Archive for December 2007

Spicy Lemongrass Chicken (Ga Kho Xa Ot)

December 31, 2007 | Chuck
Braised Lemongrass Chicken (Ga Kho Xa Ot)
(For more pictures, see the slideshow)

A Vietnamese kho is a savory-sweet dish simmered in a caramel-based sauce and is traditionally prepared in a clay pot. It's the ultimate comfort food for me. There are many variations of kho with different proteins used. My favorite kho is ga kho xa ot, which is chicken quickly braised with lemongrass and chili peppers.

Nothing beats my mom's ga kho xa ot! Whenever I visit my parents, it's the first thing my mom prepares for me. I don't ask for it. She just knows it's my favorite meal and I would be a little disappointed if she made anything else. Yes, my mom spoils me. I have no problem admitting it!

I love the dish for its simplicity and wonderful flavors. It has a great combination of salty and sweet from the fish sauce and caramel sauce. While the chicken simmers, the lovely aroma of lemongrass fills the kitchen. The spiciness from the chili peppers is critical and balances the sweetness of the dish.

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Chocolate Pudding Cake

December 23, 2007 | Chuck
Chocolate Pudding Cake

On a cold day, nothing beats a warm chocolate pudding cake for dessert. This is our "go to" dessert during snowboarding trips. It's easy to make and doesn't require a mixer, which may not be available in a rental house kitchen. After a long, chilly day outside, this old-fashioned dessert really hits the spot!

I saw this recipe on a Martha Stewart show many, many moons ago. Please don't ask me why I was watching it. I'm not a fan of Martha, and I never intentionally watch her show, but the pudding cake caught my eye while channel surfing. Well, anyone can get my attention if these words are spoken... warm, chocolate, pudding, cake.

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Braised Pork, Tofu and Shiitakes

December 20, 2007 | Chuck
Braised Pork, Tofu and Shiitakes

I'd been asking Hungry Bear to make her braised tofu, pork and shiitakes the last several weeks. First off, it's one of my favorite dishes and I had a hankering for it. Secondly, I wanted to take better pictures of it, because the first set of pictures doesn't convey the deliciousness of the dish. It was only our second post on SND, and we were complete newbies at food photography.

Whenever we need Asian ingredients, we walk a couple of blocks to the Richmond New May Wah Supermarket. It's one of the best Asian markets in San Francisco. The prices are super cheap, or as the bay area kids like to say... HELLA cheap! For only $10.52, we picked up the ground pork, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, cilantro and a very large bag of pea shoots at New May Wah. What a deal!

The downside of the market can be the long checkout lines and the crazy Chinese grandmothers, who will box you out while reaching for produce. Hungry Bear has no issues sticking her elbows out to protect her space, whereas, I'm afraid of these aggressive, elderly women. I try to avoid the craziness by going during non-peak times, which means weekday mornings.

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Stir-Fried Garlic Crab

December 18, 2007 | Chuck
Stir-Fried Garlic Crab

Dungeness crab season started late this year in San Francisco because of the terrible oil spill in the bay. We were lucky that the spill wasn't worse, and Dungeness crab season was only delayed for a few weeks. Still, I was worried that we wouldn't have crab for Sunday night dinner before all of us left for the holidays.

My parents came to the rescue by sending Jane and Mark a Christmas gift, crab crackers and forks. I had no idea they were sending them a gift, and Jane was especially surprised and happy. Jane wanted to christen the crab tools with a dinner of Dungeness crabs. Way to go Mom and Dad!

On Sunday, Jane picked up crabs at Sun Fat Seafood Company, where they quartered and removed the gills for her. The crabs were a reasonable $3.99 a pound. With the dismantled crab, Garry made stir-fried garlic crab. It's a really simple recipe with a lot of garlic... think garlic fries. We used three heads of garlic for four Dungeness crabs.

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Chinese Braised Oxtail Stew

December 12, 2007 | Chuck
Chinese Braised Oxtail Stew with Shiitake Mushrooms

Jane and Mark love braised oxtail, as do I. Every very few months, we get a major craving for oxtail, so I made it for Sunday night dinner this past week. The last time I braised oxtails, I used a Ming Tsai recipe, which had too many ingredients. Sometimes I love his East meets West fusion food, but this dish was not one of them.

I wanted a more traditional Chinese recipe and stumbled upon an aromatic Chinese oxtail stew recipe by Jennifer McLagan. The ingredient list was simple, and I really liked how the sauce is refrigerated overnight, which makes removing the fat easier. The orange zest and juice were the only things I didn't like in the recipe. I think this stems from my aversion to orange beef.

Of course, I had to screw around with the recipe and incorporate other ingredients. For ideas, I immediately thought of my favorite Vietnamese noodle soup, bún bò Hue, which uses oxtails and lemongrass. Instead of the orange in McLagan's recipe, I replaced it with lemongrass and a lime. I also increased the amount of star anise, added whole cloves, shiitake mushrooms and Thai chili peppers for some much needed heat!

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