce: Zesty and Tangy this Dipping Sauce is bursting with fresh flavors! | recipe from runawayrice.comGinger Fish Sauce is a tangy and sweet dipping sauce made of fresh ginger, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. A bit thicker than the traditional fish sauce dipping sauce, this zesty sauce is often served with chicken and duck. Bites of poultry are dipped into this amazing sauce for a flavor explosion that is fresh, fragrant and tangy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Use fresh lime juice or distilled white vinegar in this recipe.

I use a small food processor to chop the ginger and garlic since I usually make double or triple the recipe. Alternatively, chop the ginger and garlic by hand or use a mortar and pestle to grind into a paste.

There are no hard and fast rules so feel free to adjust the ingredients to your taste.

This sauce makes a tasty salad dressing or meat marinade so make some extra to enjoy!

Store any remaining sauce in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Ingredients

2 oz fresh ginger, knub about 2-inches long
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice (1 large lime)
2 small red chilies, finely chopped

Directions

Peel the skin from the ginger and discard. Cut the ginger into chunks. Put the ginger and garlic clove into a small food processor and chop finely, about 10-15 seconds.

In a small bowl, add the warm water, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and chilies and combine.

Let the sauce rest for about 10 minutes before serving so the flavors can marinate and meld together.

Serve with your favorite dishes like Chicken Congee / Rice Porridge (Chao Ga).

Yields: 1 cup

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Tamarind Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Me) and Honey Soy Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham).

Ahh...the aroma of fresh ginger is so refreshing and invigorating!! | recipe from runawayrice.com

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Zesty and tangy this dipping sauce is bursting with fresh flavors! | recipe from runawayrice.com

A hearty comfort meal! | recipe from runawayrice.com

Chicken Congee / Rice Porridge with Ginger Fish Sauce, Fried Breadsticks and Chicken Cabbage Salad.

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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!

 

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Tamarind Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Me)

Tamarind Dipping Sauce - a tangy and slightly sweet sauce that will tantalize your taste buds! | recipe from runawayrice.comIf you’ve had this tangy, spicy and slightly sweet sauce, just the thought of it should start you salivating.  Made of tamarind, garlic, red chilies, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce this sauce is a unique combination of tart and sweet.  A tantalizing concoction, this sauce is typically served with baked fish wrapped in rice paper and enjoyed as fresh spring rolls.  (Stay tuned, next week I’ll share this companion dish, Asian-Style Baked Salmon.)  I also love this sauce as a dressing for refreshing salads or rice noodle bowls.  If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, substitute the fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Depending on where you live tamarind may be difficult to find.  The dried tamarind is often sold packaged as a block (like cheese) or a disc (like a big rice cake). Sometimes it’s labelled as “wet tamarind” to differentiate between the dried whole pods (picture below). Look for these products at your Asian grocery store.

If you have a Latin market nearby, you can buy the dried whole pods (see picture below).  The tamarind is packaged in small plastic bags and very inexpensive.  Simply peel off the skin and cut off the stringy parts attached to the pods.  Then cut the fruit into small pieces for this recipe.

If dried or wet tamarind is not available, you may be able to find tamarind paste.  When using tamarind paste, the intensity may vary so you’ll need to experiment a bit before finding the right combination for this sauce.  (Also keep in mind that some pastes include additional spices likes ginger.)  For the below recipe, you need 1/3 cup of tamarind puree so add 2-3 teaspoons of the tamarind paste with 1/3 cup hot water.  Stir to dissolve and then follow the recipe as per below.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

2 oz dried or wet tamarind
3/4 cup boiling water
3 garlic cloves
3 red chili peppers (this is spicy, cut back if you want less spice)
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp sugar

Directions

Put the dried tamarind into a bowl or measuring cup and add the boiling water.  Mash tamarind using a small whisk or spoon to extract the fruit.  This takes approximately 5 minutes.  Strain the mixture using a sieve.  Use the back of a spoon to push the tamarind through the sieve until all that’s left is the pulp.

Finely minced the garlic and red chilies.  Set aside for now.

Add the tamarind puree into a small saucepan.  Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar.  Over Low heat, stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 2-3 minutes.  Let the sauce cool for a few minutes.

Add the garlic and chilies and combine.  Pour sauce into dipping bowls and serve.

Refrigerate any uneaten amounts.  The sauce is best if consumed within the week.

Yields: 3/4 cup

Dried Tamarind - this one of a kind fruit has a distinctly tart taste! | recipe from runawayrice.com

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Beef Meatballs (Bo Vien)

Quick Meal or Appetizer - Beef Meatballs in a Light Broth Served with a Hoisin Chili Paste Dipping SauceIf this is your first time trying these Vietnamese meatballs you may be surprised by the consistency.  They are not soft like American or Italian meatballs.  On the contrary, they are springy and sometimes described as “rubbery”–but in a good way.  There’s a specific Vietnamese word “dai” to describe the consistency of these beef meatballs.  The closest translation to this Viet word is perhaps “chewy” but I don’t think this accurately or positively describes the unique texture of these meatballs.  With that said, I hope you’ll try these one of a kind meatballs with an open mind.  In the below recipe, I share the techniques for achieving this desired springiness.  It’s a bit of work and the chilling of the meat throughout the various stages of preparation is essential.  The first time you make them, the meatballs may be soft and mushy but don’t give up!  Practice makes perfect!  Once you figure out the right chilling time (varies with your freezer), processing time (varies with your food processor) and cooking time (varies with the size of the balls), you’ll be able to make perfectly springy and delicious meatballs.  The true test of the success of these balls is to try and bounce them on your counter.  No joke!  If you can get at least one to two good bounces, Congratulations! You have the perfect Vietnamese beef meatballs. Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

80/20 ground beef is meat that is comprised of 80% meat and 20% fat.  The fat is essential for flavor and juiciness.  You can go a bit leaner if you’d like but some fat is essential for this recipe.

It helps to spread out the meat as thinly as possible so it chills faster.  If you have a metal pan or cookie sheet, use that as it cools quickly.  Also, if your freezer doesn’t have any strange odors, you can leave the pan uncovered and that will speed up the chilling process.

Leave the meat in the freezer as long as possible so that it’s almost frozen but just before it turns into a solid chunk of meat.  (You should still be able to slice through it with a knife or large spoon.)  Depending on the freezer, this could take from 1 – 2+ hours.

Keeping the meat cold during the entire preparation process is key to achieving the springy texture.  Work quickly with processing the meat and then return it to the freezer right away.  Also, be sure to put the meat not yet processed back in the freezer.  If at any point during this entire process the meat gets warm, the meatballs will be soft.

Unless you have a really powerful or professional food processor, divide the meat into smaller portions for processing otherwise you will overwork the motor.  (I’ve had my share of burned-out motors.)

Do not use too much baking powder.  If you do, the meatballs will be nice and puffy immediately after cooking.  However after cooling they will shrivel and look pitiful.

Do not cook the meatballs in rapidly boiling water.  This causes them to lose their round shape.

Don’t skip the step where we dunk the meatballs in cold water after cooking.  This helps to firm up the meatballs and aids in the springy texture as well.

For folks looking to duplicate a restaurant recipe, my apologies, this is not that recipe.  These meatballs will not taste like the restaurant version because we are omitting two very hazardous ingredients commonly used in thie recipe:  MSG and Borax.  I cannot in good conscience share a recipe that uses MSG, known to cause hypertension and other health risks, and Borax, a chemical used in household cleaners and insecticides.  Our health is more important than a tasty meal.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Fish Cakes (Cha Ca) and Steamed Pork Roll (Cha Lua/Gio Lua).

Ingredients

1 lb 80/20 ground beef
2 Tbsp ice water
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp beef seasoning
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vinegar

Directions

Combine ice water, fish sauce, sugar, potato starch, beef seasoning, pepper in a bowl and stir to dissolve.  Add the baking powder and mix with the marinade.  Add beef to marinade and blend well using your hands.  Mix for about 1-2 minutes.  Do not overwork the meat.  Spread the meat mixture evenly into a large dish or plate.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.  Freeze for 1 1/2 hours.

Divide the meat into 3 equal batches.   Add the first batch into the food processor.  Place the remaining meat back in the freezer.  Pulse the meat 10 times.  Scrape down the edges of the prep bowl and spread out the meat if it has clumped together.  Processor for 10 seconds.   Scrape around the bowl again.   This is one cycle.  Repeat this pulse/process cycle 2 more times for a total of 3 cycles.  Scoop out the meat and place back in the dish.  Add the next batch and process in the same way.  Remember to return the dish back to the freezer each time you’re processing so the meat doesn’t thaw.

After the third batch is processed, add the first two batches back into the food processor.  Add the vegetable oil.  Process for another 30-45 seconds until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Divide the meat in half and shape into 2-12 inch logs.  Cover with plastic wrap and then freeze for 1 hour.

Remove one log from the freezer.  Pinch off a small amount, approximately 1/2 oz, of the meat mixture and roll into a ball.   Wet your hands with water if they get sticky.

Fill a large bowl with water and add 1 cup of ice and 1 tsp of vinegar.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Gently drop all the meatballs into the boiling water.  Turn the heat to Low and simmer for 7-8 minutes.  Gently rotate the balls every few minutes.  Transfer meatballs to ice bath and dunk meatballs in the ice batch for 30 seconds.  Transfer to a colander and allow to drain.

Repeat the same steps for second batch.

Serve this meatballs in soups, noodle soups, stir frys, etc.  If you want to enjoy these meatballs as an appetizer or snack, serve with a Hoisin Plum Dipping Sauce and Satay Chili Paste.

Yields:  32-1/2 oz meatballs

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Sweet and Sour Sauce (Sot Chua Ngot)

This dipping sauce seems to be everyone’s favorite–at least in my circle of family and friends.  I have some family members who will not eat egg rolls without this delectable sauce and I serve it almost as frequently as my Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce.  This recipe is really easy and fast to make.  My secret ingredient (well, not so secret anymore) is the use of pineapple orange juice.  It’s the perfect combination of citrus flavors and sugar which is why I don’t add any additional sweeteners to this recipe.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 – 6 oz cans pineapple orange juice
1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions

Combine cornstarch with water and stir until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, add all remaining ingredients.  Heat mixture over low heat, stirring until tomato paste is dissolved.  When sauce starts to bubble, turn off the heat.  Stir cornstarch and water mixture again before pouring into the sauce.  Stir sauce for 1-2 minutes and it should start to thicken.  Allow the sauce to cool for another 2-3 minutes.  The sauce thickens further as it cools.

Pour into dipping bowls and serve with your favorite dishes.  Enjoy this sauce with the Shrimp and Yam Toast.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups

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Vegetarian Spring Rolls (Bi Cuon Chay)

I love these vegetarian spring rolls even more than the meaty version with pork and shrimp. These refreshing rolls are a vegetarian’s delight with jicama, yams, carrots, tofu and bean thread noodle tossed in fragrant roasted rice powder.  If you’ve never had roasted rice powder, this is a wonderful recipe for you to be introduced to this ingredient.  It’s wonderfully aromatic and adds an interesting texture to foods.

This recipe makes a generous amount of spring rolls and is perfect for sharing.  Make them as appetizers for your next party.  Because of the rice paper, the rolls dry-out quickly so they are best if consumed within the day.  Serve these tasty rolls with the Honey Soy Dipping Sauce.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

1 head butterleaf lettuce
1 bunch cilantro
4-5 Persian cucumbers

12 oz extra firm tofu + 2 tsp vegetable oil
2 packages bean thread noodle (approximately 1.4 oz each)
1 medium jicama, 1 lb
1 large yam, 3/4 lb
2 cups shredded carrots
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1-3 oz package roasted rice powder

25-30 sheets rice paper

Directions

Trim and wash the lettuce, cilantro and cucumbers.  Slice the cucumbers into thin strips.  Chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the spring rolls.

To Make the Filling

Remove tofu from packaging.  Blot the tofu with paper towels to remove any remaining water.  Cut into thin slices, approximately 1/4-inch thick.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add vegetable oil and coat the skillet evenly.  Cook tofu slices until lightly brown, approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the tofu and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.  Cut tofu into thin strips and set aside for now.

Put the bean thread noodle into a salad spinner.  Pour in hot water covering the noodles completely.  Stir the noodles to break  up the bundles.  Allow the noodles to soak in the hot water for 8 minutes.  Drain and rinse several times with cold water.  Shake off the excess water.  Spin the noodles in the salad spinner to remove more water.  Using scissors, cut the noodles into shorter strands.  Spread the noodles on a large plate and allow to air dry further.

Remove the skin from the jicama and cut into thin slices approximately 1/8-inch thick and then julienne.  Repeat the same process for the yam.  Try to keep the strips approximately the same size and thickness.

Heat a large wok over high heat and then add vegetable oil.  Add minced garlic and stir fry for 5 seconds.  Add the julienned jicama and yams and toss together.  Add the water.  Stir fry for 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, salt and black pepper.  Stir fry for another 5-6 minutes.  The vegetables should still have a crunch.  Remove the wok from the stove and allow the vegetables to continue cooking in the wok.  Let the vegetables gradually cool, approximately one hour.

Add the tofu and noodles to the stir-fried vegetables.  Sprinkle the roasted rice powder and then mix everything together well.

To Make the Spring Roll

Dip a piece of rice paper into warm water making sure to wet the entire sheet.  Gently shake off excess water and lay the rice paper on a cutting board.  Wait 10-20 seconds for the rice paper to soften.  (Time varies depending on the type of rice paper you use.)

Put a small amount of the filling on the rice paper.  Place a piece of lettuce on top of the filling and then add a cucumber strip and cilantro sprigs.  Carefully pull the lower edge of the rice paper up and over the filling.  Tuck the filling under the folded rice paper and gently roll halfway.  Fold the ends over and then finish rolling making sure all filling is tightly wrapped in the rice paper.  When rolling use gentle pressure.  Rolling with a firm hand will cause the rice paper to split.

Set the spring roll on a plate.  Cover with a damp paper towel.  Continue rolling until all ingredients are used.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or try the Honey Soy Dipping Sauce.

Yields: 25-30 rolls

Save some of the filling and toss with fresh greens to make a delicious and healthy salad. Yum!

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