Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Lemongrass-Thit Nuong

While visiting Bryan in Chicago, as much as I enjoyed the heavy deep dish pizza and Italian food, I craved some good ol' homecooked Asian meals. So Bryan cooked another great recipe from his mom while I napped for 3 hours (seems to be a recurring trend...)
Ingredients for Pork
1.5 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced just under 1/4 inch or so (not too thin or lean as you do not want it to dry out when grilled. Ask your butcher to do this for you)
1/4 cup minced Lemongrass (xa bam). Many Asian markets will sell minced lemongrass in the freezer section.
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs ground pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (use more according to taste)
2-3 shallots, minced.
3 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs thick soy sauce (not regular soy sauce–has molasses, making it thicker and adding great color. If not available, can use caramel sauce. Both can be found at Asian groceries)
3 tbs roasted sesame

Ingredients for Sides
rice vermicelli
basil, chopped
bean sprouts
cilantro, diced
cucumber, chopped
lettuce leaves, chopped

Ingredients for nuoc mam
warm water
fish sauce
white vinegar
limes (or lemon)
serrano/chile peppers (optional)

Combine and bake the pork until nice and brown and a bit charred. You can also sautee it until it is brown.

Cook rice vermicelli in boiling waater; combine ingredients for nuoc mam, and toss salad together.

Put pork on top of vermicelli, and add vegetables and nuoc mam on top

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Truffles Galore to Have a Sweet Year!

Our custom is to always eat something sweet in New Year's so we will have a sweet year. Truffles are so easy yet look so fancy. With plenty of help from the family, we rolled all kinds of truffles to ring in the New Year! This recipe from Epicurious claimed to make 180 truffles...we decided to half batch to make 90, which still seemed like a lot. 
Upon seeing the 1 cup and 10 oz portions.

Dad: This is so small!!! why didn't you make the whole batch?
Hans: We're going to be obese for the new year! We'd each have 36 truffles!

Reality: the "90 truffles" actually makes 29. Maybe ours were Uy size...but seriously....I don't know if the recipe wanted marble sized truffles because ours look like the same sizes as store bought one!

Truffle Base:
Generous 1 cup heavy cream
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Generous 1/8 cup Grand Marnier 


Crushed pistachios, pecans, macadamias, almonds, etc
Cocoa powder + cinammon
Coconut flakes (use small and sweetened ones so it sticks more)
Other options: sprinkles, ground coffee


Heat the heavy cream in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Make sure that you have chopped the chocolate as finely as possible to allow it to melt quickly and easily. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl. Make a ganache by pouring about half of the hot cream over the chocolate and letting it sit for 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Then slowly whisk until smooth and homogenous. 

Tips: Do not add all of the hot cream to the cold chocolate at once; the shock of the temperature extremes would cause the fat in the chocolate to separate. As the chocolate melts, you will see some elasticity if there is no fat separation. This means the chocolate still has an emulsion; the fat molecules are still holding together. 

If the ganache separates, it loses its elasticity, collapses, and becomes very liquid. You can use a hand-held immersion blender to ensure a smooth ganache and to keep the emulsion of the chocolate (or not, like me, and have it turn out ok anyway, lol). Add the remaining cream gradually and mix until all of the hot cream is incorporated and the ganache is smooth and homogenous.

If the ganache separates, simply add a small amount of cold cream and whisk well to bring the ganache back together. 

The ganache should be thick, shiny, and smooth. Add the desired flavoring and mix until fully incorporated. 

Pour the ganache onto a plastic wrap-covered baking sheet and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and allow it to cool for at least 4 hours at room temperature. I usually make the ganache at the end of the day and let it cool overnight. As it cools, it will thicken and set.
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