Vietnamese Beef and Potatoes Stir-Fry

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Remember the leftover oil from my Katsu recipe? Well I decided to use it for a beef and potatoes dish. My dad used to make a beef and potato stir-fry dish that was very satisfying and of course delicious. It had a light sauce to it that was not heavy and pulled the meat and potatoes together very well. Well this recipe is not that dish 😆. But it’s still very good, I promise🤚. Anyways, inspired by my dad’s dish, I looked on the internet to see if I could find something similar and I came upon various versions of Vietnamese Beef with Fried Potatoes dish. It didn’t seem exactly like the one my dad made but it looked intriguing enough for me to try.

It sounds easy enough, marinate some thinly cut beef, fry potatoes, stir-fry beef, then add potatoes and you’re done! The thing that keeps me from making this dish more often is that frying the potatoes takes me a LONNGG time. Maybe if I had a deep fryer it’ll be faster but it took me almost 1 hour to fry two potatoes. Despite the time consuming frying of the potatoes, it’s a really good dish to make and enjoy with a bowl of rice! By the way, the oil I used has served its purpose and is now retired.😊👍

Vietnamese Stir-Fry Beef and Potatoes (Thit Bo Xao Khoai Tay)
1 lb. beef sliced
1 Tbs fish sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sliced white onion
2 Russet potatoes peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick half circles
Frying oil

1. Marinate meat with fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, pepper, and salt
2. Set meat aside while you fry the potatoes.
3. Make sure potatoes are dry.
4. In a frying pan add enough oil to cover the potatoes.
5. Over medium high heat fry potatoes until golden brown, turning potatoes over every so often to ensure even browning.
6. Remove potatoes on to a plate lined with paper towels.
7. Remove most of the oil leaving behind about 2 Tbs. in the frying pan.
8. On high heat stir-fry onions for about 1 minute.
9. Add beef and stir-fry for about 3-5 minutes until beef is cooked to desired doneness.
10. Add potatoes and gently fold into the beef and turn off heat.

*I like to leave some potatoes on this side and serve them nice and crispy.

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Chicken Katsu and the Irony in Life

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I think the title of this post is more dramatic than my post really is…but it is still fitting. I didn’t plan to make dinner Friday night. My husband had a work related dinner he was going to attend and I had food in the fridge for my daughter and me. Before my husband went to the dinner, knowing that the drive would be about 30 minutes, I told him to take my car. It is newer, gas efficient, and more importantly, it is RELIABLE. I am also fairly confident in my intuition and decision making skills and for some reason I just had a feeling… I told him to take my car but he decided to take his. Let me tell you, we don’t have a great history when it comes to cars. To be more accurate, we (no he, despite my resistence) made one costly mistake that we’ve been living with for many years. Fortunately, lessons have been learned and we are on a wiser path when it comes to automobiles. The wiser path is for him to listen to me more and for me to be more unwavering! 😂

Anyways, to make a long story short, he took his car and leaves the house. A few minutes later as I was in the kitchen making Katsu sauce for tomorrow’s dinner, I get a call from him. What do you know….he’s pulled over in a parking lot with radiator issues. He isn’t able to make it to the work dinner and has to come home. Luckily, I already had Katsu sauce made and making Chicken Katsu doesn’t take too long. So instead off making it the next day, we had it for dinner that night. And despite the car troubles, my day was still good because my husband was not hurt and my last minute dinner couldn’t have turned out any better.

Ahhh my my reason for happiness despite car troubles and a stubborn husband 😉, making Chicken Katsu after watching Chef Hiro on YouTube was my happy moment yesterday (along with a glass of wine). It’s actually so easy to make. I have learned that to make crispy katsu, you need a good pan that retains heat well, and also use enough oil to cover the chicken or at least most of it. Instead of slicing it thin like the chef did, I used a meat pounder since I didn’t think I can cut as well as he can and that was a good decision on my part! Don’t worry about wasting oil, since I only used it once and it’s still clean to me, I just strained it and saved it in a jar for the next time I want to fry something.

So there you have it, sometimes or often, life throws you surprises that are not always wanted. My husband planned to attend a nice work dinner but missed it because his car broke down, ironically when I told him to take my car but he didn’t listen. We now have to get by with one car from two. But despite this, the big picture is that at least my husband didn’t miss the dinner because of something worse like a car accident. At least we still have a car to drive rather than no car. And lastly, at least we were still able to have a pretty nice dinner last night. 😊

As for our car, we’ve put too much money into this car and it is too old to have any more money put into it. It’s been a plague in our house and we are finally, FINALLY getting rid of it. We decided to go on one car for now and when the time is right we will decide on another.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Peanut Sauce for Summer Rolls

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If you like eating Vietnamese Springs Rolls, also called Summer rolls, aside from the everyday fish dipping sauce, peanut sauce is a recipe you should have in your repertoire. There are many different variations of this sauce but the two basic and essential ingredients are peanut sauce and hoisin sauce. After experimenting a few times, I’ve added coconut milk for a creamy and subtle coconut flavor.

Once you make this a few times, you will find the proportions of ingredients that’s right for you. If you’re not sure how much peanut butter flavor you want, start with 2 Tbs and add more as desired. For me 3 Tbs is usually good. I always use smooth peanut and add the peanuts later, but if you want to use crunchy peanut butter you can absolutely do that. Before adding sugar, give it a taste to see if you need or want more sweetness. I usually add a little sugar, but sometimes it’s not even necessary.

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Peanut Sauce
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs minced garlic
½ cup Hoisin sauce
1/2  cup water (thin to desired texture)
3 Tbs peanut butter
1 Tbs brown Sugar (to taste…not needed)
1/4 cup coconut milk (the thick kind that usually comes in a can)
1 Tbs of crush toasted peanuts

Directions
1. In a small sauce pan heat up oil over medium heat.
2. Saute garlic until fragrant.
3. Add hoisin sauce, peanut butter, water and stir until well mixed.
4. Add coconut milk then sugar if necessary.
5. Continue to stir on low heat until all ingredients are combined and smooth
5. Garnish with crushed toasted peanuts and serve will chili-garlic paste

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Custard Fruit Tart and Cooler Weather

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It’s finally cooling down a bit here. You’d think living in San Diego, I’d never have to turn on my air conditioning, but nope, it’s been on almost non-stop the past days and weeks 😖. While I can withstand a hotter environment a bit (more than I can say for my hubby), I also have my daughter to think about and I don’t want it getting too hot for her. So you can imagine our electric and gas bill has been a bit high lately. But thank goodness today is cool and overcast, our windows are open, and our ac is OFF.

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Yesterday I made a fruit tart! They’re actually pretty easy to make. I did have a little trouble with the tart crust and shrinking, so I’m looking forward to trying it again and getting it right. My waistline however, needs a little break right now from all the baking I’ve been doing. I also hope to make the custard a little thicker next time so I’ll have to work on that also. For now, please enjoy the picture of the tart! It was de-lish. 😋

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Rustic Fruit Galette (10 years later)

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September has me feeling a bit nostalgic. About 10 years ago I moved away from home and unbeknownst to me, I would find my love for cooking, baking, and all things in between. I remember the first (and only time) I made a fruit galette was in September. It wasn’t difficult per se, but I was definitely uncomfortable. While the galette both looked and tasted good, I never made it again. I’m not sure why, maybe I put so much effort into researching how to make it, I felt it was more difficult than it actually was. So I just never made it again

But I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately and I after browsing some of my past blogs, I came upon my post on making a rustic fruit galette and I was inspired to make it again. What a difference 10 years can make! The crust was surprisingly easy and quick to make. I felt comfortable working with the flour and the butter. Kneading the dough and rolling it to make a beautiful tasty crust took me only minutes. I didn’t use any egg or milk as a wash on the crust because I was impatient and just wanted to get it in the oven, but it was still beautiful in my eyes. =)

The portions that I used for the crust were 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter, 3 Tbs cold water, and pinch of salt. The technique on the other hand needs to be more clear. I think I need to make it one more time so I can confidently write out the recipe for the crust, but I promise it will be posted as soon as I write it down!

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Vietnamese Caramelized Braised Pork, Thit Kho Tau

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This dish is so simple to make, but you’d never be able to tell by it’s complex flavors. It’s savory and sweet and has a such a deep and satisfying flavor, it’s no wonder many Vietnamese consider this a comfort food, I certainly do. I love making a pot of this and having leftovers. The flavor just continues to intensifies as it reduces. Along side a steaming bowl of rice…foodie heaven!
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Vietnamese Caramelized Braised Pork (Thit Kho Tau)
1.5-2 lb. pork shoulder or belly
1 Tbs garlic
2 Tbs minced shallot
2-3 green onions (white part for marinade, green for garnish)
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ black pepper
1 tsp fish sauce
1-2 cup coconut juice
water
2 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
4 hard boiled eggs

1. Cut pork into 1.5 inch pieces
2. Marinate with garlic, shallots, white part or green onion, sugar, salt, fish sauce, pepper for at least 1 hr
3. In pot add on medium heat, add 1 Tbs oil and 2 Tbs sugar and caramelize
4, Add meat and stir
5. Add coconut juice and water to cover meat
6. Bring to boil
7. Add 2 Tbs fish sauce, 1 Tbs soy sauce, eggs,  and simmer for 2 hours uncovered (if liquid is getting too low then can loosely covered)
*The liquid and meat will continue to darken in color as it simmers
8. Adjust seasonings as necessary
9. Add green onions

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Vietnamese Caramel Sauce:::Nuoc Mau

IMG_5325 copyLearning to make caramel is almost as important as making everyday fish sauce for Vietnamese Cuisine. For braised dishes, I typically just caramelize the sugar right in the pot I’m cooking with, but when I want to marinade meats I like to have a lot available. It’s fairly easy to make once you have the science down. You need to use hot water at the end not room temperature or else your sugar will just solidify. It’s also important to be very careful because hot sugar will splatter and you can easily burn yourself and anyone else standing nearby.  When letting the sugar caramelize you let the sugar darken until it reaches the color you like. Anywhere from golden brown to a dark brown is good. For me, I prefer very dark brown. To reach my preferred color my sugar cooks on medium heat for about 23-25 minutes. Check out my video below for making Vietnamese Caramel Sauce!

Vietnamese Caramel Sauce, Nuoc Mau
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup room temperature water
1/2 cup hot water

1. In a pot on medium heat combine sugar and 1/4 cup water.2. Stir until there are no clumps of sugar.3. Let heat stirring every now and then.4. When the sugar turn dark brown or your desired color, carefully add in the hot water. 5. You may have to do this in two steps to avoid getting hit with hot burning sugar!6. Stir again, let cool, and transfer to jar.

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