I have been preparing for a new and exciting chapter in my life, I am 4 weeks away from bringing a little one into the world. There will be a lot of changes and challenges ahead of me. It will be a bit quiet here on the blog for a visit online casino julietta while but I will be back.
Happy eating xx
Snow pea tendrils or snow pea shoots are grown in the early stages of the plant before it flowers. The tendrils are soft and edible, you should be able to pinch them off with your fingers. We have grown 3 plants which have grown rapidly and give us a good amount of snow peas every few days since they started to flower.
The tendrils can be eaten raw, steamed or sautéed. In many Asian restaurants the tendrils are stir fried with garlic. The snow peas and tendrils are a good source of Potassium and Vitamin C.
Here I have simply blanched the tendrils and snow peas in the wonton soup.
You can purchase tendrils from specialty shops and Asian grocery stores. I have found it difficult to purchase organic tendrils so we grew our own. The snow peas and tendrils will last up to a week in a sealed bag in the fridge. Look for vibrant green leaves and peas with no blemishes or browning.
Disclaimer: I received a batch of food from By Two Sisters for free, I have reviewed the products honestly and the opinions written here and photos are my own.
Recently I was asked “By Two Sisters” to review their food, they were going to send me samples to try. Plus it was a business selling Vietnamese food, how could I say no?
The “Two Sisters”, Thu and Thy provide ready to eat meals to your home or office, using recipes from their mother who cooked traditional Vietnamese dishes for them growing up. They believe in using fresh ingredients without preservatives.
You can order meals directly from their website www.bytwosisters.com.au and have it delivered to your door within 24hours; there is even a short clip on how to prepare your meal. Currently they deliver to the Melbourne metro area and a bit further afar, check out their site for more details.
My delivery included the following dishes:
Lemongrass Grilled Pork with Vermicelli Noodle Salad
Betel Leaf Beef with Vermicelli Noodle Salad
Vietnamese Beef Salad
Vietnamese Prawn Salad
The first dish I tried was the Prawn Salad. I opened the packet that contained the vegetables of carrot, daikon and cucumber. The vegetables were shredded beautifully, all uniform and the perfect size because they still retained their crunch. I added the remaining packets of prawns, dressing, herbs and peanuts. The herbs were Mint, Vietnamese Mint and Coriander. The dressing was not too sweet and quite balanced. I would have preferred an extra hit of acidity and chili but that’s just my personal taste. Overall the dish tasted fresh and had the textual components expected from a salad, crunchy and sweet.
All the dishes were very easy to assemble, my only issue was with the warm salad dish, the Lemongrass Pork Noodle Salad. To heat the noodles and pork according to the instructions on the packet you need to heat it in a microwave. Since I don’t own a microwave I decided to heat the noodles and meat in a pan which caused the noodles to be soggy and not springy as it should be.
So for the next dish of Betel Leaf Beef Noodle Salad, I went to my mum’s house to heat in the microwave according to instructions. This time I had more success, the noodles and meat came out moist and pretty near perfect. I was advised that the plastic used in the packaging is BPA free and microwave safe.
Overall I was impressed with the freshness and taste of the dishes, it is a healthier option than other home delivery services. Even though I the food is not organic, the vegetables are sourced fresh and they do not use preservatives which is why I would recommend this for those who do not like to cook or have no time to cook as a healthier option to junk food. The food is fresh and not frozen which retain more of the vitamins and minerals. The food is not watered down or bland and keeps the integrity of Vietnamese dishes.
It is an easy process to order online, have it delivered and assemble yourself within minutes. The prices are reasonable with meals starting at $7.95 to $12.95.
I noted that there wasn’t any vegetarian options available in the menu, which is a bit disappointing since these dishes could easily be adapted and cater for vegans, celiacs and gluten free diets. I hope there are plans for these options in the future.
Well with summer rolling around quickly, I think Vietnamese salads would be a great addition to your meal times. Instead of a stodgy pizza you could be clutching a bowl of two sisters finest.
I am going to write a series on kitchen tools in the Vietnamese kitchen. The first post is about the tool pictured below.
I don’t know the official name for it, I have asked my mum and she doesn’t know either so if anyone out there can enlighten me please leave a comment. My mother and I often refer to it as the stick that shreds the Water Spinach or cây bao rau muống. Pretty technical huh?
Why write about this stick? Well in the Vietnam Water Spinach aka rau muống is a popular vegetable. It is also known as Kang Kong or Morning Glory and is also popular in many other Asian countries because it is easily grown in abundance without much cultivating. Water spinach is also very healthy for you, it contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron.
In Vietnam rau muống is eaten raw and cooked. It is often cooked in a stir fry with garlic or fermented beans, it is also used in canh chua, a sour fish soup. When eaten raw, rau muống is shredded finely and eaten with bún riêu, crab noodle soup.
Before we discovered this tool it would take me an hour or more to shred the stems, because I would have shred at least 3 bunches. With this nifty device I can shred in half that time.
Here is a little video on how to shred rau muống.
- Pick the leaves off the stem and keep for stir frying later on.
- Wash the stems.
- Insert the stick at the bottom of the stem and pull through.
- Place the shredded water spinach in a big bowl water so that it can curl up.
Lady Rice xx
Just a quick hello and to let you know about my first radio interview with Megan Spencer from ABC radio. Megan has segment called Sunday Roast and she interviewed me about my family Sunday traditions.
It was alot of fun but nerve racking, I was so nervous that I giggled a lot. It was a very good experience for me and made me get out of my comfort zone.
If you want to hear the interview there is a link below.
You can find out more about Megan here or on the ABC website.
Have a great week!
Lady Rice x
If you have ever walked past a Vietnamese bakery one of the delicous smells that might draw you in is the grilled pork baguette. Sticky and garlicky grilled pork wedged into a crispy bun with pickled vegetables and fresh coriander- heaven in a roll. Here is my recipe for grilled pork baguette, this version is healthier because I’m not using pate or mayonnaise in the roll. You can also add the pork to rice for another amazing meal. Have a fried egg sunny side up so the gooey, creamy yolk spreads it self over the rice. Dress the dish with nuoc mam cham.
Makes 2 rolls
2 crispy Baguette rolls
2 free range pork chops
2 tablespoons of finely chopped lemongrass
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon of Tamri or light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Red boat Fish Sauce or any other brand you prefer
2 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoon of honey
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon of Rice bran or vegetable Oil
1 cucumber sliced length ways
1 handful of coriander leaves, with ends removing but keeping some stalk
2 cups of shredded organic carrots
1 cup of rice vinegar
½ cup of warm water
½ of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
Spring onion dressing:
½ bunch of spring onions chopped finely
½ cup of vegetable or rice bran oil
- To make the marinade for the pork, mix lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, honey pepper and oil in a bowl.
- Pour over pork chops, covering both sides. Leave overnight for best results or for at least 3-4 hours before cooking.
- Next mix vinegar, water, sugar and salt until dissolved then add the carrots.
- Transfer to a clean jar and keep refrigerated until you are ready to use. It is best to leave it pickling for at least 2-3hours.
- To make the spring onion dressing, heat up the oil in a small pan on the stove on high, check the oil is ready by adding one piece of the spring onion. If it sizzles add the rest in and take off heat immediately. Set aside.
- After the meat has been marinating over night take it out of the fridge and prepare to grill.
- Cook under a grill or broiler on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes each side until it is cooked through. Keep an eye on the pork because it can burn quite easily because of the honey and sugar. Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting it up into strips, cover with foil while you prepare the rolls.
- To make up the rolls add the pork strips, drizzle the spring onion dressing over the pork then add the cucumber, coriander and carrots. Finally season with the soy sauce.
I hope you enjoy these rolls and let me know if there any other recipes you would me to tackle!
Lady Rice xx
Fish sauce comes in many sizes and colours. Most widely used and known in Australia is the Thai Fish Sauce Squid brand and Three Crabs. However in the last few years there has been an increase in varieties of fish sauce and particularly from Phu Quoc island in Vietnam where it is reputedly known that the best fish sauce in the world is made there.
Fish sauce is mainly used in Asian cooking, interestingly the Romans used fish sauce in their cooking and in some parts of Italy they still use fish sauce in their dishes. Fish sauce is used for marinating, cooking and as a dipping sauce.
I have been searching for an organic fish sauce for a long time now and have had no success. Last year I found Red Boat Fish sauce online and was very excited but also quickly disappointed because they were only available in the US.
Early this year I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the bottles at my local Asian grocery store. Finally they had reached our Australian shores!
What is so special about Red Boat fish sauce?
Red Boat fish sauce is made in an organic and traditional way. The local fish cá cơm is salted on the boat as it is caught then it is placed in wooden barrels. Red Boat does not add chemicals, sugar or MSG to ferment the fish. Some cheap fish sauces are made in concrete tubs with MSG, sugar and chemicals added to speed up the process.
Red Boat fish sauce is left to ferment for over 1 year and then extracted, the best fish sauce is the first extraction Nước Mắm Nhỉ. Some factories flush more water through to collect the fish sauce and sell this on. However this second or third extraction is inferior and very salty. Red Boat only sell the first extraction.
How does it taste?
Good quality fish sauce is salty at first but has a sweet finish and unami flavour, which comes from the high protein content from the fish. Like a good quality olive oil, quality fish sauce has a complex flavour.
The purity of the fish is indicated on the bottle with Red Boat there is 40°N/1L which is highest level of purity you can get on the market. This figure indicates the concentration of fish protein in each drop of fish sauce.
Fish sauce is also very good for you, it is packed with essential amino acids, B vitamins (including B12), calcium, phosphrorous, iron, iodine, riboflavin, and niacin.
Be prepared for the hefty price tag on them, I bought mine for $9.75 which is expensive considering you can buy a cheaper brand in the same size bottle for as low as $2.20. What you are paying for is quality and a product that uses only natural ingredients and age-old methods. This is fish sauce is at its purest- it is worth the money- trust me.
Here is a clip on how Red Boat fish sauce is made.
Hey folks, sorry this recipe took so long to get to you but life just gets in the way sometimes! So here it is one of my family favorites, Gỏi Cá or Fish Salad.
This fish salad can be eaten with rice paper and be part main meal or with rice crackers as a side dish.
The salad uses lemon juice to cook the fish, which means it is critical you buy fresh fish. Ask your fish monger for fish that is sashmi quality.
Lucky for me my dad is a keen fisherman and I can get a hold of fresh King George Whititng which is a beautiful firm white fish. It is a real family affair when cooking this dish, we all have allocated jobs. My dad guts and cleans the fish, I debone and fillet the fish. My mother cuts the fish and does the finally plating because she is the head cook and nobody argues with her. My sister in law slices and pickle the onions.
The dipping sauce is made from the fish bones which we boil up and add fish sauce, chilli, and garlic. Before serving the sauce it is critiqued and given approval by the ladies in the house, my mum, my sister in law and myself.
To serve the fish salad you can arrange it in a fancy way I have in the photo, which means you will need to plate individually for each person. We normally prepare the salad in one big bowl and then serve it in 2 large plates to eat with rice paper. In the photo I used Nasturtium flowers to add a bit of colour. If you are not familiar with the Nasturtuium plant, the leaves and flowers are edible. You could find them at your local nursery or farmers market.
The list of ingredients here are for 4-5 people eating the fish salad as a main meal and making rice paper rolls.
1 kg of firm white fish like King George Whiting
1 small red onion sliced finely
3 yellow onion sliced finely
¼ cup fried shallots
¼ cup of roasted peanuts
½ bunch of Vietnamese mint
½ bunch Mint
2 Green apples shredded finely
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 packet of rice paper (50 sheets)
2 tablespoon of Fish sauce
1 clove of garlic minced
3 tablespoons of sugar
Fresh chilli to garnish
1 tablespoon of corn flour
- Clean and fillet the fish, removing all the bones. You can leave the skin on or ask your fish monger to remove it when he or she cleans the fish for you. Keep the bones and heads for the sauce.
- Put the bones and heads into a small pot and add a cup of water, place the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for at least 30mins.
- While the sauce is cooking away, cut the fish into 1cm strips and place into a bowl.
- Cover the fish with 1 ½ cup of lemon juice, add 1 tsp of salt and mix gently.
- Leave to rest for 10-15minutes. The fish will change to a milky colour as lemon cooks the fish. If you want your fish cooked through you can leave it in the bowl for additional 10 minutes.
- When the fish is ready squeeze out the lemon juice from the fish and return to bowl, keep the lemon juice for the sauce.
- Add the lemon juice from the fish to the pot and continue to cook for another 5mins.
- Strain the liquid from the bones in a sieve. You should be left with about 1 ½ cup of liquid, add a bit more water if needed. Return the liquid to the pot.
- Add fish sauce, sugar, garlic and 1 table spoon of corn flour to the pot and put it back on the heat on low until the corn flour has thicken the sauce. Add more corn flour if it hasn’t thickened enough. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce, you are looking for salty, sweet and sour flavours in the sauce. Once you are happy with how the sauce tastes, remove pot from heat and set aside.
- Slice the yellow onions finely in a mandolin and pickle them in vinegar, sugar and salt for 10 minutes. Then drain and squeeze excess with your hands. Place the onions into the fish bowl.
- Slice the red onion and place into the fish bowl.
- Grate your green apple and add to the salad and give it a gentle mix.
- Now to adjust the seasoning of the fish salad, again you are looking for a balance of sour, salty and sweet. Adjust by adding either more lemon or salt or sugar if one of the flavours is dominant or not present.
- You can plate your salad in the same fashion I did which will impress your guests or you can plate into 2 large platters or plates.
- Finally scatter the herbs, shallots and peanuts on top of the salad.
If you are having it as a main meal with rice paper rolls, prepare your table with bowl of hot water and place the rice paper on the table for everyone to help themselves. You can also serve with rice noodles as well.
Lady Rice xx
Here is another quick meal for you fine folks out there. This dish is easy to make and simple especially if you don’t have alot of time on your hands. Stop by your local Chinese restaurant and pick up 1/2 a duck. If you don’t want use duck, you can add free range chicken. You can also substitute the Warrigal Greens with spinach or any other type of greens you like.
½ Roast duck
1 packet 500gms fresh noodles
1 white onion finely sliced
500gm Warrigal Greens
3 tablespoon of light or Tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoon Oyster sauce
- In pot of boiling water blanch the Warrigal Greens for 1 minute, drain and set aside
- Remove the duck meat from the bones and cut into bite size pieces which (about 5cm)
- Boil a kettle and blanch the noodles according to instructions on your packet (I blanched mine for 20 seconds)
- In a pan or wok fry the onion in oil until golden, add the duck and soy and oyster sauce and a splash of water about 1 tablespoon and cook for 2 minutes
- Next add noodles and Warrigal Greens and cook for another 2 minutes
- Serve with soysauce and chilli
Read more on Warrigal Greens in my previous post.
Lady Rice x
I recently discovered Warrigal Greens also known as New Zealand spinach or Tetragonia Tetragonoides. It is native to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Chile and Agrentina.
Warrigal Greens have a similar taste to spinach which means it is quite a versatile vegetable. The down side to Warrigal Greens is the high levels of oxalates in the leaves so it cannot be eaten raw. Leaves and young stems should be blanched to remove the toxins and the water discarded. Don’t be alarmed or put off, eating small amounts of oxalates isn’t harmful, it actually just tastes bitter.
Once blanched Warrigal Greens can then be used in the same manner as spinach, I have been using it in my stir fries and as a side dish. The reason why I love this vegetable is because it still retains its a good shape and texture and there is still a crunch when you bite into it.
It is currently not commercially grown but you can find some at the local farmers markets or you can grow your own.