Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beef Lettuce Wraps

My parents always had a garden at every house we lived in. They enjoyed growing their own produce and maintaining it. I remember our gardens consisted of tomatoes, cucumber, all kinds of hot peppers, long green beans, eggplants, mustard greens, mint, cilantro, thai basil, basil, dill, vietnamese coriander, mixed lettuce, and many other vegetables. We even grew different kinds of melons and squash. One of the dishes I remember eating is this one. I don't know the proper Lao name for it, but it's a 'beef lettuce wrap' similiar to Thai chicken lettuce wraps, however in my family we put it all inside a spring roll wrapper and dip it in a sauce made of peanut butter, hoisen sauce, and coconut milk.I tried to copy my mom's recipe, but this is my version of it. Her cooking always tastes so much better.
For the dipping sauce:
1 minced shallot
vegetable oil
coconut milk
crunchy peanut butter
hoisen sauce
chili garlic sauce

I heated up some vegetable oil to sautee the shallot. I added some chili garlic sauce, the hoisen sauce, and peanut butter. The amounts vary according to taste. Then I added 1/4 of the coconut milk and mixed while still on the burner. I added enough water for the desired consistency.
I took 1.5lbs of thinly sliced beef and marinated it with sugar, soy sauce, and ground tumeric. I sliced 1/2 a white onion and 3 garlic cloves.
I sauteed the onions and garlic in vegetable oil and added the meat.
Here is the spring roll wrapper. You just dip it into water and let it sit on a flat surface until it's pliable. Then that's when you start building the spring roll. I usually add some rice vermicelli, lettuce, green onion, mint leaves, cilantro, cucumber, and shredded carrots. And I roll it like an eggroll.

I'm not very good at making them. My family members usually overstuff the rolls with lettuce and the vermicelli. I love this dish. It's versatile, you can use any kind of protien. Shrimp is always a good choice. And you can use any kind of dipping sauce. My mom has served it with nuoc mam and mam nem dipping sauces (I think those are the Vietnamese names).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lao New Year 2008 - San Diego

I'm excited about this event. I love meeting new people and getting to know the Lao community in San Diego.

Laotian Chicken Stew

I was raised to never waste any food. Recently, I made chicken laap and had leftover uncooked chicken breast(with bone). I decided to try to make Laotian chicken stew. I think it's called "or" (sounds like 'aw'). My parents would make this with whatever was leftover in the fridge. Usually it was leftover beef, zucchini, eggplant, bok choy, or any kind of leafy green vegetable. I feel that this is my 'Americanized' version. I don't know the proper recipe or method of cooking.

I don't have exact measurements for this recipe. For this dish, I used:
2 large skinless chicken breast w/bone chopped up
lemon grass(minced)
2 sereno peppers
sprigs of dill
2 green onions

I put the garlic, shallot(I actually used red onion here since I was out of shallots), lemon grass, and peppers into a morter and ground them up with a pestle.

I then added it to a pot with a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil. Then I added the chicken, salt, and sugar.

After the chicken has browned, I add enough water to cover it. Put a lid on the pot and I let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Then I add a mixture of cornstarch and water to the pot to thicken it.

Then I add the green onions, dill, and (here I used some leftover greens). Covered the pot with a lid and let it simmer.

And this is what it looks like finished. This is when I taste it and add any additional seasoning, like fish sauce.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I Can Eat 50 of These!

I remember, as a little girl, I used to watch my mom make eggrolls for parties and special occasions. I would sit at the kitchen table, watch her rolling them and talking to my dad about Laos. Those were good times, great memories, I'll cherish them forever. As I got older, my mom would let me help her. First, I was allowed to roll them, eventually I prepared the filling, and fried them myself.

The recipe hasn't changed much since I first started making them.
1 pkg. Ground Pork
2 Shredded Carrots (I cheated and used packaged shredded carrots)
1 bundle of Bean Thread noodle
Cloud Ear Mushrooms
Sliced Green Onions
1 Egg Yolk
Oyster Sauce
1 Package of Eggroll Wrappers
Egg White from 1 Egg
Makes about 25 eggrolls

To make the filling, combine the first 8 ingredients.

This is how I 'roll' them. Then I seal them with the egg white.

I had leftover wrapper so I defrosted some shrimp and wrapped them. Everything is deep fried in vegetable oil until golden then removed and drained. I serve it with a bottled sweet chili sauce.

I absolutely enjoy rolling eggrolls and can roll 150 of them at a time. I love eating them even more. Everytime I cook them, I am reminded of my childhood and my parents.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My First Attempt At Khao Tom

One of my favorite sweet snacks my mom used to make as I was growing up is khao tom. It is steamed sweet rice with bananas wrapped in banana leaves. There are many versions of it (some have red beans mixed in with the rice, some have mung bean fillings, and there are savory versions). I've watched my mom make them plenty of times but I have never attempted to make them on my own until now. This recipe is my interpretation of khao tom.

2 1/2 C sweet rice that's been soaked over night
1 can of coconut milk
3 unripe bananas
1/4 C white sugar
pinch of salt
1 package of banana leaves
cooking twine or aluminum foil
Makes 12 bundles

To a large pot, I added the coconut milk,sugar, and salt on medium-low heat. Once it started to thicken up a little bit I added my presoaked, uncooked sweet rice. I stirred it until it got thick and almost looked like porridge. I took the pot off the burner and let the mixture cool down.

Once the rice mixture was cool enough to handle, I started to assemble the khao tom. I sliced the bananas lengthwise into quarters. I placed the cleaned banana leaf down, added a layer of the rice mixture topped with a banana slice, then another layer of the rice mixture.

Then the entire thing is folded up. I somehow forgot to take a picture of this step.

I used aluminum foil, because I didn't have any twine. Both are used to secure the bundles, preventing the banana leaf to become undone while cooking. I steamed all 12 for about 35-40 minutes.

And this is how it turned out. Not bad for my first attempt. It was delicious. I love the flavors of rice with coconut milk, sugar, and banana leaf.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fred Flinstone's Meal, If He were Lao

I had a craving for grilled beef ribs and tam mak hoong/papaya salad. I purchased the papaya preshredded at the Asian market. It's not how I normally like it, I prefer the papaya shavings to be thicker. I know these beef ribs don't have a whole lot of meat but I love the taste of grilled beef.

I don't have recipes for either.

For the papapya salad:
Julienned green papaya
2-3birdseye chili peppers
1 vine tomato, sliced
one garlic clove
juice from lime
fish sauce
shrimp paste

I add the sugar, garlic, and peppers to the mortar and crush/grind it. Then I add the tomato slices and papaya. It gets all mixed in the mortar with the garlic/pepper/sugar. Then I add the shrimp paste, fish sauce, and lime juice and mix it up more with the pestle and a spoon.

For the ribs:
Beef ribs, cut up
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
oyster sauce

It's a simple marinade. I mixed everything up and put it in 2 large zip lock bags and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I grilled the ribs over hot coals. The picture does not show this, but I had a ton of ribs (2 racks of ribs I think). I had enough food to last 3 days. I served the papaya salad and ribs with pork rinds and steamed white rice. (I was out of sticky rice).