Bánh Cuốn Thanh Trì

Buckle up readers, we’re headed to the northern region of Viet Nam to Thanh Trì.  Thanh Trì is the district of the prominent city of Hanoi, famous for one dish called Bánh Cuốn. They are thin crepes made from rice and tapioca flour batter and is cooked over a non-stick steaming tray then stuffed with minced garlicky pork and mushrooms, and topped with fried green onions and shallots and dipped in a tangy sauce called nước mắm pha. It’s delicious and fun to make!

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Recipe yields 3-4 servings

Batter

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

Filling

  • 1 pound of ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of wood ear dried mushroom (soak with hot water for 5 minutes and drain)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

Accoutrements

  • sautéed green scallions in vegetable oil
  • crispy fried shallots
  • sliced pork sausage (chả lụa or giò lụa)
  • blanched bean sprouts
  • nước mắm pha
  • 1/4 cup of cooking oil and brush

 

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, water, oil, and salt and mix until there are no longer clumps. Allow batter to bloom and rest for at least 1 hour before using.

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In a sauté pan heat oil over medium heat then brown pork until no longer pink. Add in garlic, salt, and black pepper.

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Add in the wood ear mushrooms and stir then set aside to cool.

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Fill a small boiling pot until 1/2 filled with water. Bring the water to a boil on medium heat. Then set a nonstick pan over the boiling pot (this will be your steamer). Using a brush, lightly grease your pan with a few drops of oil.

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Ha! Instant Crepe Steamer!

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Stir the batter and using a ladle, add about 1/4 cup of batter at a time to pan and swirl until the bottom of pan is covered. Cover with lid and allow to steam for 30-45 seconds. Remove and invert crepes into a tray.

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This is how I like to set up: raw batter near the stove, filling, tray for rolling, and a plate for the finished product.

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Add a tablespoon of the pork and mushroom mixture, and fold and set aside. My favorite way to fold these is somewhat like an eggroll. Fold the front flap over..

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Then fold in the left and right flaps..

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Roll it towards the top to seal in the filling and move it to a serving plate. Now repeat until there is no batter left behind!

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You can serve it plain and leave the toppings on the side..

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Or  you can go crazy and put it all on there! I hoped you enjoyed making these. Happy eating!

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Let’s Get Cooking!

  1. In a large bowl, combine both flours, water, oil, and salt and mix until there are no longer clumps. Allow batter to bloom and rest for at least 1 hour before using.
  2. In a sauté pan heat oil over medium heat then brown pork until no longer pink. Add in garlic, salt, and pepper and the wood ear mushrooms and stir then set aside to cool.
  3. Fill a small boiling pot until 1/2 filled with water. Bring the water to a boil on medium heat. Then set a nonstick pan over the boiling pot (this will be your steamer). Using a brush, lightly grease your pan with a few drops of oil.
  4. Stir the batter. and using a ladle, add 1/4 cup of batter to pan and swirl until the bottom of pan is covered. Cover with lid and allow to steam for 30-45 seconds. Remove and invert crepes into a tray.
  5. Add a tablespoon of the pork and mushroom mixture, and fold and set aside. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until no more batter is left.
  6. Arrange the rice crepes on a plate and sprinkle with fried shallots, green onions, pork sausage, and bean sprouts. Serve with nước mắm pha on the side.
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I like fried things and I cannot lie

I blame my mother. I call her the Deep-Fry Queen because that woman can fry ANYTHING. I think this is why some of my favorite foods are made with batter and thrown into hot oil. It also doesn’t help that I live in the state with the largest state fair where deep fried food is an annual novelty experience. By the way, do you think it’s possible to deep fry ducks? Since you can deep fry a chicken. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this?

I digress.

Two weeks ago Dan and I discovered how to make deep fried pickles. Sweet Jesus they were easier than I imagined. You slice up some dill pickles like thick chips, pat them with a paper towel and then coat them in flour and throw them in the bubbly oil. I served these with a creamy sour cream dip. Dan man approved. I have to say, damn that was good!

Gluten-free Fried Pickles

Gluten-free Fried Pickles

Recipe yields 2 servings

  • 2 large dill pickles cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Slap-Yo-Mama seasoning (or any Cajun seasoning)
  • 1 1/2 cup of peanut/canola/or vegetable oil
  • non-stick pan

Dipping sauce

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Slap-Yo-Mama seasoning (or any Cajun seasoning)
  1. Pat the pickles dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour with Cajun seasoning and coat pickle slices.
  3. Heat oil in the pan until 350 degrees F.
  4. Add in pickles using tongs. Once they brown at the bottom, flip and cook until golden brown.
  5. Move to a plate lined with paper towel.
  6. For the sauce, mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with fried pickles and enjoy while hot!

Zen bistro & dessert bar

If you happen to ever travel to Dallas and you’re a fan of cake balls, please add Zen bakery on your list of places to visit. Zen bistro & dessert bar is a small eatery in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas with Filipino inspired tapas and to-die-for desserts. I was informed that they’re adding vegan and gluten-free items to their menu. I got a taste of all the different flavors and the gluten-free/vegan cake balls were just as delicious as their counterpart. I believe the flavors I got today were strawberry, birthday cake, chocolate, lemon, raspberry blondie, macaroon, and vanilla. All were delicious but the best was the raspberry blondie. It was dense but the texture was more custard-like than cake-y. Additionally, they have a bubble tea menu which is honestly a gem since I don’t have to drive far from work to get a bubble tea. DSCN0978DSCN0976

Bento Fab!

When I was in college, I was a full time student working 2 jobs. I would go to my classes early morning then helped manage a family restaurant in the afternoon and tend to my even dessert delivery job in the evening. I worked around food for more than half the day and sometimes, I didn’t have a chance to eat. When I did it was always on the go and at the drive-thru. The low point was when I began eating while driving, very regularly.

The good news about not being in school anymore is that I only have to focus on one job at a time which allows some stability in my day to day schedule which means I actually have time to pack lunch. When I got a job at Senico Labs in December, I got extremely lucky. I’m learning so much about programming and the creative side of web building. I have to say, when I found out they were putting a rock climbing wall in the office, I knew it was going to be a fun job to stay at. So, to save money and to implement more vegetables in my diet, I started packing bento lunches to work. I would buy beans, whole grains, pastas, and meats in bulk when they were on sale because I could freeze my meats and keep the slow perishables in the pantry for long periods and shopped for fresh vegetables and fruit 1x a week. I didn’t know how much money I actually spent dining out if I didn’t try cooking on a regular basis. My lunches have been healthier and I’ve been saving so much money! Hooray hooray. So far, preparation takes on average 30 minutes each meal. Here are some of the lunches I packed in the past few weeks.

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  • Bihari roast chicken
  • turmeric jasmine rice
  • sugar snap peas
  • cucumbers
  • baby corn

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  • quinoa
  • porcine mushroom frittata
  • baked sweet potato fries with garlic and rosemary

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  • stir fried kiwi mussels
  • green beans and tomato
  • flower onigiri
  • tangerine and blueberries

November Foodie Penpal: Deb from Minnesota

My package from my foodie pen pal Deb in Minnesota arrived today. Deb, author of the blog Cooking On The Front Burner packed local popcorn, sea salt caramels, raspberry jam, gourmet Greek seasoning and milk chocolate nut clusters. Oh and a snowman ornament. It was all so delicious. I ate all the chocolates in one sitting because they were so darn good.

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If you haven’t heard about the Foodie Penpals, you’ve got to check it out. Every 5th of the month, all participants are assigned a pen pal. You send them $15 of local goodies and blog about it at the end of the month. It’s a fun experience plus it’s nice to have something exciting come in the mail beside bills. 🙂


The Lean Green Bean

Victor Tango’s: Legendary Chicken and Waffles

Passion fruit Gimlet (Fresh thyme, vodka, passion fruit, lime juice, pineapple juice)

It’s hard to think about the restaurant Victor Tango’s without an image of crispy hot waffles, juicy chicken tenders with sweet syrup and gravy on a hot plate. When my friends and I last dined here, we politely fought for who would get the last chicken and waffle. Eventually, to salvage our friendships and to prevent a nice situation from gettin’ ugly, we just ended up ordering more. People who have not tried chicken and waffles cannot conceive of the idea that chicken and waffles could ever go together. Believe me when I say, it’s as if the idea had preexisted and God put the two under the category of all things that are eternally good.

Legendary Chicken and Waffles

The restaurant is located off I-75 and Henderson, in an area that seems to be the mecca for culinary adventures. Victor Tango’s in particular, ubiquitously known for it’s organic and creative cocktails, has an impressive menu that derives from it’s southern influences and new American cuisine. Another hit item aside from chicken and waffles is the lamb lollipops with balsamic reduction. They are juicy and surprisingly (for those who typically do not like lamb) not gamey at all. There’s a hint of tamarind sauce that goes so well with the meat.

No doubt Victor Tango’s is a great bar and you’re bound to see people hang out here after work and have a few cocktails but the food here is nothing like typical bar fare. The vibe is split between social bar scene and upscale (though not pretentious) dining.

Lamb Lollipops with honey balsamic