OXTAIL, OPO SQUASH & CARROT SOUP

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Growing up, dinners at home always consisted of at least three different types of entrees: a meat/seafood dish, veggies, and soup. We would all eat bowls of rice and at the very end, we pour the soup over the rice to finish up our meal. The broth of Vietnamese soups is very clear and usually consist of some type of protein with veggies. I usually don’t see the combination of oxtail, opo squash and carrot, but to me it makes so much sense. The bone in oxtail releases so much flavor. Opo squash alone does not have a lot of flavor, but there is still an inherent sweetness. Carrots also add sweetness to the broth. The longer you slow cook the oxtail, the more tender and fall-off-the-bone it’ll be. My brother loves this soup and I hope you all do, too!

Ingredients:

  • Oxtail
  • Opo squash
  • Carrots (peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • Fish sauce
  • Sugar
  • Garnish with cilantro and green onions

Instructions:

  1. Parboil the oxtail, first. Get a pot of boiling hot water and add the oxtail. Allow it to cook for 3 minutes. By doing this, you are rinsing out the impurities in the bone. This step will keep the broth very clear. Put a strainer in the sink and dump the bones into the strainer. Rinse off the impurities with warm water.
  2. Now, fill a large stock pot with 12 cups of water. Add the clean oxtail back into the water and bring to a boil. Once the water is vigorously boiling, lower it to low heat. Allow the broth to simmer for approximately 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. You will notice a layer of fat that accumulates on top of the soup. Skim the layer as it builds and remove it from the broth. You want the broth to be as clear as possible.
  4. Prepare the vegetables. Peel the carrots and opo squash. Slice the carrots and opo as you like. I like to do thin strips of opo because it’s easier to eat.
  5. After the oxtail has been slowly cooking for 3 hours, add carrots in first. Allow it to cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Now, add the opo squash. Add the fish sauce, sugar and stir. You’ll know the opo is fully cooked when it becomes translucent.
  7. Serve and garnish with cilantro and green onions. You can either eat this alone to finish your meal or eat over rice.

TOFU SPRING ROLLS WITH PEANUT SAUCE

I can eat spring rolls for every meal. They are so light and tasty and a perfect way to get fresh veggies in your diet. Whenever I feel tired of meat, I crave these tofu spring rolls. Of course, these rolls are inspired by no one other than my lovely mom! She used to make these when she owned a restaurant, and her customers loved ordering this for a light lunch. The peanut dipping sauce is also my take on my mom’s recipe. Your waist line and taste buds can thank mama Hong. 🙂

  • 1 container of firm tofu
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Rice paper
  • Crunchy peanut butter
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Sugar
  • Chili garlic sauce

nước chấm DIPPING SAUCE

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If you ever frequent a Vietnamese restaurant and order a rice plate or a bowl of bun (vermicelli), your meal will usually be accompanied by a small bowl of nước chấm fish sauce. The variation that usually comes in the restaurant is savory and sweet at the same time, perfect for dipping meats or veggies in. My mom loves to kick up the flavor a bit. Growing up, all of my aunties and cousins would ask my mom for her fish sauce recipe.  Her sauce was savory, sweet, citrusy, spicy and garlicky. After lots of trial and error, I’m proud to share with you my recipe, which is as close to my mom’s sauce as I can get.

Thank you mommy for inspiring me to make my blog in the first place! Fish Saucy is dedicated to the realest, my mamacita!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water at room temperature
  • 3 thai chili peppers (red) – sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Instructions:

  1. In a big jar or bowl, combine the fish sauce, sugar and water.
  2. Add minced garlic and chili (adjust to the spice level that you prefer).
  3. Add chili garlic sauce and the sriracha and lime juice.
  4. Stir all together and enjoy! (I store the sauce in a mason jar in the refrigerator).

TíN-INSPIRED SPRING ROLLS

Back when I was in dental school in San Francisco, I would frequent a Vietnamese restaurant nearby. Tin SF had the most unique spring rolls I’ve ever tried —- the Tín Roll. The rolls had the perfect balance of flavor in every bite. It consisted of savory thit nuong (grilled pork shoulder), fresh green lettuce and cilantro, fried shallots, hard-boiled egg (what?!), complete with the crunch of a deep-fried rolled wonton wrapper — all wrapped in delicate rice paper. The dipping sauce was fish sauce (nước chấm), which is very similar to my own recipe. It was so revolutionary yet authentic at the same time. When I moved back to my hometown, my boyfriend was craving it so I told him I’ll try to copy the rolls. The result is pretty close, but I added one twist to the rolls — shrimp! Instead of just rolling up a wonton wrapper and deep frying it, I marinated and butterflied some shrimp and stuffed it in the wontons. Needless to say, my boyfriend gets his Tín fix and we don’t even have to drive into the city.

  • Grilled pork shoulder
  • 2 green lettuce
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 8 hard boiled eggs
  • Nước chấm
  • Fried shallots
  • 1 pack wonton wrapper
  • Shrimp (deveined and butterflied)
  • Rice paper

CHÁO GÀ – VIETNAMESE CHICKEN PORRIDGE

Cháo gà is chicken soup for the Vietnamese soul. Nothing reminds me of home, warmth, and comfort like a bowl of congee. Growing up, I remember looking forward to getting sick so that my mom could make a huge pot of her chicken congee.  Here is my mom’s tried and true recipe with my added twist… ginger (and lots of it)! The added ginger will clear up your sinuses and soothe any sore throat. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

  • 1 cup toasted rice
  • 2 cans of chicken broth
  • 1 whole chicken (buy at Asian supermarket)
  • 1 whole knob of ginger (roasted)
  • 2 table spoons of minced ginger
  • 1/8 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cube chicken bullion
  • 1 whole yellow onion (roasted)
  • 1 bunch green onions (chopped)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (to taste)

ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

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A few years ago, I decided to go carb-less for a few weeks in preparation for a Vegas trip. However, I just couldn’t deny my cravings for lasagna. I was shopping at Trader Joe’s (my favorite grocery store ever) and saw chicken and apple sausage. I’ve seen some zucchini lasagna recipes floating around on Pinterest and I thought it would be a great idea to create my own version. Full disclosure: this recipe creates a lot of liquid. In order to prevent that, make sure to dry your zucchini and kale out really well with some paper towels before starting. You can strain out the liquid from your baking dish as well. Have no fear though, the result is still tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup kale (chopped)
  • 3 large zucchinis
  • 1 package of chicken and apple sausage (cubed)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Chopped italian flat leaf parsley to garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Chop the zucchini length-wise in thin strips. Place on paper towel and dry out zucchini as much as possible.
  2. Chop kale into bite size pieces. Cube chicken and apple sausage

CAJUN SHRIMP ALFREDO PASTA

My family requests for me to make this dish at every single gathering or potluck. It’s an easy recipe with lots of flavor. I even cheat and use store-bought alfredo sauce as a base of the dish. Honestly, I think Bertoli alfredo sauce is absolutely essential. I’ve tried making this pasta with other pre-made sauces and it’s just not the same. Of course, my secret ingredient is… fish sauce! I know what you’re thinking, fish sauce with pasta?! But trust me, a little bit goes along way. I don’t include any salt at all because the fish sauce elevates the umami of the shrimp. I doctor it up a bit with heavy cream and grated parmesan and romano cheese to create the creamy consistency. I like to keep the tail on the shrimp because I think it prevents the shrimp from curling up too much. Don’t know if this is true or not, but hey, it makes the dish look pretty! 🙂 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 1 jar Bertoli alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup grated parmesan & romano cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Portabello mushroom (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you want it spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1b shrimp (peeled and deveined with tail on)

Instructions:

  1. Fill a pot of water and add salt. Bring to a roaring boil and cook pasta following instructions on the box. I like to keep the noodles al dente.
  2. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a deep saute pan on medium high heat. Add chopped onions and cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent. Then, add red bell peppers and stir for an additional two minutes. Add the diced portabello mushrooms and stir for an additional minute. Now, add the peeled and deveined shrimp with the tails still on.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir until the shrimp turn orange, but be careful not to overcook it. (You don’t want to see the shrimp curling too much).
  4. Now, turn the heat down to medium and add the jar of Bertoli alfredo sauce. Then, add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 1 cup of grated parmesan and romano cheese. Stir until all the cheese is dissolved. Add the chopped parsley and stir.
  5. Add the cooked pasta into the pot of sauce and stir until everything is combined.