Category: Soup/Stew

Vietnamese Beef Stew

Man. I cannot begin to describe how good this recipe smells. If you’re at all a fan of Vietnamese food. Make this. Make this now. I remember thinking that I don’t care if it even tastes good. That smell. My god the smell. It comes together quickly. Even if I didn’t use the mandolin to slice up the two onions in record time, it would still be quick. I managed to slow my impatience and actually brown the beef in batches since my Dutch oven couldn’t accommodate two pounds worth. I know how much a difference it makes to texture and flavor, but I’m usually so dang lazy. This actually yielded leftovers for our bottomless stomachs that I happily ate the next day.

vietnamese-stew

Inspiration: Tasting Table

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2lbs beef chuck, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into rounds
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • salt
  • sliced baguette for serving

Preparation

In a large Dutch over, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Sear the beef on all sides. If you have to do this in batches [I did], do it. It’s necessary for all of that flavor. Once all of the beef is browned, put it all in the pot. Add the jalapeno, star anise, and cinamon sticks and cook, stirring often, until fragrant. That should take about 2 minutes and then your mind will be blown. This is the quinessential smell of Vietnamese food. It makes the house smell awesome.

Add the fish sauce and stir it into the mixture. Use the spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to get up all the beef goodies. Pour in the beef stock and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil before reducing it to a simmar and covering the pot with a lid. Cook until the beef is tender. It should take a little over an hour.

Add the carrots and cook with the lid off until the carrots are tender—about 10 minutes. taste for salt. Shred the beef with a couple forks before serving.

Serve in bowls with the baguette.

Massaman Curry Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s hardly soup weather anymore. Tax season ended with 80+° weather, and it’s hovered in that range ever since. Despite it being pizza week [think burger week, but y’know, with pizza], I made Thai basil pork my first meal back in the kitchen. Surprise, surprise. I have grand plans, but I’m easing back into it. Besides, pizza week.

This soup was stellar in that way that making something from scratch can be. I had a Massaman curry paste container in the fridge, but I went with the directions. Fresh lemongrass? Check. Fresh ginger? Check. Thai chilies? Check. It’s really, really simple in that way. It makes for a more complex chicken noodle soup, a soup that I normally avoid for its plainness. I spent way more time julienning carrots than I care to admit. My knife skills aren’t THAT good, and I don’t have time space for some fancy peeler. It left me with a ridiculous satisfaction though. Worth it.

Massaman Chicken Noodle Soup

Inspiration: Food52

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce + more to taste
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 4″ piece of ginger root, peeled
  • 2 Thai chilies
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 large carrots
  • 10 small baby potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 3 scallions, greens and white parts sliced and separated
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 12-14oz udon/rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup toasted peanuts
  • Lime juice

Preparation

Heat the chicken stock and fish sauce in a large pot on medium-high heat. Remove the tough, outer shells of the lemongrass stalks. Cut off the root, and then into 6″ pieces. Cut those pieces in half. Add the lemongrass pieces to the stock. Cut the ginger into slices and add to the pot. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and add those. Slice the tops off the chilies and then cut them in half. Scrape out the seeds, or leave them in for more heat. Add to the stock. Increase the heat if the stock hasn’t started simmering.

Cut the carrots so they’re close to a uniform diameter the whole way. You can julienne those pieces for garnish. Slice the remaining carrots into thin medallions and set aside with the potatoes.

Taste the stock for salt or more fish sauce.  You want it to be fairly salty to stand up to the chicken and vegetables it’s about to cook. Add the chicken breast. Simmer until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before shredding.

Skim the stock to remove the lemongrass, garlic, and ginger. Stir in the curry powder and add the carrots, potatoes, and peanuts. Cook until tender. Slice up the scallions, leaving the sliced dark green parts for garnish. Stir in the coconut milk, shredded chicken, and remaining scallions. Once the noodles are cooked through, the soup is ready to serve in bowls topped with the remaining scallions. Taste for more fish sauce or lime juice.

Green Curry Porridge

The thick of tax season is eating up a lot of free time.

What little free time there is has been spent entertaining friends from out of town and sleeping. Entertaining = eating/drinking when in PDX. Some highlights as of late: Ruby Jewel has a ridiculously good peanut butter ice cream with chopped peanut butter cups that I topped with their marshmallow fluff. That had to happen. High Noon has a stellar taco salad. They fry up their own tortilla bowls. We tried some really good brews out at 54º40′ Brewing Company. Washougal, who knew? There is some solid ramen to be had at Mirakutei. And some scallops with uni. There was an unreal meal had at Le Pigeon involving rabbit, pigeon, and an ungodly amount of black truffle. Pie was had at Lauretta Jean’s a few days before Pi Day because why not? Timbers season started too.

So this curry sounds good right about now. It’s fresh and springy but still comforting and warm. A perfect transition food since the weather/temperature isn’t quite sure what it wants to do. The curry comes together by fresh ingredients, not a pre-made paste. It was a lot easier than I expected. This recipe is another reminder that I need to call in my Vitamix for servicing. I had to finally stop using it. RIP. The serrano peppers added such a nice heat to it. Feel free to leave out of that’s not your thing, but you should make your thing. They’re so good. The only thing I subbed out was jasmine rice for the brown rice and an acorn squash for the delicata because I couldn’t find delicata. Delicious.

Green Curry Porridge

Inspiration: 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoon fresh minced lemongrass
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 3/4 cups jasmine rice
  • 5 cups of water
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 14oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small serrano
  • 1 cup cilantro + more for serving
  • 1/2 cup green onion tops, save the white parts for garnish
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 small acorn squash, peeled and diced

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and coriander. Stir well. Smell that deliciousness. Add the rice and stir to cover in the mixture. Toast them for about 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally so the herbs don’t burn.

Add the water and two teaspoons of salt. Stir well. Bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Simmer until all rice has cooked and is starting to burst. This will take about 30 minutes.

While the rice cooks, add the coconut milk, ginger, serrano, cilantro, green onion tops, spinach, lime juice and remaining two teaspoons of salt to a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the coconut milk mixture to the rice and add the squash. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes or however long it takes the squash to get tender. Smaller pieces of squash are helpful.

Serve with green onion tops, more lime juice and olive oil.

Jok with Chicken [aka Rice Porridge]

Ohhhh man. There is a new food cart downtown that serves all the jook and bao I could possibly want. Jook is rice porridge of the Chinese variety. Jok is rice porridge of the Thai variety. I had no idea until now. The more you know. Anyway, the cart is aptly named the Jook Joint, and you can add some pretty awesome proteins to it, like their 12-hour brisket. It has a little bit of a sweet sauce, but it’s a-ok with the fish sauce goodness that you find in a porridge like this. The soft boiled egg isn’t a bummer either. It’s stellar comfort food. There are a few other places in town that serve it, like Sen Yai, with all the squeaky pork or fish that you could possibly want. Making jok been on my to-do list for awhile. Gotta love checking something off the list.

It’s really easy to make, but requires a little bit of babysitting because you don’t want it to burn to the bottom of the pan. It makes a ton because the solution to keeping it from burning is adding more and more water. I kept adding more and more fish sauce because I didn’t want the flavor to get too diluted. Like most soups, it’s really customizable. I used chicken, but you often seen pork or seafood. There are often soft-boiled eggs, but I couldn’t be bothered. Because rice porridge like a more smooth risotto, you probably have an idea how filling this can be. It’s just like that. It tastes just as good day one as day three. We ate it and ate it and ate it again. The recipe I originally used no longer exists, apparently. Their website went down. This one from Rachel Cooks Thai is very familiar.

rice porridge

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jasmin rice
  • 10+ cups of water
  • 1 pound ground dark meat chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce + more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Green onions, soft-boiled eggs, diced chilies, or other hot sauce for serving

In a large pot, add the rice and 6 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil before turning down to a simmer. While the rice simmers, heat a skillet on medium high. Brown the chicken and add the garlic and ginger. Leave the chicken a little chunky to add texture to the rice when you add it. When it’s nearly cooked through, add a tablespoon of the fish and soy sauces. Add the fully cooked chicken and any remaining juices to the simmering rice.

Stir the rice occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add another cup anytime it starts to get too thick. At least another four cups is needed to achieve the typical creaminess. When the porridge is ready, stir in the remaining two tablespoons of the soy and fish sauces. Taste for more. I always love more fish sauce.

Chili with Braised Beef and Squash

I had such high hopes for this chili because all of components are awesome in some form or another. It’s a bean-less chili though, which is almost hard for me to call it a chili because I always always always have chili with beans in it. I have no idea what else to call it. It’s sort of like that whole sweetened vs. unsweetened cornbread debacle. Like my affinity for all things cornbread [I’ll eat both types], I’ll eat any type of chili. I have no shame.

I was especially excited at the prospect of using some dried whole chilies to spice this thing up. I usually equate these kinds of peppers in homemade enchilada or hot sauce, but it can absolutely hop into my bowl of chili. I’ll gladly accept. Of course they came in a huge bag, so the remaining ones just sit in the pantry waiting for another day. If someone will point me to a bulk dried chili bin, I would appreciate it. I never want more than a couple. The chili base calls for a blender, which was just another not-so-subtle reminder that I need to call Vitamix about maintenance. I imagine a food processor would work, too.

Squash was the wild card to the recipe. Honestly, the chili was probably just a vehicle for the squash. It drew me in with its siren call. I love squash. I roasted up a whole baking tray of the stuff tonight and it took all my willpower not to just eat it straight from the pan. I may not be huge on sweets most of the time, but the sweetness of squash gets me every.single.time. Unfortunately the sweetness of the squash overpowered the rest of the chili, and maybe that was the point, but it isn’t the flavor profile I usually expect from a chili. I was kind of hoping for a more subtle sweetness—hoping the chilies would dampen it. I still slurped up every drop the next day at work. Don’t worry.

It all came together rather quickly. It was a lazy Sunday project since it takes about an hour depending on how quickly you can cut and peel that dang squash. New Seasons has a bunch of precut stuff in the case right by the door. I’m pretty sure I look at it every time I walk in the store [that and the guacamole…creature of habit]. I embraced my inner over-achiever and toasted some pepitas [or pumpkin seeds]. I sacrificed my hard earned dollars on a mediocre avocado to garnish. I’m such a sucker. Look how pretty it is. It was mostly for looks because that avocado was the epitome of bland.

Beef and Beer Chili

Inspiration: Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 dried pasilla chile
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 12oz lager
  • 1 small acorn squash, peeled and cut small
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
  • salt and pepper
  • Avocado, sliced radishes, green onions, sour cream or cilantro for serving

Preparation

Toast the chilies in a skillet on medium high heat. Press them down to the pan so they get a lot of contact with the heat. They should start to darken after a few minutes. Toast both sides. Fill a bowl with boiling water and add the chilies to it to rehydrate. Soak for 3o minutes. They’ll be falling apart. Remove the stem and transfer the entire thing to a blender [or remove the seeds if that’s your thing]. Blend until smooth.

Put a large pot over high heat. Add one tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Pat the beef dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon of oil and chopped onion and garlic. Stir well break up the remnants of the beef juices that have accumulated. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the cumin and oregano. Stir well so it’s evenly distributed.

Add the beef back to the pot and pour in the beer. Bring to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer for about five minutes. The beer will cook down significantly. Add the chile puree and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the beef in the chile for 20-25 minutes before adding the squash. When the squash is soft, about 15 minutes, taste for additional salt and lime.

Serve in bowls topped with the toasted pepitas and your preferred accouterments.