The past few weeks we were cleaning the apartment to give it back, so cooking was reduced to minimal in order to keep the kitchen clean, as well as not having to clean too many dishes. I therefore tried to look for dishes that would be fast to cook don’t use too many cooking utensils, but still tasty and nutritious, and this Chicken rice is one of the top candidates.
Chicken rice is a very simple dish, you only have to boil the chicken, then use the broth to cook and rice and that’s it, but the result is so surprisingly tasty. The chicken is cooked just enough to become tender and sweet, the rice absorb the natural sweetness of the broth so it’s much more flavourful than normal white rice. You only have to add a few slices of cucumber to have a delicious and nutritious meal.
This Lyon trip happened pretty much out of the blue. It was a fine Friday morning, I was being lazy on my bed and whining to Matthias about how I didn’t get to travel for a really long time. He turned to me and said “There’s a train to Lyon in 1 hour, the price’s cheap, wanna go?”. So allez hop, we changed our clothes and left for the trip.
Lyon is a city in the Rhône-Alpes region, towards the middle east of France, and it’s only about 1 hour and a half by train from Grenoble, so we’ve decided to make it a day trip. Lyon is one of the most beautiful tourism cities of France, and is a city with a long historical culture. I’ve been to Lyon in 2004, visiting my brother who was studying there, however I didn’t know much French at that time, and my brother was busy with school works so we didn’t get to visit a lot of places. This time we took advantage of the 1 hour train ride to consult some online tourism sites and chose some must-see spots, for the rest, we agreed to let…fate lead the way
Just kidding, but really we do love tofu. Our first dish to dip in the hot pot would be tofu, I even replace half of the meat with tofu when making my Vietnamese fried spring rolls (recipe here). So of course with this hot weather, dishes made with tofu is on the top of my list, because no matter what dish it is, tofu always bring a very refreshing and light mouthfeel. My last meal can proably be names “The tofu medley”, because tofu is included in both the meat and the soup dish. It’s really delicious though, so we both ate to our heart’s content.
I don’t really remember how I know of these cookies, since for kids born in the 90s like me these cookies are pretty much extinct (at least for me, because before making these cookies myself I don’t even know how they taste). It’s called ‘dipping cookies’ simply because when you make them, you mostly do…the dipping movement dipping the mold into the batter, then dipping the mold with the batter into the oil. I went back to Vietnam in summer 2014, I asked my mom to take me to the market to find this mold, and the sellers didn’t know what I was talking about as first, it took my mom a lot of describing for them to finally found me the molds.
I went back to France, feeling so excited with the molds, I looked for the recipe on the internet, read a bunch of tips and tricks, went straight into the kitchen to make them and…failed miserably. Either the cookies wouldn’t leave the mold, or the batter wouldn’t stick to the mold, I spent the whole afternoon trying, sweating like crazy, all my clothes and hair smelled like oil, and I ended up with around 10 cookies that were edible. To be honest, the cookies tasted incredible, but just thinking about fighting with the pot of oil and batter sends chills down my spine, so I just put the mold in the furthest corner of my cupboard after that time.
It was not until a few weeks ago, the weather was quite cool, I cleaned out my cupboard and saw the mold, and decided to give it another try. I was extra careful with the measurements this time, adjusted the heat of the oil, and tada…the cookies were a huge success!!! Looking at the cookies coming off the mold and slowly turn golden brown was an extremely satisfying feeling. After making these cookies a few more times, I have noted down some tips to successfully make them, which I will write down at the end of this post.
Vietnamese broken rice always remind me of H, my best friend since high school. Back then, I rode my bicycle to school 2 days in the week with H (the other 3 days my dad will take me to school so my mom can pick me up in the afternoon and took me to my French class ). My high school didn’t have a dining hall, so students were to bring their own lunch, and on days that H’s mother was too busy to make her lunch, she would buy something for munch on her way to school. I remember that H usually buy this Vietnamese broken rice, simply because it has everything she loves: scallion oil, roasted pork chop, crispy fat cubes, pork skin tossed in roasted rice powder, and most importantly a sunny side up egg with a creamy runny yolk
I was not a fan of this dish back then, because I don’t like the texture of the broken rice (picky eater ), so I ended up not liking the whole dish. Now that I think about it, it’s a bit too extreme of me, because beside the broken rice, every other components in the dish are among my favourites, so I only have to replace the broken rice with medium grain rice when I make this dish. Basically, a complete plate of Vietnamese broken rice has the following components:
Sunny side up egg or Vietnamese egg meatloaf (Vietnamese egg meatloaf recipe here)
Roasted pork chop
Pork skin tossed in roasted rice powder
Pickled carrot, fresh tomato and cucumber (you don’t have to have all)
Light dipping sauce (how to make dipping sauce here)
When I decided to make this dish for Matthias, what troubled me the most was how to marinate and roast the pork chop so that it’s tender and flavourful. After reading some recipes online I decided to…bunch up all the tips and ingredients, mixing and tasting as I went, and fortunately the pork chop came out very tender ad tasty just like I wanted. Matthias finished his portion and still asked for a small bite from my dish
I made this dish on my own so I started the marinating in the morning. When dinner time comes I started the rice. While waiting for the rice to cook I made the Vietnamese egg meatloaf mixture and bake it in the oven. While waiting for that to cook I cleaned and tossed the shredded pork skin in roasted rice powder, making scallion oil and crispy fat cubes. When the egg meatloaf is cooked I transferred it to a closed microwave to keep it warm, and finally stuck the pork chops in. It took me in total 40-50 minutes to prepare everything
It was really sunny last weekend, so I persuaded Matthias to go on a picnic with me (Matthias easily gets sunburns and doesn’t like sitting crossed legs on the ground, so he was mostly giving in to my constant request ). We woke up early and went to the supermarket for some veggies and bread, went back home to prepare some dishes and then took the tramway to the nearby park and…started picnic-ing
What kind of beverage do you guys think of when summer comes? For me, whenever the heat goes up I crave for a glass of refreshing lemonade. You are probably thinking why is there a need for a whole blog post on the simple drink of water, sugar and lemon juice? Well, the answer is simply because this is not just a blog post on “How to make lemonade”, but a post on how to spice up your lemonade and make it even more delicious both for your eyes and your taste buds.
Everyone probably all knows how to make basic lemonade: take a cup of water, squeeze in some lemon juice, then add sugar and adjust to your preference. My method is basically the same, with just one small addition of making simple syrup, a mixture of water and sugar, and I use that syrup to sweeten the lemonade instead of directly using sugar. The nice thing about using simple syrup in making lemonade is that simple syrup dissolves in water much easier than sugar, so it can be added directly into cold water without fearing that it would be hard to dissolve like sugar.
The ratio for lemonade I use down here is perfect to my preference, but you should adjust it to your own taste. If you are going to serve your lemonade with ice, you should make the lemonade a bit sweet so the ice will water it down to the right level. These recipes will work for key lime as well.
I love eating meat balls in tomato sauce. A plate of meat balls in tomato sauce can “carry” a lot of rice. When I first attempted to make this dish, one problem I had was that my meatballs tend to fall apart while cooking, and they have a rather crumbling texture. In my memory, the meatballs I ate back in Vietnam were very tender, and when you bite into them they are smooth, not crumbling and falling apart. After doing some readings on the internet, I found out that the minced meat I bought is rougher-minced than the one I usually have in Vietnam, so they will have a more crumbling texture. Luckily I have a food processor so in went the meat, pulsed once or twice and the meat is much smoother. I also got a small tip from making Meat loaf of adding breadcrumbs into the minced meat to help the meat balls stay together and keep them moist as well.
For the cooking part I kind of follow the cooking process of fried tofu in tomato sauce, so I flash-fried the meat balls and then simmer them in the sauce. Personally I prefer frying to steaming, since it give the meat balls a very tempting golden brown crust and fragrance. I usually make this dish for dinner, eat half of it, reheat them the next day and put them in bread and I’d have a delicious meat ball sandwich for lunch. You can also make a big batch on the weekend, divide them into smaller boxes and freeze them, and when you don’t have time to cook you just have to take some out, thaw, reheat, and serve with rice or bread
One of my favourite Korean dishes is Kimbap, because it’s very quick to make, it’s convenient, easy to make, and it has everything: rice, meat, vegetables, etc, 1-2 rolls are enough for a meal. Moreover this dish can be consumed cold, so I think that it’s very suitable for summer, when you don’t want to spend too much time in the hot kitchen doing complicated dishes, and it’s also a very nice choice for a picnic or when you go on a trip, and you don’t have to think about how to keep food hot.
Kimbap is a fairly familiar dish so I won’t introduce it too much, I just want to outline some main differences between this dish and Japanese Sushi (I have a lot of people asking me this). For me, two of the most prominent differences are the seasoning of the rice and the fillings. The seasoning for Sushi rice is vinegar and sugar, which gives the rice a light sweet and sour taste, for Kimbap it’s salt and sesame oil, which gives the rice a salty and slight rich taste. The fillings for sushi is mostly fresh and raw, such as raw fish or squid, and for Kimbap it’s mostly cooked ingredients that is seasoned to taste, for example I used sweet and salty tuna, which is my most liked fillings.
I will also introduce how to cook Japanese rice. I’va always struggled with Japanese rice before, and the result was usually by chance, and most of the time I ended up with undercooked or mushy rice, even though I let it cook for a long time and used the exact measurement for water. After reading on many food blogs, I finally found a fool-proof way to cook delicious chewy rice, and Japanese rice is not a threat to me anymore.
I was given a package of basil seeds by my friend 2 weeks ago, and I immediately thought of the refreshing black bean sweet soup with basil seeds. I still have some tapioca starch left in my pantry, so I decided to make two more treats that are now all the rave in Vietnam: tapioca pearls and sweet potato pearls. Come to think of it, I am quite obsessed with tapioca pearls, so it’s a bit weird that I haven’t written a proper post on how to make them, better late than never I guess
Making black bean sweet soup, tapioca pearls, and sweet potato pearls is not difficult at all. The only thing is that it takes a bit of time to make the black bean sweet soup, since you have to soak the beans before cooking, and you have to hand-roll the tapioca pearls. I usually take advantage of the soaking time to make tapioca dough, then put on a movie and roll the pearls while watching, killing two birds with one stone Home-made tapioca pearls is better than store-bought in many ways: it’s much bigger and much more satisfying to chew on, you can make as much or as little as you want, in any flavours you’d like to, and you are sure about what goes in the pearls.