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Coconut Macaroons (Banh Dua)

Just a few pantry staples and fresh eggs are all that is needed to make these delicious drop cookies loaded with coconut flakesEasy to Make Coconut Macaroons | recipe from runawayrice.com. This recipe is not overly sweet and has a splash of lime juice which gives the cookies a hint of tartness and lovely citrusy aroma. Super easy to make, you can whip up a batch of these tasty treats in no time at all. Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

If you would like the cookies to be sweeter, add sugar instead of more condensed milk as more condensed milk will make the batter too wet.

To make these gluten-free, substitute the all-purpose flour for coconut flour or rice flour.

Use a cookie scoop or  two spoons to drop the batter onto a lined cookie sheet. I use the Silpat baking mat. Optionally use parchment paper or grease the pan and the cookies will be easier to remove.

Store cookies in an air-tight container or bag at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Watch for video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Mooncakes with Coconut Filling (Banh Trung Thu/Banh Nuong Nhan Dua) or Silkworm Cassava Cake (Banh Tam Khoai Mi)

Ingredients

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp lime juice
7 oz sweetened coconut flakes (approximately 2 1/4 cups)
1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 large egg whites (room temperature)
1/8 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lime juice and mix well. Add the coconut flakes and flour. Mix together combining well.

Separate the eggs putting the egg whites into mixing bowl.  Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on Low speed for 15 seconds or until foamy. Add the salt. Whip on Medium High speed until soft and fluffy, approximately 1 minute.

Add half of the whipped egg whites to the coconut mixture and gently fold together. Add the remaining egg whites and fold together.

Using a cookie scoop, drop small mounds of the batter onto a cookie sheet.

Bake until golden, approximately 15-18 minutes.

Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Yields: 1 dozen

Check out this post on How to Prepare Fresh Coconut to use fresh coconut in this recipe.

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Just the right sweetness Coconut Macaroons | recipe from runawayrice.com

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Chewy Sesame Peanut Candy (Keo Me Dau Phong)

A homemade treat that's perfect for gift-giving.

I shared a brittle version of this candy not too long ago.  (Check out the link for my Peanut Candy recipe.)  After posting the brittle recipe, I received numerous requests for the chewier version, so here it is–finally.  This recipe for Chewy Sesame Peanut candy is softer and more tender for those who don’t like hard candy or fear cracking a tooth on these delights.  The Viet version of this candy, Keo Me Xung, is made with only sesame seeds.  I love the coupling of sesame seeds and peanuts and modified the traditional recipe.  If you’d like to make an all sesame seeds version, just substitute the peanuts for sesame seeds.  The rest of the recipe is the same.  Feel free to also use any combination of nuts you like.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Cooking the sugar is the trickiest part of this recipe and you may have to make this a few times before getting the consistency just right.  If the sugar is not cooked enough, the candy will be gooey and not hold its shape.  Cook the sugar too long and you’ll have brittle instead of a chewy candy.  The best ways to tell if the sugar is cooked just right is to:  1) check the color–the syrup should be the color of honey and 2) check the consistency–the syrup should bead off a spoon rather than stream off it indicating it has reached the appropriate thickness.  (If you have a candy thermometer that can provide a quick read, the sugar should reach the Firm-Ball Stage, temperature is 245°F – 250°F.)

Be attentive as the syrup nears the 5 minute cooking window as it turns dark very quickly from this point on and can burn quite easily.  As soon as the syrup reaches the golden, honey color, add the lemon juice right away.   The lemon juice helps to suspend the syrup in its current candy state.  Add the lemon juice quickly and be careful as the syrup may splatter.

Stir the tapioca and water mixture before adding to the syrup as the contents tend to settle.  Again, as with the lemon juice, pour the mixture quickly into the pan and then stir vigorously.  The tapioca starch turns from opaque to translucent when it’s cooked.

For faster cooling, place the candy in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Store any uneaten candy in an air-tight container. The candy is good for up to 2 weeks.

This candy is a really popular sweet treat for Lunar New Year and you can easily make little goody bags or boxes for gift-giving.  Individually wrap the candies using plastic wrap or parchment paper to make tasty little bon bons.  Alternatively, use small cookie cutters to cut the candy into fun shapes and then place on mini cupcake liners for cute little treats.  As Lunar New Year often falls close to Valentine’s Day, I decided to turn these candies into little V-Day treats.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Peanut Candy (Keo Dau Phong) and Asian-Inspired Caramel Apples.

Ingredients

1/2 cup roasted roasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup water + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts

Directions

Add the tapioca starch to 1/3 cup water and stir until mixture is smooth.  Set aside for now.

Line a 9×6 inch pan with parchment paper.  Drizzle vegetable oil into the pan and then use a brush to coat the paper with the oil.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup sesame seeds into the pan.  Tilt and gently shake the pan to distribute the sesame seeds making sure to cover the bottom of the pan completely.

Place a small saucepan over High Heat.  Add vegetable oil, sugar and water.  Stir together dissolving the sugar while bringing the mixture to a boil.  (This takes approximately 2 minutes.)

As soon as the syrup starts to boil, stop stirring.  Cook the syrup for 5 minutes or until it thickens and turns a light honey color.  Reduce the heat to Low and cook for another 1 minute or until the syrup turns a honey color.   (Be careful with this step as the sugar cooks very quickly at this point and can get dark and burn if left too long.)  As soon as the honey color is reached, quickly add the lemon juice and stir together.  Stir the tapioca and water mixture and then pour into the syrup along with the vanilla extract.  Stir quickly to combine and cook for another 1 minute.  Add the peanuts and mix well with the syrup.  Cook for another 1 minute and then turn off the heat.

Pour the hot candy into the pan prepared earlier and spread evenly into the pan.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sesame seeds on top.  Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth out the top.  Allow to cool for 3-4 hours.

To serve, remove the candy from the pan, peel away the paper from the edges, cut off the edges (optional) and then cut into 1×1-inch squares.

Yields:  40 pieces

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A delicious homemade treat for Valentine's Day!

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Braised Pork and Shrimp (Thit Kho Tep)

A classic Viet dish, it's deliciously savory and sweet!This Braised Pork and Shrimp dish is a delicious example of the bold flavors intrinsic to Vietnamese cuisine.  It’s an easy dish with simple ingredients but is truly unique tasting.  Braising or “Kho” is a popular Viet method for cooking savory meat dishes.  The cooking technique allows the meat and shrimp to absorb the savory and slightly sweet sauce as it is cooked.  Caramelizing the sugar first and then adding fish sauce produces a glossy sauce which adds beautiful color to the dish.  The best part about this recipe is how quickly you can make this dish.  (You can definitely add this to your 30 minutes or less recipe category.)  The prepping is minimal and you can often find the pork already cut to size.  For convenience, buy shrimp that’s already cleaned–peeled and deveined.  The rest is a breeze!

Want to make it a traditional Viet meal?  Serve this dish with Sour Soup (Canh Chua).

If you enjoy this braised dish, here are a few more to try:

Coca-Cola Braised Pork and Eggs (Thit Kho Trung)

Ginger Chicken (Ga Kho Gung)

Braised Fish in Clay Pot (Ca Kho To)

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

3/4 lb pork loin or pork belly
1/2 lb size 41/50 shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 garlic cloves
1 shallot
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 green onions

Directions

Chop the tops of the green onions and set aside in a small bowl.

Finely mince the garlic.  Peel the shallots and finely chop.  Set aside in a small bowl.

Cut the pork into strips about 1/2-inch thick.

Heat a pan over Medium High heat and when hot add 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Add 1/2 Tbsp sugar and quickly stir together.  After the sugar dissolves and turns a honey color (approximately 30 seconds), add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Transfer the shrimp to a clean plate and set aside for now.

Heat a clean pan over Medium High heat and when hot add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Add 1 Tbsp sugar and quickly stir together.  Again, after the sugar turns a honey color, add the garlic and shallots and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Add the pork and stir-fry for 1 minute coating the meat in the caramel sauce.  Add the water and combine.  Cover the pan and cook on Low heat for 5-6 minutes.

Add the shrimp and fish sauce to the pork and combine well.

Cook for another 5 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Finish with freshly ground black pepper.

Before serving, top with the chopped green onions.

Yields: 2-4 servings

A traditional Vietnamese meal of Sour Soup with Braised Pork and Shrimp

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Plantains, Cassava and Tapioca Pearls Dessert (Che Chuoi Khoai Mi Bot Bang)

Diet friendly without sacrificing the taste -- check out my recipe redo!

This scrumptious Viet dessert is made with plantains and cassava cooked into a sweet and creamy tapioca pudding.  For those not familiar with this dessert, it is decadently sweet and rich thanks to the generous use of sugar and coconut milk as per the traditional recipe.  As good as the first bite always tastes,  I find this dessert to be overly sweet and way to heavy that I can’t get past the richness to enjoy the textures and flavors of the plantains and cassava.  Not willing to forego such an amazing dessert, I revamped this recipe to be more health-conscious and palatable.  There are obvious ingredients that I cut back on but the true twist on this recipe is the use of coconut water.  The coconut water is naturally sweet and adds wonderful flavor to this dessert without the heaviness of coconut milk.  Because coconut milk is so prevalent in Viet desserts, it’s real easy to substitute coconut water for some of the coconut milk in efforts to lighten a dish.  In most cases, you can adjust the recipe by substituting half of the coconut milk required with coconut water.  I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.  Here’s to better health and trimmer waistlines! 🙂

Notes on the recipe

Use fresh or frozen cassava as I showed in the video.  The frozen cassava is super-convenient and a great timesaver.  When boiling the cassava, be careful not to overcook it initially.  Keep in mind the cassava will be cooked again in the pudding.  A good test to see if the cassava is adequately cooked is to cut it using a fork.  You should be able to cut it easily, but the cassava piece should hold its shape and not get smashed by the fork.

You can use plantains or manzano bananas in this recipe.  Manzano or “Apple Bananas” are smaller than regular bananas and rather plump.  Like plantains they have a firmer texture and drier taste than regular bananas.   Just a note of advice, regular bananas are not right for this recipe as they get really mushy when cooked.  I use what’s immediately available and living in San Diego, I can find plantains just about everywhere.

The use of Pandan leaves imparts a wonderful aroma to the dessert.  I personally love the smell of Pandan leaves and use it liberally.  If you don’t have fresh or frozen leaves, use Pandan extract or essence.

For the tapioca pearls, I use the smallest ones so I don’t have to cook them in advance.  Just add the pearls toward the end to thicken the syrup into a pudding.  Some people like their desserts soupy and others like it really thick so feel free to adjust the amount of tapioca pearls accordingly.  A quick tip, don’t rinse the tapioca pearls too early.  The water causes them to soften and they will disintegrate when added to the rest of the ingredients if soaked too far in advance.  Also after adding them to the pot, stir minimally so they don’t dissolve.

Adjust the sugar levels to your preference and use a sugar substitute intended for cooking or baking if you’d desired.

If you’re not a fan of coconut milk, try using half-and-half or whipping cream.

Lastly, for those interested in the original recipe, adjust the recipe as follows:
– 1 cup sugar (instead of 1/2 cup) or more per your preference
– Use water instead of the coconut water
– 2 cups coconut milk (instead of 1/2 cup)
– 2/3 cup tapioca pearls

Watch the video below for instructions.

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Ingredients

1 lb cassava (fresh or frozen)
1 lb plantains or manzano bananas
1 oz Pandan leaves (fresh or frozen)
2 cups coconut water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca pearls
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup roasted crushed peanuts

Directions

If using frozen cassava, cut in half lengthwise.  Remove the fibrous core.  Cut each section in half again lengthwise.  Then cut into 1/2-inch chunks

If using fresh cassava, cut off the ends.  Cut the cassava into 3 equal sections.  Take one of the cassava sections and using a sharp knife, make one deep cut through the skin starting from the top to the bottom.  Work the knife blade under the skin.  Peel off the skin and discard.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove any remaining skin.   Cut the cassava as instructed above.

Place the cassava into a bowl filled with cool water.  Allow to soak for 1 hour.

Fill a saucepan halfway with water and then add the cassava.  Add 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Cover and bring the water to a boil.  Stir together, cover and cook on Low heat for 5 minutes.  Transfer to colander and let drain.

Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Add the whole plantains or bananas.  Cover the pot and cook on Low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from the hot water and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the skin from the plantains or bananas and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Divide the stack of Pandan leaves in half.  Take one of the stems and tie it around one of the stacks.  Repeat the same step with the other stack to make two small bundles.

Use a sieve to rinse the tapioca pearls in cool water and then drain well.

In a medium saucepan, add the coconut water, sugar and Pandan leaves.  Stirring constantly cook over Low heat until the sugar is dissolved.   Add the cassava and plantains or bananas into the syrup and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  Make sure everything is touching the liquid.  Add more coconut water if needed so it just barely covers the plantains and cassava.

Add the tapioca pearls and gently combine with everything else.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the pearls turn from white to translucent.  Turn off the heat and then add the coconut milk and 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Gently stir everything together.  Let the dessert rest for 5-7 minutes to cool and thicken.

To serve, spoon a generous amount into a dessert bowl and drizzle some of the sauce on top.  Sprinkle with the roasted crushed peanuts.

Yields: 4-6 servings

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Sweet Mung Bean Pudding (Che Tao Soan, Che Dau Xanh)

Sweet Mung Bean Pudding, a classic Viet dessert, is the perfect treat when you want to make yourself something a little indulgent or need a simple dessert everyone will enjoy.  All of the ingredients are pantry staples and so making this dessert doesn’t require much shopping or advanced planning.  You just need to soak the beans ahead of time.  I recommend soaking overnight but if you’re short on time, soaking for a few hours is fine, just adjust the steaming time accordingly.

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Making this dessert with success requires that you keep the beans whole and intact.  Over steaming the beans, stirring the cooked beans or not allowing them to cool before handling may cause the beans to get broken or smashed.  Another indicator of success is getting the consistency of the pudding just right so the beans are suspended in the starch mixture.  Make it too runny and the beans sink to the bottom.  Make it too thick and the pudding is gluey and even lumpy.  Keep in mind the pudding thickens further as it cools.

The coconut sauce is optional but it seems to be the topping of choice for most Vietnamese desserts.  If you’re counting calories, skip the sauce or substitute with a low-calorie whipped topping.  Feel free to adjust the sweetness to your taste.  The recipe below is plenty sweet.  If you want it just mildly sweet, use 1/2 cup sugar.

This dessert can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.  Refrigerate any uneaten portions and consume within the week.  To reheat, use the microwave.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like: Rice Pudding with Black-Eyed Peas (Che Dau Trang).

Ingredients

1 cup peeled split mung bean
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups water
1 Tbsp + 3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup tapioca starch + 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or Pandan essence

Optional Topping
Coconut Sauce

Directions

Rinse the beans with cool water several times until the water is clear.  Fill the bowl with water and allow to soak for 4 hours or overnight.

Rinse the beans with water one more time and then drain well.  Add salt and combine with the beans.

Line a steamer rack with steamer paper or cheesecloth.  Place beans in the steamer and spread into an even layer.

Wrap a dish towel around the steamer lid fasten with a rubber band.

Steam the beans on High heat until they are soft, approximately 25-30 minutes.

Sprinkle 1 Tbsp sugar and gently combine with the beans.  Allow beans to cool for 15 minutes.

In a measuring cup, combine tapioca starch with 1/2 cup water.  Stir until smooth.

In a medium saucepan over High heat, combine water and sugar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  As soon as the sugar starts to bubble, turn the heat to Low.  With one hand, slowly pour the starch mixture into the sugar water and stir with the other hand.  After adding all of the starch mixture, continue stirring slowly for 3 minutes and let the pudding thicken.  Add the beans, a third at a time, and gently fold into the pudding.  Continue until all beans are added and combined.

Add the vanilla extract or pandan flavoring.  Stir together and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.  Optionally, top with coconut sauce.

Yields: 5 cups

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