Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Eggplant Wrapped Tofu


Who doesn't love Thanksgiving? We all know that you should be thankful no matter what time of the year it is, but during this special holiday, you suddenly feel extra THANKFUL and just a little bit more BLESSED. You also get that ONE day to stuff your face without anyone really judging you. Which reminds me...I wonder if I can locate my old maternity pants? Stretchy pants are an absolute MUST on Thanksgiving Day!

This recipe is an easy one and the great thing about it is IT'S HEALTHY. Grilled eggplant and fried tofu make a beautiful pair and I promise you, that for just a few moments…you will have forgotten that you are a meat eating carnivore.


3-4 Indian eggplants(may use any purple egg plants)
2 packages of fried tofu(small or large)
sesame oil
salt and pepper


1 ounce of ginger  peeled then sliced julienne
1 small carrot sliced julienne
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 Tbsp of finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup of water
1 Tbsp of soy sauce
1 Tbsp of hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp of salt
2 Tbsp of brown sugar
1/8 tsp of black pepper
peanut oil
some corn starch mixed with a little bit of water


cilantro or parsely


1. Start by making your dipping sauce. In a small mixing bowl, combine your water, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, salt, brown sugar, and black pepper. Mix well.

2. In a saucepan, add in some peanut oil. Add in your chopped shallots and cook until softened. Add in your garlic, cook for a couple of seconds and then toss in your ginger and carrots. Cook until fragrant or until softened to your liking.

3. Add in your soy sauce mixture and cook on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. It should be slightly boiling. Take some cornstarch and mix it with some water. Add that mixture into your saucepan and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Mixture will thicken more upon standing.

4. Remove your tofu from the packaging and rinse them in some really hot water to remove any excess oil. Drain and then pat them dry. Cut them in half if you are using the larger ones.

5. Wash your eggplants and then pat them dry. Cut off the ends first, and then begin to slice your eggplants into thin pieces, about an 1/8th of inch wide(or thinner). Coat both sides of your eggplant with some sesame oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill your eggplants until done and allow them to cool down slightly before wrapping them over your tofu.

6. Wrap your grilled eggplant over your tofu by inserting a toothpick right into the center. Place them on a serving platter along with your dipping sauce and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vietnamese Ham(Cha Lua)

yes new ham

Vietnamese ham may seem intimidating at first, but let me reassure you that it is SUPER easy to make. I've been making them for the past 2 years and honestly speaking, they don't really last that long in my home.

Vietnamese Ham, also known as Cha Lua, is commonly used in Vietnamese Sandwiches aka Banh Mi and many noodle soup recipes. When I am really lazy and don't feel like cooking, I like to add pieces of ham into my instant noodles. It's even good served with rice, a little bit of soy sauce, and lots of Sriracha hot sauce! YUM!

The possibilities are endless with this one, and I hope you guys really enjoy it just as much as I do!



2 1/2 pounds of pork tenderloin
3 tsp of fish sauce
1/2 tsp of salt
1 Tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of onion powder
1/2 tsp of white pepper
WHOLE black peppercorns(optional)

For the wet ingredients:

1 bag of Alsa baking powder(or 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp of tapioca starch
2/3 cup of warm water
*Don't make this mixture until the very last minute. It will start to bubble and that's normal.

You will also need:

good quality saran wrap
kitchen twine/string
a steamer


Take your pork tenderloin, rinse it, and then pat it dry. Remove any excess fat or silver skin. Chop into small pieces and add it into your food processor.

Pulse meat until it is fully grounded. Stop the motor and then season your pork. IF USING PEPPERCORNS, DO NOT ADD THOSE IN YET.

Continue to pulse for about 30 more seconds. Stop the motor, mix your wet ingredients, and then immediately pour it into your pork. Continue to pulse for 30 more seconds or until smooth.

Pour your pork mixture into a bowl and if you are using peppercorns, go ahead and add them now. Mix well with a spatula, cover with saran wrap, and store in the fridge OVERNIGHT.

The following day, wrap your pork tightly in saran wrap. Follow with two more layers of saran wrap, and then with some kitchen twine.

Steam until no longer pink. If your pork weighs 1 pound, you should steam them for ABOUT 30 minutes. Anything more or less, please adjust cooking time as needed.

NOTES: After steaming, you may freeze your leftover ham for future use. Just thaw and serve. I've always used the French baking powder so I do not know if it will yield the same results, using regular baking powder. You can purchase Asla baking powder in most Asian markets. They come in little pink packages and can be found next to the corn starch.

Fresh Spring Rolls

spring rolls


rice paper
very warm water

For the filling:

rice vermicelli noodles(cooked accordingly to the package)
1 pound of shrimp(deveined with the shell on)
fried tofu
Vietnamese ham(click here for my homemade recipe)
bean sprouts
green leaf lettuce
saw tooth coriander(optional)

For the peanut sauce:

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp of hoisen sauce
1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp of sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of very warm water
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
chopped peanuts for garnish
*you may double the recipe

For the sweet and sour fish sauce:

1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp of very hot water
1/3 cup of fish sauce
1-2 limes
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 Tbsp of ground chili paste
some sliced Thai chili peppers
some carrots sliced julienne(optional)


Start off by making your dipping sauces.

To make the peanut sauce:

Add all of the above ingredients(except for the chopped peanuts)into a food processor and puree until smooth. Taste check and adjust seasoning as needed. Sauce will slightly thicken upon standing. Store any leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge.

To make the sweet and sour dipping sauce:

Add all of the above ingredients into a small mixing bowl EXCEPT for the ground chili paste and chili peppers. You want to taste check for seasoning first, and then add the chili last after it's to your liking. Start off with the juice of 1 lime and add more as needed. Store leftover sauce in an air tight container in the fridge, as well.

Add your shrimp in some boiling water until cooked through. Drain and then slice them in half. Remove the shell and then set aside.

Take your tofu and rinse them in some hot water to remove the excess oil. Drain and then pat dry. Cut them in half and then again into thirds. Set them aside.

Cut your Vietnamese ham into the same size as your tofu. You want thin strips to make it easier to roll.

Wash all of your herbs and veggies VERY WELL, and then dry them in a salad spinner.

*Make sure you have all of your fillings, herbs, and veggies in front of you before you begin to assemble.

How to assemble your spring rolls:

Dip your rice paper into some very warm water for about 5 seconds. Place the rice paper on a wooden board. Use your hands to smooth out the rice paper a bit. It will also help soften the rice paper. Take a small piece of lettuce and place it in the middle(make sure you leave at least a 1/2 inch border on the sides to roll up the seams). Add your bean sprout first, and then follow with your choice of herbs and veggies. Top with a small portion of noodles(less is more). On the next row, add two slices of tofu then top that with two slices of ham. For the third row, add 3 pieces of shrimp(the cut side of the shrimp should be visible to you).

Start rolling the rice paper over the veggies and noodles(getting a tight grip), then over your tofu and ham, and right before you roll over the shrimp, fold in the sides of the rice paper, and finally, tightly roll over the shrimp.

Serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce.

NOTES: Fresh spring rolls do not refrigerate well. The rice paper will become tough and hard, when cold. Make sure you always use very warm water for best results. You do not have to use a wooden board to roll your spring rolls. Personally, it just works better for me because I feel that the wooden boards soak up the water from the rice paper better, so it makes for easier rolling.

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