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Friday, February 9, 2018

Fried Brussels Sprouts with Dried Bonito Flakes (Bắp Cải Brucxen Chiên Giòn)

I was in my vegetable garden early this morning - meaning after 10 am when it's nice and toasty - contemplating what to grow this year. The usual lush greens of various plants and veggies gave way to mostly brown with a hint of mustard greens and edible chrysanthemum. I suddenly thought of brussels sprouts and how my girls would be so excited to see their favorite vegetable flourishing right now. My girls won't mind if I feed them brussels sprouts every day, but it has to be cooked in a certain way.

In a previous post, I shared with you one of my girls' favorite brussels sprouts dishes (click here for the recipe). But there's one more - deep fried or roasted in the oven, then topped with dried bonito flakes (pinkish-tan flakes of dried skipjack tuna), or furikake (seasoning made from combining sesame seeds, sugar, dried and ground fish, chopped seaweed, and salt), crispy rice, and drizzled with sriracha aioli or dipped in ponzu sauce. Can you smell it yet?

Surely, deep fry food are unhealthy, but it's so decadently delicious. I do limit the amount of fried food my family eat. But honestly, I like brussels sprouts best when they're deep-fried. It brings out a wonderfully sweet and nutty flavor from the brussels sprouts, making them irresistible. I get that not everyone is a brussels sprouts fan, but that may change after you venture to try this recipe.
RECIPE: Fried Brussels Sprout with Dried Bonito Flakes

1 pound brussels sprouts
1/4 cup cooked steamed rice, optional
bonito flakes
ponzu sauce
yuzu citrus 
cooking oil, for frying

Dehydrating Cooked Rice

My girls love brussels sprouts with crispy rice.  Their faces become animated as they are popping the crispy rice in their mouths.  If you use the crispy rice in this recipe, spread cooked rice out on a tray and dry the rice at 250° for approximately half an hour.
Preparing Brussels Sprouts


I purchased a 2 lb bag of brussels sprouts from Costco. They're already pre-washed. Cut off the brown ends of the brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Keep the loose green leaves separately because they get all crispy and delicious when roasted, and the texture is incredible. Cut each into halves. Make sure they are dry at room temperature. Brussels sprouts that are cold or damp will bring the oil temperature down and the sprouts won't be crispy.
Deep Frying Brussels Sprouts and Rice 

Brussels Sprouts - line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels. In a pot or deep pan, heat oil on medium high. When the oil is hot or reach 400°F, add brussels sprouts. Oil temperature will drop, so adjust heat to maintain this temperature. Be careful, as the oil can splatter.  Fry and stir with a slotted stainless steel spoon until brussels sprouts have a nice golden brown color; usually takes about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.

If you prefer to bake brussels sprouts, preheat oven to 450°F. Mix brussels sprouts with the olive oil on a baking tray.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.

Rice - fry the dried rice. Once the grains of rice are popping and turns golden brown, carefully use a strainer to remove the popped rice from the hot oil. Place the popped rice on a paper towel to allow any excess oil to be absorbed.

Tossing Brussels Sprouts

In a bowl, toss brussels sprouts and crispy rice, if used, to combine. Set aside.

Mix half of ponzu sauce and yuzu in a small bowl.  Set aside.

If you want to try sriracha aioli sauce, stir 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1/2 tablespoon of sriracha hot sauce together in a bowl until the color is consistent; add about 1/4 lime or lemon juice and stir.

Transfer brussels sprouts and crispy rice to a serving plate. Pour the sauce on the bottom of the plate so that brussels sprouts will not get soggy and become salty from soaking in the sauce.  Top with dried bonito flakes.  Serve immediately. 
Eat well.  Stay healthy. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Baked Catfish (Cá Bông Lau Nướng Da Giòn)

It's the Super Bowl. Are you excited about the ads, the game or half-time?
I'm sure my husband can't wait to hog the TV all day.

On Friday morning, my plan was heading out to run some errands and do one small thing a day that makes me happy - that happened to be buying myself some plants and flowers. I had finally stow away my winter decorations and wanted to usher in the blossoms and bloom in anticipation of spring.

Two days prior, I wanted to serve dried chicken noodle - phở gà khô (click here for the recipe) to my family but as I was browsing through a local market, I found myself stopping at the fish section. Right away I remembered hearing my husband complaining we haven't had enough veggies lately. I knew I needed to prepare a meal that would give us a chance to catch up on veggies and what can be better than fish rolls - baked fish with abundant of fresh vegetables wrapped in rice paper. Roll it up with strings of noodle if you want some carbs in your diet. You can buy dried noodle from the store or make it from scratch. It's so much easier to make noodle using a Philips pasta machine but if you don't have one, a potato ricer would work

The baked fish looks beautiful once it's out of the oven.  It inviting and totally irresistible when topped with scallion oil, crispy fried onion, and fresh roasted peanuts.  I just realize what really made me happy today is accomplishing this recipe to share with you.  
RECIPE: Baked Catfish
1 catfish, ask the store to clean and butterfly or split the fish
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
for honey mixure
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
for toppings
green onion, minced
crispy fried shallot or fried onion
roasted peanuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Preparing Honey Mixture

Add honey and lemon juice in a small bowl, mixing to combine.  Set aside.
Marinating the Fish

Pound garlic with a mortar and pestle into a paste. Add salt, sugar, five spice powder, black pepper, and olive oil, mixing to combine.

Using your fingers to rub the spices in and distribute evenly all over the fish. Line onion slices on the baking tray.  Place fish on top of the onion, skin-side up.  Tuck the onion in so the fish covers the onion. 
Baking the Fish

Put the fish tray in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the fish and baste the fish skin wit honey mixture. 

Place it back into the oven and increase the oven temperature to max (mine is 550 degrees F) until skin is crispy golden brown.
Preparing Toppings

Scallion Oil - while the fish is being baked, in a sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and a clove of smashed garlic over medium heat. The purpose of using the garlic in oil is to impart the garlic flavor in oil You can skip garlic if preferred.  I am a fan of garlic.  When the garlic starts to turn brown, remove oil from heat.  Let it cool down for a minute then add the green onion and mix well.  Discard the garlic.  Set aside. 

Fried onion or fried shallots - I used the premade fried onions. From scratch, slice shallots thinly then fry in oil until crispy.

Roasted Peanuts - I sometime use Planters dry roasted peanuts.  You can roast raw peanuts in the pan over medium low heat until golden.

Use two spatulas to transfer fish and onion onto a serving plate. Spoon scallion oil over the top of the fish. Top with crispy fried shallots or fried onion, and roasted peanuts. Serve with rice papers as spring rolls or lettuce wraps with noodles along with herbs, lettuces, cucumbers, granny smith apple or green mango, and pickled daikon and carrots if preferred. Dip rolls in fermented shrimp pineapple sauce, fish sauce, or tamarind fish sauce.
Here's to your Superbowl celebration with this grand delight.
Eat well.  Stay healthy.