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Soy Milk (Sua Dau Nanh)

Delicious and refreshing homemade Soy MilkSoy milk has become so mainstream that it’s now very easy to find.  Every coffee shop and most restaurants now offer it as an alternative to cow’s milk.  Health food stores are fully stocked with a wide variety of soy milks in different flavors.  I’ve tried most of the products on the market.  They are good, inexpensive and quite convenient.  If you have the time though, I encourage you to try making soy milk at home.  You will be delighted with how fresh and delicious homemade soy milk tastes.  It’s truly wholesome goodness and the best part is you know exactly what went into it.  Enjoy!

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

Soy beans are relatively inexpensive but pay a bit more for the organic non-GMO soy beans.  You can buy them in bulk at most health food stores.  Most Asian and American grocery stores sell them packaged in bags of 8 oz or 1 lb.  (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Soy Beans.)

Shelling the soy beans is an optional step.  You may see some of the shells floating in the water while soaking.  You can remove them if but it’s not necessary.  We are not saving the pulp to make any additional dishes.  (I’ll share some recipes for what to do with the residual soy pulp called okara in future recipes.)

General rule of thumb, use 1 cup water for every 1 oz of soy beans.  If you prefer a thicker richer soy milk, reduce the water.  If you prefer a lighter soy milk, add more water.  Also, I use spring water instead of tap water.

Soak the beans for at least 8 hours.  I usually soak them overnight and then make the next morning.  The soaking time doesn’t have to be exact.  If you’d like to accelerate this process, soak in boiling water for about 3-4 hours.

I have the Vitamix 7500 which has a very powerful motor.  It blends the beans very quickly and the below blend times are based on my machine.  If your blender is less powerful, it will take a bit longer.  On a smaller machine, don’t blend continuously but blend for about 20-25 seconds, let the motor rest for about 15 seconds and then continue until the beans are finely blended.

I have tried a variety of nut milk bags but this is my favorite from NutNet.  It’s super strong, durable and very easy to clean.  The size of the bag is also perfect for this recipe!

Use a large pot to cook the soy milk.  The milk has a tendency to over boil very quickly so keep your eyes on it.  A trick to try:  If the milk is boiling vigorously and about to spill over, sprinkle a few drops of cold water on the soy milk.  This will cool it down quickly and prevent it from boiling over.  (If you look at the video closely, you’ll see I have a cup of water on the stove for this very reason.)

Adjust the sugar levels to your liking.  The below recipe uses a minimal amount.  Use a sugar substitute like Splenda or Stevia if you prefer.

The Pandan leaves add a lovely aroma to the soy milk.   It is optional and you can use any essence that you like such as vanilla or coconut.

As this has no preservatives, refrigerate any remaining amounts.  The soy milk is good for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup (8 oz or 1/2 lb) organic soy beans
8 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
6-8 Pandan leaves

Directions

Put the soy beans into a large bowl.  Sift through the beans and remove ones that are mis-shapened and/or have black spots on them.

To wash the soy beans, fill the bowl with water and gently swish the beans around in the water for 1 minute.  Pour off the dirty water.  Repeat this washing process two more times or until the water is clear.

Fill the bowl with water and let the beans soak for at least 8 hours.

Wash the rehydrated beans one more time and drain.

Pour the beans into a blender and add 2 cups water (or just enough to cover the beans).  Starting on a Low speed, gradually increase the speed to High and blend for 1 minute.  Add another 2 cups of water and blend on High for another minute.  (Note:  The total water quantity is 4 cups.)

Place the nut milk bag into a large bowl or cup.  Pour the soy milk into the nut milk bag and then seal the opening.  Firmly squeeze the bag to extract the soy milk.  Continue until all that is left is the pulp.  Pour the soy milk into a large saucepan.

Transfer the pulp back into the blender along with 4 cups water.  Blend on High speed for 30 seconds.  Again, pour the soy milk into the bag and repeat the milking process above.  Pour into the saucepan.

Heat the milk over Medium Low heat.  Skim the foam from the top and discard.  Stir the milk every few minutes to keep it from burning.  When it comes to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and simmer on Low for 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and Pandan leaves and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Continue cooking on Low heat for another 10 minutes.

Turn-off the heat and allow the milk to cool for 15 minutes.

Strain the soy milk and skim off the foam again.

Serve the soy milk hot or cold.

Yields: 6 cups

Soy Beans double in size when hydrated.

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Glass Noodle Salad with Seafood (Goi Mien Tron Hai San)

A refreshing noodle salad loaded with seafood!Nothing is better on a hot summer day than having a cool meal to chase away the heat.  Abundant noodles with a medley of vegetables and seafood in a light dressing makes this dish super scrumptious and refreshing.  This noodle salad is so easy to toss together and can be served as a main meal or appetizer.  If you need to prepare this dish ahead and chill in the fridge, even better, the salad will be wonderfully marinated.  Bon Appetit!

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

Use any type of seafood you like.  For a shortcut, buy seafood that’s already cooked.

Avoid over-soaking or over-cooking the noodles.  They will become a sticky mess.

Make sure to drain the seafood and noodles well.  You don’t want a wet salad.  Here’s a trick to try–put the noodles in a salad spinner.  It does a great job of removing the water.

The recipe below makes enough dressing for the entire salad.  This is not a salad that’s drenched in dressing but is lightly seasoned.  If you want more dressing to serve on the side, double the recipe below.

Watch the video below for instructions.


Ingredients

1/2 lb bean thread noodle also called glass or cellophane noodle
1 1/2 lb mixed seafood:  shrimp, squid, crab and scallops (or use what you like)
2 medium carrots
1/2 small red onion
2 celery stalks
2-3 sweet peppers
1/2 bunch cilantro

Dressing
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp crushed roasted peanuts

Directions 

Peel the carrots and then cut into 3-inch lengths.  Shred the carrots using a mandolin or cut into long, thin strips.

Cut the red onion into thin slices.

Clean the celery stalks and cut into 3-inch sections.  Cut each section into long, thin strips.

Cut the sweet peppers into thin slices.

Coarsely chop the cilantro.

Cut the larger seafood pieces into bite-sized pieces.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add the raw seafood and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring gently.  Add the cooked seafood and swirl in the water for 1 minute.  Transfer the seafood to a bowl of ice water and soak for 1 minute then drain well.

Put the dried noodles into a large bowl and fill with cool water covering the noodles completely.  Let rest for 5 minutes and then drain.  Bring a large pot of water to a rapid bowl.   Add the noodles and swirl in the boiling water for just 15 seconds.  Quickly drain the hot water and then rinse the noodles with cold water.  Drain.  Fill a large bowl with ice water and soak the noodles in the bath for 1 minute.  Drain well.  Cut the noodles into shorter sections using scissors.  Spread out the noodles and allow to air-dry for 15 minutes.

In a measuring cup, combine lime juice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and garlic.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

In a large bowl, add a small amount of the glass noodle.  Add small amounts of each of the vegetables and seafood.  Drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp of the dressing.  Continue making the layers until all of the ingredients are used.  Add the black pepper.  Toss everything combining well and making sure all ingredients are well-combined with the dressing.

When serving, top the salad with the crushed roasted peanuts.

Yields:  4-6 servings

Dish up a heaping amount of this refreshing noodle salad!

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Quick Guide to Vietnamese Herbs

Herbs add such wonderful aroma, flavor and color to foods that it’s no wonder they’re such integral ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine.  Without the inclusion of certain herbs, a dish could be rendered completely lacking and unappetizing.  Can you imagine having Vietnamese Chicken or Beef Noodle Soup (Pho) without Thai basil?  Just the aroma of Thai basil conjures to mind a big, piping hot bowl of pho! 🙂  If you’re not familiar with all of the different herbs and their uses in Vietnamese cuisine, I am here to help!  In this post, I’ll go through some of the more popular Vietnamese herbs with some basic descriptions.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ve included pictures of each herb to help you identify them when shopping.  Lastly, I’ve provided links to recipes where these herbs are used.  I hope you try all of these herbs and let me know which one is your favorite.  Enjoy!

Check out the video below to learn how to prepare and store herbs.



Cilantro/Coriander (Ngò, Ngò Rí, Rau Mùi)
Cilantro
Appearance:  delicate, lacy leaves, clustered in three’s
Aroma/Taste:  strongly fragrant with mild citrusy taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Vegetarian Fresh Spring Rolls, Fresh Spring Rolls, Grilled Pork Sandwich, Thick Noodles and Fish Cake Soup

 


Thái Basil (Húng Quế)
Thai Basil
Appearance:  elongated leaves with purple stems and pink-purple flowers
Aroma/Taste:  licorice-like aroma and taste
Dishes:  Vietnamese Chicken Noodle and Beef Noodle Soups (Pho Ga, Pho Bo), Baby Clams and Basil, Papaya with Shrimp and Pork, Savory Rolled Cakes 

 

 

Vietnamese Coriander (Rau Răm)
Vietnamese Coriander Appearance:  long, slender leaves with dark V-shape on each leaf
Aroma/Taste:  aromatic with slightly spicy and peppery taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Chicken Cabbage Salad, Cured/Fermented Pork, Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Steamed Pork Roll and Egg

 


Perilla (Tía Tô)
Perilla
Appearance:  large, broad leaves with purple underside
Aroma/Taste:  strong musky aroma and slightly bitter taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Grilled Pork Patties, Beef Wrapped in Perilla, Sizzling Savory Crepes, and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

 


Garlic Chives (Hẹ)

Garlic ChivesAppearance:  flat, long and slender leaves resembling tall grass
Aroma/Taste:  strong grass and garlicky aroma and taste
Dishes:  Can be eaten raw or cooked, Fresh Spring Rolls, Grilled Pork Sausage Fresh Spring Rolls, Won Ton Noodle Soup, Pickled Bean Sprouts

 


Lemongrass (Xả)

LemongrassAppearance:  long and tapered, light green, fibrous stalks
Aroma/Taste:  strong, citrusy aroma and taste without the acid
Dishes:  Chicken Curry, Beef Stew, Lemongrass Tofu and Rice Noodles, Lemongrass Beef over Rice Noodles, Curry Lemongrass Seitan Stir Fry, Honey Lemongrass Dressing, Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs, Grilled Shrimp, Egg Rolls and Rice Vermicelli, Satay Chili Paste, Grilled Pork Patties and Skewers, Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves

 

Rice Paddy (Ngổ Ôm)
Rice PaddyAppearance:  small and delicate oval-shaped leaves
Aroma/Taste:  mild citrusy aroma and cumin flavor
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, Yampi Soup, Sour Soup, Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad

 

 

 

Sawtooth (Ngò Gai)
Sawtooth HerbAppearance:  long flat leaves with jagged, serrated edges
Aroma/Taste:  strong cilantro flavor and slightly citrusy taste
Dishes: Commonly eaten raw, Beef Stew, Sour Soup, Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad

 

 

 

Spicy Mint/Peppermint (Húng Cây)
Spicy MintAppearance: medium-sized, oval-shaped leaves
Aroma/Taste:  minty aroma, spicy taste with cooling sensation
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Lemongrass Beef over Rice Noodles, Savory Rolled Cakes 

 

 

Spearmint (Húng Lũi)
SpearmintAppearance:  medium-sized, oval-shaped with curly leaves
Aroma/Taste:  minty aroma and minty and slightly sweet taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Lemongrass Tofu and Rice Noodles, Lemongrass Beef over Rice Noodles, Sizzling Savory Crepes, Rare Beef in Lime Juice Salad, and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

 


Vietnamese Balm (Kinh Giới)

Vietnamese BalmAppearance:  medium-sized, oval-shaped leaves with serrated edges
Aroma/Taste:  intense aroma that’s a combination of lemon and mint, slightly bitter taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish, Grilled Pork Patties, and Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)

 

 

 

Fish Mint (Diếp Cá)
Fish MintAppearance:  flat, heart-shaped leaves
Aroma/Taste:  strong fishy aroma and slightly citrusy taste
Dishes:  Commonly eaten raw, served with other fresh greens as a side dish

 

 

 

A plate of fresh herbs and vegetables (lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers) is often served as a side dish adding flavor, aroma and freshness to every meal!

Assorted Herbs and SaladHerbs and BBQ Pork Skewers

Herbs and Banh Xeo

 

 

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Savory Rolled Cakes (Banh Cuon)

Freshly made, these savory cakes are perfect as a snack or meal!

This dish brings back fond memories of cooking with my Mom when I was a child.  She would set up a station in our kitchen and we would make hundreds of these Savory Rolled Cakes to enjoy that day and to save for quick meals later.  My Mom would pour the batter and flip out the cakes.  I would fill and roll.  I remember trying to roll them so they were evenly sized and perfectly smooth.  To this my Mom said “Don’t worry about making them perfect.  They all look the same in our stomachs.” 🙂  Ah yes, Mom’s always right.  These cakes are so delicious you’ll hardly notice one that isn’t rolled perfectly because you’ll be too busy devouring them and asking for a big second-helping.  The freshness of the herbs and cucumbers along with the steamed pork roll and bean sprouts makes this a refreshing yet hearty meal.  I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Notes on the recipe, tips and tricks

The video contains lots of tips and tricks so please check it out.

Pouring off the liquid from the top of the batter is a technique to rinse the flour (similar to washing rice).  This helps to remove any impurities from the flours and promotes a bright white cake.  You’ll discard approximately 1 – 1 1/2 cups liquid.

The fried onions and steamed pork roll (chả lụa) can be purchased at your Asian grocer.  Packaged in small plastic jars the fried onions are really convenient and a pantry staple.  The steamed pork roll can be found in the refrigerated or freezer sections.

It really helps if you have someone assisting you with this dish but it’s very do-able by yourself as well.  Set up all the ingredients and tools so they are conveniently located.  This will minimize any fumbling around and you’ll be able to make the cakes quickly.

I use an 8″ non-stick skillet.  It’s nothing fancy but has a good non-stick surface.  When selecting your skillet, make sure it sits evenly on the burner.  It also helps if it’s not heavy as your wrists will be tired from the repeated flipping.  8″ makes a nice sized rolled cake but you can certainly use a larger pan.

If you want to make the cakes quickly and don’t care too much about the appearance, you can use a larger skillet and make the rolls without folding over the sides.  To serve simply cut the rolls into smaller sections.  It’s less work for sure! 🙂

For the work surface, I use a large cutting board but you can use a large plate or even baking trays.  Be sure to oil these surfaces well and frequently.  (I oil my cutting board after making 3-4 cakes.)

Stir the batter before making each cake.  This helps to remove any settling typical with these flours.

As stove settings vary, it’s difficult to say which is the exact heat setting.  Generally, it’s on the Low side.  You’ll have to experiment to find just the right setting and you’ll know you’ve achieved the optimal temperature when the batter coats the skillet quickly and evenly.  The cake should be smooth and not have large bubbles in it which indicates the skillet is too hot.

Don’t worry if the first couple of cakes aren’t right.  It takes a few tries to get everything dialed in.

This recipe makes a generous amount of filling.  For a less meat-filled roll, use 1 heaping tablespoonful.  The recipe accommodates using 2 Tbsp filling per roll.  If you like less meat, you’ll have some filling leftover and you can serve it as a side.

If not serving right away, brush the rolls with a thin layer of vegetable oil and then cover with plastic wrap to keep them moist.

Store any remaining rolls in the refrigerator and they are good for up to 1 week.  To reheat, warm in the microwave using Medium power.

These cakes freeze really well.  Store them in a re-sealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 3-months.  To reheat, warm in the microwave using Medium power.  They will taste just as good as the day they were made!  (Parents:  this is a great dish to make for your college students to take to school.  They will love you (even more) for it!!)

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

Batter
1 cup rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 cups room temperature water
2 cups boiling water
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Filling
1/8 oz dried wood ear mushroom slivers (also called black fungus)
1/2 medium yellow onion, approximately 4 oz
3/4 lb ground pork
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Other Ingredients
vegetable oil for cooking
fresh herbs:  mint, cilantro and Thail basil, plucked and washed
bean sprouts, trimmed and washed
1 cucumber
fried onions
steamed pork roll
fish sauce dipping sauce

Directions

In a large cup or bowl, combine the rice flour, tapioca starch with the room temperature water and boiling water.  Whisk for a few minutes combining well.  Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Soak the dried wood ear mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes.  Drain well and then finely chop.

Finely dice the yellow onion.

Season the ground pork with salt and pepper and then mix well.

Heat a wok over Medium Low heat.  When hot add the ground pork and wood ear mushrooms.  Cook for 5-6 minutes stir constantly.  Use a spatula to break the meat into small pieces.  Add the diced onions and cook for another 2 minutes.  Transfer the filling into a clean bowl.

Take the batter that’s been resting and carefully pour out just the clear liquid from the top into a measuring cup.  Make note of the amount poured out then discard this liquid.  Measure out the same amount of fresh water and pour into the batter.  Add the salt and vegetable oil into the batter.  Mix well.

Brush vegetable oil onto the work surface.

Heat an 8″ non-stick skillet over Low heat until hot and then lightly oil.  Pour 1/8 cup batter into the hot skillet.  Swirl the skillet to coat it evenly with the batter.  Cover with a lid and cook for 45 – 60 seconds.  Remove the lid and flip the pan over the work surface to remove the cake.  Allow to cool for 1 minute.  Place a heaping tablespoonful of the meat filling at the top of the cake.  Fold over the sides and then roll-up the cake.  Continue making the cakes until you run out of ingredients.

Dunk the bean sprouts in boiling water for 1 minute.  Remove and drain well.  Cut the cucumbers into 1/8-inch slices and then into thin strips.  Coarsely chop all herbs.  Cut the steamed pork roll into thin slices.  Arrange the vegetables and pork roll on a large plate.

To serve, place the Savory Rolled Cakes on a plate.  Top with the bean sprouts, cucumbers, fresh herbs and steamed pork roll.  Sprinkle with fried onions and serve with a generous side of fish sauce dipping sauce.

Yields:  30-35 rolls, 4-6 servings

Delicious and delicate cakes filled with ground pork, mushroom and onions and served with all the fixins' !

Don’t throw away the “mess-ups”!  Cut them into smaller sections and serve with the toppings and any leftover meat filling!  Yum!!

Here's what you make when you have rolled cakes that just didn't come out right! Delish!!

*This post contains affiliate links.*
 

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Taro Smoothie (Sinh To Khoai Mon)

Nutritious and Delicious-check out this diet-friendly recipe!Now you can enjoy delicious Taro Smoothie at home with this easy recipe.  Making this tasty chilled drink at home means you have control over the fat and sugar levels and ultimately the calories.  This is already a health-conscious recipe but there are still lots of options.  For the milk, feel free to use almond milk, coconut milk or cream instead of cow’s milk.  Watching your sugars?  Use a sugar substitute.  Optionally replace the sweetened condensed milk with honey, agave nectar or sugar.  Enjoy the recipe!

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

6 oz large taro root
1 oz purple yam
1/4 tsp vanilla sugar
1 cup low-fat milk
2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1 cup ice
2 tsp coconut flakes

Directions

Remove the skin from the taro root and purple yam using a vegetable peeler.  Rinse with water and then pat dry with a paper towel.  Dice the taro root and purple yam.

To cook using a microwave, place the vegetables into a bowl.  Add 2 Tbsp water and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave on High for 2 1/2 minutes.  Stir.  Return to microwave and cook for another 2 1/2 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

To cook using a steamer, steam the vegetables over Medium heat for 8 minutes or until they are soft.

Allow the taro root and yam to cool for 15 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables into a blender along with the vanilla sugar, low-fat milk, sweetened condensed milk and ice.  Blend on High speed for 1 minute.

Pour the smoothie into two glasses.  Sprinkle with the coconut flakes and drizzle with more condensed milk.    Enjoy right away.

Yields:  2-10 oz servings

Visually appealing and tasty! This Taro Smoothie is a snap to whip-up at home!

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