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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cá Nục Kho Măng Tươi (Braised Mackerel with Fresh Bamboo Shoot)

Once in a while, I crave for Cá Nục (Mackerel) Kho (Braised) Măng (Bamboo Shoot) Tươi (Fresh).  I remembered as a little girl, I used to eat plain porridge  with Cá Nục Kho and it was so good.  It must have been 20 years since I last had it. This dish must have been jumbled along with other childhood memories somewhere in the recess of my mind only to be reminded recently by a scent of some braised mackerel.   

I'm fond of culinary bamboo in general; I love the distinguished smell of the dried bamboo and the crunch and  more subtle flavor of fresh bamboo shoots.  The combination of Cá Nục (Mackerel) and Măng Tươi (Fresh Bamboo Shoot) pairs well with one another.  Unlike the braised Mackerel that is left with little sauce after braising, I like mine with a generous amount of sauce so that I can enjoy it with Bún ( Rice Noodle) and assorted herbs and lettuce or roll it up with rice paper and dip it in its own sauce.

Salmon can be cooked in the same way but it doesn't go so well with bamboo shoots.  I usually braise just Salmon alone and it's still delicious.  For those expecting, Salmon would be the better choice of fish to consume.  Avoid Mackerel as it contains lots of mercury and is not safe.

Braised Salmon Belly 
RECIPE: Cá Nục Kho Măng Tươi


4 Mackerels, ask to have your fish clean, gutted and cut into halves
4 cups Water
3 Shallots, minced or thinly sliced
6 Cloves Garlic, minced or thinly sliced 
2 tablespoons Annato Oil, click here for recipe
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder, optional
3-4 fresh red Chili Peppers
3 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon Mushroom Seasoning
3 fresh Bamboo Shoots, cut into strips
Preparing Bamboo Shoot

Cut bamboo shoots into 4 inches chunk. Cut into half length and slice it.
Braising Cá Nục and Măng Tươi

Heat a pan over a medium-high heat until hot then add annatto oil.  Add garlic and shallot and sauté until aromatic and softened.  Add bamboo shoots and continue sauté for about a minute.  

Add water and bring to a boil over high heat.  

Add fish and the remaining ingredients.  Be sure to add fish only when the water is boiling.  Adding fish before the water boils will produce a strong fishy smell.  Bring it back to a boil.  

Reduce the heat to  low.  Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes.  


Enjoy Cá Nục Kho Măng Tươi with noodle, accompanied with assorted herbs and lettuce. 
It's so good when you roll up the lettuce, herbs, bamboo shoot and fish with rice paper and use the fish broth as a dipping sauce.  This versatile dish can also be enjoyed with a bowl of steamed rice.
Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gà Tây Cuốn Bắp Xà Lách (Turkey Lettuce Wraps)

Recently, Target has been my favorite store to buy meat.  If you happen to be at Target, be sure to check their meat department and look at the expiration date on the meat packages .  A couple days before the meat reaches expiration, it will be on sale at about 75% off! That in itself is worth reading this post right?

Twice a week, I'd show up at the store and check on the next expiration date on the meat packages so I know when to return to the store.  I usually get just enough meat to last through a week; I prepare the meat and marinate it on the same day, then freeze it to keep it fresh.

Ground Turkey happened to be the meat that I got at deep discount.  I had never cooked ground turkey as it's never been my favorite meat but since it was such a steal I had to try a new recipe with it.   I made Taco with ground turkey. It was wonderful.  I also made Turkey  Lettuce Wraps and it sat yummy in everyone's tummy.  It was a hit!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps make a wonderful healthy appetizer.  I love using the crispy Iceberg or Butter  lettuce leaves to wrap everything from grilled beef to grilled shrimps as they maintain a cool, crisp and fresh taste in your mouth. This Turkey Lettuce Wrap is packed with a juicy, flavorful ground turkey surrounded in the sweet, crunchy freshness of shredded carrot and cilantro and topped with roasted peanuts.
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RECIPE:  Turkey Lettuce Wraps

about 1.25 pounds Ground Turkey
3 tablespoons Lab Namtok Seasoning 
2 1/2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon Ground Pepper
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (ot bot), optional
2 tablespoons Annatto Oil, (Dầu Hạt Điều) click here for recipe


1 Iceberg or Butter Lettuce 
1 Carrot, shredded
Roasted Peanut
a bunch Cilantro, cut into 3 inch segments
Preparing Lettuce

Remove the lettuce core with a pairing knife.  Then use your hand to separate the leaves apart.  Rinse the leaves then shake the water off each leaf.   Blot the lettuce dry with paper towel .  Set aside.
Sauteing Ground Turkey

In a pan over high heat, add annatto oil when the pan is getting hot.  Stir in garlic and onion.  Stir until fragrant.

Add turkey, lab namtok seasoning, fish sauce, ground pepper and chili powder if you want to spice it up.  Continue cooking until the meat is cooked, about 2 minutes.


Arrange lettuce leaves, roasted peanut, cilantro, and shredded carrot on a large serving platter.  Pile turkey  in the center or place meat in a separate shadow plate.   To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf.  Squeeze a bit of lime/lemon juice.  Fold the lettuce around the meat like a taco.  Be careful this wrap may be too healthy for you!