cháo cá kho

Chao Ca Kho

today marks 3 years since
my beloved gpa passed away.
we are currently in CA,
in celebration of his life,
visiting gma,
and taking a much needed breather.

today’s recipe is one of my childhood faves,
which i have gone & bastardized.
normally it’s eaten with rice,
but gpa would make it with
rice porridge
and we’d have it for breakfast.
gpa always ate it with chopsticks,
which is weird,
this is stew-soup-porridge,
but the man was deft with them sticks.
he is dearly missed.

Chao Ca Kho

cháo cá kho
cháo amount makes 4 small servings, or 2 hefty servings (which is the norm)
cá kho amount makes 6 servings

*note: in feb, dw & i visited charleston, sc, and one of the places we dined at, Xiao Bao Biscuit had a special: fishball congee that was fresh and completely different from any congee experience i’ve ever had, at home or at a restaurant. i only like vietnamese style congee, which is called chao, every other version is not good to me, no offense to all other congees out there. their version, the balls were deep fried and proportion of balls to congee is the exact opposite of what i’m used to. chao is supposed be a quick filling and warming meal, bland with a few bites of salty. their version tipped it to the opposite side of the scale and my version attempts to even it out. the presentation is a little on the precious side for me, but it was a special occasion.

*note: the consistency of this chao is on the thick side, which is my preference, almost to the point where you could stick your chopsticks upright in the bowl and it won’t topple (don’t do that though, especially in japan).

Chao Ca Kho

fishballs
1 1/2 lb catfish filets, skinned and de-boned
knob of ginger, skinned and thin sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 scallions, rough chopped
1 tsp fish sauce
fresh cracked black pepper
oil, for frying

in a food processor add all the ingredients except the filets. pulse until all the ingredients are rough chopped and mixed together. with a spatula, push down the mixture and clean the sides of the bowl.

chop the fish filets into bite sizes and add to the processor. pulse until all the ingredients are chopped and mixed through. you don’t want it to be mush but you do want it to get incorporated.

using a tablespoon or if you’re fancy, a ice cream scooper, scoop up about 1.5 tablespoons worth into your hand and roll it around until it’s ball. place on plate or parchment lined cookie sheet. do this for the entire mixture.

in a pan, heat up a splash of oil. fry the balls until they’re all browned on the outside. don’t worry if they’re not fully cooked on the inside (though they probably are). set on paper towel lined plate and set aside.

braising/caramel sauce
1 generous tsp sugar
1/2 cup – 1 cup coconut juice (water if you end up sipping all the coconut juice waiting for the sugar to caramelize)(no judgement)
half onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
a knob of ginger, thin sliced
1-2 TBL fish sauce

you’re working simultaneously here:
in a pot heat up some oil. saute the onions until they are richly browned, add in the garlic and ginger, all the while stirring to prevent burning.

meanwhile, in a small sauce pan heat up the sugar. it’s going to melt, it’s going to harden and you might smell some burning. don’t freak out like dw did, add the liquid (coconut juice or water) and mix it all together and the liquid starts to simmer. at that point, add it to the pot of onions/garlic/ginger.

mix it all through and then carefully, nestle the fried fishballs into the pot. allow the pot to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. turn the balls to allow for even coatage, add more liquid if the pots gets too dry.

while that’s doing its thing, make the chao.

cháo
1/2 cup rice, rinsed and drained (any kind, whatever your preference)
3 cup water

in a medium pot, add the water and rinsed rice. heat on high until boiling, stir, and then lower heat to medium low, until just a simmer. semi-cover and ignore for 20 minutes. check on it, stir and check consistency. you’re aiming for a thick porridge, if you prefer looser, add more water. take off heat. as it cools, it will thicken, just add water to loosen.

toppings/garnishes
pickled red onions (paper thin sliced red onions in a sweetened vinegar mix)
fried onions
fried garlic
green scallions
sliced red chilis

to assemble
in a bowl add the chao then top with fishballs. drizzle with the caramel/braising sauce. add the garnishments to your heart’s content.

BAM!

Chao Ca Kho

previous gpa posts:
citrus curd mille feuilles
salt & pepper shrimp
guinea hen liver pate

mint chocolate chip cookies – NY Times style

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chips

similar to banana bread,
we all have our go-to favorite recipe,
(this is mine, in case you were wondering)
chocolate chip cookies have different iterations,
most of which i’m willing to try,
(tahini based, with soy sauce, with ginger & molasses, & gluten free.)
but i always fall back to the famous NY Times one.
dw requested it this year for his birthday,
and because i always add mint to his bday treats,
i made the chocolate chips minty.

his birthday is early in the month,
but i am incapable of not celebrating him everyday.
happy birthday sweet dw,
i am your Ride or Die,
forevermore.

Mint-Chocolate Chip Cookies

mint chocolate chip cookies – NY Times style
adapted from the NY Times

refer to the link for the method of the cookies themselves, i didn’t alter that part. my changes are that i used bread flour & spelt flour, as well green valley’s lactose free butter.

for the minty chocolate chips:

1 1/4 lb chocolate, if in bar form rough chop, or use chips
1 very generous TBL mint extract

using the double boiler method, melt the chocolate over boiling water. stir continuously, you’re aiming for a glossy sheen. add in the tablespoon of mint extract, i may have added a little over. mix to incorporate thoroughly.

remove from heat.

at this point, you can either spread the chocolate out on a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool. when completely cooled, break into small pieces.

or you can be fancy and make chips. allow the mixture to cool a little before handling. carefully pour into piping bag. i let it cool in order to be able to handle the piping without burning my hand. when ready, snip the end of the bag and carefully dollop a small chip amount on parchment paper, continuing until you’ve used up all the chocolate or you get annoyed and make the bar form.

allow to cool through before handling.

use as you would any other chips.

BAM!

Mint-Chocolate Chip Cookies

previous dw chocolate + mint confections:
minty milano cookies – 2016
peppermint kisses – 2015 (not officially blogged  but use this recipe for reference)
coconut peppermint patties – 2014
homemade thin mints – 2013
mint chocolate cake – 2012

travel | charleston, south carolina

Charleston, SC

speaking of celebrating:
we spent a long weekend away!
the thing about travelling with dw
is that the man likes to walk.
our first day in Charleston,
a trip we planned months ago
due to some crazy airline sale,
we walked 13 miles,
the 2nd day, 8 miles
and 3rd day, about 5 miles.
i’d complain, but we discovered a few gems.

Charleston, SC

|sleep|
airbnb **

|eats|
the park cafe
leon’s oyster shop
bakehouse bakery cafe
husk ******* (it was an emotional meal, the pigs ear salad wrap was a revelation, and i got teary-eyed over the duck entree)
poke tea house ** (we went TWICE, gimme all your salmon)
king street cookies
xiao bao biscuit ** (their special: fish balls + congee was delicious, i’m already thinking about recreating it)
hominy grill
glazed gourmet doughnuts

Charleston, SC

|sights|
hampton park
the citadel
old city market
waterfront park *
rainbow row
the battery *
old city jail
college of charleston
natural history museum of charleston
halsey institute of contemporary art
charleston library society
old slave mart museum *

Charleston, SC

3 years ago: soy sauced chocolate chip cookies – dairy free
2 years ago: chocolate meringue kisses – gf
1 year ago: chocolate chip cookie dough + coffee ice cream – gf and vegan
other travels: adventures galore!

diy | flameless fire pit + fake rocks

Flameless Fire Pit

i know,
this is kinda ridiculous.
however, i’m willing to bet
there are plenty of people,
(as it were, my kind of peeps)
who would appreciate this
level of ridiculousness.
it’s been a mild season,
but winter nonetheless,
and i am giving
H Y G G E
the seriousness it deserves.

DIY Flameless Pire Pit

DIY Flameless Fire Pit
adapted from free people

materials:
tree branches, size up to you, but aim for the thicker ones
white or light grey fabric strips
aluminum foil
mod podge glue
paint brush
LED light string (i got mine from IKEA, leftover xmas lights are fine)
rocks, real or homemade. recipe below

wrap branches with aluminum foil, make sure it’s covered

brush glue on a fabric strip and wrap it around the foiled branch. overlap if necessary, but cover the entire branch.

do this for all the branches and set on WHITE/LIGHT colored paper and allow to dry (you risk the paper sticking to the glue/fabric, and having newspaper ink stuck will mar the effect.)

when completely dry, anywhere from overnight to a couple nights (i lost steam with the project after the first sitting… it took me almost a week to get back to it… don’t judge me), using an xacto knife or box cutter, carefully cut down the seam of the branch, end to end. it’s ok if you cut through the foil, the goal is to peel the whole thing off the branch. carefully take the cast off the branch, peel the aluminum out. reshape if necessary. do this for all the branches.

chuck branches and foil.

arrange stones/rocks in a circle, within reach of an outlet. pile the stringed lights in the middle. then like you’re building a fire, arranged the branches in a cone-shape over the lights.

turn lights on and squeal in ridiculous child-like abandon.

Flameless Fire Pit

DIY homemade ROCKS
adapted from handmade mamas
makes 8 palm-sized rocks

26 oz coffee grounds (still wet from the day’s brew)
1 cup corn flour (or cornmeal)
1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 cup salt
1 scant cup whatever flour (i used whole wheat, cus my precious spelt is pricey)
water

preheat oven to 250F. line cookie sheet with parchment paper. if you planned ahead, use an old/used one cus RECYCLE.

in a bowl mix dry ingredients together. the coffee grounds will be wet. as you’re mixing you can determine just how much water to add.

slowly add the water, 1/4 cup at a time. you’re aiming to bring the mixture to play-dough consistency. if you don’t know what that is, i feel sorry for you, aim for pasta-dough consistency. you want the stuff to stick together.

shape into rocks. they don’t have to be perfect, irregular shaped and dents and cracks are nice.

place on prepared cookie sheet.

bake for 20 minutes.

turn off oven, flip over the rocks and leave in oven while it cools.

BAM!

DIY Flameless Pire Pit

3 years ago: kale + tofu balls with pasta
2 years ago: frozen old fashioned waffles
1 year ago: feijoada – brazilian bean stew

curried broccoli & cheese soup

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

it’s been an emotional week –
i would be remiss to not mention
the historic shit show that is happening
in American politics right now.
i’ve cried more in the last 6 days than i care to admit
i’ve broken up with people on facebook
i spent the first 24 hours gathering grace,
the next 24 hours cowering,
and now i’m ready to tread out to the deep end.

as the late rufus scrimgeour said:
These are dark times, there is no denying.
Our world has perhaps faced no greater threat than it does today.
But I say this to our citizenry:
We, ever your servants,
will continue to defend your liberty
and repel the forces that seek to take it from you!
Your Ministry remains, strong.
(Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling)

stretch in the direction of kindness,
forgiveness, emotional bravery.
be a warrior for love.
(dear sugar, Cheryl Strayed)

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

curried broccoli & cheese soup
serves 2 for a week of lunches

note: the curry flavor is subtle, green curry can be spicy and the coconut milk and cheese tempers it, leaving a rather pleasant heat. you can up the amount if you want, i found that 2 TBL was enough.

healthy splash of olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup spelt flour
2 cups veggie stock
1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 TBL green curry paste, i’ve been using this brand and it’s spicy AF, i like this brand too.
4 cups broccoli florets + stems
2 large carrots, match-sticked
salt/pepper to taste
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese, we use cabot extra sharp cus it clear states that it’s lactose free

in a pot, heat up about 1-2 TBL of olive oil. saute the onions until translucent, with generous pinch of salt/pepper. at this point, you can remove the onions or you can be lazy like me and just push them to the side of the pan. drizzle in a healthy glug of more olive oil, about 3-4 TBL worth and then sprinkle in the spelt flour. you’re aiming to make a roux, so make sure that all the flour is incorporated in the fat. if you aren’t diligent about whisking/stirring it, it’ll get brown, which is fine but the color of your soup will be darker, the taste will be fine though. either way, make sure you fully incorporate the flour with the oil and it’s thick/pasty. add in the stock and coconut milk, as well as the green curry paste. whisk to incorporate the roux and the curry paste together. bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium and add in the broccoli, carrots and garlic. simmer til the vegs are tender, anywhere from 15-20 minutes. the soup will be thick, it can be thinned with a bit of water/stock if necessary. add in the grated cheese and stir through.

ladle into bowls and top with extra cheese if you’re feeling fancy.

BAM!

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

3 years ago: blueberry jam danishes
2 years ago: chickpea & sausage stew (using the same props!)(my style has not changed much)
1 year ago: only one thing last year, vegan carrot cake