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

mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

in an effort to end 2016 with some
kind of happiness,
with some mad hope,
dw & i split the 4 day break
with friends,
then snuggled up,
(hygge, H O L L A!)
hiding from people,
watching sherlock.
we are our best selves
after a period of anti-social behavior.
it’s been a whirl of short weeks-long weekends,
now faced with not another holiday until spring,
i’m doing what i can to break the monotony of winter.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

the first step is a minor adjustment
to my social calendar.
i signed up to volunteer
at our local IRC office,
i was matched with a burmese family.
for a few hours a week
i will tutor them in english,
along with whatever else they’re up for.
this will likely challenge me,
i’m not naturally inclined toward teaching,
but this is necessary,
as i fight,
COME AT ME KC,
in a small way,
the absolute cluster of the next 4 years.

but first, let’s eat.
happy 2017.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup
adapted from luke nguyen

makes an ass ton – we were eating this for dinner for about 5 days, and there was still more, but i had to put an end to the leftover thing

note: i did not add the rice powder, because i didn’t feel like grinding rice. my spice grinder is for coffee grinding anyway.

noodle bowls:
rice vermicelli noodles
hard-boiled eggs, halved
chopped cilantro, to garnish
lime wedges, to serve

broth:
1 head of fish, if you had to choose, catfish is fine
1 lemongrass stem, bruised
2 garlic cloves, bashed
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 TBL cooked chickpeas, mashed (i used jarred jovial)
1 red onion, quartered
1/2 red onion, chopped
fish sauce, to taste
1.5 lbs catfish fillet, cleaned and de-boned

spice paste:
3 lemongrass stems, finely sliced, white part only
2-4 red chilis, to taste
1/2 red onion, rough chopped
4 garlic cloves , diced
1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
1/2 cup grape seed oil
2 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika

make the broth: place the fish head in a large pot with the lemongrass, garlic, red onion quarters and turmeric. pour in enough cold water to cover the head and bring to a boil. skim off any muck, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. strain the broth and put back in pot. keep the heat at low, and gently lower the fish fillets into the broth and cook for about 15-20 minutes. remove the fillets and with forks, flake them into chunky pieces. set aside. keep the broth pot on low though.

while the broth is simmering, make the paste: in a mortar & pestle, pound the lemongrass, chillies, chopped onions, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste. you can use a food processor for ease.

in a saucepan, heat up the grape seed oil. add in the paste and saute for 20 minutes. you’re gonna question if the amount of oil is correct, and i’ll just say, i asked the same question and it worked out fine. stir in the shrimp paste, tumeric and paprika. add in the flaked fish, be gentle with mixing, cook on low for an additional 5 minutes.

returning to the pot of broth, add the fish mixture to it. next, throw in the mashed chickpeas and chopped red onions. season with fish sauce to taste. stir to combine, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

to serve:
cook vermicelli noodles according to package instructions. divvy into soup bowls.

ladle soup over noodles, being sure to add in chunks of flaked fish.

top with half hard boiled egg and generous smattering of chopped cilantro.
spritz with lime juice.

BAM!

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

3 years ago: coffee chocolate chip ice cream
2 years ago: carne rustida de navidad
1 year ago: spiced mexican cookies

Jose’s Paella

Jose's Paella

some weeks ago,
when the air still had a bite of winter
and the gloom of february seemed ever present,
(kinda like how this past weekend was,
except it’s way past the middle of march)
we had a paella party.
kinda sorta like the time
i spent with nuria’s family in barçelona.
nuria’s dad, jose,
cooked up a storm.
there was always something to eat.
and one of the things he made was paella.
every so often
i am able to convince nuria to make it for me.
it’s especially hard now that she technically lives in california,
but for the time being,
while she lives with us in baltimore,
i’m getting my fill of paella.
this was made in the dead of winter,
and as the weather warms,
and fresh spring vegetables make an appearance,
i see another paella party happening…

Jose's Paella

jose’s paella
makes enough for 6 people, or 3 very hungry people

*note: this was all nuria, i stuck my head in a few times to take pictures but she did all the cooking. from what i gathered, make sure you have your mise en place together.

1 lb sushi rice
1/2 cups olive oil
1 TBL minced garlic
2 Liters seafood stock (best if from scratch, recipe to follow)
1/4 cup white wine
1 TBL saffron or tumeric
1/3 cup simple marinara, ideally sofrito
8 shrimps, with heads on
12 mussels
1/2 lb small scallops
1/2 lb sliced squid or calamari
1 lb of white fish, cute in bite sized chunks (tilapia, monkfish, or cod are great choices)
12 bize-size chunks of pork ribs (any meat will do, even chicken)
1 big lemon, cut into 6 wedges, to garnish
1 roasted red pepper in long strips, to garnish

carefully detach heads from shrimp, using your hands, don’t cut it and in a small pan infuse the heads with the olive oil for 20 minutes. do not bring the oil to a strong boil, aim for a light simmer.

meanwhile, in a big pot add in the stock, saffron (or tumeric), white wine and marinara. strain the olive oil from heads, set aside the infused olive oil and add the heads to the pot with the stock to simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

clean the shrimp and set aside.

in a pan sautee these items separately, but use the same oil and pan: fish, squid, and meat, with a pinch of salt and garlic. mise en place each item.

in the pan that will be used to make the paella, heat the rice with the shrimp-infused olive oil, medium-high heat. make sure each grain is coated and warmed through. all the while the stock should be at a light boil, the key is to keep the stock and rice at the same temp.

add 1-2 ladle-fuls of stock into the pan, enough to cover the rice. the rice will absorb the stock gradually, like cooking risotto. stir every 102 minutes to prevent scorching. as the stock is being reduced and absorbed, continue to add ladle-fuls of the stock to the pan, stirring as well.

at around the 10 minute mark, add the fish, meat, and squid. cook for 5 more minutes.

when the rice is still on the al dente side but is just about to get soft, around the 14-15 minute, add the scallops, mussels and cleaned shrimp. place the mussels and shrimp following the same pattern as a bike tire with 6-8 spokes.

now leave the pan alone, don’t stir it, but keep the pan moist by adding stock, a ladle at a time. the cooking time of the sushi rice should be around 18-20 minutes.

turn off stove, remove pan from heat, add the lemon wedges and the roasted red pepper strips, cover sand ignore for 5-10 minutes. the rice will continue to absorb the stock and cook in those minutes.

serve immediately. any leftovers can be eaten at room temp.

BAM!

Jose's Paella

other international dishes:
african chicken stew
caribean oxtail stew
feijoada
lamb larb
vietnamese vermicelli noodle bowl

feijoada – Brazilian Bean Stew

Feijoada

we’ve been waking to low temps lately,
maybe not as low as the northern states,
but lower than the southern states,
and you know what?
low is low
and comparison is the thief of joy.
our kitchen is currently out of commission
but before we started
the renovation
dw made a stew that warmed us through,
staving off the chill,
and comparing to all other stews
i’ve thrown together,
let’s just say it’s
such a joy that dw can cook too.

Feijoada

feijoada – a brazilian bean stew
as dictated to me from dw who read 5 recipes and then mashed them all together

*note: feijoada is a stew of portuguese origin, with the respective portuguese colonies having versions of their own. dw went with a brazilian bent, though we did top off with asian rice vinegar to cut through the richness. using lime would be fine too. finish the meal with some slices of clementines or tangerines, to cleanse the palate. this is a super fatty, but sooooo good, stew.

1 onion, fine diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
6 slices of smoky bacon
1 lb pork shoulder, large cubes
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
chorizo sausage links, sliced
3 bay leaves
dried chili flake to taste, optional
1 TBL coriander seeds, toasted and then finely ground
enough water or stock to cover
rice vinegar to serve

in a pan with a bit of olive oil saute the onions until translucent season with salt, add in the garlic and coriander seed to warm through. add the entire onion and garlic saute to the bottom of crock pot.

return pan to stove top and cook the bacon until crispy. pull bacon out and crumble. add to onion/garlic mixture in crock pot. (though, it can be added at the end, prior to eating. up to you).

drain off excess bacon fat, but reserving enough fat to cover pan (about 1-2 TBL) and brown the pork cubes on all sides. add pork cubes to crock pot.

saute the chorizo sausage, just to give it crisp edges. add to crock pot.

add soaked beans to crock pot, discarding the soaking water.

add the bay leaf and smattering of dried chili flakes, if using.

add water or stock to cover.

put crock pot on high until beans are soft, about 4 hours.

serve over plain rice with splash of rice vinegar and side of clementine slices.

BAM!

Feijoada

1 year ago: frozen old fashioned waffles
2 years ago: kale + tofu balls with pasta
another portuguese concoction: chicken curry + chorizo and olives

african chicken stew

African Chicken Stew - outtake
African Chicken Stew

we’ve been working,
like it’s a regular work week.
which isn’t out of the ordinary.
i mean,
there are no holidays this week.
but you see,
there was supposed to be a blizzard
of epic proportions.
friends.
we were misinformed.

the one thing the meteorologists
got correct though:
freezing temps.
on sunday, after making our
weekly soup,
experimenting with egg tarts,
and other chinese new year prep work
i had it in my head to make
another pot of soup
because
i figured a snow day week
warranted comfort in a bowl.
we didn’t get the former,
but the latter was just fine.

African Chicken Stew

african chicken stew
loosely adapted from simply recipes
makes 6 servings

4 drumsticks, about 1.25 lbs.
olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced or diced, either way
3″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
4 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
4 carrots, rough chopped into chunks
2 parsnips, rough chopped into chunks
1 15-ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, we use muir glen
4 cups chicken stock (i used the last of my bullion cubes + water to equal 4 cups)
2-3 generous TBL peanut butter, honestly, i don’t remember but that seems about right
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 TBL coriander seeds, roasted and then ground
1 tsp cayenne, or to taste
Salt and black pepper

season chicken drumsticks. brown in a bit of olive oil in a large pot. set aside.

in same pot, add more olive oil if you need to, add in the onions and saute for a few minutes. your goal is to brown the onions and pick up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. season with salt & pepper. add in the garlic and ginger, as well as the ground coriander and cayenne, mix through.

add in the broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter and peanuts. stir until the peanut butter is thoroughly incorporated. last, return the chicken drumsticks to the pot, nestle them in. cover & simmer on low for about an hour.

after an hour, remove the drumsticks. add in the carrots and parsnips. cover and simmer. when the drumsticks are cool enough to handle, remove all the meat off the bones, shred and return back to the pot. stir and simmer till the vegs are tender, but not mushy. adjust seasoning if needed.

serve with rice, or as is, which is how we ate it.

BAM!

African Chicken Stew

other soups & stews:
autumn harvest soup
3 bean chili
vietnamese beef stew
caribbean oxtail stew
miso ramen bowl
chicken pho
portuguese chicken + chorizo curry
chickpea & sausage stew
beef, squash & white bean chili