Tag Archives: asian

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Vermicelli


Paco and I love Vietnamese food, but we had taken a little break from fish sauce since our rather epic trip to Vietnam.

As the heat wave continued yesterday, a cool bowl of vermicelli sounded like the perfect meal.  Other than boiling the noodles, it does not require using the stove or oven if you grill the chicken outside.  If you don’t have a grill, cut the chicken into smaller strips so that they cook more quickly, minimizing the time the stove has to be turned on.

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Vermicelli
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, where it was adapted from David Tanis via The New York Times)
Serves 4

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)
1 T sesame oil
2 T soy sauce

For the sauce:
4 T brown sugar
1/2 c warm water
4 T fish sauce
8 T lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 serrano chili (I used a whole one and it was very spicy)

For the noodle bowls:
1 lb. of dried rice noodles
1 English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, thinly sliced
mint leaves
cilantro leaves

To make the chicken:
Marinate the chicken breasts in sesame oil and soy sauce for 15-30 minutes. Heat the grill or a grill pan to medium high, then grill on each side for about 8 minutes, or until cooked through. Cool, then slice into bite-sized pieces.

To make the sauce:
Dissolve the brown sugar in warm water, then stir in other ingredients.

To make the noodle bowls:
Prepare the noodles according to package directions, then rinse under cool water. Assemble the bowls with some vegetables on the bottom, followed by noodles, chicken, then herbs. Serve with fish sauce on the side. (And garlic chili sauce, if you didn’t put way too much chili into the fish sauce, the way I did.) Toss everything together with fish sauce and enjoy!

Dumplings in the San Gabriel Valley


Yesterday we drove to the San Gabriel Valley to get Chinese food for lunch. My friend Pearl recommended J & J Restaurant, and it did not disappoint us.  It’s a tiny place with only about ten tables, but it’s in a strip mall with several other Chinese restaurants, so you won’t have to wait if you don’t want to.  Paco let me order, so we did not have any of the old standbys (beef with broccoli. . .).

We had xiao long bao, which is what they’re known for. These are steamed dumplings filled with pork or pork and crab. When the dumplings are made, a cube of gelatinous broth is included in the filling. While the dumpling steams, the broth melts. When you bite into it, savory, steaming hot broth fills your mouth. You can often find these at dim sum restaurants, but they may be a little dry if they’ve been sitting on the cart for a while. The freshly steamed dumplings at J & J were amazing.

The noodle soup with braised beef was great if you like Chinese beef stew (you know, with tendons and who-knows-what braised until tender). The broth was dark but mild, which complemented the flavorful beef nicely.

I had to order the braised pork with bean curd skins because I love bean curd skins.  The pork was braised until super tender, and the bean curd skins were tied into little knots, which was cute and made them easy to eat.

We rounded out our San Gabriel experience with foot massages!  ($15 for an hour or $10 for 30 minutes.)  What a perfect afternoon.

Thai-style ground chicken and basil


I was introduced to a Thai dish recently, by my (Thai) friend Kathy, and now I am obsessed with it. It’s ground chicken stir-fried with mint and chilies. It’s so simple but so good, and such a nice change from the old stand-bys pad thai, panang curry, etc. I decided to make a dish inspired by that using basil instead of mint. My version was a tiny bit salty, so I recommend starting with less fish sauce and adding more after tasting it.

Thai-Style Ground Chicken and Basil

1 T vegetable oil
1 lb ground chicken
juice of 1 lime
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 -1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tsp soy sauce
1-2 T fish sauce (start with 1 and taste before adding more)
1 T garlic chili sauce, plus extra on the side
15 leaves of basil, roughly chopped, or 1/3 c of mint, roughly chopped

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add the oil to the pan, and when it’s hot, add the garlic and fry until fragrant.

Add the chicken, breaking up with a wooden spoon and allowing to brown. When the chicken is brown, add the green onions and jalapeno. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, and chili sauce, then toss the meat around in the sauces. Finally, add the basil or mint and stir for about 30 seconds or until wilted.

Serve over white rice.

Chicken rice


This is a favorite of Paco and my brother, but I don’t make it that often because of all of the steps. It has a very clean, nourishing quality to it, but the chili sauce takes it to the next level in flavor.  In a pinch, you can skip making the chili sauce and use garlic chili sriracha instead.  You can also serve it with additional sauces, such as a ginger and sesame oil blend.

I always use the recipe from Steamy Kitchen, so I won’t pretend that I have any improvements to make!  I just wanted to share that you should definitely try making it at home.

You can eat the leftovers as is, or you can transform them into a delicious chicken and rice soup. I usually add more ginger and garlic to the broth, then add the chicken, rice, and some celery to the pot.  Enjoy!

Pork chops and fried rice


When I saw the Pioneer Woman’s post about Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice and realized that I have both pork chops and pineapple in my fridge, I decided that I had to give the recipe a shot!

Her pork chops look delicious, so I followed the recipe closely and made a sauce out of onions, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, and honey. I brined my pork chops first for added juiciness.

To brine: Dissolve a spoon of sugar and a spoon of salt in a cup of hot water in a large bowl. Add ice cubes and cold water until the bowl is 2/3 full, then add your pork chops. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 4 hours before cooking. Rinse the pork chops before cooking. Do not salt them!

For the fried rice, I made my usual version, with ginger, garlic, red bell pepper, spinach, pineapple, and peas. The only additional seasoning that I added to the rice was a drizzle of sesame oil, since I cooked it in the same pan as the pork chops and the sauce. Taste your rice and add soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce, or sesame oil as desired.

Serve the pork chops with onions and sauce over the rice. Enjoy!