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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bánh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Bun)

I often make lots of bánh bao and store them in the refrigerator for my family to enjoy. I personally don't like bánh bao at the stores. First of all, I do not like green peas and carrots that are often mixed into the meat; Second I like to eat them straight from the steamer.

The first time I tried to make bánh bao was when I was in High School, but it all started with my mom.

My mom used to make delicious, tasty bánh bao; Our house would be full of them. My father helped her to kneed and roll out the dough. My sisters helped her to assemble them. They would often laugh at each other' s funny looking bao.  Every time a new batch of buns came out, we all looked at them to see what shape they would take. It was a lot of fun. 

Now, every time my daughters see me making bánh bao, they would sit next to me and help roll out the dough balls and pass out the circle papers that go under the bao. They always get to taste my first batch of fresh, steaming bánh bao.

Pork buns might look difficult to make but it's actually a piece of cake.  After volunteering my two hours weekly routine this morning at my kids' school , I came home and started working on these buns to get them ready for my girls to snack on after school. For convenience, consider making big batches of these buns for your family to munch on through out the week.

my little one watched me making bánh bao when she was 2
a year and a half later, she and her big sister made bao with me.
* * *
RECIPE: Steamed Pork Bun
make 20 buns
printable recipe



1 bag Steamed Bun Flour
1 cup Milk or Water
2/3 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 tablespoon Lime Juice 

3/4 pound Ground Pork
3/4 -1 small Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Dried Wood Ear Mushroom (nấm mèo đen), soaked until soft, rinsed and chopped
1 bunch Vermicelli Bean Threads (bún tàu), soaked until soft,  chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Vietnamese Sausages (lạp xưởng), each cut into 20 round slices
5 boiled eggs, each cut into 4 pieces
20 Paper Circles using paper or parchment paper

she is an expert at making buns at  5 years old
Making Dough

Pour a bag of flour into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, lemon and milk until sugar dissolved. The purpose of using lime juice is to make the bun white.  Keep about 2 tablespoons of the milk mixture on a side. Pour the remainder into the flour bowl. Mix the ingredients well with a wooden spoon in preparation for kneading.  Keep stirring it with a spoon until all the ingredients are combined, then you're ready to start kneading. You should use the palms and heels of your hands to push forward on the dough. If the dough is dried, add a a teaspoon of milk mixture at a time to soften the dough. Add a teaspoon of flour to achieve a nice soft dough if the dough is too tacky. How much liquid all depends upon your brand of flour, how old it is, and the temperature and humidly of the room.  
After about 5 minutes of kneading the dough, test it by touching the dough with your clean and dry hand.  The dough should be soft and should not stick to your hands.  Add oil and knead it for another minute.

Cover the mixing bowl with a cloth or towel. Leave it somewhere that is not cold (I usually warm the oven up for a few minutes then  turn the oven off and leave it in the oven) and let it rise for about half an hour to 45 minutes. Divide dough into 20 balls.  Cover dough with a towel to keep the surface of the dough from drying out.

While waiting for dough to rise, prepare the filling.
Preparing Meat

this batch I used shiitake mushrooms

Mix all the ingredients except sausages and eggs.  Divide the meat into 20 balls. 

Roll out each dough ball but not too thin.

Place a meat ball in the center of dough.  Add 2 pieces of sausages and 1 piece of egg.

Hold the edges of dough over the filling with your thumb and index finger and start folding it into layers while using the other hand's thumb push down the filling. At the end, twist all the layers to make it stick together.  Put the completed bun on a piece of circle paper.


Boil 3/4 of water in a bottom layer of steamer at high heat.  Arrange buns on the other layers of steamer.  Leave space between each bun to make room for it to rise and expand.  Steam the buns when water starts boiling.  After 20 minutes, the buns should be puffed up and they are ready to eat.

Enjoy the buns and cups of hot green tea as a breakfast treat or midday snack.

Ăn Ngon!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sửa Soạn Cơm Tối Trong 30 Phút (30 Minutes Meal)

Great news! The Saucey Sauce Co contacted me to test out their products and I said yes!  It took me a couple weeks staring at these sauce bottles and conjuring up recipes for them.

One morning the idea came to me as my kids and I were harvesting eggplants in our vegetable garden.  After tasting all four bottle of sauces, I knew what I would create for dinner. Within 30 minutes, I was able to prepare 4 dishes using the 4 types of sauce they had sent me.

Having the pre-made sauces on-hand made cooking easier and quicker. For those who don't have much time to create your own sauces, I would invite you to look into The Saucey Sauce company as I think it's a great resource for your cooking and dinning needs.

So, if you want to purchase any product from Saucey Sauce after reading the post, click here and  use the discount code VIETSPICES for 25% off and VIETSPICES2 to get free shipping for any orders over $35.

Disclaimer: I do not benefit in any way other than what the company offers to my readers: 25% discount on your total purchase.


Spicy Garlic Sauce
Brown Sugar Ginger Glaze Sauce
Fresh Lemon Sauce
Sweet Ginger Sauce
Pork Chops
Romaine Lettuce
Tangerine Canned
Sesame Oil
Pan-Fried Spicy Garlic Pork Chops

I marinated the pork chops in two of the sauces: spice garlic and brown sugar ginger glaze.  The Spicy garlic pork chop is my husband's favorite. He loves the spicy, sweet, salty, and deep garlicky flavors that has penetrated the meat. The chops were really tender.


Marinate pork chops with a good amount of spicy garlic sauce.  It would be better if you can marinate it for at least an hour or better yet overnight, but in case you don't have enough time, 10 minutes of marinating is reasonable for a quick meal.

If frying, drizzle some oil in a frying pan and heat it up to medium heat. When oil is hot, add pork.

Cover the pan while frying except when it's time to flip. Remove the lid toward the end to clear the steam. Fry for another minute before removing the meat.

Pan-Fried Brown Sugar Ginger Glaze Pork Chops

Brown sugar ginger glaze sauce was used in the second dish of pork chops.  The pork chops turned out tasty as well.  My kids enjoyed it more than the spicy garlic flavor as it's not as spicy for them.


Marinate pork chops with a generous amount of brown sugar ginger glaze sauce.  Sprinkle a dash of ground pepper if preferred. Marinate as directed previously and proceed as instructed in the above recipe.  

If frying, drizzle some oil in a frying pan and heat it up at medium heat. When oil is hot, add pork.

Cover the pan while frying except when it's time to flip. Remove the lid toward the end to clear the steam. Fry for another minute before removing the meat.

Fruity Salad with Fresh Lemon Sauce

I didn't have time to go grocery shopping, so I used everything that I can find in my vegetable garden, pantry, and fridge to prepare for  this dinner. Fruity salad was made with canned tangerine, fresh strawberries, lettuce, sesame oil, and fresh lemon sauce. It was a wonderful delight. We enjoyed it so much that we had it again the next day.  

In a large bowl,  add chopped romaine lettuce, a can of tangerine (discard the syrup), chopped strawberries, half a tablespoon of sesame oil, and fresh lemon sauce. The sweet ginger sauce also makes a great salad dressing if so desired.   Toss and serve immediately.

sweet ginger sauce also makes great salad dressing
Baked Eggplants with Sweet Ginger Sauce

Eggplant is one of those vegetables in which being slightly under-cooked will not taste good. It has to be completely cooked until it's soft, smooth, and creamy.   My first attempt was to bake the eggplants in whole then peeled off the skin.  Drizzled the sweet ginger over the flesh of the eggpants.  This sweet ginger sauce goes really well with baked eggplants.  

My second attempt was cutting the eggplants into a half inch round pieces with skin on, then baked them. Although baking or grilling eggplants with skin-on will keep them intact, I didn't like the skin-on that much as it's kinda tough to chew. It took away the soft, smooth and creamy of the eggplants. So if you want the best texture of eggplant, peel it. You can also partially peeled them as well for a combo texture result.


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Slice eggplants into half inch slices. Place the cut eggplants on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle a good amount of kosher salt on top of the eggplants. Salting helps draw out the extra water so the baked eggplants will turn out less watery and mushy. It also prevents the eggplants from soaking up too much oil. 

After 10 minutes. you will see beads of water forming. 

Discard the excess water then pat the eggplant slices with paper towels to dry. Be careful not to squeeze too hard and crush the eggplant.
You can skip this salting of the eggplants step if you're in a hurry. 

Place eggplant slices in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush each slice with the olive oil.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. When cool, drizzle with sweet ginger sauce.


It's time to bring out the food and enjoy an outdoor dinner before the Autumn arrives. Enjoy these dishes with the sauces on the side as dipping sauce.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bánh Bông Lan Mặn (Vietnamese Sausage and Salted Duck Egg Cupcake)

My day has been so hectic since the kiddos are back to school. I thought having a first and third grader this year will give me more time for myself but it seems like I am a lot busier than the previous years. Having two kids in gymnastics and swimming teams, beside other activities really suck up all my energy. Being a stay-at-home mom sure is an over-time job but that's my joy and my privilege to be able to teach my kids and take great care of my family. 

My initial intent was to share a popular, authentic Vietnamese recipe of Canh Chua Cá Bông Lau (Sweet and Sour Catfish Soup), but as I am sitting on the bleachers at gymnastics and blogging, my mouth is salivating at the thought of something freshly baked; so I am sharing a sweet and savory cupcake recipe with you instead. It's called Bánh Bông Lan Mặn -Vietnamese Sausage (Lạp Xưởng) and Salted Duck Egg (Trứng Vịt Muối) Cupcake. I love the creamy texture of this cupcake, filled with the wonderful citrus aroma of orange juice which is accentuated with the orange zest. The flavor is further enhanced by the savory sausage and salted duck egg. For some, this is bound to be an acquired taste.

toasted shredded shrimp, garlic clove and salted chicken egg cupcake

If you are not a fan of salted duck egg, but still want to try this recipe, salted chicken egg would be an alternative. Vietnamese sausages and salted duck eggs were available in my pantry but if you have thit chà bông (dried shredded pork), tôm chấy (toasted shredded shrimp), toasted garlic cloves or laughing cow cream cheese, would make great fillings too.
RECIPE: Bánh Bông Lan Mặn
Make 28 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups Self-Rising Flour
1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
4 large Eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh squeezed Orange Juice
2 teaspoons Orange Zest
6 Salted Eggs, Yolks only
2 Vietnamese Sausages (Lạp Xưởng)
Cilantro, for garnish
Line muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake liners.
Preparing Batter

Sift self rising and all purpose flour into a bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

Add the sugar gradually and beat for 2 minutes or until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and orange juice on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over mix.

Add in the zest to the batter and mix well.

Baking Cupcakes

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about 1/4 full .  Add a few pieces of sausages and salted eggs.

Add another layer of the batter, filling it to 3/4 full.  Add another layer of filling.  Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.  

Bake in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Remove cupcakes from cupcake tray and cool on a wire rack.