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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

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

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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Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Tender Pork Spare Ribs in a Sweet and Sour Sauce--this dish is amazingly good and so simple to make!

This dish of pork spare ribs cooked with a zesty sweet and sour sauce, bell peppers and sweet onions is a wonderfully comforting and satisfying.  It’s easy to make and you can serve this delicious stir-fry over rice for a simple meal or pair with a hearty soup for a truly belly-warming Vietnamese meal.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The best type of ribs for this recipe is the pork rib tips–meaty sections attached to the lower end of the spare ribs.  These ribs are more cartilage than bone and the meat is nice and tender.  If you can only get the spare ribs, these are fine too.

Purchase ribs that are cross cut or ask your butcher to cut for you.  If all you can find is a rack of ribs, just chop them into smaller sections using a meat cleaver.

I am pretty thorough about preparing the ribs and wash them with salt and then parboil to remove the blood and marrow.  These steps help to reduce the smell that is common with pork bones.  If you don’t mind the porky “aroma” or looking to save some time, you can skip these steps.

If you would like more of a sauce for dipping or drizzling over rice, skip the corn starch and add 1/2 cup water to the sweet and sour sauce.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs (Suon Nuong) and Beef Shank and Pickled Mustard Greens Soup (Canh Dua Cai Chua Bap Bo).

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb pork rib tips or spare ribs
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp thick soy sauce
1 1/2 cups coconut water
1/2 medium sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
6 oz pineapple orange juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

Place the ribs into a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp salt.  Rub the salt onto the meat.  Rinse the ribs with cool water washing off the salt.

Trim off any visible fat and then cut the ribs into 2-inch sections.  Place the meat into a large pot along with 1 tsp salt.  Fill the pot with water covering the ribs completely.

Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over High Heat.  Reduce the heat to Low.  Skim off the foam and discard.  Cook on Low for 5 minutes.

Transfer the ribs into a colander and rinse with cool water.  Return the ribs to a clean pot.  Add the thick soy sauce and mix well.  Add the coconut water and just enough water to cover the ribs.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil over High Heat.  Reduce the heat to Low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Mince the garlic.  Cut the bell peppers and onions into chunks.

In a measuring cup, combine the pineapple orange juice, rice vinegar, sugar, and corn starch.

Heat a large wok over Medium High heat and add 1 tsp vegetable oil.  Add half of the minced garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds.  Add the vegetables and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until they just start to soften.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside for now.

Adjust the heat to Medium.  Add 1 tsp vegetable oil, the remaining minced garlic and the tomato paste.  Stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Stir the juice mixture and pour into the wok.  Mix together.  Add the ribs and toss with the sauce, cooking for 2 minutes.  Add the vegetables and fish sauce and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.  Top with freshly ground black pepper.

Garnish with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds.  Serve while hot!

Yields:  4 servings

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Sweet and Sour Pork Spare Ribs | recipe from runwayrice.com

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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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Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs (Suon Nuong)

Hoisin Plum Sauce Glaze for Beef Short Ribs - simply amazing!Love ribs but not quite sure how to make them?  This easy recipe makes perfectly tender, juicy and flavorful ribs.  We finish the ribs on the grill to get that nice charred taste and then top it off with a generous amount of a sweet and savory glaze.  Is your mouth-watering yet?

Notes on the recipe

Usually when making these ribs I use the cross-cut beef ribs which are typically sold at the Korean grocery stores.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the trip and ended-up buying the regular beef short ribs at my local grocery store.  These are much meatier and they worked out really well in this recipe.

I use 2 disposable foil trays to bake the ribs.  They’re nice and deep and clean-up is super easy with these.

The white vinegar is the secret ingredient to help soften the beef as it can often be tough.  Don’t worry, the ribs won’t smell like vinegar.

Be sure to use the wire cooling racks to elevate the meat so they’re not touching the vinegar.  We don’t want our ribs tasting like vinegar.

Covering the ribs with foil is the key to keeping them juicy and tender.  The ribs are actually being steamed and will be nice and moist.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

Meat and Marinade:
4 lbs beef short ribs
1 stalk lemongrass
1 shallot
1-inch ginger
4 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup black bean soy sauce (2 Tbsp black bean sauce + 2 Tbsp soy sauce + 2 Tbsp water)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Vodka 5-Spice Marinade
1 cup water
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup white vinegar

Glaze:
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/2 cup plum sauce
1/4 tsp chili paste

Directions

Cut a 6-inch section of lemongrass.  Peel and discard the tough outer layers.  Cut the stalk into thin coins.  Chop in food processor for 1 minute.

Peel shallots and roughly chop.  Add to food processor.

Peel ginger and cut into small pieces.  Add to food processor.

Smash garlic cloves and then remove skin.  Add to food processor.

Add brown sugar, black bean soy sauce, sesame oil, Vodka 5-Spice Marinade, water and black pepper into the prep bowl.  Process for 1 minute.

Add beef into a large plastic re-sealable bag.  Pour in the marinade.  Squeeze out the air from the bag and then seal shut.  Work the marinade into the meat.  Place the bag in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.  (Overnight is best.)

Add 1/4 cup vinegar to each disposable foil tray.  Place a wire rack inside each tray and then set the ribs on top, bone side down.

Cover each tray securely with foil.  Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine Hoisin sauce, plum sauce and chili paste to make the glaze.

Set the heat to Medium on the grill. Place the ribs on the grill, meat side down.  Grill for 2 minutes.  Flip the ribs over and then quickly coat each rib with a generous amount of the glaze.  Grill for another 2 minutes, flip and glaze again.

Remove from the grill and enjoy right away!

Yields: 4-6 servings

Juicy and Tender--these Beef Short Ribs are so easy to make!

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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! | recipe from runawayrice.comIf 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. | recipe from runawayrice.com
#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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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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