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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Thit Heo Bam Xao Ca Chua Banh Mi Op La (Vietnamese Ground Pork Tomato Stir-Fry with Sunny Side Up Eggs and Vietnamese French Bread)

Thit Heo Bam Xao Ca Chua Banh Mi Op La (Vietnamese Ground Pork Tomato Stir-Fry with Sunny Side Up Eggs and Vietnamese French Bread) 1

I had purchased some ground pork at the grocery store that I intended to make into a Banh Mi Xiu Mai (Vietnamese Meatball Sandwich), but with some fresh tomato sauce added. Then after a busy weekend with my Vietnamese regional cuisine tour of Little Saigon and walking around outside my brother's neighborhood, I got sick. Woozy-headed, coughing, sniffles, the usual cold/flu-ish/spring allergies. Oh, I really was not in the mood to do much for the past week. But that ground pork need to be cooked. Well, I guess I could have just put it in the freezer, but I was hungry too. And still craving tomato-y meatballs with lightly crispy Vietnamese French bread.

So I decided to make a sort of deconstructed Vietnamese meatball sandwich. While I was cooking the pork, it was very reminiscent of Bo "Ne" Bit Tet (Vietnamese "Stand Back" Beef Steak) that I frequently had for breakfast with my cousin the last time I was in my hometown in Vietnam. So after the quick stir-fry, I spooned over a bit into another pan, fried one sunny side up egg (so it can soak in all the lovely meaty juices while cooking), tossed a chopped scallion for color, and it was an oh-so-very-satisfying meal.

Whether I really was that hungry, or what, but I really liked the pop of color in these photos. Simple Vietnamese homecooking that made me very happy. Of course, you can serve the stir-fry with plain rice if you wish, but I quite liked it with Vietnamese French bread.

Saturday, May 07, 2011




That which occurs every day. Or also, the commonplace, the ordinary, the drab.

I learned a new word to describe most of my days during this odd little Project 365 of mine. So many different ways to say my days are so very boring. :P

But any day I see this cutie pie is a good day. We introduced her to Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), or more specifically kobe beef pho at Noodle Guy - Alhambra. She was a fiend. Watching her slurp the noodles was so amusing. I love seeing her discover new things. And of course, I had to post a YouTube video of my niece eating pho for my parents to see.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Chinese XO Sauce (Quick Cheater's Version)

Chinese XO Sauce 7

My boss gave me a jar of housemade Chinese XO sauce from Mission 261 - San Gabriel, a gift from one of the students' parents. It is a popular seafood sauce used in Cantonese stir-fried or fried rice dishes. So called because XO (extra old) cognac is the very best, and so this sauce was with its generous use of dried scallops, dried shrimp, and cured ham. The dried seafood gives the sauce a deep savoriness that flavors pretty much anything you put it on or cook with it.

I'm not ashamed to say I polished off that jar within days, stir-frying it with cabbage, cucumbers, and plain rice. And while it was sooo, sooo very good, XO sauce can also be quite expensive, easily costing about $20 for a small jar of the really good stuff.

The knock-off version I made with Shishito Peppers with Chinese XO Sauce wasn't half-bad and far, far cheaper. I tend to make small batches of stir-fry sauces, just enough for each dish, simply because I have so many fermented, soy, fish, shrimp and other sauces that they take up a whole shelf in my fridge and the counter beside my stove. So this really is a recipe for a cheater's version of XO sauce, something to whip up in minutes for dinner with ingredients that I usually already have in my kitchen.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Japanese Shishito Peppers with Chinese XO Sauce

Shisito Peppers with Chinese XO Sauce 1

After eating the shishito peppers in "Asian seasoning" sauce at RA Sushi Bar Restaurant - Tustin, I wanted to try recreating the dish at home. I could taste dried seafood, perhaps dried shrimp or oysters? A little kick from black pepper? Probably a reworked Chinese XO Sauce? I could do this, right? Or make a pretty close approximation?

I bought a huge bag of peppers from Woori Market - Los Angeles (Little Tokyo) for only a few bucks so it was worth experimenting. The result was savoriness from the dried shrimp and oyster sauce, a little kick from chili sauce and black peppers, and a touch of sweetness from brown sugar.

Monday, May 02, 2011

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant - Tustin

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant - Tustin 1

In early February, I was invited by Lauren Campbell of Beach House | Penthouse PR to dine at RA Sushi Bar Restaurant - Tustin to taste their new menu items. When I said I couldn't make it down to Orange County in time for the blogger dinner, she let me schedule it at a more convenient date and time.

Perfect. Because then I was able to invite my friend DP since she works nearby. Except, she was working at home that day and had to drive down for our dinner. Doh! I got to RA Sushi first and noticed that the bar and restaurant areas were packed. Good thing I had a reservation. While waiting for her to arrive, I ordered a Ginger Blossom drink, Hendrick's Gin, St. Germain, muddle strawberry, pink grapefruit juice, lime juice, and a splash of ginger ale. Girly, fruity, and yummy.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Nuoc Mia Vien Tay - Garden Grove (Little Saigon)

Before this past weekend, the last time I was in the area and stopped off at Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie (Garden Grove) was in February 2010. It was another day of exploring too many Little Saigon eats starting with Ngu Binh Restaurant - Westminster, then Thanh Tam Bakery - Garden Grove (Little Saigon), before grabbing desserts and fresh sugarcane juice for the drive home.

Nuoc Mia Vien Tay - Garden Grove (Little Saigon) 1

Nuoc Mia Vien Tay in Garden Grove really started the whole fresh squeezed sugarcane movement in Little Saigon long ago. What? You didn't know there could be such a thing as a fresh squeezed sugarcane movement?