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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cơm Cháy Chiên Giòn (Crispy Rice Crackers)

"Vàng rụm, giòn tan, 
bùi bùi bởi cơm cháy chiên, thơm ngọt bởi thịt chà bông, cay nồng bởi vị ớt,…đó là những cảm nhận tuyệt vời về món Cơm Cháy Chiên Giòn."

While watching a live Thuy Nga Paris By Night performance at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas last month, I made friend with a person to my left - mainly because she had authentic Vietnamese food (just kidding but partly true). She was kind enough to share her only 1 bag of store-bought - all the way from Arizona - Cơm Cháy Chiên Giòn (Vietnamese Crispy Rice Crackers) with my two girls.   I thought to myself what can be better than enjoying this treat while watching a live taping of Paris By Night in Vegas; hopefully they didn't catch me on tape munching away.  This snack was so addictive; once you start, it's hard to stop. My daughters probably ate half a bag of it! 

We enjoyed it so much I left the show determined to make this snack.  Cơm Cháy Chiên Giòn is usually  made from  left over rice or sticky rice but since I didn't have any left over, I had to cook a fresh batch then left at room temperture until it's cool. I made two full sheet size.  One to share with friends and the other my daughters finished in a couple days. 

packed it up for to-go
The beautiful golden color and the crispiness is very inviting. The sizzling sound when you drizzle sweet fish sauce over the hot and crispy  rice cake makes cooking  this more fun.  Once the sweet fish sauce and thịt chà bông (cotton pork meat) -yes, that moldy looking thing on the rice  crispy - are added, you  just can't resist. To increase the flavor, this Cơm Cháy Chiên Giòn tastes even better when hot chili pepper is added. I added  a little bit of chili pepper in mine,  just enough to give my girls a little bit of spiciness on their taste buds at a level I know they can handle.

If you have any left over rice at home (be sure it's still fresh and healthy) You can turn these 1 day old rice into a wonderful and hard to resist snack.
RECIPE: Cơm Cháy Chiên Giòn
Make two full sheet size

Printable Recipe


4 cups of rice, cooked and then cooled
Thịt Chà Bông (Cotton Meat)
Conola Oil or Vegetable Oil, for frying

For Sweet Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce
1/2 tabelspoon Vinegar
1 tablespoon Sugar
3 tablespoons Water
Preparing Rice

Place oven rack on the 2nd bottom level.  Turn on the oven to 250 degree.

Prepare a full size baking tray with aluminum foil on the bottom.  Brush oil on the aluminum tray.  This process will make it easier to peel the foil off the rice after baking. 

Pour cooked rice into a baking tray.  Use your hand or a spatula to flatten rice evenly on the tray about a little bit less than half inch.  Keep your hand moist with oil to prevent rice from sticking on your hand.

Place rice tray in the oven and set the baking time for 1 hour.

bake at 250º

Prepare another full size baking tray with an aluminum foil with oil. Remove rice tray from the oven. Lift the rice sheet from the tray and flip it up-side-down onto the receiving tray. Remove the hot aluminum foil.

Place rice tray into the oven and bake it for another hour. 

Remove rice from the oven.  By now, the rice should be dried on both sides.  Remove the aluminum foil and put it on a cooling rack to cool it down. 

Preparing Sweet Fish Sauce

Mix all the sweet fish sauce ingredients together.  Set it aside.

Frying Rice and Assembling Rice Crackers

Prepare a large plate with napkin on the bottom. 
Bring oil on high heat.

When the rice sheet is cool, break it into pieces.  The rice will expand once you fry it so be sure the size of the  rice pieces are smaller than the fry pan. 

The oil needs to be very hot when frying the rice.  The rice will turn brown quickly so don't take  your eyes off  it.

Remove fried rice from frying pan and place it the napkin plate so that the oil can be absorbed into the napkin.

homemade Tuna Cotton Meat
Drizzle sweet sauce over the rice while it's still hot; it will sizzle. Sprinkle cotton meat over it.  Transfer it to a baking tray (you don't need to place aluminum foil on the bottom of the tray this time). Repeat with the remaining  rice.

This batch I used my homemade Tuna cotton meat (cá Tuna chà bông) and added some mỡ hành (scallion oil)
Drying Rice Cake

turn on the oven to 250º

You should have two trays of crispy rice crackers.  Place each tray back in the oven for about 5-7 minutes.  This process is to dry off the fish sauce and to keep the rice crackers crispy for a few weeks.  Continue with the second tray.

Store crispy rice crackers in a container with tight fitting lid. The crispiness will last for at least a week.

for the adventuresome....add sriracha hot chili sauce

Take a bite out of this crispy treat anytime of the day!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chả Ốc (Vietnamese Ham with Periwinkle Snails)

My husband and daughters love Ốc in general.  Everytime we make a trip to Orange County, they have to stop by  Phước Lộc Thọ (Asian Garden Mall) in Little Saigon for escargo or Ốc.  Her Under-The-Sea party theme makes Chả Ốc a must-have dish at her fifth birthday party.  As it turns out this dish was gone within the first 30 minutes of the party.  Now that's how you get a party started!

The two main ingredients of  Chả  Ốc are  quality Giò Sống (uncooked pork paste)  and Ốc Bươu (Periwinkle/Escargot Snails).  They can be purchased in the frozen section of most Asian markets.  You can also find Giò Sống  at any Vietnamese sandwich shop.  Giò Sống  is typically already seasoned, so you just need to add a little bit more of seasoning to enhance the flavor.
Chả  Ốc is served as an appetizer.  It has a wonderful soft and crunchy texture.  The earthy flavors of lemongrass, lime leaf,  ginger, pepercorn and shallot give it a wonderful aroma that blends with  giò sống.  When preparing Ốc, I like to cut it into big chunks so that when we sink our teeth into it and taste the chewy, crunchy, flavor packed Ốc. 
Make about 75 servings

Printable Recipe


For Chả  Ốc Paste
3 pounds Pork Paste  (Giò Sống)
3 pounds cooked Periwinkle (Ốc), cut into half or three depends on the size of Ốc
3 tablespoons finely minced lemongrass (only the white thicker end)
3 Shallots, finely minced
2 tablespoons Kaffir Lime Leaves or Lime Leaves, finely minced
1 1/2 tablespoons Fish sauce
1/2-1 tablespoon Peppercorns ( Tiêu Hột)
1/2 tablespoon Ground Pepper (Tiêu Xay)

Other ingredients

4 Lemongrass stalks, only the white thicker end, washed, each split into 4 or 8 about 3 inches sticks
A bunch of Lime Leaves, washed, dried, cut into half
1 large Ginger Root, peeled, washed, thinly sliced

Banana leaves, cut into  rectangles
Aluminum foil,  cut into rectangles about one inch longer than the size of banana leaves
Preparing Ốc

Wash Ốc in salt water thouroughly.  Rinse a couple time until the water is cleared.  Place a handfull of Ốc in your hands and squeeze out the liquid. Cut Ốc into half or three pieces depends on the size.  Drained and set it aside.

In a pan,  sauté  finely minced lemongrass and shallot until fragnant.  Add fish sauce.  Mix it well.  Add Ốc and give it a quick stir.  Remove from heat.  Don't  leave it on the stove for longer than half of a minute as the juice in Ốc will release.  If there is any juice in the pan, drain the juice. Let it cool down.
Preparing Pork Paste and Ốc

 I forgot to add finely minced lime leaves  at the same time with other ingredients :-)

In mixing bowl, combine sauteed Ốc, pork paste (giò sống), finely minced lime leaves, pepercorns and ground pepper. Mix well. Cover and place it in freezer or fridge for about half an hour until the beef is really cold but not yet frozen . This process will help the meat to bind together.
Assembling Chả  Ốc

Lay banana leaf on a cutting board, place a lime leaf,  about 1 tablespoon of the mixture.  Then place a lemongrass stick on one side and a slice of ginger on the other side of the mixture.  Mold the mixture into a log and roll tightly.  Place an aluminum foil on a cutting board, then place a banana leaf roll on it and roll it up.  Twist  the ends of the foil tightly. 

Steaming Chả  Ốc

Bring a steamer to boil. Add the uncooked Chả  Ốc into the steamer tray and steam about 10-12 minutes. Enjoy it hot or cold with or without the dipping ginger fish sauce.

Voila! Escargo!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chè Trôi Nước Bột Báng (Mung Bean Tapioca Pearls with Ginger Syrup Dessert )

As I promised, I finally had my hands at making these delicious Mung Bean Tapioca Pearls  dessert again. 

This Chè Trôi Nước Bột Báng is similar to Chè Trôi Nước (Mung Bean Mochi with Ginger Syrup) which I made back in June.  Feel free to click on the link for further details.

The only difference is Chè Trôi Nước Bột Báng is made with TAPIOCA PEARLS  while Chè Trôi Nước is made of glutenous or sweet rice.  I use the same  mung bean paste filling for both chè. 

My plan was to make two batches of Chè in two types of tapioca pearls (green pandan and the basic white tapioca pearls)  but I ended up finishing only one batch as I was busy preparing Lẩu Vịt Nấu Chao/Duck Cooked in Fermented Bean Curds (please stay tuned) for dinner at the same time. Therefore I had to store the remaining mixed tapioca pearls and mung bean in the fridge for a couple days and just finished making them all today.

It was a little bit harder to work with tapioca pearls on the first batch. The tapioca stuck to my hands even though I had oil on my hands to prevent it. I found the tapioca to be much easier to handle when kept cold in the fridge and your hands moist with water instead of oil while working with it. The second batch took me half of the time compare to the first batch.

For those who like tapioca pearls, this dessert has a distinctively chewy soft texture of the tapioca pearls; the tasty mung bean filling is packed with flavors; it's fused with pepper, salt, sugar and the wonderful aroma of fried shallot mixed with mashed mung beans; the rich taste of coconut milk and the sweet ginger and pandan flavor syrup that is made with white sugar - which I much prefer over brown sugar - syrup will delight your palate. 

 As you can see how much I love to incorporate pandan leaf in my cooking. I love its distinctive aroma which instaneously will  enhance the taste of dish be it desserts or main course. Pandan leaf's unique taste  blends beautifully with coconut milk. 
RECIPE: Chè Trôi Nước Bột Báng
Make about 23 Balls
Printable Recipe

For Dough
1 bag Tapioca Pearls (Bột Báng) 
3 cups Water
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt

For Mung Bean Filling
1 bag (16oz) Peeled and Split Mung Bean (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Pepper
1/3 cup Fried Shallot (about 3 shallots)
1 tablespoon Oil from Frying Shallot
1-2 Pandan Leaves, tied together

For Ginger Syrup
1 1/2  cups Sugar
Fresh Ginger, peeled and julienned into small strips or any shapes you prefer, make 5 tabelspoons of ginger
5 cups Water
2-3 Pandan Leaves, tied together

For Coconut Sauce
1 can of coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract or Pandan Leave, tied together
1 tablespoon Water + 1 teaspoon Tapioca Flour, mixed well

1/4 cup Roasted Sesame Seeds
1 can Coconut Milk
 Prepare Roasted Sesame Seeds

Roast sesame seeds by frying in a pan and stir until golden brown
Prepare  Coconut Sauce

If using pandan leave, tie it into a short string. Bring the sugar, salt, pandan leave and coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tapioca flour mixture and stir it at the same time. Add vanilla extract if you don't use panda leave. Pour coconut sauce into a bowl and set aside.
Prepare Tapioca Pearls

Place tapioca pearls in a large bowl. Set it aside.
Bring water  to boil.  Add  salt, sugar and stir it well until dissovled. 
Pour the boil water mixture into the tapioca pearls bowl and mix it well.  Set it aside for about one hour or two.  Place in the fridge after that if prefer. 
Prepare Mung Bean Filling

Soak mung beans overnight so it is quicker to cook them but this step is optional.  Most of the time, I skip this step because I usually decide to make it at the last minute; come on, there's some of you out there that cooks on the fly like me.  Rinse and drain the beans. In a pot, add 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt and bring it to boil.  Reduce the heat to low, stir it and cook with lid on for about 15 minutes or until soft.  Add 1/2 cup of sugar, mash it and cook it for another 5 minutes. 

Add the remaining ingredients to the mung bean pot. Mix it well. Divide bean paste into 23 balls. 
Making Ginger Syrup

In a pot add in the water, sugar, pandan leaves and ginger. Boil until sugar dissolved. Reduce the heat to low.
Assembling Mung Bean Tapioca Pearl

Scoop up a big spoon of tapioca pearls about 1 and 1/2 size of the mung bean ball.
Make sure to keep your hands moist with water. 
Flatten the tapioca pearl and add in the mung bean paste ball.
Wrap it up and make a round ball in circular motion with your palms. Repeat for the rest of mung bean balls and tapioca pearls.  Use the remaining tapioca pearls to make it into small balls without the filling.

I kept these remaining tapioca  pearls in the fridge for two days.  I found it to be much easier to handle when kept cold in the fridge and your hands moist with water.
Cooking Mung Bean Tapioca Pearls

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Drop just enough of the mung bean tapioca pearl balls  into the boiling pot.  Tapioca pearl balls are done when they float.  Let it cook for another 5 minutes to ensure it cooks all the way. Remove the tapioca pearl balls  and drop them in the simmering ginger syrup pot. Keep the syrup pot on low heat so that the syrup absorb into the tapioca pearl balls as this will make them  taste better.

Place tapioca pearl balls and the syrup with a few pieces of gingers into a dessert bowl. Drizzle coconut sauce over them and top off with a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds.

Tahdah! Enjoy!!!