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Stir-Fried Beef and Potatoes (Bo Xao Khoai Tay)

Have dinner ready in 30 minutes or less with this easy stir-fry.

If you’re busy like me you often don’t have time to plan the week’s meals in advance.  As a result, you may find yourself roaming the grocery store aisles looking for inspiration and trying to figure out what to make that’s healthy and fast.  Well, the next time you come up short on meal ideas, give this recipe a try.  This Stir-Fried Beef and Potatoes dish is the perfect 30-minute meal.  From start to finish you can whip up this tasty stir-fry in 30 minutes or less.  My not-so-secret ingredient is frozen French fried potatoes.  They are really convenient and cut the prep time in half.  For even more time-savings, buy the beef already cut into thin strips.  Add a salad or a simple soup and dinner is ready.  Enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.


Meat and Marinade:

3/4 lb beef (flank or sirloin)

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp oyster sauce

1 tsp vegetable oil

1/8 tsp ground black pepper


3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp cornstarch


1 Tbsp vegetable oil (for cooking potatoes)

3 medium potatoes or

1 1/2 lbs frozen French fried potatoes

1 tsp vegetable oil (for stir-fry)

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 medium red onion

1 green onion


Cut beef into bite-sized slices.  In a medium bowl, add the sliced beef, minced garlic, fish sauce, oyster sauce, vegetable oil and ground black pepper.  Mix together working the marinade evenly into the meat.   Allow to marinate while continuing with the next steps.

In a small bowl combine water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch.  Stir everything together and set sauce aside for now.

Cut the red onion into thin slices.  Cut green onions into 1-inch long strips.

If using fresh potatoes, remove the skin and then cut into strips about 3-inches long and 1/2-inch thick.  Boil the potatoes for 5-6 minutes on the stove.  Alternatively, place the potatoes in a bowl and cover with water.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on High for 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes in a colander.

If using frozen potatoes, thaw at room temperature or in the microwave.

Heat a large wok over High heat and when hot add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Add the potatoes and pan-fry for 7-8 minutes or until they are golden brown.  Transfer to a clean plate.

Heat the same wok over Medium High heat and when hot add 1 tsp vegetable oil and the minced garlic.  Stir-fry for 15 seconds.  Add the red onions and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Add the beef and stir-fry until it’s slightly pink, approximately 2 minutes.  Add the potatoes and sauce.  Toss together combining everything well.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until beef is cooked to your preference.

Turn off the heat, freshly ground black pepper and green onions.

Serve hot!

Yields: 4 servings

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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.


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


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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Cotton Cheesecake / Japanese Cheesecake

Light and fluffy yet creamy and decadent. This is the perfect combination of sponge cake and cheesecake!

This is my new favorite dessert and after you try this recipe it will become your favorite too.  It’s the perfect combination of sponge cake and cheesecake in both taste and texture.  What I also love about this cake is that it’s not overly sweet as some cakes can be.  The combination of fluffy cake with creamy and slightly tart cream cheese is absolutely heavenly and I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do.  Please note this recipe can be a bit tricky.  Please watch the video and follow the steps exactly.  Happy Baking!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

As the cream cheese, eggs and butter need to be at room temperature, advanced planning is required. About 2 hours before making the cake, remove the cream cheese and butter from the refrigerator.  About 1 hour before take the eggs out of the fridge.  The cream cheese and butter should be soft and spreadable for this recipe.  If these ingredients are not quite ready, pop them in the microwave on Low power for about 15-20 seconds.

Eggs are easiest to separate when they are cold.  Egg whites are best beaten at room temperature to achieve the fluffiest texture.   You can separate the eggs while they are cold and then let them come to room temperature as you prep the remaining ingredients for the recipe.

I am using an 8-inch round X 3-inch high springform pan.  If using a pan that is less than 3 inches high, line the pan so the parchment paper extends about 2 inches above the pan.  The parchment paper wall provides support since the cake rises to about 3 inches tall during baking.  Keep the paper to no more than 4 inches tall. Too much paper will prevent the top of the cake from browning nicely.

The water bath is essential for keeping the cake moist.  As the cake bakes for longer than the typical cake, the water bath is crucial.  Additionally the water bath insulates the cake and allows it to cook at a consist temperature.  These factors are important for achieving the fluffy and moist texture for the cake.

Be sure to fold the egg whites into the batter.  Do not beat or mix vigorously as this will deflate the egg whites. (If you’re not familiar with the fold technique, check out how I do it in the video.)

As oven temperatures vary, check to see if the cake is done (using a toothpick) after 1 hour of baking.  Then bake the cake until the top is golden brown.  This is one recipe where over-baking the cake is ok.  You won’t ruin the cake!  Depending on your oven it may take up to 1 1/2 hours.  Again, this is just fine.

If your cake cracks on top, the heat is too high or the cake is too close to the heating element.  Make note of this and adjust these things the next time.

This cake will shrink (about 1/2 an inch or so) after cooling so please don’t despair.  Leaving the cake in the oven after it’s done baking helps to minimize some of the deflating.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours before eating.  The cold sets the cream cheese and greatly improves the flavor and texture.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Sponge Cake (Banh Bong Lan) and Orange Chiffon Cake with Edible Flowers.


8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup milk
5 large eggs (room temperature)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch

8-inch round springform pan


Line the bottom and sides of the springform pan with parchment paper.  Wrap the springform pan with several sheets of foil, sealing it completely.

Fill a large baking pan halfway with water.  Place it in the oven on the lowest rack.  Preheat the oven to 315 degrees Fahrenheit.

Separate the eggs and place the egg whites into a mixing bowl and the yolks into a measuring cup.

Beat egg whites on Low speed for 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to Medium Low and beat for another 30 seconds or until foamy.   Add the cream of tartar.  Increase the speed to Medium High and beat until the egg whites just start to thicken.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar gradually.  Continue beating until the egg whites reach the soft peaks stage, approximately 3 minutes using a stand mixer.

In a separate bowl add the cream cheese and milk.  Mix on Low speed until creamy and smooth (approximately 2-3 minutes.)  Add the butter, sugar and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute.  Add the flour and cornstarch and mix for another minute.  Finally add the egg yolks and mix for 1 more minute.  Strain the batter using a sieve.

Add 1/3 of the egg whites and gently fold into the batter until mostly incorporated.  Add another 1/3 and gently fold.  Add the remaining 1/3 and gently fold.

Pour the batter into the lined springform pan.  Spread the batter evenly into the pan and smooth out the top using a spatula.  Holding the sides of the pan, gently lift and drop the pan on the counter about 6 times to remove any big air bubbles.

Place the springform pan into the water bath and bake the cake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Check the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake.  It should come out clean.  Bake the cake for an additional 10-15 minutes to brown up the top.

Turn off oven, open the oven the door slightly (about 2-3 inches) and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove cake from the pan.  Place on a plate and refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Serve with fresh fruit, fruit puree, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, etc.

Yields: 8 servings

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen


Simply Amazing Japanese Cotton Cheesecake | recipe from*This post contains affiliate links.*

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Curry Lemongrass Seitan Stir-Fry (Mi Can Xao Xa Ot)

Looks like chicken but is actually Seitan, mock meat. This vegetarian dish is super tasty and super easy to make!It looks like chicken but is actually seitan (mock meat, also called wheat meat).  Seitan is so easy to make and so versatile as a substitute for meat.  In this dish we combine pan fried seitan strips with fresh lemongrass and spicy curry powder to make a super simple and super tasty vegetarian dish.  Whoever said being vegetarian meant eating boring tasteless food never tried this flavorful dish!  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

A few notes on the recipe

I shared the recipe for seitan earlier so please be sure to read that recipe.

If you don’t have time to make homemade seitan, you can use the store-bought variety.

Watch the video below for instructions.


8 oz boiled seitan
3 tsp vegetable oil (for pan frying seitan)
2 green onions or leeks
2 red peppers or chilies
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced lemongrass
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp curry powder (mild or spicy)
1 Tbsp soy sauce


Cut boiled seitan into thin strips.  Add 1 tsp of vegetable oil into a large wok or nonstick pan and pan fry 1/3 of the seitan over Medium heat until the pieces are golden brown.  Fry the seitan in small batches and leave plenty of room so they don’t stick together.  Set aside in a bowl.

Cut green onions into 2-inch sections and then into thin strips.  Chop the peppers.

Heat the same wok or pan over Medium High heat and add vegetable oil.  Add the lemongrass and stir fry for 30 seconds.  Add the peppers and stir fry for 1 minute.

Add the seitan and stir fry for another minute.  Add the sugar, curry powder and soy sauce and continue stir frying.  Cook for another minute.  Turn off the heat, add the green onions and black pepper and toss together.

Serve while hot.

Yields: 2-3 servings

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Asian-Style Baked Salmon (Cá Hồi Nướng)

Refreshing and simple--These rolls are mouth-watering!

Love eating fish but dislike all the prep work?  This fool-proof Baked Salmon recipe is a guaranteed winner and a great way to make a tasty and healthy meal for your family.  We marinate a whole salmon fillet with an Asian-style sauce and then bake it in a very straightforward way–no fancy gadgets or equipment needed,just some tin foil.  The results: perfectly baked salmon that is moist and flavorful!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Make it into a meal by serving with rice or potatoes and one or two side dishes or serve as a salad on top of fresh greens.  My favorite way to enjoy this baked salmon is to make it into fresh spring rolls.  You’ll need Rice Vermicelli, green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, assorted fresh herbs (mint, spicy mint, Thai basil, cilantro, etc.), Carrot and Radish Pickles, and rice paper.  Dip the rolls in the essential Tamarind Dipping Sauce and enjoy!

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like: Grilled Pork Patties and Skewers (Thit Nuong) and Steamed Fish and Bean Thread Noodle (Ca Chung Tuong Bun Tau).


1 1/2 – 2 lbs whole salmon fillet
1 green onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 pat melted butter

2 Tbsp Scallion Oil
1/4 cup crushed peanuts


Peel and finely mince the garlic.  Finely chop the green onions.  In a measuring cup, add the sesame oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar.  Stir together until the sugar is dissolved.   Add the minced garlic and green onions and mix together.

Rinse salmon on both sides with cool water and then pat dry with paper towels.

Line a large baking dish with 2 large pieces of foil.  Leave excess foil on both sides, enough to be able to wrap the fish later when baking.  Drizzle 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil onto the foil and coat evenly.  Place the fish skin side down on the foil.  Spoon marinade on top of the fish coating it evenly.  Sprinkle ground black pepper on top.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  While the oven is heating up, remove the fish from the refrigerator.  When the oven is up to temperature, wrap the fish using the foil from the pan creating a tent.  Fold over the ends as well.  This will keep all of the hot air in the tent.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the fish from the oven and carefully peel back the foil.  Brush the fish with melted butter.  Set the oven to broil and bake the fish for another 5- 7 minutes until it is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Transfer fish to a serving dish.  Top with scallion oil and the crushed peanuts.

Serve with the Tamarind Dipping Sauce.

Yields:  4-6 servings

*This post contains affiliate links.*

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